It seems that these days most people that I speak to fall into one of two dietary camps.
In one corner you’ve got the low carb craze that’s sweeping mainstream media right now. According to advocates, a low carb diet is the holy grail when it comes to effortless weight loss, increased energy levels and improved brain function.
And in the other corner you’ve got the die-hard low fat dieters, who believe that humans thrive when restricting their fat intake and that complex carbohydrates should be our predominant energy source.
So the question is… who should you believe?
Should we be eating a low fat diet to live long and prosper, or is cutting carbs the secret to health and longevity?
The answer you are looking for is…. NEITHER.
Neither a low carb or low fat diet is optimal for long term health. Unless you have a medical reason for doing so you do not need to avoid either fats OR carbs.
You see, the problem with both of these diets is that they are built entirely around restriction. And whether you are restricting carbs, restricting fats or restricting calories… you are already setting yourself up to fail.
Because whenever we go into restriction mode we lose sight of the most important part of healthy eating. That’s eating a wide variety of whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods every day.
How many times have you seen someone on a low fat diet reach for a high sugar granola bar (that looks and tastes like cardboard) because they’re scared of the fat content of a handful of cashew nuts? Of course the cashew nuts have more fat than an ultra-processed granola bar! But they also have more nutrients, and they’ll keep you satisfied much longer too.
On the other hand, how many times have you seen someone following a low carb diet who can’t even eat a sweet potato or a handful of blueberries?
Newsflash: neither of these diets are healthy. Deliberately restricting nutrient dense foods in fear of a single macronutrient is as dangerous as it is absurd.
Fats and carbs are both essential
Your body NEEDS fat. Fat is essential for a healthy hormone balance, optimal brain function, heart health, joint health and skin health.
Your body NEEDS carbs too. Carbs provide our body with energy, provide fuel for our muscles, support our nervous system and come loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. And guess what? Your body also needs protein. All three of these macronutrients are crucial for our long term health, performance and longevity.
None of the healthiest people that I know deliberately restrict major food groups to conform with a specific set of dietary rules and regulations.
They don't eat processed and packaged low carb snack bars or low fat ready meals. They eat an abundance of whole foods in all shapes, sizes and colours to nourish their cells and allow their bodies to thrive.
Most importantly of all, they have a healthy relationship with food too. They don't live in fear of fats or count every carb that passes their lips. They know that freaking out about an extra serving of potatoes or a little olive oil on their salad would be far worse for their health than a few extra calories.
What matters the most to your health
Yes, our diets play a big role in our overall health and wellbeing, but they aren't the ONLY thing that matters. Happiness, relationships, community and purpose are all incredibly important too. Instead of examining your diet to the smallest degree why not try focusing on these a little more instead?
It's easy to get caught up in a long list of rules surrounding the food you eat. But this isn't healthy, it isn't sustainable and it sure as hell isn't fun.
You could spend your whole life counting calories, peeing on keto sticks and declining all social invites that revolve around food in fear of slipping up on your rigorous plan. Or you could be a little kinder to yourself and enjoy all of the freedom that comes with a truly healthy, balanced diet.