Yes, that’s a picture of me in a bikini for a post about the differences among the five most popular diets because I’m sitting here in sweats on New Years Day thinking about how I’m going to be bikini ready and feeling healthy again very soon!
A few months ago, my husband and I tried the Whole30 diet and were successful. I lost 6 lbs, and he lost 8. You can read more about our journey on my blog post, five surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30. We felt good at the end of the 30days and kept our newly formed habits for a while.
But slowly, we fell back into the same routine of eating carbohydrates and sugar and eventually gained back the weight we lost (and for me an extra few lbs)!
On top of this, I developed anemia when my uterine fibroids became more of an issue, so I stopped exercising as much due to low energy. I kept getting sick and catching every virus but didn’t make the correlation of it all until I found out I was anemic. I’m now taking iron supplements to get my anemia under control and getting back into my running routine, but I am not feeling as healthy as I once was. Age doesn’t help either, as I’ll be turning 46 this year! But I’m committed to being in optimal health as I grow older.
So here I am, wondering how I will get there. It all starts with our diet. Now, I know “diets” are not sustainable and that more than likely, any weight we lose we will gain back. I know it’s a lifestyle we need to adopt and stick with indefinitely. But I need a kickstart plan. Most of us do, don’t we? I’m only human, and I love food! And wine. And pear martinis! Oh, and sugar. And carbs! With that, I’m researching popular diets/eating lifestyles as I consider the steps to get back on track to make my body healthier.
Paleo, Whole30, Keto, Plant-based, Fasting – Which is best?
The differences among the five most popular diets
People may know general guidelines for each one, but how are they different?
1.Paleo diet – no dairy, sugar, beans, grains
This diet focuses on “caveman” foods (foods that were obtained by hunting and gathering) and limits foods that became mainstream when farming took off approximately 10,000 years ago, such as dairy products, legumes, grains, added sugar, and hydrogenated oils. It includes:
- meats, fish,
- healthy fats
- fruits, nuts, and seeds (in moderation)
- nutrient-dense yet starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes
- natural sweeteners like maple syrup
2. Whole30 Diet – Paleo with no artificial sweeteners or anything processed
Whole30 is an elimination program. For 30 days, Whole30 participants don’t consume added sugars (including natural sweeteners), alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy. MSG and sulfite should also be avoided. This diet includes everything in Paleo EXCEPT no natural or artificial sweeteners or anything processed.
But there are exceptions to the rule: ghee and clarified butter, natural fruit juices, certain legumes (green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas), vinegar, coconut aminos, and salt are all considered acceptable ingredients.
On Whole30, no recipes that mimic carbohydrate foods that you’re used to eating are allowed (ex. Paleo pancakes).
3. Ketogenic Diet – high fat (dairy), low carb, some protein, no sugar
The main goal of the ketogenic diet is to significantly limit carb intake. The idea is that when carbs are not available, the body will begin to break down fats for fuel and produce ketones which act as an alternative source of fuel in the body.
- You can achieve ketosis—a shift from using carbohydrates as fuel to using fats—by consuming specific percentages of macronutrients. Here’s the keto macronutrient breakdown:
- 70% of daily calories from fats
- 20% of daily calories from proteins
- 10% of daily calories from carbs – 20-50 grams per day
- Those who follow the ketogenic diet avoid
- processed foods,
- starchy vegetables,
- gluten, grains,
- and sugars (including natural ones).
- Instead, they eat
- nonstarchy vegetables,
- nuts and seeds,
- meats and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs,
- low-glycemic fruits like berries,
- heart-healthy fats,
- non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia,
- and full-fat dairy options.
- The keto diet is known for
- reduced feelings of hunger as compared to other diets.
- it is also known for promoting the breakdown of fat rather than muscle during exercise
- has been said to enhance exercise performance
- stress reduction is another benefit of keto.
4. Plant-Based diet – no animal products or refined foods
A whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.
For people who are not ready to dive 100 percent into plant-based eating right away, it is recommended to add around 1,000 calories of legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to your everyday routine. These starchy foods keep you full and satisfied, so you’ll naturally eat less of the animal products and processed foods.
My friend’s husband lost 30 lbs after following a fasting diet book by Jason Fung called “The Obesity Code.” Fung believes that losing weight depends upon decreasing foods that stimulate insulin, but also on breaking the insulin resistance cycle. Since resistance depends upon both high levels and persistence, the answer is to leave your body long periods with low insulin. In other words, let your body rest from the high insulin. Just as in the example with the loud music, if you leave yourself some periods of silence, this will break the resistance cycle.
The best way is to have periods where you are fasting. This can be for 16 hours, 20 hours, 24 hours, or even longer. Giving your body a period of low insulin breaks the resistance and results in weight loss.
Which diet is right for me?
Of all these options, I’m thinking plant-based is the diet I need to investigate further. While Whole30 worked for my husband and me, we were pretty miserable doing it and I didn’t like that, despite it making us healthier. But, I’m hesitant with Plant-based because my family loves meat! I may have to take a less drastic approach first like, giving up alcohol for 30 days. Or sugar. Or carbs. I don’t want to sacrifice living for the kick-start to a healthier me. I’ll need to think about this and get back to you. Are there any diets that appeal to you? Let me know!
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