Thank you all for your comments, and messages, with topic ideas. This was one of the topics that was suggested. It can be so difficult to find a way of eating that works for each person, but it’s easy to get dragged onto the bandwagon of the latest fad diet. In today’s post I am reviewing a few of the more popular diets on the market, and providing the pros and cons of each.
About: The Paleo diet has become very popular with the rise of CrossFit. The thought behind the paleo diet was that we should be eating what our paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. Even if you don’t believe in evolution (I do not), there is still a lot to be learned from this way of eating. In the paleo diet you eliminate all processed foods, refined sugars, trans fats, and grains. You eat a diet high in animal protein, healthy fats, and LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables.
PRO’s: The Paleo diet can be an easy way to discover if you have food intolerances that have been causing inflammation. It eliminates the main allergens, wheat and dairy, and many people find they have increased energy a few weeks in. There are also quite a few weightloss success stories, connected to the paleo diet, without a focus on calorie restriction.
CON’s: For many people this diet is higher in protein than they are used to. The body can only handle so much protein and it can be difficult to eat a big chunk of meat at every meal. Many people will find the first few weeks difficult as their body adjusts to eating less carbohydrates, and learns to break down the increased amounts of protein and fat.
About: The Ketogenic diet is like Paleos Type A Big Brother. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to switch the bodies main energy source from glycogen to ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver, breaking down fat for energy. This usually requires a person to get 70%+ of their calories from fat (NO Trans Fat), 15-20% from protein, and 10% or less from carbohydrates (mainly vegetables). Many long distance athletes have adopted this style of eating, finding that it prevents their bodies from crashing during training and competition. This diet is also known for its quick weightloss results and pairs well with metabolic conditioning.
PRO’s: As I said above, this has recently become a popular diet among long distance athletes. If you are a long distance swimmer, biker, runner, or skier you may find the keto diet is a good fit for your training lifestyle. The Keto diet also claims to decrease inflammation which may help those of us with autoimmune disease. A diet high in fat has been linked to increased brain power, and many studies are being done on its effects in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many people feel satisfied when eating a diet high in fat and do not crave carbohydrates the way they used to. Even adopting a “ketoish” diet has been successful for many people.
CON’s: You have to be very committed to the keto lifestyle. For some people this requires having someone to be accountable to. I highly recommend consulting with a professional when experimenting with keto, when done right it can be very beneficial. One concern, although not yet proven, is that the body will not be able to breakdown carbohydrates when/if they are added back in. I personally did not experience this when I went from a month of keto to adding back in a few carbohydrates. I think this is a valid concern if your plan is to only do keto until your goals are reached and then switch back to a high carbohydrate diet. This would fall into the category of yo-yo dieting and can be harmful to the body. You have to be diligent when following the keto diet, this is why many people find following a looser version of this diet fits their lifestyle better.
About: Weight Watchers isn’t a diet in the normal sense of the word. Nothing is off limits, rather it is rated in a points system. The higher the protein, the lower the number. The higher the sugar and fat, the higher the number. You are allotted a certain number of points per day based on your goals. If you want to lose weight, your points are calculated accordingly.
PRO’s: Weight Watchers can be useful for beginners who have little knowledge of nutrition. The points system forces them to read nutrition labels and know which nutrients are being put in their body. Even if they stop weight watchers they will carry that learned skill with them.
CON’s: Weight Watchers still encourages eating low fat products, although it has made a turn for the better by lowering the points on unsaturated fats. It requires that the participant pay careful attention and keep count of their points for the day. For some people this may become an obsession and lead to unhealthy eating patterns.
About: Possibly the most talked about diet as of late is the IIFYM. IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. Each person calculates the macros they need for their goals. There are many businesses that offer coaching for this style of eating, and there are also free macro calculators online. IIFYM is also known as flexible dieting, because no food is off limits. As long as you meet your carbohydrate, protein and fat goals you can eat whatever you want to get there. Keep in mind, some businesses use IIFYM, but also encourage making healthy choices. The majority of followers tend to focus on hitting the number rather than what it takes to get there.
PRO’s: This diet can be used to really dial in on the macro-nutrients your body needs. This is another popular diet used by athletes, especially bodybuilders. Many people have gotten down to their leanest body while doing macros. Followers report decreased fat mass, increased muscle mass, and an increase in energy. If the focus is on using whole foods to reach macro goals, there can be positive results.
CON’s: Being your leanest doesn’t always mean you are your healthiest. Many people are lean but have health markers that indicate their health could be better. If the attitude of the participant is about hitting their macros, by whatever means possible, this will not be a healthy lifestyle. Macro counting also requires the participant to calculate the macro content of every food. This requires a lot of research and you will often find IIFYM followers whipping out their phones to enter their data. While some people find it comforting to know exactly what they are eating, others find this a stressful way of living.
Different strokes for different folks. That’s right, I’m not going to tell you which one of these you should follow. I have experimented with all of them, except for Weight Watchers, and found that I learned useful things from each one. I have now settled in a way of life where I am constantly working at improving my health and am willing to make changes when necessary. For me this means a diet that keeps my inflammation low and my energy up, providing my body with the macronutrients and micronutrients it needs. I do not give my clients a one size fits all diet. Instead, we develop a sustainable way of eating that fits them as individuals. Some of the factors that need to be taken into account are as follows:
- Sleep Quality
- Stress Maintenance
- Activity Level
- Previous Health History
- Previous Diet History
If you are searching for the perfect diet, you will never find it. It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being consistent and giving your body what it needs. You can do that with any of these diets. Any diet that promotes good quality food, and is sustainable long term, is a great place to start. Over the next few months I will be sending my email followers easy tips for improving their health. If you would like to receive these emails, please enter your email to follow my blog. You can find the “follow blog” at the top of any page to the right. Please follow!
Eat Your Veggies!