Every Diet Plan Works – What You Need to Know about Fad Diets

The Goal: Building A Full Dieting Toolkit

This is the real goal of nutrition. It’s not about proving that your diet is better than the others – it’s about knowing when a diet is appropriate and for whom.

This should be common sense but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in just yet. Imagine if someone asked you if they should train bench or squats. That doesn’t seem to make sense – the answer is either “yes” or a really confused face. I prefer to do both at once.

The point is that these two exercises aren’t competitors – they have totally different goals, methods, and results. If you want to sit down and stand up but really hard, you’ll choose the squats. On the other hand, if you want to fill out your t-shirt, you’ll choose the bench press. Duh.

So Why Don’t We Treat Dieting this Way?

As a writer and a generally-knowledgeable fitness-y bloke, I’ve been asked countless questions that take the general format of “should I use diet x or diet y?”. I use the same answer as before – “yes” and a confused face.

The reality is that a diet is only useful in the context of your goals, medical history and a whole bunch of other factoids that I don’t know about you. I need more information.

So, clearly, it’s time to re-frame the whole question of dieting. The goal of this article is simply to try and push our dieting approach a little bit further away from “what diet is best” towards “what diet best suits my needs”. After all, specificity to your goal is something we’ve practiced in sport science for decades2.

Building a Big Arsenal

Right. Time for the actionable stuff – the stuff you (at least try to) implement in your life.

I’m going to start by saying it: the popular fad diets right now are actually awesome in their own right.

When I look back at the types of diets that were being proliferated seriously in gyms even a decade ago, they were awful. Restrictive diets, early juicing diets, stimulant-supported diets, and all that awful junk that gave dieting so much of a bad reputation that people like to pretend it doesn’t work.

However, modern “fad” diets aren’t anything like that. I only call them fad-ish because they have something of a cult following or miracle status, often over-blown by gurus who have tried to turn a small positive into a whole business. These people aren’t to be trusted, but the diets themselves are actually pretty decent.

I’m going to deal with the three elephants in the room because they provide the best approach to a new, not-stupid method of dealing with diets. It’s called ‘using the right tool for the problem’ and it’s how we managed to become the dominant species on earth.

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