Does the perfect diet exist? Well, technically yes. If you experiment long enough, you will find what diet works best for you; the problem with this is that the Average Joe/Jane has to sift through a whole ton of information garbage that dominates our media and information outlets.
Ideally, the best diet should cover all of these aspects:
Support your movement (how frequently you exercise and perform recreational activities)
Allow/enhance hormonal function
Maintain a healthy immune system
Naturally allow the body to detoxify itself
Keep markers of health in check (insulin, triglycerides, cholesterol)
Build muscle mass
Reduce body fat
Allow you to recover from exercise
Promote healthy digestion
Slow the aging process down (as opposed to what most diets do)
Of course some diets may focus on one aspect more than others, such as an athlete trying to build muscle mass in an off season. But that doesn’t mean that this list is too hard to achieve; if you’re eating a whole food based diet that rotates proteins, vegetables, and natural starches, you’ll probably have all your bases covered.
Problems arise when people get caught up in fads and then create factions. These factions tend to spend more time arguing over what diet is better than actually tracking their progress to see if their nutrition is making their life better or worse. It comes down to low fat versus low carb on the undercard while vegans and meat eaters take up the main event.
When people attempt a fad, they usually have some initial success. After all, if you eat fast food everyday and then wake up one morning and decide to become a vegan, you’re going to see a change. You went from eating garbage everyday to eating raw foods; your skin will clear up and your energy levels will increase. You don’t need a PhD in nutrient biochemistry to understand that.
After some time, you may give up becoming vegan and turn into a carnivore. With all that meat consumption, chances are you’ll get stronger and pack on muscle. But you’ll run into a wall because you didn’t eat enough fiber in your diet and now you feel tired and sick because your plumbing is all backed up.
That’s the issue in a nutshell. Switching from trend to trend will see one parameter of health increase while another one gets worse. Usually people’s values come into play; if you could care less about training and enhancing performance, you probably won’t care if you start to lose muscle mass but jump for joy when your complexion clears up.
Call me crazy, but would it really hurt to just simply combine methods? Adding a cup of broccoli to a ribeye is a great choice to make; and maybe having a side of wild berries and walnuts with your morning eggs would help your mood and memory throughout the day. Cycling low carb diets with a high carb “refeed” is a great way to lose body fat. All in all, diets are just like training programs: everything works, it just doesn’t work forever.