The law of individual difference is a mainstay in the health and fitness industry. It basically states that not everyone responds, in the same way, to exercise and dietary interventions.
That means that a diet that works for your training partner won’t necessarily work for you.
However, you’ll find numerous common guidelines in just about every effective and sustainable diet plan. These factors include:
- A predominance of fresh, natural whole food ingredients, particularly plant-based foodstuffs.
- A variety of colours on every plate.
- Calorie control.
- Minimal processed and manufactured foods and no sugar.
Having said that, mankind’s fondness of rankings and lists can provide a more direct answer to the question: Is there one diet that is better than all the rest?
The ‘best’ diet
The Mediterranean diet consistently ranks as the ‘best diet’ – an accolade it maintained in 2021, according to US News & World Report.
In fact, it’s the fourth consecutive year that the publication’s expert panel rated the Mediterranean diet better than all the rest.
The judging panel includes experts in heart disease and diabetes, nutrition, diet, food psychology and obesity, who review research to determine the rankings.
Rather than a set diet plan, the Mediterranean Diet follows key basic principles (communities along the Mediterranean eat slightly differently to each other – Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish).
The Mediterranean Diet is rich in fresh produce, consisting predominantly of vegetables, nuts and whole grains, along with some seafood, poultry and fruits, and plenty of olive oil.
It is low in red meat and dairy, as well as sugar, processed foods, refined carbs, and hydrogenated and saturated fats.
Most dietitians agree that this is a balanced diet plan because it includes protein, carbohydrates and fats within recommended ranges – there is no severe restriction or omission of any food group.
It is also easy to maintain due to the variety of foods you can eat when following this diet, and the fact that it doesn’t severely restrict portion sizes. It is preferable to eat vegetables raw whenever possible, or lightly cooked if required.
Numerous studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes, various cardiovascular diseases (high blood pressure and cholesterol), cognitive conditions such as dementia, memory loss and depression, and various cancers.
Eating with Mediterranean flair in your diet has also been linked to better bone health, a stronger heart and increased longevity among those who follow it.
However, it is worth mentioning that those who live in the Mediterranean region also have an active lifestyle, which supports the diet’s health benefits.