5 popular diets: Do they work?
By Andy on June 21, 2018
The nutrition and diet industry has become an absolute minefield over the last 15-20 years. There are so many different types of diet out there, how is anybody supposed to know what’s true, what works and what doesn’t?
Here are just a few of the popular diet trends that you may have come across:
- Low fat
- Intermittent fasting
- Juicing or detox
So which of these is going to work best for you? Well, it likely depends on a few factors, but I’ll try to give you some of the basic information on each of these to help you get started.
First, the word “diet” is often misused and misunderstood. Because people often say, “I’m going on a diet”, we associate it with starving ourselves or drastically changing the way we eat for a short period of time.
But a “diet” is actually the kinds of foods a person habitually eats. Or in other words, it’s not something that’s done for a short amount of time, but rather, what you are consistently eating.
So here is a quick rundown on some popular types of eating and why the may (or may not) work for you:
This diet was pushed by the American government for many years. Essentially, high fat foods were the cause of the massive increase in obesity in the United States. So in order to be healthy, we should be consuming low fat, high carbohydrate foods.
Low fat milk, yogurt, margarine and other options were advertised as “healthy” and people began closely monitored just how much fat they were taking in.
Unfortunately, this has proven to be completely wrong. Particularly if the low fat items were replaced with foods high in processed carbohydrate (sugars), which your body actually quickly turns into stored fat.
This eating strategy is based around the idea that you will have an 8 hour or less “feeding period” and the remainder of the 24 hour day you will be fasting.
This can be difficult, particularly at first, if you’ve never tried it before. If you are used to eating often throughout the day, you will likely feel hungry, grumpy and lethargic during your first week of fasting.
But I’ve found incredible results for clients that can make it through that difficult first week. Here are just a few of the results that I’ve seen (and independent studies have confirmed):
- Increased energy levels
- Decreased weight and body fat
- Improved brain health and function
- Decreased insulin response (the hormone your body produces that leads to fat storage)
Juicing or Detox Diets
These diets sprung up in the last 10-15 years, essentially advocating 1-2 weeks of very low-calorie intake. And everything that is consumed comes in the form of a juice. Often different types of fruit and vegetable juices.
Juicing can often make you feel lighter and more refreshed. As it is also generally very low-calorie, it can lead to quick, short-term weight loss.
The problems with juicing, though, likely outweigh the benefits. First, it is unsustainable because you still need protein and fats for energy. Also, juicing tends to be high in sugar content, which will actually lead to fat storage in the long run. Juicing also strips the fruits and vegetable of their fibre content, which is important in digestion and hormone regulation.
Ketogenic and Paleo Diets
Keto and Paleo diets have gotten very popular in the back-lash from the faulty “low fat” diet trends pushed upon the public throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Significant research has been published recently that showed diets high in fats, protein and low in sugar and processed foods are healthy. Both keto (very high fat, very low carb) and paleo (only naturally occurring foods that, theoretically, our paleolithic ancestors ate) follow this type of protocol.
I have seen AMAZING results from both of these types of diets with my clients, particularly when it came to stripping fat and leaning up. There were a plethora of other health factors (like blood pressure and cholesterol) that also improved. And things like sleep and concentration improved dramatically when sugar and processed foods were eliminated.
But, there were some real challenges along with these as well. The first, for someone that trained a lot, was that performance often decreased at first. Particularly in the first two weeks, it was difficult to maintain high-intensity levels of performance as the body became more adept at processing fat and protein as a main energy source. If the client was able to stick with these consistently though, this often improved after the first 2 weeks.
The second challenge with Paleo and/or Keto is that they can be VERY difficult to follow. Neither diet allows things like pasta or rice, beer or chocolate and many other foods that have become staples of the western diet. Restrictions like these can make somebody “fall off the wagon” of a new eating protocol very early on.
So this is just a brief summary of each diet, with some pros and cons of each. But answering “which diet is best for ME?” is likely something you should be discussing with a professional prior to getting started.
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