Which Diet Is For You?
There are so many “diets” out there today and they are all different. But, they all have one thing in common and that is that all work. Huh?! That’s right they all work ! IF, there is a level of adherence. What do I mean by that? Simply put, they all promote adherence to the quality and quantity of food and aim to correct nutritional deficiencies. Any diet, when followed for a length of time will become second nature and can be followed with minimal resistance. I will outline what I believe are the most talked about diets in 2019 – I use the term “diet” loosely because I feel that a diet is how you eat to support your lifestyle, rather than a temporary fix to a long term problem.
Over the past decade the gluten free diet has gained a lot popularity and has been a very controversial by health enthusiasts. However, there are some real merits to following a gluten free diet. If you are someone who has Celiac disease then you really don’t have a choice in the matter but much like the statement I made in the previous paragraph, eliminating gluten containing foods often means eliminating processed foods all together. If you haven’t heard of Celiac disease, celiac.org describes Celiac disease as, “…a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications. In recent years food companies have created what they are calling “healthier” gluten free foods. Call it what you want to call it, a doughnut is still a doughnut, whether it’s made with almond flour and coconut flour, it’s still a doughnut. Have you ever heard the term putting lipstick on a pig? That being said, when most adhere to a gluten free diet they feel better, digestion improves, and chronic tends to decrease overall. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure but if you suspect that you are having food intolerance, do some research into it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a paleo diet is considered a diet plan that is based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. A paleo diet typically includes lean meat and fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — basically foods that could have been consumed in the past by hunting and gathering. It avoids food like grains – such as wheat, oats and barley, legumes, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and peas, dairy products (this is a huge debate among the “caveman” community), refined sugar, salt, potatoes , and highly processed foods in general. This diet was popularized by the Crossfit community and Robb Wolf. For some the diet can be expensive, lacks variety, and can be void of whole grain foods, which are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Often times, people who follow a Paleo diet consume too many of one of the foods that are “okay to eat”. For example, nuts and seeds are viewed as healthy fats and are overeaten on a daily basis.
Without a doubt the most popular or most talked about diet of 2018-2019 and quite often the most understood/confused is the keto diet. Harvard did a great article on the keto diet and explain the in’s and out’s. Here is how the author, defined the Keto diet, “The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.” That’s great but what does that mean for us? Keto is a low carb, high fat diet that forces the body to use fat as a primary fuel source. Basically it means that our bodies are geared to run most efficiently on sugar as a fuel source and the keto diet aims to change the metabolic (energy) pathway in which the body derives its primary energy source from, ketones. 75-85% of the calories come from fat, 20-15% of the calories come from protein, and about 5% come from carbs. There are a host of things – everything from stress levels, lifestyle choices, health history, etc – that come into play when it comes to transitioning from burning carbs a fuel source to burning stored body fat as a fuel source – that’s a whole other post.
If It Fits Your Macros – I.I.F.Y.M
You may have another name for it but basically its macro counting or counting your calories. There are studies that show that counting calories is a good way to control portion sizes to create a calorie deficit, ie. lose weight. I believe that there is merit in having a ball park figure to aim for on a daily basis but don’t give it to much thought if you are off by a couple calories.The problem is that a calorie is not a calorie. You can eat 500 calories of brownies and 500 calories of chicken, broccoli, and rice and not get the same nutrition benefit. The other downside is figuring out the breakdown. How do you come up with the correct number of protein, carbs, and fats? How do you know how many calories you are expending throughout the day? There are a lot of variables to consider and some can be obsessed about counting every calorie, which causes more stress that it’s worth.
Often confused as the keto diet. A keto diet is a low-carb diet, but not all low-carb diets are ketogenic diets. Make sense?! Carb cycling is nothing new but when done properly is very effective. Some only need 100 grams a day but others may need three to four times that to feel “normal”. Go by how you feel. If you are feeling sluggish after eating low-moderately low cabs for three or four days I would recommend a “re-feed” day where you are still eating the same type of foods, but just in more quantity.
The problem like many other diets is that as soon as you deviate from the low carb lifestyle you will put weight back on. So if you are looking for lasting results, use this type of diet as a short term solution, not a lifestyle.
This is my own opinion and by no means do I have my head in the sand. If there is a more effective way do something, I am all ears. That being said, over the past decade while coaching clients and helping people I have found that most people (yes, that it is a generalization) do well by following a set of rules or guidelines to support a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to realize that nutrition really comes down to basic foods but we over complicate it. As a society we use food as a crutch or a way to provide emotional comfort.
80/20 OR 90/10. Where should most of your nutrition come from? The bulk (80% or 90%) of your nutrition should come from a wide variety of whole, unprocessed, foods from earth grown or locally grown sources. “Think” one ingredient foods. The other (20% or 10%) part of your diet should be used to meet your specific goals or as an opportunity to deviate from the norm. The exclusionary diets (listed above) should be used in the 10-20% to “peak” for a specific goal (race, vacation, photos, wedding, etc.).
Eat until you are satisfied, not full. After you eat, do you feel like you can run a mile or walk for 20 minutes? If yes, you ate just right. If not, you ate to much. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. I’m like everyone else, I like good food and it can be hard to know when enough is enough. But the reality is that we give ourselves a pass to justify the indulgence.
Be aware and eat mindfully. Ask yourself, “Why am I eating this and how is eating this meal going to help me accomplish my goals? If the answer does not support your goals or your habits then it probably doesn’t make sense to be eating it.
Move more and more often. Aim for 10k steps a day or three 10 minutes walks per day. The idea of low intensity steady state cardio (L.I.S.S.) isn’t new but as of late it has gotten a bad rap from a lot of people and is seen as a less productive form of exercise when compared to high intensity training.
Strength train at least 2x a week. Two to Five, depending on your goals, full body strength training sessions lasting 30-40 minutes is all you need to maintain a certain level of functional fitness. Much like the 80/20 rule, depending on how much we need to dial things in we can develop a program to meet those needs.
Prepare Yourself. Everything from food to training should be well thought out. If you can’t do it, find someone who can help. Everyone needs a coach. And don’t give me the ole’ excuse that you don’t have time. That’s complete B.S. and you know it. You’ll never find time, you have to make it!
Recover. Recover. Recover. Go for a walk and spend time in nature. Get a massage. Read a book. Unplug. The biggest one of all, go to SLEEP! There is no excuse for staying up until 11-12 at night watching TV. If your goals are to change your body watching the tube isn’t going to do you a bit of good. Go to bed! To sum things up:
The best diet is … the one that works for YOU! One size does not fit all. Take a habits based approach that will give you long term changes. If paleo, keto, gf, macro counting we can help you come up with action steps to make sure that you are able to get the results that you want, then run with it! Take what you like and leave what you don’t from this post. Each person is different and has different commitments, time availability, income, family life, work demands, overall stress, etc. so why shouldn’t your diet reflect that? Remember there is a fine line between obsessing over what you eat and giving yourself an excuse to fail.
If there is anyway that I can help you, please let me know. Hopefully you got some useful information out of this post and I would love to get your feedback.
PS. There are 5 open spots in my online coaching program. If you are interested, click this link for more information.
PPS. Did you know that I have a FREE APP that has workouts, recipes, and training tips.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Paleo Diet: Eat like a Cave Man and Lose Weight?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182.
Wolf, Robb. “What’s the Difference between Paleo and Keto Diets?” The Paleo Diet – Robb Wolf on Paleolithic Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, and Fitness, robbw
Berardi, John M. “Paleo, Vegan, Intermittent Fasting… Here’s How to Choose the Absolute Best Diet for You.” Precision Nutrition, 25 June 2018, www.precisionnutrition.com/best-diet.
Unknown, Unknown. “What Is Celiac Disease?” Celiac Disease Foundation, 0AD, celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/.
Kyle is currently a police officer and has served for the past 10 years at a police department in Upstate, NY. In that capacity, he serves as the department’s physical fitness instructor, where he conducts in-service training and teaches at the Police Academy. Kyle is also one of the two explosive detection K9 Handlers for the department.
As the Online Director of Training and Performance for Train to Hunt, Kyle draws from his previous experience as a gym owner to consult with clients to prepare them physically and mentally for the most rigorous of big game hunts.
Most importantly Kyle is a husband and a father of one (a 16-month-old boy). The family is very important to him and he makes it a priority to find work/life balance.