As we are all interested in looking and feeling our best, the market for diet and nutrition advice is constantly expanding. With all this knowledge out there in magazines and on social media, how do we know what is the right diet for us or even what they are? Your friends may be throwing around words such as “paleo”, “keto” or even gluten free, but the heck are they? Read on to learn a little more on the five most popular diet trends of the moment.
Paleo: The paleo diet was popularized by the recent Cross Fit craze and involves eating like our “cave men” ancestors. The theory behind this diet is that our bodies were designed to eat what was available seasonally from the earth. The Paleo diet allows meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy fats. Eliminated from the diet are dairy, grains, legumes, refined sugars, and processed foods. Many people do well on this diet and the biggest drawback may be that you can easily over consume fats and protein, which in itself poses health risks and prevents fat loss.
Ketogenic: A true ketogenic diet is comprised of 60% fat, 20% protein and 10% of your calories from carbohydrates. This type of diet is beneficial for fat loss by the very low consumption of carbs, which forces the body to make glucose from stored body fat, via the use of ketones. Hence the name; ketogenic. This diet is extremely beneficial in the treatment and prevention of major disease such as cancer and was first used in the treatment of seizures and other neurological disorders. The major drawback of the ketogenic diet is that is difficult to adhere to and many people tend to overeat protein and fats on this diet, hence negating any fat loss.
Plant based: The plant based diet makes sense for many health and environmental reasons. This diet eliminates animal protein, dairy and eggs and is therefor high in plant and grain carbohydrates and healthy fats. A plant based diet has definite health benefits as followers enjoy lower cardiovascular risk and may offer fat loss, if balanced correctly. The drawback is that is easy to overeat carbohydrates on this diet and you may also have to supplement B12 as this vitamin is only available naturally from animal sources.
Gluten free: Nowadays, everyone seems to be gluten free. A gluten-free diet eliminates any food from the diet that contains the protein complex gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye. A gluten-free diet is prescribed to those who suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that causes an inflammatory reaction. People may also be gluten sensitive and react negatively to anything containing the protein. There is also evidence that gluten sets off an inflammatory cascade that increases symptoms in people suffering from autoimmune disease. The biggest challenge is to find tasty, naturally gluten free foods, instead of buying manufactured “gluten free” items that are often loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients to improve taste. Gluten free does not equal fat loss, unless care is taken in eating proper proportions of macronutrients.
Intermittent fasting: This type of eating involves concentrating all your meals in a short window of time, usually 6 -8 hours. You fast, or drink only water or non-caloric beverages for 16-18 hours per day. The proponents of this diet state that intermittent fasting forces the body to increase production of certain hormones that benefit health and longevity. You do not count calories on this diet but the long periods of not eating forces the body to burn fat. There is evidence that intermittent fasting is not beneficial and may even be detrimental to women as their hormonal profile is more delicate than that of men. It is undisputable however that intermittent fasting can improve metabolic markers and overall health.
The bottom line is that the best diet for you is the one that you can follow and stick to. Fat loss generally boils down to a few simple things. Eat very little or no added sugar and processed foods. Eat some type of protein for breakfast. Enjoy a large variety of vegetables and a limited amount of fruit. Enjoy a limited amount of complex carbohydrates. The more natural the state of your food is, the better. Drink plenty of water and alcohol in limitation and do not eat less than 1,200 calories per day, which only serves to slow down your metabolism thereby ultimately making you gain weight.
Unni Greene is a highly sought after nutritionist and master trainer and the co-owner of SoMi Fitness. For more information visit somifitness.com or stop by the facility.