Vegan, Carnivore and Paleo. OH MY! There is a slew of different diets out there in the world of health and wellness. I am sure you have a friend, family member or co-worker who went on a diet and lost a ton of weight and is now a worshiper of that diet. This person now preaches his or her results and believes that everyone should eat how they do, or you are simply not as healthy. Sound familiar? This is not only incorrect but straight up annoying. The reason that most diets result in weight loss is simply because they put you into a calorie deficit which by the Law of Thermodynamics (calories in vs calories out), you will lose LBs on the scale. Now this is not about bashing the different diets that are out there, but to understand that the different diets that ARE NOT a one size fits all. We will go through a simple approach to choosing the right diet for you.
Understanding Your Diet Choice
Whatever your reason for subscribing to a certain diet, it is important to remember that if you are take a food out that is nutrient packed, there are needs your body is no longer getting satisfied from food. For example, if you subscribe to a vegan or vegetarian diet, your have eliminated animal meats from your food intake. Animal meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods and are packed with high protein and B vitamins. Now I am not saying that you are wrong for choosing to be vegan or vegetarian but understanding that you are missing out on these nutrients and vitamins, it would be wise to take supplements so your can satisfy your body’s needs. On the flip side, if you subscribe to the carnivore or paleo diet, you eat significantly lower amount of carbohydrates and fiber. Carbs are NOT an essential macronutrient (not needed for survival), but they are a great source of energy, so to counteract the energy loss, adding a little more salt to your food to balance out your electrolytes would be beneficial.
Know Your Body
I could name several benefits to the vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, keto and paleo diets, but if one does not make your body feel and operate the best, it is not the right diet to you. One year for Lent, I gave up meat. I chose to give up meat for 46 days not just because I knew it would be a challenge, but I was curious to see how my body would operate on a vegetarian diet. What I found after Lent had finished on Easter Sunday was that I was fatigued, I lost a lot of muscle, and was always hungry. This is a prime example of a diet that is totted to be one of the healthiest not working well for an individual. In taking an approach of learning what foods make your body operate the best is a fool proof way of fueling your body like a well-oiled machine. I could also sit here and tell you that eggs are nutrient bombs, but if you have an intolerance towards eggs (i.e., increased inflammation), I will never recommend that you eat them. I recommend starting to paying closer attention to how your body feels after you eat certain foods.
How to Make the Right Diet Choice for You
I will begin by piggybacking on the last statement I made by paying closer attention to how your body feels after you eat certain foods. Once your get an idea of which foods could be your possible offenders, try going on an elimination diet where your take those foods out of your diet for a few weeks and slowly add them in one by one and see if one alone makes your body feel and operate poorly. This is a tedious process, but it is a fool proof approach to finding your trigger foods.
Next, I highly recommend to everyone to try to eat whole, natural foods and limit if not eliminate highly processed foods. If it comes in a can, box or drive-thru, it is probably a highly processed food. What is sad about processed foods is that they are engineered to make you want to eat more and highjacks your taste buds, so you will not feel full as fast. There is a reason that Pringles’ slogan is “Once you pop, you won’t stop.” Whole, natural foods are flat out more satiating. They are more nutrient dense and will lead to you not having to eat so much to feel full.
Finally, respect the 80:20 Rule. This is a practice of simply making the right food choices 80 percent of the time while allowing 20 percent of fun. This has been the most effective approach to food for all my clients when it comes to cleaning up their diets. It is realistic for the times your go out with friends and you want to have a glass of wine at dinner, you will not have remorse for doing so. The 80:20 Rule allows you to enjoy some foods for their hedonistic values (taste or emotion associated with it) from time to time just as long it does not become a consistent occurrence.
So, when it comes to dieting, it is important to find the one that fits you are the best for your individual needs; kind of like find the right pair of shoes. They are not one size fits all and there is a specific way of eating should be designed for you and you only. Bon Appetit!