Breaking Down (Fad) Diets

Fad diets. They are everywhere. But what in fact makes it a fad? In my previous article, How to Spot a Fad Diet, you learned a little bit about this but some of my viewers and listeners were not convinced and asked for more. This is why I have decided to make a “Part 2” to break down each diet into greater detail.  This should be helpful because what may appear to be a “fad” or temporary solution for one person can actually be a long term solution for another. In this article you will learn about three very popular diets and what they consists of, why someone may seek it, what the science says,  the pros and cons, and more importantly, the things someone should consider if choosing this diet to be a part of their lifestyle. So let’s get started:

The Ketogenic Diet

What is it?

  • A diet low in carbohydrates (15-50g per day), high in fat (70-90% of total calories per day), and moderate in protein (15-60g per day); as you can tell from the broad range, there is not a clear definition of ranges which is why the diet can be confusing and vary in effectiveness.
  • The idea behind it is to force the body into ketosis, which is a metabolic adaptation that has allowed humans to survive during periods of famine or very low carbohydrate intakes. When the body’s glycogen stores are depleted, the body breaks down fat and produces ketones, which provide energy for the brain when glucose is scarce.

Why would someone seek it?

  • Weight loss
  • Certain cancer treatments
  • To make room for high fat foods
  • Blood sugar control in Diabetes
  • Treatment of Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

What does the science say?

  • It has been proven to be an effective treatment for epileptic patients
  • Some studies suggest that a modified ketogenic diet may be beneficial for cancer patients with brain tumors
  • More research needs to be done in regards to the long term effects it may have on a person who are using it to aid in weight loss
  • May be effective in diabetic patients however can also be dangerous, particularly if that patient is also taking insulin
  • A modified-ketogenic diet may aid in treatment of dementia/alzheimer’s disease when medium chain triglycerides, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3’s are consumed as the fat source

What are the pros?

  • Short term results are promising for weight loss
  • Less hungry
  • Low in added sugar

What are the cons?

  • Lacks dietary fiber which is associated with high cholesterol and constipation
  • Lacks antioxidant rich foods which may lead to other chronic diseases and/or vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  • May feel groggy or tired
  • Restriction in diet regimen may be difficult to sustain
  • The public’s interpretation of this diet can vary

What things should be considered when choosing this diet?

  • Multivitamin supplement
  • Fiber supplement
  • Seek a Registered Dietitian to be closely monitored
  • Go for blood work to ensure no vitamin/mineral deficiencies have developed
  • Do not take ketone supplements. They can cause nausea, vomiting, and metabolic stress that are harmful to the body
  • It is not possible to come “close” to ketosis, you either achieve it or you don’t therefore you may be depriving/restricting your intake for no reason
  • Have a healthier back up plan for when this diet is no longer sustainable

 

The Paleo Diet

What is it?

  • Foods that can be hunted, fished or gathered: meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, veggies, roots, fruits and berries. No grains, no dairy, no legumes (beans or peas), no sugar, no salt since those were not consumed like our ancestors 10,000 years ago, before the development of agriculture.

Why would someone seek it?

  • Weight loss
  • General health
  • Treatment of autoimmune disease
  • Treatment of high blood pressure
  • Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

What does the science say?

  • Some studies suggest a metabolic improvement for those who follow the paleo diet

What are the pros?

  • Includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables and limits added sugar and sodium which fits within the US 2015-2010 Dietary guidelines, which can help control blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, contribute to weight loss and prevent Type 2 diabetes
  • Limiting certain grains (gluten) and dairy may help to improve certain autoimmune diseases

What are the cons?

  • Difficult to stick to in today’s society
  • Exceeds the recommended intakes of protein and fat and does not include enough carbohydrates to align with the Dietary Guidelines which may result in fatigue
  • Removing whole grains, dairy, and legumes limits intake of nutrients like fiber, calcium and vitamin D

What things should be considered when choosing this diet?

  • Multivitamin supplement
  • Fiber supplement
  • Seek a Registered Dietitian to be closely monitored
  • Go for blood work to ensure no vitamin/mineral deficiencies have developed
  • This diet mimics our ancestors who were also very physically active so if you are going to consume higher than recommended intakes of protein and fat, exercising regularly is an important component at well

 

The Whole 30

The Whole 30 is very similar to the Paleo diet with the exception of snacking is prohibited between meals unless surround exercise and it is not intended to go past the 30 days. The idea of the Whole 30 plan is to help individuals improve digestion, hormonal imbalances, systemic inflammation, and gut issues by finding the foods that may be triggering their system once they slowly reintroduce those foods back into their diet. It is also useful to learn how to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and limit foods with added sugar and salt, but once again not realistic to stick to long term.

There are pros and cons to most diets so the question isn’t which is better. The question is, which is better for YOU. We all have different lifestyles, medical conditions, cooking skills, likes/dislikes, food allergies/intolerances, and these are the things that should be consider before starting and/or continuing on a diet. If you need help or guidance, contact me at TipsWithToni@gmail.com.

Watch the video here.

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