What Is the Best Diet?

By Ben

It's surprising how much attention is paid, and how much discussion there is, regarding one's choice of diet...  I'm not a an expert of any kind, but I have come to some conclusions based on my observations of people's search for the "best diet".  Every day, it seems I encounter an argument, often very heated, about the superiority of one person's dietary decisions over another's. God knows I've gotten into more arguments over what I eat than any other issue.

What is healthiest? What is the best way to lose weight? What is best for the environment? Not all these questions are within the scope of this essay, but I can offer my views on what the best diet is, for both weight loss and life.

Are you ready? 

The best diet is that which you can sustain.   

People incessantly try to find the Holy Grail of diets for health and weight loss, changing up variables like what macronutrient to avoid, how to cook their food (or not), when to eat, how often to eat, etc.  This is wrong. The best diet is the one that is easiest for you to follow. This will require a little bit of self-knowledge, so it's not the sort of thing that any health guru can tell you.

For example, everybody I've known has either been more of a "gorger," eating one big meal a day, sometimes two, or a "grazer," eating many small meals a day or snacking a lot. This appears to be just an inborn preference.         

What happens when a gorger tries to take the many small meals approach? They hate it. I've done exactly this, as a gorger myself, and let me tell you, I was always tired, hungry, and angry. It was not sustainable.

That said, I've known people that lost weight and felt great doing this exact approach. They were natural grazers, who feel very sick eating the amount in a meal that I do.      

Then there's the question of what foods do you like? It's easier to cut carbs, for example, if you thrive on meat. It's much harder to do so if you don't care for meat. We all have our preferences.    

The reality is that any diet, correctly followed, is a massive test of discipline. It is not natural for us to monitor our food intake or try to make the "best" decisions on what to eat. The deck starts stacked against us. But if you pick an approach that goes against your nature and preferences, the games goes from merely unfair to completely rigged. You can't win. So don't do that.

Don't ever listen to dietary advice telling you to do something completely unnatural to you. As Socrates advised, know thyself, and know that because something worked for somebody, it won't necessarily work for you. You're not them.   

An exception to this, of course is when particular dietary changes are absolutely necessary…. Think allergies, celiac disease. etc. If issues like those come up, you will learn to deal with them because it’s a matter of survival. Also, if it’s medically necessary you will likely find yourself feeling better by following it, which will make it much easier to make it “sustainable” to you.

On a final note, you should probably at least take a multi-vitamin supplement to at least minimally cover your bases. I've known exactly zero people who ate a truly well-balanced diet every day.

And, there may be other supplements you need or would benefit from, but I mention the multi-vitamin as one most people would likely benefit from since maintaining a truly well-balanced diet is very difficult in today’s world. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only one to consider… just a minimal way to support your body if you aren’t certain you’re getting a totally healthy, well-balanced, diet.

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