The Secret of the “Best” Diet: 5 factors all the”best diets” have in common

ambrose wb - milwaukee personal trainer - the secret of the best diet

The  questions people ask me more than any other is which diet is the best one.

  • Is it paleo?
  • How about vegan?
  • What do I think about intermittent fasting?
  • Or low-carb?

I can’t tell you that, but I will:

  1. Why those are the wrong questions to ask
  2. Ask you a few of my own questions
  3. Give you 5 reasons all the “best diets” are more the same that you think

People want to know which “nutrition camp” I belong to. 

When potential clients are shopping around, usually after summer ends, the new year begins or a trip or event like vacation or a wedding is coming up, I get bombarded with questions and comments like:

  • “Do you believe in ‘paleo’? I just joined CrossFit.”
  • “Can you make me a meal plan? I already my ‘RD’ for my macros, but..”
  • “How long will I have to cut carbs to lose [X] pounds? Maybe I should cycle.”
  • “My friend lost so much weight juicing. What do you think about that?”

All of these questions and comments boil down to one concern about me and my methods at MISPIBO:

“Do I believe in one of today’s popular nutrition philosophies?”

Said another way…What’s the “best diet”?

You’d think after ten years I’d have a good answer. I don’t.

I don’t believe there is one diet for all people. This doesn’t help, in fact, it confuses people. See, the human brain is so good at categorization that people need me to fit nicely into one of this nutrition boxes.

Believe me, if I could say MISPIBO Fitness is in this ‘box,’ I would.

But I can’t. Please, let me explain:

There has never been a diet that works for all of the people all of the time.

I’ve worked enough people, like you, every day for long enough to know this from experience.

Look at the diversity of my clients:

  • Body type: Some people are long and skinny. Others are short and round.
  • Budget: Some people have very little disposable income. Others come ready to blow cash.
  • Dietary preferences & exclusions: Some people eat meat every day. Others are pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian.
  • Nutrition education: Some people already have tried and follow a nutrition practice. Others have very little nutrition understanding, to begin with.
  • Organic / conventional: Some people only eat meals that are boxed and packaged. Others won’t touch food if it’s not natural, organic, whole foods.
  • Time: Some people come with tons of leisure time for health and fitness. Others have little time for self-care and stress management.

This is real life.

I can’t help people make real, sustainable change by progressively adopting healthier eating if I was a drill sergeant following the rules of one nutrition method.

Think about it:

  • “I understand you have a very small food budget. But I see you have a nice vehicle. If you sold your car or maybe did Uber or Lyft a few nights a week, you’d be able to buy more organic foods as the program recommends. Getting healthy and fit takes sacrifice and dedication.”

 

  • “I like carbs too. But, who doesn’t it. Here, we suppress our desire for carbs very low. Insulin makes your fat. So there is not bread, pasta, potatoes or rice. And of course – no sugar.”

 

  • “I know there is some sound moral and ethical reason not to eat animals. I empathize with how you feel. But, we eat animals. How else will you get fat and protein? Look at your ancestors. Come to the BBQ, it’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Beef), see you this weekend.”

Yes, I’m having fun. I’m also going to extremes, but this is not that far from what people here from their trainers or at the gym, or say to each other on Facebook.

I don’t this because…

The best coaches don’t follow only one nutrition philosophy. 

If you have used a single nutrition method — like juicing or Paleo — and it worked, great.

I’m happy, and you should be happy, you reached your goals because you found something that works for you.

But if I may suggest: anything works, if you do.

At that point in your life, you were under a particular set of circumstances. It would be not only narcissistic of me, but bad coaching if I thought everyone should do what I do because it works for me.

Physiologically, the human body is built to adapt and adjust so that different nutrition conditions will work.

History and geography have shown and still shows us this today:

  • For example, the Arctic Inuit and African Masai eat traditional diets that low in vegetables but very high in fat and animal products.
  • Conversely, the Kitavans in the South Pacific eats traditional foods that are high in vegetables and starchy carbs but low in fat.
  • And Tokelau near New Zealand eats traditional diets that are very high in saturated fats.

See all the differences? These are all traditional diets of relatively healthy people. By healthy I mean they have minimal factors of illness like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory obesity, stroke, etc.

The human body’s ability to adapt to various dietary conditions is amazing.

Being healthy and fit is possible when people eat a lot of meal or a ton of veggies, a little fat or not many carbs, and so on.

Because of this, as a nutrition coach, I can’t attach myself to any on nutrition camp, ever.

You can call me a nutritional agnostic.

This leaves me open and willing to do what works. I’ve tested methods and used principles that go directly in the opposite direct of what I believe and practice. I’ve been humbled time and time again because I am wrong sometimes. Which is why I’m right most times.

When nutrition becomes your religion, it’s hard to enjoy the food. There’s more to food that fulfills your physiological needs. Humans have psychological needs as well.

At different times of my life as an athlete, trainer, coach, and student I have used: 

  • Plant-based diets.
  • Meat-based diets.
  • High carb diets and low carb diets.
  • Dairy-free, gluten-free, and all other potential allergen-free foods.
  • “Eat whatever I want as long as I feel good, look better and perform at my best” diets.

I practice what I preach. My health and fitness are important to me. I’m learning and growing too, so I adjust and adapt along my journey as well.

I respect others. I stay curious to learn what works. I’m not afraid of being wrong.

You may be thinking this sounds good but wondering how it works. Right?

How can such different nutrition programs all yield positive results?

The “best” diets are not as different as you think.

There are more similarities in effective nutritional programs than differences.

Most effective nutrition programs are more similar than different. (Including Paleo and plant-based eating which seem so opposite.)

When done with integrity, eating small and frequent, big and infrequent, meat-basted, plant-based, high carbs and low carb diets all have the following in common:

1. They increase nutrition awareness and attention.

People inherently know there is something to the food itself. They ask about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. Food is broken down into macros: proteins, carbs, and fats.

The research is clear: the amount of focus on what you eat directly impacts your body composition and health.

It’s all good. More veggies. Fewer carbs. Paleo. Vegetarian. All of it.

The key factor is caring about what you eat.

2. They focus on food quality. 

What nutrition philosophies say, “eat more processed foods from boxes with food labels you cannot pronounce?”

None. That’s the common factor.

The differences are obvious:

  • Paleo and low carb diets are higher in protein and fat.
  • Vegan and high carb diets are higher in antioxidants and fiber.

Recognize what’s common here?

Both advocate foods that are minimally processed.

Almost all diets recommend eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients and minimally processed.  That is one of the most significant advancements in nutrition today. Before breaking foods down into macronutrients of protein, fats, and carbs.

3. They help eliminate nutrient deficiencies. 

As I just said, the shift away from processed foods is common in most diets. Diets high in processed foods are typically low in nutrients because of the processed that strip them away. Whole foods or minimally processed foods are often higher in nutrients.

So, better diets target and eliminate common nutrient deficiencies like essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins, vitamins and water.

This is important. Diets low in this nutrients leave you feeling sick, looking worst, and performing below average. When corrected, people often say they feel refreshed and experience more energy.

(This is one reason some people become dogmatic about specific nutrition programs)

4. They help control appetite and food intake. 

You will eat less food when you know what you are eating because you pick foods of higher quality that are more satisfying, physically and mentally. When you are more satisfied, you can lose weight, gain strength, and live at your best.

Do you see why you don’t need to count calories? You can control calories when you focus on food awareness and quality. Hunger is no longer an issue.

This is more sustainable because no one wants to count calories forever.

5. They promote regular exercise. 

Exercise and nutrition usually go hand in hand. I think most people make the mistake of focusing on one without the other or focusing only on exercise.

But again, most nutrition camps will suggest regular exercise. This is great because diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.

Use, of all intensities — high and low — increase your chance of turning the food you eat into functional tissue (instead of fat tissue.)

Can you now understand why well-programmed nutrition philosophies — even when appearing opposite and conflicting at first glance – can increase your health, body composition, and happiness?

This is why…

Picking a diet camp makes no sense. 

1. There is no “best” diet. 

Humans have evolved well under various dietary conditions meaning no diet that is best for everyone all the time.

That’s why I help people find what works best for them. I’m happy to work with you and your nutrition preferences.

This is why my clients win. They get to do more of what they like.

This is why I win. I can help more people.

2. Most trendy diets have a lot in common. 

Most trendy diets help people feel satisfied, improve food quality, promote exercise, and raise nutritional awareness when done with care, compassion, and coaching

3. Coaches should always be willing to grow and learn. 

In the last ten years, I have helped 1000s of people lose body fat and develop a new way of thinking about their food.

I have never forced a particular diet philosophy on anyone. Vegetarians can stay vegetarians. Paleos can stay Paleo. What works, works…

Coaches should not force their beliefs on people who need their help.

4. Habit-based coaching is better than diet-based coaching anyway. 

Habits build nutrition lifestyle that lasts a lifetime. Diet plans work for the short term.

I use a progressive nutritional model. I coach intelligent and sustainable habits over time. I don’t ask people to follow a diet. This means a complete lifestyle change from day number one.

In summary, the best diet is…

…the one that works for you.

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