The Ultimate Recruitment Diet

A scientific study recently attempted to link the root-leaf network in plants to the gut-brain system in humans. Bit of a stretch perhaps but the effect your tum-tum has on your mental health is being talked about a lot more recently.

Much of the discussion supports the adage: “you are what you eat”.

Nutritionist Victor Lindlahr coined the phrase in 1923 and developed the Catabolic diet on the basis that certain foods take more calories to process than they replenish.

Since then, eating fads have promised to serve up a better version of you based solely on what you put in your mouth.

The sentiment remains that if you’re eating well, you’re likely to perform well during the day.

And if you do that, recruitment’s a numbers game.

It’s also an industry where diets suffer. The one time you remember to bring leftover pasta in tupperware, you eat it all by half nine. Or you’ve given up on meals altogether and live exclusively on espresso pods, paracetamol and Berocca.

Like a proper top biller.

Armed with a rudimentary understanding of nutrition and human biology, I went looking for the ultimate recruitment diet.

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Intermittent fasting (IF)

Diets are difficult to stick to when they involve depriving yourself of taste, calories, portion size, or all three. But now there’s a revolutionary new way of achieving a healthier lifestyle: just don’t eat sometimes.

IF’s typically adhered to by getting all your eating done in an eight hour period, then not eating again for 16 hours.

If you frequently miss breakfast and have the odd early night for dinner, you’re pretty much doing it already.

The benefits are allegedly extensive.

Scientific papers suggest it could reduce the effects of aging. Your body responds to not being fed by dropping insulin levels, burning fat to survive, even rewriting the function of your genes.

People love it because it reduces calorie intake, which aids with weight loss. And because fasting’s a component of many modern diets, the NHS advises:

“Never attempt to delay or skip meals if you’re pregnant, have had or are prone to eating disorders, or have diabetes” 

Keto

The one everyone’s talking about but hardly anyone understands.

This is your smile and nod conversation, isn’t it?

The Keto diet is typically combined with IF to change how you process energy from food. The idea is to pretty much bin off carbs.

This’ll force your body into a state of ketosis: where fat’s burned for energy instead of being stored as bingo wings.

It means giving up potatoes, grains, fruit, and sugars. But it also means eating plenty of cheese, cream, butter and saturated fats instead. Which… doesn’t sound mouthwatering at all?!

The benefits of keto include accelerated weight loss, increased physical and mental energy, blood sugar control, and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the “good cholesterol“.

If you’re interested in committing to a keto diet, this is the most thorough guide I could find. For many, it’s tough changing how your body’s energised. You also might get keto flu.

But get past it and the long term benefits are yours.

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DASH

The ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ (DASH) diet is designed to combat high blood pressure. If you’ve got 20+ runners out and every single one’s an utter liability, this one may be useful.

Your daily calorie limit is dependent on your age and how active you are during the day. There are a fair few metrics to track and rules to follow but the general principle is: eat your greens and reduce sodium and salt as much as you can.

I imagine it’s nothing more flamboyant than your average MyFitnessPal user eats every day but it’s frequently touted as one of the better eating plans you could be on.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in America put together a six page PDF with all you need to know about DASH.

MIND

Taking the good bits of DASH and a sprinkling of Mediterranean influence, the ‘Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay’ (MIND) diet aims to keep your brain cooking on gas.

Nutritional Epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and colleagues studied 960 participants in 2015, concluding:

“…the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age”.

For perspective, the average age of participants was 80. Morris et al found that those who were stricter with it, and followed the MIND diet for longer, had brains several years younger than those who didn’t.

Daily leafy greens like kale and spinach, lots of berries, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, poultry and fish are all on the menu. And if you want to follow it properly, you’ve got to allow yourself a glass of wine a day.

Tough, I know. I’m sorry I don’t make the rules.

Volumetrics

The main selling point is you get to eat loads. And so proponents cite it’s chief benefit as feeling full. Food is split into four categories based on ‘energy density': the amount of calories per gram of food.

1. Very low – non-starchy fruit and veg, skimmed milk, soup

2. Low – starchy fruit and veg, cereal, lean meat

3. Medium – pizza, cake, big ol’ bits of meat

4. High – chips, chocolate, anything with loads of butter

The trick is to try and replace high density items in meals with lower ones, and to stock up on food with a high water content to aid in feeling full. Good news for pasta enthusiasts.

Research suggests it’s a simple way to prevent weight gain because you feel fuller. But unless it’s combined with a decent exercise regime, Volumetrics is more about maintenance than inspiring dramatic change.

Professor Barbara Rolls published The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet if hearing about this has inspired you to part with cash for a book on the subject.

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The 5:2 diet

The name refers to the number of days in the week you eat, and the number of days you don’t. 

Two non-consecutive days a week you drop your calories to around 500 a day. These are your ‘fast’ days and mate I hope they’re fast because 500 calories is a Big Mac and nothing else.

It’s supposed to be easier committing to something two days a week instead of seven. But the feeling of deprivation is likely to be much more intense.

PSA: skipping meals is not the one. You’ll get cranky, spaced out, and subsequently not good at recruiting. If you can manage it, grand. But don’t let your eating habits interrupt your billings.

The Butterfield diet plan

A radical invention from businessman and entrepreneur Brian Butterfield, it’s almost the opposite of the 5:2 diet. Water at varying temperatures accompanies miniscule portions Monday to Friday.

Calorie intake is so low, it works out to less than a days worth stretched across a full working week. The goal’s to get to Saturday – “treat day” – when you’re able to eat literally anything you want over a 24 hour period. Butterfield himself recommends a 20-cheese omelette.

As unsafe as it sounds, I actually think this is it. The perfect recruitment diet*.

Starve and dehydrate yourself during the week, then induce a light coma overindulging on Saturday.

(*very obviously kidding, as mentioned: unsafe)

If you’re dieting for performance, bully for you. But if you’re dieting to change the shape of your bod, has it ever crossed your mind that you’re probably doing alright as you are?

Now go inhale that tub of pasta before you make another call. Although I hope you’ve brought your own fork.

Why are there never any forks? WHO’S TAKING THEM ALL?!