I love the things you can find on Wikipedia. Consider the entry “List of Diets.” I didn’t count the diets listed there, but the entry runs to nearly 4,000 words, not including bibliography. The article covers belief-based diets, calorie and weight control diets, crash diets, detox diets, diets followed for medical reasons, fad diets, vegetarian diets, and “other” diets. Who knew it could be so complicated to find your ideal diet?
It’s actually even more complicated than the article suggests. The precise proportion of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in your daily calorie requirement is unique to you. That means that among the hundreds of established diets to choose from, none is your ideal diet.
You Are Unique
Your nutritional needs depend on what you’re fueling for, what your activity level is, your weight, your body mass index (BMI), your vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and your metabolism. And that’s before we even look at family background, culture, and what you like to eat. There are so many variables to consider in devising the ideal diet, in other words, that your chances of finding it on the Wikipedia list are nil.
Harvard Medical School offers charts that show the calorie burn of various activities for three different body weights (you tend to burn more calories, whatever you do, when you’re heavier). Here are a few of the estimates for someone in the middle range (based on 30 minutes each): sleeping (22), reading while sitting (40), washing a car (162), raking a lawn (144). Exercise activities, of course, tend to burn more: walking (133), swimming (216), moderate calisthenics (162), moderate cycling (288). These are only estimates, but they’re a good place to start in figuring your calorie expenditure. The charts offer calorie counts for many, many more activities.
Total Calorie Needs
But the calories you burn in your activities are only part of the picture. You also burn calories doing nothing. This is the resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR varies with age, gender, and body size. But even after accounting for those variables, your RMR can still vary with the idiosyncratic processes of your unique body. There are various calculators on the web you can use to estimate it, but bear in mind that your actual RMR is as unique as you are.
The calories you burn in various activities in a day, plus your RMR (which is given as calories per day) equals your daily calorie requirement. Eat just enough calories to meet it, and your weight will remain stable. Eat fewer calories, and you will lose weight. Eat more, and you will gain. If you use a wearable, it may estimate your calories for an activity based on your weight and heart rate. But neither a wearable nor the Harvard Medical School charts can give you better than an estimate.
Your Ideal Diet
For greater precision, consider Peak’s nutrition planning service. We can scan your body to determine its composition, test your resting metabolic rate, and plan your calorie intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We will help you come up with an ideal diet, uniquely tailored to you, your preferences, and your nutritional needs. We will provide you personalized daily meal plans. You’ll have a custom app to view and log your meals with, as well as easy links to purchase recommended foods and ingredients. You will have the ability to adjust meals on the fly, and we will even take your travel schedule and your favorite local restaurants into account.
You won’t be able to find this diet on the Wikipedia list of diets. It’s a diet tailored to your unique nutritional requirements, designed to help you achieve your goals.