As the New Year approaches many of us are looking back on 2019 wondering “What the heck happened to my New Years resolutions!?” Do you make the same, or similar, new years resolution every year? Are you like the 80% of the population that gives up by February? We start out with such good intentions and before we know it we are back where we started. This year I want to help make it a little easier for you, this post covers some of the most popular diets that will be trending in 2020. Before you jump on the bandwagon, you should have all the facts!
The Ketogenic Diet
I get asked this question at least once a week. 🤷
The Keto diet may be one of the most extreme, and most popular diets, out there.
True Keto means consuming fat for 70% of your daily caloric intake. The other 30% is mostly protein with only 5% alloted for carbohydrates.
The ketogenic diet was originally created for those who suffered from epliepsy. It is still used in the medical field as a treatment plan.
In recent years it has become a popular weight-loss diet. Simply put, the goal of the keto diet is to put your body in a metabolic state called ketosis. By restricting carbohydrates you force your body to start breaking down fat, this creates molecules called ketones that are then used by your body as energy.
Does this mean it’s a healthy diet for the average person? Not necessarily. Genetic testing has shown us that upwards of 20% of the North American population does not respond well to saturated fat. Genetic testing is not easy to have done, and is rarely suggested, so it is hard to know if you are one of the 20%.
On the other hand. Many people who struggle with autoimmune diseases have seen a decrease in negative symptoms when on a Keto diet. This may be due to the fact that many of the most common allergens are eliminated and blood sugar often remains stable.
The ketogenic diet is not socially friendly. You have to plan ahead, pack your own food and may have to avoid certain social situations for fear of caving into carbohydrates. A slight increase in carbohydrates can throw you out of ketosis and it takes 1-3 days to get back into it.
In summary: This is not a diet I recommend. I have helped clients experiment with cyclical Keto, meaning they try it for a few weeks and then return to a more balanced eating plan, but unless they are using the ketogenic diet to control a medical condition I recommend a more balanced approach.
The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy.
The Whole30 diet is similar to the Paleo diet but is slightly more restrictive.
The goal is to eliminate commonly known trigger foods and then reintroduce them at the end of the program.
This diet may help those who have the following health issues:
Unwanted weight gain
Whole 30 preaches a lot of the same things that I do. It teaches you to appreciate whole foods, meal prep ahead of time and decrease processed food.
Many participants may find this program a bit intense if they are just starting out. If you have struggled with restrictive eating in the past, I recommend talking to your doctor before looking into the Whole 30 diet.
Every January I run my Nutrition Repo program, it has a similar purpose as the Whole 30 program but is a little more beginner friendly.
All in all I am a fan of what Whole 30 is doing in the world and think it is a great program for those who already have a basic understanding of nutrition and are looking for that extra boost in their health.
By now at least half your office has probably experimented with intermittent fasting.
The most common form of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 principle.
Participants fast for 16 hours, only consuming non-caloric beverages like water, tea and black coffee. They then eat their entire caloric intake within an 8 hour window.
Intermittent fasting has become a popular choice for those wanting to lose weight because it doesn’t require giving up any food groups.
The school of thought is that the 16 hour window is long enough for your body to start using its own fat stores as fuel. While this may happen in some small form, research shows it takes about 18+ hours of fasting for this to occur.
I believe many people lose weight intermittent fasting because they eat less. You have less time to fit in 3 meals, and snacks, so you end up dropping one. Intermittent fasting also puts an end to most peoples nighttime snacking which would greatly decrease their caloric intake.
A systemic review of clinical trials compared studies that tested a caloric deficit diet with studies that tested intermittent fasting and found that the weight-loss was about the same for both groups. They did not find any differentiating health benefits to either.
Intermittent fasting may be an easier way for some people to lower their caloric intake.
Outside of the weight-loss debate there are many people that believe there are a lot of health benefits to fasting. Most of us have an eating window of 14-15 hours, this leaves very little time for our body to rest and subsequently can lead to poor sleep and increased inflammation.
Recent studies, conducted using mice, showed an increase rate of cell regeneration in mice that were fasting for 24 hours. None of the research that has been done is considered conclusive, only time will tell what the true benefits of intermittent fasting are.
“If it fits your macros,” also known as IIFYM is a style of eating all about your protein/carb/fat ratio. Depending on your goals, your coach, or online calculator, will tell you how many grams of each macronutrient you should be eating per day.
IIFYM is usually higher in carbs and lower in fat. Basically, you are counting calories while controlling which macronutrients those calories come from.
IIFYM is often coupled with nutrient timing. What you eat before and after a workout is considered just as important as when you eat it. You may be allotted more carbs/protein on workout days.
Having spent 8 years in the CrossFit world I have had personal experience using macros to influence body composition and performance.
I know many people who achieved their weight/fitness goals using this method but I have also seen the obsessiveness that comes with this type of tightly controlled dieting.
When it comes to professional athletic performance it makes sense to control what you can. When your career comes down to 1/10 of a second, you need to be doing everything you can to win. It’s your job!
The average person can often reach their weight/fitness goals with small sustainable changes.I do think there is benefit to having someone count macros for a week or two, it helps them recognize what their meals should look like and how often they need to eat.
In a nutshell, IIFYM does work for many people. It takes a lot more time/preparation than most diets and may not be a good fit if you have suffered from an eating disorder in the past. You should work with a professional when following a IIFYM protocol.
Lets talk about everybody’s favourite topic, gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Those who have celiac disease, like me, have a negative immune system response to gluten. It causes our immune system to attack our own body, specifically the small intestine.
Like many other fad diets, the gluten-free diet was first used medically to treat celiac disease. It has now become a mainstream solution to pretty much any ailment you can think of.
“You have a rash? Go gluten-free.”
“You can’t sleep? Try gluten-free.”
“You need to lose weight? You should be gluten free”
Do I think a gluten-free diet is the solution for everyone? Nope. Do I think many people would benefit from limiting the amount of processed foods, many containing gluten, that they eat? YES!
The biggest issue I see with people trying a gluten free diet is that gluten free products are mostly junk. They contain gums, sugars and all sorts of ingredients to give them a better taste.
If your switching from a gluten filled diet to a gluten-free product filled diet, you may be making things worse.
If you think your negative health symptoms may be caused by gluten, talk to a doctor, naturopath, dietitian or nutritionist and make sure you are still getting the nutrients you need.
In January I will be running my most popular online group, Nutrition Repo. I take you through a 6 week elimination diet, and reintroduction phase, to help you assess whether or not gluten, dairy or sugar are negatively impacting your health. You can check it out here.
It’s time to delve into the world of WEIGHT WATCHERS!
This excerpt from woman’s day magazine sums up the basics:
“Weight Watchers works by assessing each member by age, weight, height and gender, then determining how much food he or she needs to eat to lose weight at what the company calls a safe rate—one to two pounds per week. The member is assigned a daily point target, and spends those points on food. Some foods—fruit and vegetables especially—have zero points. Foods full of simple sugar and fat tend to have high points value. Where an apple is zero points, a slice of apple pie is 12 points. Members are encouraged to track everything they eat, which can be done offline, online, or via an app.”
A few years ago if you had asked me what I thought of WW I would have given you a monologue on how their point system was just a glorified caloric deficit ploy. I wasn’t wrong.
In 2015 WW changed from their PointsPlus system to a new system called SmartPoints. Rather than basing the points solely off of calories, the new SmartPoints system lowers the points for foods higher in protein, and raises the points for foods higher in saturated fat and sugar.
I am not anti-saturated fat but I’m not going to get into that right now but I applaud their attempt at increasing the nutrient density of their followings choices.
At the end of the day, most of us are not going to enjoy assigning, and counting points, to our food. I also worry about the mindset this putts WW followers in.
I try educate my clients on nutrient density, some foods contribute to our well-being while others don’t. This doesn’t make them “bad” foods, it just makes them foods we want to eat less of. There is room in our lives for both!
In summary: WW is an effective weight-loss program, this doesn’t mean it is are the healthiest program. I think for many people WW was their introduction into the nutrition world and I am thankful that they have made the barrier to entry lower for women/men all over the world. I don’t think it should be the end point for anyone’s nutrition journey.
So what do I eat then?
There are pro’s and cons to every diet and there is no one size fits all. Chances are you recognized a piece from each of these diets that may benefit you. Finding what makes YOU feel your best is the answer. It takes time, it takes experimentation but over time you will learn to listen to your body and understand what it needs.
I would love to help fast track you on your health journey. I will help you weed through the insane amount of information that is available and discover what works best for you! Drop me a message in the form below!