Finding the perfect nutritional plan for your diet can be daunting. With so many options available, finding the one that fits your specific needs and goals is essential. Understanding the reasoning behind your chosen plan is crucial to ensure success.
Numerous diets are based on scientific evidence, while others are mere ‘fads’ that make overblown assertions, such as curing auto-immune diseases or magically burning fat and building muscle.
This article delves into the three most popular diets: low-carb, ketogenic, and paleo. We will provide a breakdown of each diet, including its advantages and disadvantages, and more importantly, present evidence supporting each approach to help you make an informed decision.
The ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet is widely recognised as a top choice for those looking to reduce their carb intake. So much so that products are now specifically labelled as keto-friendly to make it easier for consumers to stick to the diet.
The main goal of the keto diet is to achieve a state called ketosis, where the body shifts from burning sugar to burning fat. Although other diets may also promote ketosis, the keto diet’s supporters claim to be able to maintain this state for longer periods of time.
A year-long study by Hallberg et al. examined the effects of a ketogenic diet on diabetic patients. The ketogenic group, composed of 92% obese participants, was instructed to limit their total carbohydrate intake to less than 30 g daily.
Results showed an average 12% reduction in body weight, with some individuals achieving up to a 40% decrease. Conversely, those following the American Diabetic Association’s recommended diet did not experience any significant weight changes.
Keto diet and protein moderation
Opting for lean protein sources is highly recommended. These include chicken, fish, turkey, and carefully selected healthy cuts of red meat. It’s also a good idea to incorporate protein into your diet by consuming foods like olive oil, nuts, natural peanut butter, eggs, and seeds.
Increasing fat intake for the ketogenic diet
Consuming just any type of fat is not recommended. You should prioritise healthy fats, which can be found in yoghurt, cheese, pumpkin seeds, avocado, and natural peanut butter.
The keto diet’s high fat and protein content can help you feel fuller for longer periods, reducing the chances of mid-morning cravings. In addition, consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Aids in fat loss
Improves skin and hair
Boost cognitive function
Reduces the risk of cancer
Improves cardiovascular health
It may increase the feeling of fatigue
Some people have reported headaches and flu-like symptoms while on the keto diet
The low-carb diet
The low-carb diet is focused on reducing or eliminating carbohydrates from your diet. Instead, you’ll need to rely on foods high in fat and protein to get the essential nutrients your body needs.
Many people experiment with new diets to shed some extra pounds, and the low-carb diet is a popular choice. However, this diet also boasts other potential advantages, such as managing diabetes and reducing autoimmune disorders.
One study found that women who consumed low-carbohydrate diets with high amounts of vegetable-based fats or proteins had a 30% reduced risk of heart disease and a 20% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets.
It may increase cholesterol levels
Low energy due to the reduction in carbs
Due to a lack of fibre, you may experience digestive issues like constipation
The paleo diet
The paleolithic diet, also known as the caveman diet, is named after the eating habits of hunter-gatherers. Essentially, this diet restricts consuming foods that cannot be hunted or gathered.
When choosing a diet, some people choose paleo as a substitute for keto, especially if they’ve struggled to stick to the latter. If you’re a fruit and vegetable lover, the paleo diet could be right up your alley. However, remember this diet requires eliminating sugar, dairy, and grains.
In 1984, O’Dea studied 10 Aboriginal patients with type 2 diabetes in Northwest Australia. The study involved adopting a paleolithic diet and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle for seven weeks. The results showed a 10% weight loss and reductions in blood glucose levels, insulin, and triglycerides.
Consume foods that are free from harmful additives
Highly rich in antioxidant properties
Higher levels of iron
An increase in good fats and proteins quells hunger
It can be quite expensive compared to other diets
No benefits from nutrients grains and dairy foods
As an athlete, meeting your daily carb requirements can be challenging. Generally, pro athletes require around 4-6 grams of carbs per body per day
Sum it up
Embarking on a new diet can bring a mix of emotions, from enthusiasm to apprehension. Initially, you may notice positive changes such as shedding excess fat and feeling more energised. However, maintaining the diet over time for lasting results is the real challenge.
If you’re considering changing your diet or starting a new one, it’s best to consult a qualified nutrition specialist who can provide expert advice and take the guesswork out of the process.
A sustainable and effective diet demands perseverance, devotion, consistent workouts, and steadfast commitment. It won’t be a cakewalk; if it were, everyone would succeed. Embrace the challenge and relish the journey of transforming into a fitter and healthier version of yourself.
Want to learn more?
In this TEDx Talks video, Professor Campbell shares insights on how food and nutrition can affect the development of cancer and other health-related diseases. He conducted extensive research, resulting in over 300 peer-reviewed papers. He was also a member of several expert panels on health for esteemed organisations like the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health.
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