“I can only show you the door. You must walk through it.”
I felt some need to recap this as it is probably one of the most common points of contention in the nutrition community. I will go through all the specific variations on dietary approaches from low carb, keto, paleo, and veganism later but to make an important point really clear. When we look at trials comparing them we see some interesting phenomena.
If we have two groups of people – one goes low carb and the other low fat and we follow them for 12 months. On AVERAGE both groups lose the same amount of weight… However, within each group (one having low fat and the other low carb) some people don’t lose much and some lose lots. So that tells us that whilst there are general principles that are true there is clearly a personalised approached needed meaning that some diets will work better for you than others. So if you are not getting success in one way, try another until you find what works for you and your lifestyle.
Trials also tell use quite repeatedly that basing our diet on gene tests does not tell us which way will work for you and which will not. And likewise there are no good trials on basing our diets on other factors like phenotype or microbiome yet, but these will eventually come. Hence for now – good old fashion trial and error is the best way to go. But remember that it is not just about your own biologies, but also your lifestyles – what works for your demands? If you have kids and work full time versus someone who is retired but has a few medical conditions – then the lifestyle is very different, the barriers, challenges and motivations are different to – so personalise to your LIFE, not just your genes. Remember Principle 4 = Holistic!
I will tell you right now – what works for some people doesn’t work for others and vice versa. Personalised means your own journey is unique and must be tailored to your circumstances and your needs. The fact that this principle is so misunderstood is the reason there is so much fighting and disagreement between different dietary approaches. When I say personalised I don’t mean just an individualised diet, but rather a personalised approach. This means some will need to focus on certain types of eating and some might need to focus on their emotional mindstate, some may need surgery, some may need to learn how to handle their cravings and some simply need to learn what good food actually is. We all have our own lessons to learn and no two people’s journeys are the same, so cut yourself some slack when comparing yourself to others.
When it comes to personalised eating over the last few years only there have been some groundbreaking studies done. These supported an idea that may, in fact, be very obvious – personalising nutrition to match our unique individual selves, otherwise called personalised medicine.
In 2015 a team of researchers in Israel looked at 800 people given the same food. What they found was that there was a huge difference between how some people metabolised that food and their blood sugars amongst the people. Meaning when a group of people ate the same food – some people had completely normal blood sugars, where some people had very high blood sugars. So this starts to immediately question the current existing paradigm that any single diet works for everyone. But rather early evidence is starting to show that certain diets may work better for certain people.
In my experience, and it is only my experience, some people lose weight very well on a simple lower calorie diet, some people need to remove carbohydrate forms, some people need to remove fat, some people need a variety, some people frequent meals and some fasting, some people respond better to certain forms of movement, some people need to build up their self-esteem and work on their emotions and others do not. The sad part is that the science, as far as I have seen, is just not there yet to know exactly who should do exactly what so it comes down to intuition, experience and trial and error.
So there are 2 major points to draw from this – 1. The basic principles of all healthy eating and losing weight work for everyone like eating good food and less of it, and 2. That certain specific intervention may be better for some than others. One day hopefully will be able to make really targeted suggestions but at the moment it is more a journey of trial and error. We have to trial something out and see its effects on you – do you feel more energy, do you feel overall better, and are your losing weight? Are you only losing weight for a few months but then it stays on? Do you need to change up the program every 3 months? That is a personal journey. Some do better on a vegan diet, some on a raw food diet, some on a low carb high-fat diet and so on. The longer you are on this journey you better you will be at figuring at what works for you. So don’t expect immediate magical insight, just be patient, try something out, and sense its effects on you.
I will go into much more detail about this in future videos. But is it important for you to know that I can only show you the door, you must walk through it, only you will experience what you are experiencing. Follow the cues of your body.