So, what is the perfect diet? Keto? Paleo? Vegan? Low fat? Low carb? There is endless information put out within the fitness industry – some good, some bad, but mostly confusing for the average person trying to figure out how to eat well to live a long, healthy life. So which one should you follow? Answer: It is way more complicated than that.
Your ideal diet is completely individual to YOU. The only general guidelines that work for everyone is eating real and whole food. From there, you have to figure out what foods work best for you and whether you run better on higher fat vs lower fat, higher carb vs lower carb, moderate protein vs high protein. We suggest working with a registered dietitian for this step. But, here are some general nutrition tips to consider.
STEP 1: Add more vegetables to your diet
Too many people focus on macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) as opposed to micronutrients. Start by adding 1 cup of green vegetables per day to any meal. Instead of taking away food, try adding veggies to get your recommended daily amount.
STEP 2: Get enough protein, but not more than you need
Studies suggest 0.6-0.8g per lb of bodyweight on most days is sufficient for athletic and active people. Some studies show it could be beneficial to lean toward the higher side if you are leaner. The current research also shows that you don’t need any more than this even if you are active (maybe if you are an athlete training hours and hours a day you might need more, but we’re talking to the general population here). Don’t fall trap to these supplement companies saying you need 1.5-2g of protein per lb of bodyweight – that is absurd and can have horrible health implications down the line if you eat that much on a regular basis.
STEP 3: Eat more healthy fats
Fats are so important for energy and keeping hormones balanced. Even if you find you do better with more carbs, you still need adequate amounts of healthy fat sources for optimal health.
STEP 4: Eat quality meat (if you’re a meat eater, of course)
The “best” would be grass-fed, grass-finished and humanely raised, humanely killed. – basically the animals living in the environment in which they were meant to live. This may not always be accessible, but regenerative agriculture farms typically produce quality sustainable meat. Quality meat sources provide a ton of nutrients on top of the essential amino acids needed.
STEP 5: Eat meals at a frequency that works for you
Ah yes, the whole “eat six meals/snacks per day to speed up your metabolism” myth. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this claim. This myth has been thrown around by the supplement industry because shocker, they are trying to sell you their protein shakes, bars, etc. so you can have your “snacks” immediately accessible. Think about it, do you think at the time our ancestors were evolving into humans that we had access to food to allow us to eat 6 meals per day? I highly doubt it.
If you feel good eating six meals, great. But evidence suggest that meal frequency should be individualized and hitting your protein goals should be a priority here. If more meals helps you eat more protein, great.
STEP 6: Focus on the quality of your plate
Whole foods are going to provide the most nutrients and should be prioritized. Processed foods can contain inflammatory oils and various additives so focusing on whole food should be a priority.
STEP 7: Enjoy life sometimes
This means enjoying delicious treats! Yes, your perfect diet does include having treats sometimes. Sometimes, enjoying treats with family or friends IS the healthy option at that moment. The important thing is to not stress over it, but to enjoy good food and quality company.
*Disclaimer: We are not registered dietitians and this is not medical advice. You should seek medical advice from your doctor or work with a licensed professional if you are undergoing a new specific nutrition plan for you.