Why The “Perfect” Diet Might Actually Be a Bad Idea

How about "better" instead?

June 11, 2019

Yesterday I was talking about sugar with a client who recently met with a registered dietician. The dietician told her to avoid refined sugar, which is definitely good health advice. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Dieticians know their sh**. I am not one, but I also know some sh** that's helped a lot of people lose a lot of weight and redefine thier relationship with food.

I’m not here to argue that refined sugar (especially a bunch of it) is a healthy choice. It’s linked to all sorts of diseases and obesity. I’m not even gonna pull links for that statement.

Refined sugar is basically impossible to avoid in 2019. Natural sugar is the sugar found in fruit and milk. The rest of it is refined sugar; and it’s EVERYWHERE in the average American diet in 2019!  One trip to the grocery store will prove this.

Most people know cookies, candy, and soda are loaded with the stuff; but it’s also in a lot of breads, sauces, and just about anything labeled “low fat”. Sneaky, sneaky... Check your labels!

Why is it everywhere? Probably because food manufacturers want you to buy their food and they know sugar is addictive. Maybe they even read this research paper that found “virtaully all” of the rats they tested preferred sugar to cocaine!

So sugar is highly addictive and hidden in all sorts of foods these days, including ones marketed as “healthy”. Good luck avoiding it! If you can do it, more power to ya. Otherwise, allow me to make the case for NOT avoiding it, while dropping pounds and feeling better …

I’m not even gonna start with a health-related reason. Nope, this is about flavor and enjoyment of life. If you’re gonna eat unhealthy stuff, do it because you WANT to. Make a decision to enjoy the hell out of that candy bar. Eat it slowly. Pay attention how your taste buds light up, and how it makes you feel in general (emotionally and physically). Mindless Self Indulgence is a better band name than an approach to eating. I’m all for mindful indulgence.

Now, for health... Instead of trying to avoid refined sugar, focus on getting plenty of protein, vegetables, and fruit throughout the day. Maybe some whole grains, too. When you get enough of these regularly, you just don’t have as much room for the junk, and your body is much better equipped to process the treats you do occasionally enjoy.

This is called “addition (of the good stuff), instead of subtraction (of the not-so-healthy stuff)” and it’s how I coach people to remarkable, sustainable weight loss. I think it’s a better approach than trying to find the elusive “perfect” diet, which is going to be highly-restrictive and difficult for most people in today’s world.

It is much better for your sanity than trying to avoid refined sugar, or the rest of the processed carbs and unhealthy fats that are everywhere these days. As I've said in the past for #NutritionTipTuesday, the best diet is the one you can stick to.

Down With The Fitness is here to give you simple, actionable tips that will improve your health. If you found this helpful, feel free to check out the archives for more. I'm pretty proud of the rabbit hole this thing has become.

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Have fun and do your best,

Matt Koch

Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach (American Council on Exercise; Precision Nutrition)