With so many diet plans out there, it can be hard to know which is best for you. On top of that, each of these diets claims to be a miracle solution to help you lose weight and improve your health. Whether it’s keto, intermittent fasting, vegan, low-carb, or macro counting, a new and improved diet is always around the corner.
But the truth is there is not one diet that works for everyone. After all, we are all individuals with unique needs, goals, and preferences. In order to create healthy eating habits for life, you’ll want a diet that matches your needs and preferences and is sustainable for your personal lifestyle.
If you’re asking yourself, “what is the best diet for me?” we’ll walk you through the questions to ask yourself to find the best eating pattern you can stick to.
Determining the best diet to follow requires some self-reflection. You’ll need to evaluate your own goals, preferences, lifestyle, and schedule.
It’s also important to remember that finding the best diet for you may be a little trial and error, and that’s okay. Trying and “failing” is often needed to find your own healthy eating path.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and factors to consider:
- What have you tried in the past? You need to know yourself first and foremost. You can’t choose a diet based on what worked for other people or what you may see on social media. You don’t always know the full picture, and everyone is an individual here. Keep your eyes on your own plate, so to speak, which will help you find a plan tailored to you.
Think about diets you’ve tried in the past and whether they really worked. Just because you lost weight on a diet doesn’t mean it “worked.” If it was temporary and you gained it back, didn’t feel satisfied, or couldn’t stick with it, it probably isn’t the best plan for you.
- Do you like the food on it? Have you pondered starting the keto diet, but you love carbs so much? If you’re forced to restrict foods you love or eat foods you dislike, it probably isn’t your diet. With the right eating pattern, you’ll be able to eat healthily but still enjoy your food, sans deprivation.
- Is there enough variety? Is the diet eliminating several foods or food groups that it’s hard to figure out what’s left? If so, you may find yourself getting bored quickly.
However, everyone is a little different here, so it’s important to know yourself. For example, I have a few clients who are creatures of habit with their food and love rotating the same 3-4 meals every week. This can keep things easy and mindless, and some people like that.
If that sounds like you, maybe a diet with fewer options may work for you. But remember that you still need to enjoy a variety of foods and food groups in order to meet your nutritional needs – so don’t go overboard with the monotony.
- Is there flexibility? Is there enough flexibility with the diet plan? For example, do you have the option of swapping out your meals, or will you need to adhere to a strict, curated list of recipes, and that’s it?
Having flexibility in the plan to splurge a little, go out to a restaurant, or go on vacation will make it more sustainable and achievable in all settings. Because you don’t live life in a bubble – having this flexibility built into a plan is key.
- Does the plan match your schedule? Intermittent fasting continues to be one of the hottest diet trends out there. But will your schedule enable you to eat in the specific window required?
For example, maybe you’re a nurse who works 12-hour shifts and doesn’t always have time to eat at scheduled times, so you have to spread out your meals throughout the day. In this case, sticking to an 8-hour eating window may feel very challenging for you.
Finding a plan that matches your schedule and the times you’re hungry will be more sustainable.
- Is it sustainable? And speaking of sustainability, always evaluate if you can follow a particular diet longer than three months. If that is questionable, is that really a diet you want to start in the first place? There’s no sense in kickstarting a new diet only to feel like you’re veering off the course a few weeks later.
- Does it meet your budget? Does the diet require a lot of expensive ingredients you wouldn’t normally use, for example, MCT oil, or a requirement to cook meals with tons of ingredients? If you’re living on a tight food budget or don’t want to blow your whole paycheck on food, you’ll want to take cost into consideration when evaluating a particular eating pattern.
- Do you have time to prepare the food? How much meal prep is required for the diet, and does it match the amount of time you have? I’ve had many clients give up on meal planning because they were cooking recipes that were too complicated or time-consuming.
If you only have 15-20 minutes each day to prepare meals and the diet requires lengthy recipes, it will likely only lead to frustration and will be hard to adhere to after a few weeks.
- Will you be satisfied with it? Food satisfaction is so underrated! It is so incredibly important to feel full and satisfied with your meals. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself raiding the pantry yet again at night.
This is only natural and is not a matter of willpower. If you do not satisfy your hunger during the day with your eating plan, your body will eventually alert you and say, “come on, now it’s time to play catch up.” This can lead to overeating later. I see this ALL the time in my practice.
Make sure the diet you choose includes a variety of food groups and plenty of fiber and protein to keep you full. Leanbean® contains the dietary fiber glucomannan, clinically proven to keep you feeling full and make it easier to stay satisfied between meals. This can be an additional helpful support in your healthy eating arsenal.
- Does it cause more stress or worsen your relationship with food? Some diets can be stressful. But there is a difference between a diet and an eating pattern. A diet often indicates restriction and is typically a temporary plan. An eating pattern is a way of eating for life.
Always ask yourself how a certain diet or way of eating makes you feel physically and mentally. Does it make you feel guilty for eating something not “allowed” on it, or does it make you anxious to have to track your calories all the time?
Many of my clients come to me after following diets that make them feel guilty or shameful for not adhering to them. If a diet is doing that for you, following it is not in your best interest. It should instead make you feel good, empowered, and energetic.
- Do you have a health condition that may be affected by this diet? Your medical history may influence the type of diet you should follow. For example, if you have heart disease or high cholesterol, following a very high-fat keto-style diet may not be the best choice for your health.
Always speak to your doctor to determine the best diet for your medical condition.
- Do you plan to incorporate exercise alongside your diet? If you’re an active person planning on exercising, you’ll want to choose a diet that fuels you properly. A very low-carb diet may not be the best choice if you’re active, as the body requires glucose from carbs as its primary source of fuel.
At the same time, a short intermittent fasting window may not be the best choice because this may require you to work out in a fasted state, which doesn’t always work well for many people. As you can see, there is a lot to consider to answer the question of what is the best diet for me.
If you’re on the hunt for a balanced way of eating, here are the top three ways to know whether a diet will likely be sustainable.
Instead of a restrictive diet that requires you to avoid certain foods, find a diet that focuses on what to eat more of. This way of eating employs an abundance mindset, which emphasizes all of the foods you can and should enjoy versus what to stay away from.
This mentality is much more positive and sustainable than the latter and is something you can stick with long term.
If a diet is less than 1200 calories, chances are you will feel hungry on it. Many of my clients are surprised when I prescribe them 1600 or 1800-calorie diets for weight loss, and it works, as they often have followed very-low-calorie diets in the past.
Going below 1200 calories, or especially under 1000 calories, often leads to quick weight loss, according to research, but is likely not sustainable. Going this low in calories is also not the best diet for weight loss and muscle gain simultaneously, as very quick weight loss often results in muscle loss.
Are you often shaming yourself for eating food you identify as “bad” or “unhealthy?” Much of this comes from restrictive diets that label foods as good or bad or sometimes associate them with a color, like red for bad and green for good.
While some of this is well-intentioned by diet creators, it can lead to stress and negative feelings around eating. I often see that when a food is labeled as bad, that food becomes more desirable, and it becomes harder to control the intake of that food.
Remember that, in the end, food is just food – and the focus should be on how food makes you feel physically and mentally.
You should always consult your doctor when starting a new diet for guidance and to determine what’s best for you. Your doctor can also refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you track your progress, get over any hurdles, and create a sustainable personalized plan that brings you results.
Finding the best diet is all about knowing yourself and what will work for you versus looking at what seems to work for other people. It’s best to consult a health professional for personalized guidance to find a sustainable eating plan.
Additionally, incorporating Leanbean which helps create a feeling of fullness can make it easier to maintain healthy eating habits long-term.
- What is the most effective diet to go on? There is no one-size-fits-all in terms of the most effective diet. However, certain eating patterns are associated with optimal health and results, such as eating a variety of foods, including plenty of plants, and a Mediterranean style of eating.
- What is the 80/20 diet rule? This popular rule is a guide for your everyday diet. With this rule, it is recommended to eat nutritious foods 80% of the time and splurge with your favorite foods or treats (if you want) the other 20% of the time. The concept is that this way of eating allows flexibility in your diet plan to help make it easier to adhere to.
- What is the best diet for weight loss and muscle gain? If this is your goal it’s best to focus on plenty of high-protein foods to gain muscle and healthy, complex carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. To lose weight, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit but also meet your protein needs to build muscle.
Disclaimer: The information on the Leanbean blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be used as such. If you would like to learn more about your dietary requirements and related aspects of your health, speak with a registered medical professional.