The reality is that there is no particular diet that's best to lean out or gain muscle. The reason for this is that there are so many factors that go into determining the best diet for you and you alone. Factors such as your body type (i.e., ectomorphic, mesomorphic, endomorphic), your dietary preferences (i.e., meat, vegetarian), your budget, organic or conventional, your nutritional knowledge, environmental influences (i.e., family, friends, etc.), climate conditions, environmental pollutants, food availability, cooking experience and knowledge, time availability, physical activity level, etc. With all of these factors, how is it ever possible to determine the best diet for anyone? Well, careful nutritional assessment and counseling can help but the important concept here is that there really is no best diet. This is because the human body is amazingly adaptable to any diet. You can be healthy and fit whether you eat lots of meats, eat a low-carb diet, eat dairy-free foods, or prefer a vegetarian diet. It really doesn't matter.
In the long run, what really matters is:
- be aware of the foods you eat
- eat for a negative or positive energy balance if you want to lean out or gain muscle mass, respectively
- eat minimally-processed, less calorically-dense but more nutritionally-dense foods (e.g., deeply-colored fruits and vegetables and lean meats)
- drink plenty of water throughout the day
- eat some food every few hours
- eat slowly to enjoy your food, and
- exercise daily
BOTTOM LINE: There is no such thing as the one universal "best" diet. Go with the diet that works best for you and you alone and that you can follow the rest of your life. Don't blindly follow the latest trendy diet plan (e.g., gluten-free diet, etc.) that excludes particular foods thinking that this is the best way to eat. There is no magic diet plan. Eat the foods you enjoy and most of all, eat for pleasure!
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."