Why Your Diet May FailDec 14, 2021
Big Government may be a huge reason why your diet may fail
In an exciting turn of events for 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their updated guidelines regarding what you should eat (linked here).
Among such recommendations are to eat nutrient-dense foods and that limiting caloric intake to 85% can meet nutritional recommendations. Okay, I am with you!
The promise to base their claims on science and HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated that: “The science tells us that good nutrition leads to better health outcomes, and the new dietary guidelines use the best available evidence to give Americans the information they need to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families,”
Hooray science! However, other instituted statements include making ½ or more of your grains “whole grains.” Also, to eat “adequate servings of fruits and vegetables. It is at this point that they lost me.
A large reason why diets fail is due to excess starchy carbohydrates and hidden sugar
I do think that fruits and vegetables are important, but why do we keep lumping them together. I mean, we do not even want to compare apples to oranges, after all. So why compare apples to broccoli.
True, both contain micronutrients galore and are plants, but fruits, more often than veggies, have lots and lots of sugar. Take an apple for instance. Assuming that your average intake of sugar per day should remain under 50 grams (really 25 g or 6 teaspoons) for preventing weight gain and assisting weight loss. Our friends at the FDA prescribed 10 tsp as their goal and the American Heart Association 6 tsp.
On the other hand, you should consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies daily. Well, given that math you will certainly exceed the 25 grams/day rule on apples alone (1 apple = 19 grams of sugar). Therefore, following the “healthy guidelines” are certain to make you unhealthy. Keep the fruits and veggies like apples and broccoli.
What about grains as a way that diets fail
On the other hand, our standard American diet (SAD) is loaded with “healthy grains.” Who is to blame for this sentiment…dun dun dun dun…advertising. Cereal companies and mass production of grains as “heart-healthy.” These companies preyed upon consumers which were adopted by scientists with biased commercially funded evidence and worse yet, our kids.
I bet you remember learning about the dreaded food pyramid in school. Yup, 11-16 servings of bread and grains daily. Just using a basic on-the-napkin calculation, this concept was not successful, as America is still overweight and our hearts are not healthy.
Grains in and of themselves are not bad for all. However, non-celiac and celiac gluten sensitivity are quite common. In addition, the processing of grains adds chemicals, bleaches, pesticides, and toxins galore that can induce inflammation and interfere with your hormones. Grains are also notorious for poking holes in your gut’s protective lining leading to leaky gut (link here for our article).
Those grains are then attacked by your immune system, leading to inflammation, seep into your bloodstream, causing brain fog, joint pain and you name it. The culmination is an unhappy mind, gut, and body.
Let your nutrition soar by ignoring the Government
At the end of the day, a grain will just give your carbohydrates and limited amounts of fortified vitamins. One might argue that it may be better to pick a food that is, say, more nutrient-dense. Now, where have a heard that before? Foods like vegetables.
The government is not the only reason why your diet can fail. Let’s look deeper and NO you are not to blame, but your habit formation may be.
Healthy Habits for Life
Big governmental news aside, I bet you start each day by waking up and making coffee or brushing your teeth. As a part of my wellness journey, I decided to delay that Am cup of coffee and start each day with 1 glass of water to prime my metabolic engine (see our article on hydration here).
In order to implement this habit, I had to pair it with a preexisting part of my AM routine and repeat it. So, as a part of my am ritual, get up, brush my teeth, go downstairs and aka coffee, I made my coffee, turned on the pot, and then decided to grab a glass of water while the coffee was brewing. I repeated this task day in and day out and then finally, and viola, habit.
The average person takes 66 days of completing a task over and over for a habit to form.
As with most things we are not linear arithmetic and such learning is also contingent upon the complexity of the task in relation to your baseline (like trying to run 8 miles when you have never run before) and the manner of reward in the end.
The Greater the Habit
By gamifying habits, adding rewards, and repeating you too can make your nutrition changes a reality. After all, there is an app for everything.
You may say that you do not have self-control, which is somewhere in that equation, however, you can overcome by eliminating bad habits. You are stronger than you make yourself out to be. Again, keep conditioning in mind here.
Sugar problems purge your shelves. Smoking doesn’t buy cigarettes. Drinking, don’t go to the bar. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but that piece of cake your co-worker is offering you for Janessa’s birthday does not have to exist. You can sing happy birthday, but then, remove yourself from the room and get back to work. It isn’t rude, it is just self-preservation.
Avoid bad habits and repeat. Do not punish yourself. Reward good goals no matter how small. Stopped soda for 1 week, celebrate! Little wins add up with time and compound, just like finances do.
Misinformation through the term diet may be why you fail
The more we work with our clients here at Maximal Being, the more I realize all of the terrible misinformation that exists regarding diet. This is not just from fitness influencers, but my people, healthcare providers as well (see heart-healthy grains above, our bad about that one).
More often than not people have ascribed to a “diet,” starved themselves and failed. Most likely because of the rapid dispersion from their existing dietary plan. You cannot eat 2000 calories of junk and then eat 1 celery stick daily and expect sustainability.
Look yourself in the mirror and be real. Ask yourself if this change is something I can do forever, if not, maybe dial down the volume a notch or two first and then ease on the gas pedal. Might I also just take a moment to put my skeptic hat on and say to CHECK YOUR SOURCES.
Believing Information at Face Value is a Sure Fire Way to have Diets Fail
Due to the nature of the internet, social media, society, etc, information comes in droves rapidly and without reference. We see blurbs about politics and believe them to be true when it is clear that we are not great at discerning fact from fiction.
However, if you are reading this you are a skeptic like me.
Misinformation is even true in scientific literature. Tons of low-quality false medical journals are being created every day. Trust, me, I get emails from such companies all the time.
Additionally, even within certain journals information can be falsified, redacted, and supplemented to fit an endpoint or hypothesis.
That is why you have to read the whole thing and look at the methods. Scrutinize your sources and double-check things. Remember there are no quick fixes.
Diets fail because they are not one size fits all
If you tried a diet in 2020, I guarantee it was probably keto. Some of you may have had success and some not so much. If you are not still doing it why? Probably because you either did not get to your results, or it was not sustainable (as an above pedal analogy).
You see there exist metabolic differences between each of us as humans. Some of this is determined by foods we have eaten for years impacting factors like our microbiome (see this article on the microbiome) and some genetics.
Using keto as an example, CPT1A and PPAR-alpha are genes responsible for fatty acid metabolism. Due to genetic predispositions, certain persons may oxidize fat, thus turning them into pro-inflammatory metabolic nightmares. Such factors can also occur for people who lack certain compounds which activate these genes like omega-3 fatty acids (virtually absent in the SAD). Such people will fail the keto diet.
The Bottom Line
We at Maximal Being Gut Health, Nutrition, and Fitness are rooting you on. If you want to try a diet, it really cannot hurt you (unless you buy an odd toxin-filled product).
However, there is nothing better than being a skeptic, scrutinizing the literature, following the science, and forming sustainable habits. If you want a genetic analysis, biological testing, and plan backed by science to last a lifetime, click below. Until next time, maximal beings, we are here to maximize your pathway to wellness.