A theory becoming more and more prevalent in the fitness and exercise world today states simply, that less is more. For example; five ninety-minute gruelling cardio sessions a week is not neccesarily warranted for good health, or even that good for your body. The same goes for the foods that you consume in the quest for your idea of an ideal body. This idea is not just referring to the weekend late-night pizza binges, or the trip to the Sunday afternoon buffet with extra visits to the cheesecake station. This goes just as much for fad dieting.
To lose weight, the common idea is to burn more calories than you consume. This is a logical progression until you see what kinds of struggles the participants on the Biggest Loser have to go through to lose weight. So, why not eat less, or at least better, in order to stress less about weight gain, body image and health? The idea is not to starve yourself, but just keep the amounts of certain foods you eat in check, focusing instead on eating things that do not provide you with empty calories.
Too many times, people fall victim to diet fads that concentrate on too much of one things and not enough balance in eating. A balanced diet of all of the proper foods, just not a select few of them, is what will ultimately lead to better health.
Some diets, perhaps for distance athletes, contain too many starchy carbohydrates, which may lead to a plethora of problems down the road including all sorts of digestive problems and complications. Other diets, like those of body builders, focus too heavily on proteins, leaving out many other essentials needed to promote good health. While most common sense dictates we steer clear of fast foods, sugary foods, processed foods, and even "diet" foods, the real focus in a healthy diet to promote fitness must be on quality of the foods we eat over the quantity which we consume.
Some stuff to avoid at all costs if you are serious about your fitness goals:
Fast foods. This means all of them, including burgers, pizza, milkshakes, chicken, french fries, and everything else placed in the deepfrier or microwave then thrown under a heat lamp. Sub shops can offer a healthy lunch, if you avoid extra sauces, cheeses, and white breads. Choose instead, extra veggies, whole wheat options, and go easy on the cheeses and processed meats. Read this article in Kevin Richardson's personal training blog and the intersting comparison it makes between Subway and McDonald's.
Excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine. Coming under some scrutiny, energy drinks seem to have a disastrous effect on many parts of the body, so avoid drinking them regularly if you have any common sense at all. A beer or a glass of wine is not terribly bad for you, but binge drinking is terrible. A night or two of heavy drinking can negate any fitness gains you have made, and also make you less willing and able to get up right away to train.
Fad diets. They are called fads for a reason. Dieting theories come and go, often at the expense of the poor souls who take part in some of the wacky dieting theories that have been out there. Your best bet is to find a healthy balanced diet with good proportions of fruits and vegetables, followed by complex carbohydrates(avoid white breads, pastas, and sugars) and of course proteins in chicken, fish, nuts, beef, etc.
Remember too much of one thing is bound to not be good for you. There are really a lot of food choices out there, you just need to discover them.