Food is the most stressed part of health in today’s culture. It’s become less about adding foods to improve health and more about eliminating entire food groups instead. People go through their day without a single gram of sugar or animal protein, becoming married to these diets. However, this effort may not be the most optimal. If there was a perfect diet, it would have been implemented into everybody’s lives by now. Each individual has different biological situations that originate from genetics, neurology, and cognition.
The best diet is the one that fuels your daily lifestyle and extends your lifespan. Rather than stand by diet styles such as macro-tracking or the keto diet, this article will provide you with the options to customize a diet for your specific needs.
Why is Diet Valued?
People often forget that more work has to be done with the plates in the kitchen than the plates at the gym. The way people fuel themselves largely affects how they perform on a daily basis. Some diets advertise themselves for improving lifestyle, brain capacity, or ethics. It can be overwhelming to find the diet right for you. Here are some tips to improve your diet based on your lifestyle.
Optimize Overall Health: The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is the most heart-healthy diet, including a flexible variety of foods. It originates from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea such as Greece, Turkey, and Italy. These cultures have the longest-living people on the planet because of their cardiovascular and metabolic health (1). They acknowledge the health benefits of both high-carb and high-fat foods. Rather than giving people an ultimatum, this diet actually marries them. The diet focuses on food groups instead of macronutrients. People can experience the best parts of food without the stress of balancing numbers. Do you want a meal with fatty fish and olive oil? Great. Do you want a bowl of rice with beans and vegetables? Also great. With this mindset: quality foods matter the most. The catch is that they limit their intake of red meat and sweets to special occasions such as holidays or celebrations.
Resistance Training: Prioritize Recovery
For weightlifters, the most important things to obtain on a daily basis are protein, water, and fiber. Resistance training dehydrates the body and tears the muscle fibers. Improper recovery can lead to prolonged inflammation and fatigue. What we eat impacts the essential vitamins sent throughout our body. Lean protein, seafood, non-fat dairy, and plant-based proteins all lower inflammation. The latter two can even assist in rehydration. As for fiber, any vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are on the table.
Endurance Training: Prioritize Fuel
Endurance training is on the opposite side of the training spectrum. This category is for athletes participating in long distance running, marathons, or ultra-marathons, devoting long bouts of activity into their days.
Fuel is the key to endurance. These athletes should prioritize high-carbohydrate diets. Endurance training depletes glycogen stores far more than resistance training due to the longer bouts of elevated heart rate. While fat is still important for neurological function, it is not as sustainable to be in ketosis for endurance athletes training for improvement in performance time (2).
What’s Your Gut Feeling?
The trouble with today’s diet culture is people become married to one diet. In some cases, it can hurt their personal and social life. The mind will say to stay committed to that one diet, but the gut may be saying otherwise. In this case, the best solution is to trust your gut. It’s important to fuel your gut with what it needs in the present moment.
The gut knows what it needs for fuel, it’s a matter of actually listening to it. It’s easy to get caught up in what the mind tells the body what to eat. We assume we have to eat a specific food because it’s what we always have. Your keto diet may be preventing you from having your favorite Christmas cookie that only comes once a year. Your plant-based diet can make you stubborn against the main dish at Thanksgiving while it’s all your gut is craving. That’s called a habit. Habits can be broken by listening to the gut.
A dietary choice should be viewed as a supplement, not a concrete lifestyle. Food is both a medicine and a cultural experience. Let’s not pursue which diet is best for the rest of your life; let’s ponder on which foods can improve your current health situations.