Without a doubt, the diet and weight loss industry has changed over the years.
From low-fat to low-carb to liquid detox, a lot of trends have come and gone.
Now, as we better understand human biology, a new trend is emerging. And it figures to last.
Personalized diet plans are becoming increasingly popular. And it makes sense, because we all have slight differences in our metabolism.
What Is Personalized Dieting?
Simply put, any diet plan that's customized based on your information will be a personalized diet plan.
Diets can be customized based on a number of different factors. We've seen diets based on your blood type and even your DNA.
Another way to come up with personalized diet is by keeping track of your eating for a period of time, and then examining how you respond to different foods.
Here's the idea: People respond differently to certain types of foods.
So when some guru claims they have THE diet to shred fat, that may be more true for some than others.
Stephanie Lee writing for Bodybuilding.com affirms this view:
You've witnessed success among vastly different diets. Sometimes these diets deviate from the norm and still produce science-defying results. Vegans have been able to build muscle by staying vegan. People can mold insane physiques eating only twice per day. Some of the oldest living people in the world in certain regions thrive on high-fat diets. As you can see, a successful nutrition strategy can vary greatly.
You only need to look at your own experience to realize that this is true. A lot of different diets can be effective.
And some may be more effective for you than for someone else.
Can A One-Size-Fits-All Diet Work?
We may respond differently to certain diets, but can a single diet still work for everybody?
Setting aside special cases (such as people with medical conditions that restrict their food choices), we can try to speculate.
If your goal is to lose weight, you can accomplish this simply by creating a calorie deficit (source).
It doesn't really matter what's in your DNA – if you don't have any confounding medical issues, you can lose weight by restricting calories.
In that sense, the answer is yes.
But can a diet be more effective for one person than another?
Personalized Diets: What's The Evidence?
The idea of customized diets hasn't received much research attention until recently. To learn more about whether these diets are supported by evidence, we looked at what natural health expert Dr. Joshua Axe had to say:
So far, the proof seems to be in the pudding. In one study, published published by Cell, researchers fed 800 people the same foods and found a huge variation among participants in glucose responses. Foods like ice cream and whole-grain bread, for example, caused blood sugar to spike in some individuals while having little to no glucose response in others, lending credence to the idea that grains are not right for everyone. (2)
While the initial findings were impressive, the research team then went to the next level. Using information they’d unearthed on the patients based on glucose responses and combining the data with family histories, activity levels, medications and gut bacteria, the researchers were able to predict — correctly, as it turned out — how participants would respond to foods they hadn’t eaten yet. They were also able to “prescribe” a personalized diet plan to 100 participants that moderated post-meal blood sugar levels and increased good gut bacteria.
As you can see, there is indeed evidence that customizing your diet plan can help you achieve better results.
One of the big drawbacks, as Dr. Axe notes later in the article, is that the health assessment required to create a personal diet is expensive and not readily available for everybody.
While that figures to become less expensive in the future as this trend takes off, we need to look for cheaper alternatives in the meantime.
How To Start A Personalized Diet Today
If you don't want to spend your money on expensive blood work and doctor's visits, you can also come up with a customized diet the old fashioned way: paying attention to what you eat.
Health coach Gary Watson has a relatively inexpensive program called Fat Burning Fingerprint which guides you through this process.
In his program, you'll take a week to keep track of everything you eat and how that affects you. There is a detailed questionnaire that's meant to figure out what types of foods you crave and when. It also helps you figure out what foods give you energy and which foods don't.
Since most of us have irregular diets (we don't eat the same thing every day), it can be hard to know this stuff off the top of your head.
Once you've figured out what your ideal ratio of carbs, proteins, and fat is, you can follow a customized meal plan that's best suited for you.
We're not suggesting that a personalized diet plan is a must. But if you've struggled in the past with generic diets, it may be worth a try.