There is no perfect diet. There is only what works for you.
Heading into the new year there will be a million and one different people and articles trying to tell you that there is one diet that works best for each and every person. This is false. I want every person that reads the Jacked Scholar content to know that any diet that claims to be the only one that will work for you and is simultaneously a magic bullet to cure everything, is false and preposterous. Of course there are general recommendations which everyone can benefit from such as eating whole foods, staying away from processed foods and refined sugar, drinking water and eating vegetables with every meal. However, these are blanket statements which hold true for anybody. So, once the basics are covered we must come to the realization that we all have different bodies and epigenetic life factors. This will ultimately influence which foods are best for us and which foods will leave us feeling weak, tired and mentally foggy.
How to find what foods work for you
One of the best things you can do to determine which foods work best for you is to do something known as a 30 day reset. This will allow you to determine which foods work for you and which foods you should cut out of your diet in 2018. The 30 day reset involves cutting out caffeine, alcohol, grain products, refined carbohydrates, dairy and sugar. Once you have eliminated these foods for 30 days you reintroduce each one at a time. You take at least 7 days between reintroducing so that you can see how your body handles the reintroduction of each individual food source. For example, after 30 day, week 1 would only reintroduce dairy; journal about how you feel mentally, physically, and how your digestion is. Week 2 would only reintroduce caffeine and you would follow this same process until you have reintroduced all foods you took out of your diet. You will find that as you reintroduce foods you will notice some don’t sit well and make you feel off. This allows you to eliminate some foods completely and keep others around.
Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate Makeup
Not all of us respond in the same way to the same foods, we know this first hand; some people have gluten intolerance's while others don’t. Some have dairy intolerance's while others don’t. What most of us fail to realize is that the makeup of our macronutrients can have the same effect on our bodies and minds as a food intolerance does. For example, someone may be able to eat 100 grams of white rice in one sitting and have stable blood glucose, while another person could eat that same 100 grams of white rice and have an almost diabetic blood glucose response. The same goes for fat, where some people do amazing eating a high fat diet and thrive in this state, whereas others feel terrible. Some people also have genetic predisposition which make certain foods a less than favorable option. An example of this is the a polymorphism of the APOE-4. If you eat a diet high in saturated fat and happen to have a polymorphism of this gene, you are at a 4-fold increased risk for heart disease.
Goals and Macronutrient Makeup
Not only does the way your body respond to certain macronutrients dictate the ratios your diet should consist of, your activity level and goals are also incredibly important for what foods you choose to fuel your body with. For example, as we have learned in previous blogs, anaerobic activity such as sprinting, throwing and weightlifting, all rely heavily on muscle glycogen. In order to perform at a high level in these events you need to consume carbohydrates (at least 99 percent of people do) so therefore, not eating carbohydrates as an elite athlete is not the best decision. On the contrary, if you are currently 20+ pounds overweight and just starting to workout, there is really no need to consume carbohydrates. However, if you do it should be at a minimum of less than 100 grams per day. If you are overweight, your main goal would be losing weight instead of maximal athletic performance.
The point I am trying to convey to you is that no diet is the “perfect diet” because we are all unique individuals with unique genetic and physiological factors influencing the way we respond to certain foods and macronutrient ratios. The most important thing you can do to ensure you are healthy is sleep 8-10 hours a night. Drink water. Eat real food. Eat vegetables with every meal and tinker with certain foods and macronutrient make ups to see what works best for you and your body.