Talking about nutrition is kind of like talking about abortion, we all have an opinion but we should probably keep it to ourselves and let the individual decide what goes in and out of their own body.
That makes it hard for anyone in the nutrition field. Trying to filter out the endless barrage of diet propaganda on the internet could be a full time job and what works for one person, might not always work for the next. It’s hard to change someones opinion about what they think is right or wrong and it seems that almost everything works for someone.
“My brother lost 15lbs on an all juice diet, juices are totally the way to go.”
“Don’t eat carbs, never eat carbs, if you eat them you will get fat, and die.”
“I lost 20lbs drinking shakes twice a day and fasting every second day.”
“My friend only eats during a 6 hour period each day and it worked wonders, intermittent fasting is amazing.”
What I have to say to this is, NO SHIT SHERLOCK. There is some merit to almost any diet and fitness plan, especially at the beginning. Anytime you reduce your calorie intake, you will lose weight (barring hormonal or metabolic issues), that is science. What is not science, is human nature and diet sustainability – oh wait – maybe that is science???
Will you be able to drink shakes for the rest of your life, twice a day… are you fucking kidding me??? Are you going to only eat during a 6 hour time period forever….not a fucking chance! I am not even going to touch the possible repercussions on your kidneys and digestive function from drinking shakes twice a day every day, drinking only juice for every meal or what completely cutting a single macro-nutrient from your diet will do to your long term health. I will hit those topics up in another post entitled, You’re a Clown.
Ok, so I am being a little harsh here as I know desperation can lead people to trying some pretty irrational things. I myself have tried almost all of these fad diets and in the end, like everyone else, I am back where I started. So here is a VERY quick and dirty break down of some of today’s fad diets and what I think of them. Over time I will break these down further and examine the good the bad and the ugly of each.
Pros – Emphasis on whole food, mainly vegetables, lean cuts of grass fed protein and quality sources of fat. If done properly this is not a high protein diet, but a 30-30-40 breakdown with 40% of your daily macros coming from carbohydrates and veggies. It is very strict about cutting out dairy and grains which for most people, is a beneficial thing. Overall its very sustainable and very healthy.
Cons – For athletes especially and during times of heavy training carbohydrates can be a powerful source of energy and a great tool for recovery. I would advise any athlete following the Paleo diet to be liberal with their carbs by including sweet potatoes/yams and even possibly grains like rice, oats or quinoa post workout. Also, legumes are prohibited and despite the claim that they contain anti-nutrients, studies show that the benefits of legumes outweigh any potential threats and that cooking legumes eliminates these effects.
Pros – Weight loss. You will most likely see immediate weight loss with this type of diet, especially combined with an exercise routine. There have also been medical pros including maintenance of epilepsy and cancer prevention. Some people with very low sugar tolerance thrive in a ketogenic state.
Cons – Low energy. This is a very hard diet to sustain, especially for athletes who need carbs to sustain their energy levels. This diet is enticing because it shows big results on the scale, but unfortunately its at a cost of losing water weight and lean muscle mass along with the fat. Wanna be a better crossfit athlete…f- you ketosis.
Pros – Can be an effective weight loss technique. Some studies have shown evidence of increased life expectancy from cultures who regularly fast. It’s harder to take in too many calories when you are only eating during limited hours, therefore over eating is less prevalent.
Cons – Brain function requires feeding and fasting can cause lack of energy, lack of focus and alter homeostasis. It can also affect hormones leading to adrenal fatigue. For anyone doing intense physical activity, this requires muscle repair and fasting can seriously effect the ability to build and maintain muscle. Finally, hormonal health is more about what you eat than when you eat, so lets all do ourselves a favour and just eat when we are hungry.
Pros – The diet encourages eating 5-6 small meals a day which a lot of people like, it also encourages a variety of food options which helps with sustainability. Zone emphasizes limiting refined sugars and grains which is effective for weight loss. The idea of combining fat with carbohydrates to slow down its glycemic response in the body as well as including adequate protein at every meal is good for balancing blood sugar.
Cons – Its inflexible and complicated to follow making it hard for people to stick with. Basically you have to eat every meal in a 30-30-40 macro block which can be time consuming. If you follow the diet as the book recommends you will be eating less than 1,200 calories per day, which may result in hunger and difficulty sustaining it. The idea of combining macros at every meal is not necessary and may not be beneficial for proper digestion.
Good lord, that was a lot of god damn information and a lot of my boring voice rambling on with little to no comedic perspective. I am assuming that not one person will actually have spent time reading all of that information. BUT, for the few that do, I hope it provides some insight into how each diet works and what might work best for you.
In my opinion, eating as close to natural as possible, limiting sugar and refined carbohydrates, eating a shit ton of veggies, grass fed protein and consuming an adequate amount of healthy fat as fuel is the best option. I don’t think there is any need to be too insane about your diet and restrictions all the time as life is complex and busy and your diet should be flexible enough to reflect that. Eat what makes you feel and perform your best and every now and than treat yourself to something that just makes you happy!