I'm sitting with some friends one day discussing life and all of its problems, and I get asked a question. A question that all Personal Trainers get a lot. Some people might consider it an annoying question, but I don't mind it.
"Hey Hannah, in your opinion, what's the best diet?"
It's kind of sad when I get this question because I know that there is frustration behind it. This person wants results. They've tried and tried and tried and triiieeed. They want someone to just help them already so they can move on and enjoy life!
Once upon a time, I would have referred them straight to my 6-week nutrition plan. And rightly so, it's a great plan! Sharyn didn't lose 50-ish kg on it for no reason! The doctors who actually created that plan really know their stuff and there is absolutely no reason why someone wouldn't see results if they were to complete one or more cycles of the plan.
However, I do things a little differently nowadays. Because while we would all benefit from eating the way that you learn in my 6-week nutrition plan, there's a little more to it than you'd expect. I ask a couple of questions first...
What's your body type?
The most recent desciptions of body types are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph. Most people have no clue what these mean (or how to pronounce them). But, your body type is possibly one of THE most important things to know when it comes to nourishing your body and achieving your goals.
If you were to find out what body type you are, you'd probably be lumped into one of these categories. The thing is, you're more than likely a combination of all three body types. You'll have one "dominant" body type, and then the other two types will be shown much less within your body. For example, I am mainly a mesomorph, but I do have some traits of an ectomorph, followed by a two or three traits of endomorph.
Once you've figured out your body type, you're one step closer to knowing the best diet plan for you as an individual.
What are your goals?
What you want to achieve will dictate what kind of exercises you need to do. In order to reach those goals, we will need to nourish your body a certain way. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to get stronger and build a bit of muscle? Do you want to build your stamina and endurance? It's important to know this, because if we don't feed you and train you correctly, you won't get the results you want.
So, what should I eat?
First up - I'm not a qualified nutritionist, dietician, or anything like that so I'm not going to give you an exact meal plan. What I can do though, is give you a few pointers for you to play around with.
Ectomorphs are those people who can eat basically anything and they still look skinny or lean. They have body types similar to Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow. These are the kind of people who tend to lose weight very easily, and need to work hard and smart with both training and nutrition in order to gain weight and keep it on. These people typically don't do well long term on low carbohydrate or ketogenic diets, so they need to make sure they keep good quality sources of carbs in their diets so they don't burn out and cause chaos with their hormones..
Mesomorphs are people who can gain or lose fat and muscle reasonably easily, and have more of an athletic hourglass figure. Think Heidi Klum, and Lucy Liu. They tolerate lower carb diets better than their ectomorph friends, but they still need a reasonable quantity of clean carbs in their diets.
Endomorphs are our strong friends! They have great endurance, they have muscle, and out of all three body types can tolerate a lower carb count the best. Unfortunately endomorphs get a bad rap, because they do tend to hold onto their weight (fat or muscle) more than ectomorphs or mesomorphs, but do not be deceived!!! Just because you are an endomorph it does not mean that you can not have an absolutely phenomenal bod! Did you know that Serena Williams is predominantly an endomorph? She is proof that endomorphs do not need to despair. All you need to do is be diligent with your nutrition and training.
The most important thing that you can do about your diet, is make sure you are eating good quality food. Sure, healthy eating can be a bit more expensive at times, but with a little planning and foresight, healthy eating can be very affordable. And plus, wouldn't you prefer to spend a little more on healthy food now, than on doctors and specialists later when your body starts getting sick?
So, what does healthy eating look like?
a note on organic food...
Some people say that Organic food is more nutritious. Some people say it doesn't matter. Here's what's important:
The quality of the soil on / in which your food was grown is what gives your food it's nutrition.
The only way you will know if "this" carrot has more nutrients than "that" carrot, is if you have a nutrient testing device with you, and if you visit every food store and farm stall near where you live. And if you ask me, ain't nobody got time for that.
Organic farming generally is said to have more nutrients because of crop rotation. Conventional farming practices don't do that.
Organic farming is pesticide, herbicide, hormone and antibiotic free, and free range (in the case of animal farming). Conventional methods include the use of all these products, and animal farming can often be very cruel.
With this information, it would seem like Organic food is the best, most logical choice. However - do what is right for you. Do what is within your budget. Buy what is locally available for you. You have a good brain, and are capable of making the choice on whether or not you will "go organic", without judgment. And if anyone judges you, well, you don't need that in your life.
So, what is the best diet?
"The best diet is the one that fits the individual, that's also healthy for the short term AND the long term." (Dr Stephen Cabral)
There is no perfect diet, there is no "best" diet. We all need to figure out what our body responds to best not just in how we look, but in how we feel too!
If you want some helpful hints and tips on how to become a healthier eater, why not download my free ebook? And of course feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all!