Is there such a thing as an optimal diet?
If so, what is it?
Well, when it comes to down to an “optimal diet” there’s not just one that will suit everyone.
However, there are a few common themes that I think prevail when it comes to dietary intake;
- One that allows you to eat in an energy balance forever (Katz & Meller. 2014).
- One that contains a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
- One that limits processed foods.
- One that has adequate amounts of protein (Phillips et al. 2016).
Along with this adopting a similar approach to The Blue Zones across the world may be beneficial and over the last 12 years, this has led to a healthier population. In these areas, you can find that people live longer Buettner and Skemp (2016).
With this diet side of things, these areas are important but it is also key to highlight that physical activity plays a major role in all of this.
Along with adequate hydration. 50-70% of body weight is made up of water (Armstrong, 2007). Even though the research is limited in the area of hydration and weight loss there could be an argument made for dehydration negatively affected your weight loss goals (Stookey et al. 2017). A symptom of dehydration is lethargy which could have a big impact on your general daily activities (NEAT) as you may be more likely to be sedentary on that day. Feeling lethargic could prompt you into thinking that “you may need a sugar hit” to give you more energy which will impact the energy balance equation and tip you into a calorie surplus. You simply cannot lose weight if you are in a surplus and a negative energy balance is essential in order to facilitate this (Westerterp, 2010).
As you can see just one little thing can have a knock-on effect everywhere (energy balance) and if weight loss is your goal you may want to address your hydration levels daily. Some practical tips to stay hydrated to help would be:
- to carry a bottle of water at all times.
- choose drinks that you enjoy (a sugar-free squash would be fine if you do not like water).
- try to maintain clear urine
- don’t forget about foods (soups, stews, fruit, vegetables etc.)
I’m gone a bit off-topic now but I would always encourage you to be a health-seeking individual that adopts healthy habits that may be optimal for your health.
There will be phases of your life where you will spend time in a negative energy balance in order to lose weight. There will also be times when you are in a surplus to perhaps build muscle, this is where I see a lot of people flipping back and forth for many years which is also find provided those actions are in line with your goals.
But once you get to somewhere where you are happy and healthy, then the goal should be maintenance!
When you get to here then it’s more than just calories. Sleep and stress management are also two important factors that many overlook. Perhaps you should also focus on all the other facets of health that are very important also and at this point, you could give yourself a mental break from “dieting” or “gaining” all the time because this is important too.
I hope you found this article helpful!