What is the healthiest diet in the world? That’s something I’m often asked, and a question many researchers have tried to answer.
Unfortunately, many of the most popular answers aren’t the best ones. They’re either not quite accurate or ridiculously wrong, which is mostly a function of marketing. A lot of fad diets get attention because they are marketed well.
Too many fad diets focus on restricting certain foods or food groups, instead of encouraging you to eat others. Often the restrictions are based on bad science, faulty logic, or marketing puffery.
Luckily, the healthiest diet on the planet is quite simple, and I’m going to explain the handful of guidelines in this podcast.
0:00 – My pre-workout Pulse’s seasonal flavors Frosted Cranberry and Apple Cider are 20% off this week only! Go to buylegion.com/pulse to check them out and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% on any non-sale items or get double reward points!
4:28 – What is a healthy diet?
5:41 – Is a vegan diet a healthy diet?
8:43 – Is a vegetarian diet healthy?
10:16 – Can you survive on the carnivore diet?
13:09 – What is the healthiest diet in the world?
16:35 – 10 steps to a maximally healthy diet
Mentioned on the Show:
My pre-workout Pulse’s seasonal flavors Frosted Cranberry and Apple Cider are 20% off this week only! Go to buylegion.com/pulse to check them out and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% on any non-sale items or get double reward points!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
What is the healthiest diet in the world? Something I’m asked fairly often and something many researchers have tried to answer something. Many books continue to try to answer, particularly mainstream health and diet books, and unfortunately, many of the most popular answers at any given time are. Not the best ones are either not quite accurate or ridiculously wrong, and that’s mostly a function of marketing.
A lot of fad diets get a lot of attention because they are often marketed well and they are inherently more. Interesting than the type of information I’m going to share with you on this podcast. Now, one of the biggest downsides to many of these fad diets is they focus too much on restricting and excluding certain foods or certain food groups.
Instead of encouraging you to eat others, they are usually. Don’t eat this and usually not do eat this and well maybe this too, but make it in moderation. And while restrictive dieting can help someone lose weight, for example, especially if they are supposed to cut back on stuff that they tend to overeat, often the restrictions are based on bad science, faulty logic, and marketing.
Puffy. And so if somebody follows one of those diets and they lose weight, they often don’t realize that it wasn’t because of what they read in that book. It wasn’t the lectins that were the problem, it was simply the calories. And the truth is the healthiest diet on the planet is actually. Quite simple.
There are just a handful of guidelines and they are very flexible. There are boundaries, but you have a lot of room to navigate, and when you get those things right, everything else usually just falls into place before we get into it. Do you sometimes lack the energy and the motivation to get into the gym?
Do you sometimes want to hit the snooze button instead of the squat rack? And are you sometimes just not able to give a hundred percent in your workouts? If so, my pre-workout pulse is for you. It’s a 100% natural pre-workout supplement that increases energy, improves mood. Sharpens focus boosts strength and endurance and reduces fatigue Also.
Now is a great time to try the frosted cranberry and the apple cider flavors of Pulse. Because they’re currently on sale, they are 20% off. Over at by legion.com/pulse, b u y legion.com/. Pulse now, the reason pulse is so effective is simple. Every ingredient in pulse is backed by peer reviewed scientific research and is included at clinically effective levels.
The exact amounts used in the studies. That found benefits. Pulse is also naturally sweetened and flavored, and it contains no artificial food dyes or other chemical junk and all that is why I’ve sold over 850,000 bottles of Pulse and why it has over 11,004 and five star reviews on Amazon and on my website.
So if you want some help getting fired up, zeroed in, and ready to crush your workouts, then you want to try Pulse today, go to buy legion.com. Bui legion.com/pulse and use the coupon code muscle at checkout and you will save 20% if it is your first order with us. And if it is not your first order, you will get double reward points that is 10% cash back.
On that order and know that if you don’t absolutely love pulse, just let us know and we will give you a full refund on the spot. No forms, no return even is necessary so you can’t lose. Go to buy legion.com/pulse. Order now. Use the coupon code muscle Save 20%. Try pulse risk free and see what you think.
Okay, so let’s start with a simple definition of terms. What’s a healthy diet? What does that mean? Well, let’s just say that it is a diet that helps you improve or maintain your overall health. Pretty simple, and although health has some subjectivity, To it. There are degrees of health and what one person would consider healthy, you might not.
A healthy diet should include the right number of calories and enough protein, carbohydrates and fat to maintain a healthy body composition. It should also give you enough vitamins. Minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. So your body can function well without having to supplement with a bunch of stuff, and it should give you enough water to stay hydrated.
And for most people, that means that it’s a diet that is rich in nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, dairy, pulses, nuts, seeds, legumes, and plant oils. And relatively low in processed foods or more highly processed foods and you know, fast food and stuff with artificial trans fats and sugary beverages and so forth.
And so if those are the criteria for a healthy diet, what does that look like in practical application? Let’s talk about the. Vegan context. Is a vegan diet, a healthy diet? Is that the healthiest diet? Is it the healthiest diet in the world? Well, a vegan diet, of course, is one that only. Contains plant foods, so no foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs.
And a large body of evidence shows that people who eat higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are generally healthier and more likely to live longer disease free lives than those who don’t eat. Enough of them. And that’s largely because fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and flavonoids that benefit our health in various ways.
And while healthy eating necessarily includes a lot of plant stuff, a variety of plants, a variety of vegetables, that doesn’t mean that eating only those foods is ideal, and especially if you’re trying to improve or to optimize your body composition. For example, gaining muscle is trickier as a vegan, not impossible, but it’s trickier because it’s difficult to eat enough high quality, well-absorbed protein, and that partly explains why studies show that omnivores tend to have more muscle than people who follow plant-based diets.
Studies also show that certain. Micronutrient deficiencies are more common among vegans than omnivores, including vitamin b12, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, and others. Now you can mitigate those problems and you can do very well with a vegan diet e, a truly healthy vegan diet by consuming a variety of different micronutrient dense foods.
But you probably will need to supplement strategically to avoid key nutritional deficiencies. Or insufficiencies. And I will also say that the most successful vegan weightlifters that I know, people with outstanding body compositions, outstanding strength, they all supplement with. Protein because it is quite hard.
Let’s say you have a guy and he’s pretty muscular and he needs to eat close to 200 grams of high quality protein per day. It’s quite hard to do that on a vegan diet if you don’t use a protein supplement. And as far as plant-based protein supplements go, my two favorites are rice protein and pea protein.
And I actually like them combined because when you look at their amino acid profiles, P protein is strong, where rice protein is not, and so they’re complimentary. And when you combine them and you look at the combined amino acid profile, it actually looks a lot like whey, which is why that combination is often referred to as the vegans.
Whe, and that’s why I sell a plant-based protein powder. That is rice, protein and pea protein. It’s called Plant Plus, and you can learn about it [email protected] if you want to check it out. Now, what about vegetarian eating? Is that. Healthy. Is it the healthiest way to eat? Well, now we’re usually talking about avoiding anything that is the result of animal slaughter.
So no meat, no poultry, no fish, no gelatin, no animal fats. No animal stock. Many vegetarians will eat foods that are not the products or byproducts of animal slaughter though, so they will have. Milk, they will have punny eggs, cheese, yogurt, and so on. And when it comes to health benefits to healthiness, the vegetarian diet is very much like the vegan diet because of the high fruit and vegetable content.
A vegetarian diet is rich in vitamins and minerals and fiber and other essential nutrients. But because of the lack of animal-based products, or at least many types of animal-based products, vegetarians. May find it challenging to consume enough high quality, well-absorbed protein, and are more likely to have micronutrient deficiencies than omnivores.
That said, because most vegetarians include some animal products in their diet, those downsides can be avoided by consuming a lot of eggs and a lot of dairy. That helps and also supplementing intelligently. So just as with a vegan diet, you can do quite well with a vegetarian diet. But you do have to pay attention to what you are eating.
You have to micromanage your meal plan to some degree, so to speak. Now, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. The carnivore diet. Is that healthy? Is it the healthiest way to eat as many people on social media say and well, These are people who don’t eat plant foods. That’s no fruits, no vegetables, garnishes, no plant-based spices, oils, seasonings.
That’s the carnivore diet. And so that means that we would need to get everything that we need to survive, get all the essential nutrients we need to survive just from eating animal products and research shows that that is possible. We can survive on an entirely animal. Based diet. But remember, surviving is not thriving.
And unless you’re willing to eat all parts of an animal, you know, snout to tail eating as they say, or nose hole to butt hole, as I like to say, you are not going to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need to optimize your health. For example, only organ meats like liver, heart, and kidney, contained vitamin C and really just in trace amounts too.
And so what that means then is if you follow a carnivore diet and you are not willing to expand your pate to awful. And that is a, a fitting word, isn’t it? Uh, although I’ll say it’s probably not all. Awful. Some of it is kind of awful though. You can develop some serious health issues. You can develop a vitamin C deficiency, for example, and that can compromise your immunity.
It can mess with your mood. It can lead to weight gain, it can lead to anemia. Things can get really ugly if you don’t get enough Vitamin C. Now, let’s say you don’t develop an outright deficiency, a severe lack of nutrients that impairs your health, you still can develop an insufficiency, a modest lack of one or more nutrients that undermines your health in less obvious ways.
And an example of that is fiber, because animal products don’t contain fiber, and although fiber is not essential for life, you can live without eating fiber. Multiple studies show that eating fiber helps reduce the risk of numerous illnesses like cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes and diverticulitis.
And the same can be said for different phytonutrients and flavonoids that are in plant foods. These are not essential for our survival, but there are mountains of evidence at this point. I mean, the weight of the evidence is overwhelming, and it shows that your life is probably going to be shorter and it is probably going to end more painfully if you eliminate.
Phytonutrients and flavonoids from your diet. And so while you can survive just eating meat, including organ meats, it’s probably not ideal for your health. So then what is the healthiest diet in the world? What is science’s? Best answer to that question. Currently, well, currently the weight of the evidence shows that instead of focusing on restriction and exclusion, instead of looking for things that we can’t eat or shouldn’t eat, we should be looking at including a wide variety of foods in our diet.
The healthiest diet in the world appears to be one that includes a variety of nutritious foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, dairy, pulses, nuts, seeds, legumes, plant oils, a list I shared earlier, and what research shows is if we just focus on eating a lot of those types of foods. And if we learn a little bit about controlling our macronutrients according to our body composition goals.
Eating enough. Protein, that’s really the most important one. If we also care to make sure we are eating enough healthy fat, I like to focus on polyunsaturated fat. There are a few other things, but if we just mostly focus on eating a lot of those types of food as opposed to nitpicking about all of the things that we are.
Not allowed to eat. And you know, if you think about some of the more popular diet books in the last 10 years, if you were to read, let’s say four or five of them, and if you were to combine all of their rules into One, one True Diet, you would have nothing left to eat. Right. So that should tell you something that’s a red flag.
Now, we should limit foods that are demonstrably bad for our health, like highly processed foods, um, artificial trans fats, high sugar drinks. Not that we should never have those things, but we should limit them. And so what that means is there’s no need to prohibit them. If you really like to have your sugar sweetened soda, you don’t like diet soda, just have it here and there.
Don’t have it every day or. Don’t have at least hundreds of calories of it every day, and if you really want to have that store bought pastry, then enjoy one here and there. Or maybe even have a little bit of one every day. Again, so long as it is a minority of your daily calories, so long as most of your daily calories is coming from the other stuff.
And an added benefit of eating like this is those treats feel like rewards for eating a lot of nutritious food. And research shows that that can help with compliance. It can help with sticking to the plan over the long term, and that’s the key to. Improving and optimizing and maximizing our health and our wellbeing.
Now, some people call this style of eating the Flexitarian diet, but I just call it eating like an adult, and it looks a little bit different for everyone. Because there are no hard and fast rules about how much of each food or food group you need to eat macronutrient, for example, that you need to eat or not eat so long as you get most of your calories from the good stuff, the whole nutritious, relatively unprocessed stuff.
And so long as you minimize the foods that we know can cause disease and dysfunction, if over consumed, you are doing the 20% that gives you. The 80%, and so I wanna wrap up here with 10 steps. There are 10 parts to a maximally healthy diet. The first one is something I’ve mentioned several times. Get most of your calories from whole nutritious, unprocessed foods.
Stuff that comes from animals comes from the earth. You prepare yourself. The second is eating an appropriate number of calories to maintain a healthy body weight and to achieve your body composition, your fitness goals. So for example, if you are overweight and you need to lose fat to get to a healthy body composition, you are going to have to eat less than you are currently eating unless you are already on your way.
If you’re underweight, you’re going to need to eat more. If you’re happy with your weight, then you need to eat about what you’re eating, which is probably about what you are burning every day. You also want to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day because research shows that that is enough to lower your risk of all cause mortality significantly.
Also, you want to eat a moderate amount of animal products, stuff like seafood and pork, and poultry, eggs, red meat. Those are very nutritious foods and they provide key nutrients that are hard or impossible to get or damn near impossible to get from plant. Foods alone where you want to cut back, where you want to not prohibit, but limit, well, that’s the highly processed stuff.
That’s salami, that’s sausage, that’s bacon and so forth. I also recommend this is. Point number five to eat protein with every meal or snack because that is going to help you eat enough protein every day, and that is going to help improve your body composition. It’s going to help you recover from your workouts.
It’s going to help keep you full, which makes you less likely to overeat. Point number six is find a balance of carbohydrate and fat intake that works for you. And I’ll say, if you’re very active, and especially if you do a lot of resistance training, you are probably going to prefer more carbs, not less.
A higher carb diet is probably going to suit you better, but if that’s not the case, that’s sorely fine. Eat as few carbs as you like. The next tip here is to eat at least a few servings of dairy every week. Stuff like skier, my personal favorite, uh, or other yogurt like Greek yogurt, for example, cottage cheese, which also can be very delicious.
Regular cheese milk. These are all nutritious high protein options that you should include in your meal plan if it doesn’t upset your stomach. Next we have point number eight, which is to drink water. When you’re thirsty, many people say that you need to drink at least a gallon of water per day or a half a gallon of water per day.
But research shows that it’s probably not necessary to set an amount. Instead, you just want to drink enough water to quench your thirst, and you do that by drinking when you are thirsty, keeping water nearby. And when you get thirsty, drink some. Next we have point number nine, which is limit your alcohol intake.
And what that means is don’t have more than one or two drinks per day. Try to prioritize low calorie wines, beers and spirits over higher calorie stuff like heavy beers, citters and fruity cocktails. And last number 10, enjoy junk food in. Moderation, assuming you like junk food. If you don’t, then don’t bother with it.
But if you want to have treats and they are junky treats, you can do that. But try to get at least 80% of your daily calories from nutritious stuff, which means no more than 20% of daily calories from sweets or other nutritionally bankrupt Fair. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share.
Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.