It seems as though every few years there is a new and exciting diet that storms into the media and becomes the topic of debate for so-called “fitness gurus” all across the internet. While some are absolutely ridiculous, others make a bit of sense. I can name a handful of mainstream “diets” that are built on fairly sound principles, not just some absurdly unhealthy loophole to hastily drop a few pounds. However, I’m not going to name any of these and neither should you.
Here in America we are all about shortcuts. Why buy “7 Minute Abs” when “6 Minute Abs” is right there next to it on the shelf? While there probably isn’t a difference between the two and I’m sure it’s going to take a few more minutes before those abs show up, this is how health and fitness marketing in our society works. To put it simply, it’s not very cool.
When it comes to your diet, clever names and hashtags on Twitter should never have an influence. If you find yourself consuming nothing more than kale juice and organic nut butter, this isn’t making you “fit.” If you are consuming two packs of bacon and three pots of coffee for breakfast, you couldn’t be farther from our Paleolithic ancestors. Besides, since when did a caveman become the image of health?
Like I said before, some of these famous “diets” actually have some incredible research and nutritional principles behind them. Basing what you eat off of what a caveman ate is ridiculous, right? However, focusing on healthy fats while eliminating grains and processed foods is genius! How do I know? Because years of research have told us this, but it wasn’t until some clever marketers got a hold of it and distorted it, that word began to get out.
Nutrition is a vast and ever-changing subject that can be a little intimidating, especially when you’re trying to make big changes in your health. Those who are profiting off trendy diets understand this and use it to lure you. Before you take on another “juice cleanse” or consume 14 pounds of broccoli in a week, try this:
Learn the basics
Check out a safe and reliable source like EatRight.org and understand nutrition fundamentals. Know the difference between micro- and macro-nutrients, and what your body does with them. I promise you, an hour spent finding this stuff out for yourself will change your life.
Trendy diets are not going anywhere. They are here to stay, but we can learn a lot from them. While they are fascinating to a nutrition geek like myself, I think anyone looking to improve the way they eat can find interest in how these wild ideas make their way into mainstream. Rather than blindly diving in, dissect them from a safe distance. Many of the wild claims stem back to some piece of valid research that was blown out of proportion. Getting to the foundation of many of these diets will naturally discourage you to indulge, while adding to your nutritional understanding.
This is key to not only nutrition, but to health in general. The truth is, we are all different. What works for me is not going to work for you, even if I write it in a book and get Oprah to sell it for me. Once you have a basic understanding of nutrition, you can start with the fundamentals to create your own diet. Once you have a starting point, you can begin on a journey to discover exactly what works best for you. You can find what helps you reach your ideal weight and fitness level, and what helps you feel the best. After all, your diet is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix.
Again, this applies to a lot more than just nutrition. To achieve health, you have to have balance. Sure, not eating for a week will have you down a few pounds, but at what cost? Your body will be in starvation mode and will immediately put that weight and more back on as soon as it has the opportunity to prevent the stressful situation from happening again. Like I’ve said, your diet needs to be a lifestyle, so it needs to be sustainable. Find a balance between all of your macro- and micronutrients. Find a balance between how many calories you need to consume each day. Find a balance between foods you know your body needs and foods you just simply enjoy.
There’s no quick fix when it comes to nutrition. Your diet should be a journey, not a destination. While there are a lot of maps out there to help you on your way, it’s ultimately up to you.
Trevor DeRuisé is a professional mountain bike racer, riding for Jet Lites and Trainer Road. He is also a nutrition expert and one of the owners of GetReal Nutrition. He is lives in Reno, Nev.