Choosing the Right Diet: Sailing the Stormy Seas of Snake Oil

How does anyone choose the right diet? There are so many of them, and they all claim to be the best.

There are approximately a trillion billion diets out there right now. Paleo, Atkins, Zone, Low carb, high carb, alkaline, to name a few of the popular diets right now. Here’s the thing though, they all work, if you actually follow them to completion. Read that again:

They all work, if you actually follow them to completion.

Everything else I’m about to say can be extrapolated from that one sentence. Now the question is:

How does one decipher the information and follow a diet to completion?

Finding the similarities

Regardless of a given diet’s logic, the actual content is typically the same. Diets often have more similarities than differences. If you focus on the differences it’s going to be pretty easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. Looking at what different diets have in common will make things simpler.

Diets work because they decrease caloric intake, or they increase the quality of food which decreases caloric intake as a side effect. That’s it. It’s impossible to lose weight without a caloric deficit. Any other reason given for a diet’s effectiveness is simply marketing.

The point here is to look for what diet’s have in common; those aspects are what drives the diet’s effectiveness. This usually boils down to, “eat more veggies and less pizza”.

Making it work

Now let’s discuss why diets fail, even when they have the potential to be successful. A diet fails when someone doesn’t follow it to completion.

The most effective diet in the world, won’t work if it’s too difficult to follow.

What this means is that for a diet to be successful, it must be realistic, otherwise the diet becomes hypothetical. Remember, your diet doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be good enough. Following a diet to about 80%-90% adherence is usually good enough to see some really solid results.

A diet should fit into your lifestyle fairly easily, anything less and it will be too hard to stick to the plan. The problem I see with most people’s efforts is on the implementation rather than the actual contents of the diet. This area is much more specific to individual psychology and is a lot trickier frankly. The diet then becomes about experimenting and seeing what strategies make following the diet more seamless and less stressful.

The key here is, whatever diet you choose, find a way to make it easy AND enjoyable. This is best way to ensure you are consistent in adhering to the diet.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: consistency trumps intensity every time.

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