It’s rough out there for folks who are trying to lose weight or eat a little healthier. Every single day new reports are published stating new discoveries in the nutrition space, only to be shot down by another report the next day.
It’s an ever changing landscape in the world of health, nutrition and wellness. For all we know, we may never find out exactly what’s good for us, and what’s not.
The World’s Best Diet, An All-healing 10-Day Detox Program, The Superfood that Burns Belly Fat… the experts behind these are at best, making an educated guess about what’s right.
Ironically, it’s these experts’ arguments about their method being the best that’s confusing us consumers. In a 2012 survey of more than a thousand Americans, more than half thought it’s harder to eat right than to do their taxes. But is it really that difficult or are we just over-complicating things?
Here are 6 truths about nutrition, without all the BS.
#1. There is no single best diet
Diet trends come and go so quickly that it’s hard to keep track which diet is in vogue at the moment. Heard of the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, or the South Beach diet?
A study comparing major popular diets has shown that “no one diet could be crowned best in terms of health outcomes”.
While some of the “designer” diets can have sound principles that one can adhere to and benefit from, no ONE diet can be crowned the champion to rule them all.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let us introduce the BEST diet in the world! Our Thoughtworthy Diet.
But here’s what we think the best diet for you should look like: One that is as healthy as possible, but which you’ll also be happy to eat that way for the rest of your life.
Your best diet: One that is as healthy as possible, but which you’ll also be happy to eat that way for the rest of your life.
Some may think that’s not being very helpful.
“A diet that is as healthy as possible? What kind of advice is that? How am I supposed to know what’s healthy and what’s not?”
Research has shown that the healthier diets out there have a few common themes:
- Minimally processed or unprocessed foods
- Predominantly plant-based
- Nutritionally adequate (eat a variety of foods, no need to exclude any food groups)
So let’s all stop arguing which diet is the best, shall we? Eat more unprocessed whole foods, have more vegetables, and eat a good variety of foods. Do that as best as you can, and find the point of balance where YOU will be happy to eat that way for the rest of your life.
In the end, turns out the BEST diet is different for every individual.
#2. Supplements can’t save you from a crappy diet
With the larger spending power of consumers as well as an increased focus on health and wellness, supplements sales have grown more than 50% faster than over-the-counter drugs between the period of 2009 to 2014.
“Take this supplement, it’s good for your heart.”
“Then take this, it’s good for your bones.”
“Now take this, it’s good for your brain.”
Everybody wants a better functioning heart, brain and bones. It’s no wonder supplements sell like hotcakes. But do they really fix the issues that they claim to fix?
The supplement industry is a crazy huge one. And where there’s money, there are people who are willing to do whatever it takes to have a slice of the pie.
Surely there are good supplement companies, but many others choose to play it dirty. Mislabelling their products, not testing them for safety, making false health claims, then playing on potential customers’ hopes and fears for a healthier life — with a pill.
Some folks who are not watching what they eat or exercising regularly, turn to supplements as a quick fix to get their health back in order. But supplements are exactly as their name suggests, products meant to supplement your diet and your lifestyle.
Supplements are exactly as their name suggests, products meant to supplement your diet and your lifestyle.
In fact, most people do not need supplements at all if you are eating a variety of healthy foods.
There just isn’t enough data to suggest normal healthy people would benefit from taking certain vitamin or mineral supplements in excess of the recommended daily allowance.
Here’s our recommendations:
- Improve your diet first. Have an orange instead of Vitamin C pills
- Consult a dietitian or doctor before deciding to take supplements. Supplements can be helpful for those with specific deficiencies, so use it in a targeted manner
Do the above and you can save some money and possibly prevent any health complications due to the lack of regulations in the supplement industry.
#3. There is no such thing as a “weight loss food”
How many times have we seen articles like “8 Superfoods for Weight Loss” or “Must Eat Foods to Burn Belly Fat”? Unfortunately, they are most likely misleading and inaccurate articles.
The golden rule of thumb is calories in less than calories out. Which means that you’ll have to consume fewer calories than what you burn to lose weight.
There is no food by itself that has the magical properties of weight loss. In the best case scenario, any food touted to have the ability to help you lose weight or burn fat quicker only has a negligible effect.
There is no food by itself that has the magical properties of weight loss.
However, there are foods that are more conducive for weight loss than others – Foods that are low in calories but high in volume. (Think whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables)
Then there are foods that are conducive… for weight gain – Foods that are high in calories but low in volume (Think sweetened beverages, snacks, desserts)
So don’t believe the hype, eat all foods in moderation and you’ll be fine.
#4. You can eat what you love and still lose weight
Reality TV shows about weight loss like The Biggest Loser have given us the impression that to achieve impressive weight loss results require:
- Lots of sweat and throwing up at the gym
- Trainers shouting in your face
- Eating kid-sized or unappetizing meals
- Feeling guilty when you fall off the wagon
“You need to … see food as fuel, not as a source of pleasure or happiness. Prepare, cook and eat bland, plain food. No sauces, spices, enhancers or sweeteners…I would even go to the point of slightly overcooking your meat, chicken or fish. Suddenly food is not quite so irresistible.”
Above is quoted from Shannon Ponton, a trainer on The Biggest Loser. Our opinion?
NO WAY. Just NO!
That is a horrible approach to weight loss. That’s TV, guys. Shows like these are just cruel entertainment, and the furthest thing from being educational.
And to prove that it’s a horrible approach, a study done after one particular season of the show, 13 out of 14 of the contestants studied have regained weight. Four were even heavier than when they began the competition.
We’ve never advised any of our clients to stop eating the foods they love. In fact, we recommend that they MUST eat the foods they love. Food is no doubt a source of fuel for our bodies, but for many of us it’s also a source of comfort and happiness.
Food is no doubt a source of fuel for our bodies, but for many of us it’s also a source of comfort and happiness.
Refer to Point #1. For optimal weight loss and good health, you have to find a balance. A healthy diet that you are happy to live with for the rest of your life.
Refer to point #3. Observe the golden rule of calories in vs. calories out (but not too strictly — we don’t want you to become obsessed with numbers). Unhealthy food you love is made up of calories, just like food that is healthy. Overeat healthy food and you’ll still gain weight, eat less of your favourite junk food, and you’ll still lose weight.
#5. Marketing labels don’t matter. Nutrition labels do.
What do you notice first when you pick up a food product from the supermarket? Sure, an attractively designed packaging is nice, but what really catches our eye are the marketing labels that are used on these packaging.
Low-fat, organic, gluten-free, natural, etc.
We automagically feel healthier after eating these products, huh?
Too bad, many times we are just tricked by expert marketers. The fact is that all the terms mentioned above do not make a food product any healthier.
Something can be ‘low-fat’ but still high in sugar, ‘organic’ but still high in sodium, ‘natural’ but still highly processed. Companies do what they can to convince consumers that their product is the better choice. And when they can’t convince, they confuse you instead.
Something can be ‘low-fat’ but still high in sugar, ‘organic’ but still high in sodium, ‘natural’ but still highly processed.
Of course we can’t expect companies to label their product as ‘organic, but high in sodium’. What we can do though, is look past the marketing gimmicks and head straight to the facts that are presented to us.
Research has shown that parents often make unhealthy choices because of the marketing magic used on the front-of-pack information. But the most useful information is on the back of the pack: the nutrition label and the ingredient list.
By learning a few basic things to look out for on the nutrition label and ingredient list, you would have gained a super useful skill to become a discerning consumer.
#6. You don’t need a cleanse or a detox
You’ve probably heard about ‘Detox Programs’ or ‘Juice Cleanse’.
This is the usual premise:
1. Limit your food intake for a few days.
2. Only consume specific concoction of teas or juices that are supposed to get rid of toxins in your body.
3. After a few hungry days, you’ll feel energetic, healthy, happy and with a clearer mind. Oh, plus you’ll lose pounds as well.
Sounds fantastic, right? Except there is no scientific validity that detoxification or juice cleansing have any effect on helping the body to detoxify better or faster. A check on 15 commercial detox products in 2009 also found that most of these companies have little or no evidence to support their detox claims.
Our bodies have a natural, built in system for detoxification. It’s already always in a state of cleansing and our liver, digestive tract, kidneys, skin and lungs all play a role in this complex detoxification system. Our bodies — wonderful things, aren’t they?
Our bodies have a natural, built in system for detoxification.
Detox diets and juice cleanses may contain more nutritious foods than your current fast food diet, so that may be a potential plus. However, they are simply unnecessary procedures to go through — just add more fruits and vegetables to your diet!
Some potentially dangerous problems of detox programs and juice cleansing include fatigue and dizziness, nutritional deficiencies and worsened relationship with food due to deprivation. You may lose a few pounds during the period of “cleansing” or “detoxification” but that is mainly water weight. In all likelihood, you will gain it all back once the diet ends.
You may notice a recurring theme here — whether you want to be slimmer or healthier, you have to work at it from the root. Make positive changes to your lifestyle by improving your diet and exercise regularly. It’s your health! It’s precious to you so don’t go for shortcuts because there aren’t any.
The saying “eat less and move more” may be an over-simplified way to put it, but one thing’s for sure: to lose weight you’ll definitely have to be doing some form of eating less and moving more.