The field of nutrition is notorious for having conflicting ideas, opinions, and science. This has resulted in mass confusion about what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it, in order to be healthy. This Nutrition Myth series aims to dispel some common myths around nutrition, whilst providing some simple universal tips for people to follow.

The Nutrition Myth series will address:

  1. Do you need to count calories?
  2. What is the best diet?
  3. Why do people regain weight after weight loss?

What is the best diet?

This is one of the most common debates in the nutrition world. Understandably, people want to know exactly what to eat and in what proportions in order to be healthy. A quick browse online and you will find a wide array of answers to this question, coming from “nutrition experts”, personal trainers and health gurus. Should you be paleo? Vegan? Mediterranean? Low fat? No carbs?

The idea that there is a best diet that will work for everyone is a myth in itself. People are unique. They have different genes, which influence things such as fat and carbohydrate metabolism or lactose intolerance.

Other influencing factors:

  • Your geographic region will determine what foods are available to you.
  • You have a unique composition of gut bacteria that digests some of your food.
  • Your dietary needs differ depending on your age, sex and type of exercise you do.

All of these factors mean that not every diet is going to work for you. For example, which diet is better for weight loss: a low fat and high carbohydrate diet or a high fat and low carbohydrate diet? Studies show people lose about the same amount of weight on both of these diets. What is more interesting is the huge variability between people. Whilst some people on these diets will lose lots of weight, some other people on the same diet will actually gain weight. What this shows us is that just because a diet works for another person, it might not work for you.

We need to move away from a culture of picking an often restrictive diet and move towards a more personalised approach to nutrition. We recommend starting with the basics:

  • Eat whole or minimally processed foods
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Have enough protein in your meals
  • Minimise sugar, alcohol, and very processed foods.

If you’re looking for new meal ideas and inspiration, take a look at our recipes. We have compiled recipes that are healthy, easy to make and student budget friendly.

From there you can adjust your diet to see what works best for you. Pay attention to your body during and after your meals. Are you full for hours after your meal or are you peckish and need to snack soon after? You might need more protein or fibre (or just more food) in your meal. Adjust the ratios of fats and carbohydrates in your meals to suit you. Perhaps you notice you feel tired after you’ve eaten too many carbs or that you crave sugar after too few carbs.

Although this approach may sound daunting, compared to just following a diet from a health book, it is far more rewarding and empowering to decide for yourself what the best diet is, for you.

The next Nutrition Myth: Why do people regain weight after weight loss?” will be released later this week.