As a Personal Trainer my clients are always asking me which “nutrition camp” I fall into. Is it paleo? Vegan? Intermittent fasting? Or something else? In essence, they’re asking: “What’s The Best Diet?”
In this blog I will go through all of the pros and cons of the main diets that are out there at the minute and then I will provide an answer at the end that may surprise a few of you.
Here’s the Paleo diet in a nutshell: If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.
When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds.
Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Anything that didn’t exist in caveman times will not be existing on your plate or in your stomach. The table below shows you what you are allowed to eat and what you are not allowed to eat on this diet.
Ok to Eat
- Lean Meats
- Nuts & Seeds
- Healthy Fats
- Processed Food & Sugars
Fruits Dairy Vegetables Grains Lean Meats Processed Food & Sugars Seafood Legumes Nuts & Seeds Starches Healthy Fats Alcohol
- You are more likely to eat a clean diet without additives, preservatives, or chemicals.
- There are anti-inflammatory benefits from the plant nutrients in fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds.
- If you are eating more red meat, you will get more iron.
- You may see improved satiety — a feeling of fullness between meals, due to the higher intake of protein and fats.
- Many people lose weight primarily due to the limited food choices.
- It can get expensive.
- You don’t eat any grains or dairy which can be good for health and energy.
- This diet can be difficult for vegetarians, especially since it excludes beans.
- Most athletes need between 3 to 6 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight, per day. This would be very hard to do with just fruits and vegetables.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Most people already “fast” every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
Here are some of the most popular ones:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
- The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
- Provides you with the ability and flexibility to set and change your fasting schedule as time goes on
- A reduction in weekly food costs
- An uncomplicated diet plan with no tricky formulas, equations, or costly meal plans
The intermittent fasting approach does require at least a full 24-hour fast, which can be difficult, especially if you’ve never tried fasting before. That’s certainly not to say that you won’t become accustomed to it. Just be aware that there will be challenges, such as staving off hunger and feeling low energy levels, particularly at first.
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. Veganism is now much more mainstream and its adoption by a greater number of people has been fueled by celebrities such as Beyonce and Jay Z and high-profile personalities like Bill Clinton amd @mealsbyneil (this guy is well worth a follow), who have gone the vegan route.
- A vegan diet promotes weight loss
- Vegans are at reduced risk of serious illness
- There are alternative sources of B-12, one of those important nutrients
- Excessive weight loss can become weight gain
- Vegan diets are lacking in some vital nutrients (vitamin b-12 and calcium etc)
- Relying on pulses for protein can bring on…discomfort
I have only covered a few of the main diets that are out there. There are many more out there including Mediterranean, Atkins and Ketogenic diet to name but a few. Personally, I feel that there isn’t one single diet that works for everyone out there. Everyone is a different shape, size, has their own dietry preferences or beliefs and others may have more bigger budgets so they can afford to try foods that work for them.
If one of these diets works for you, happy days! You should keep going with them if its working for you. As long as you get some exercise a few times a week and you eat healthy(ish) food for most of the week you will lose weight and you will feel happier about yourself, both mentally and physically.
Food is there to be enjoyed play around with recipes and food that you enjoy. The most important thing is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of foods that you enjoy just so that you fit into a dress as this will make you unhappy mentally. A Pizza here and there won’t kill you!
My biggest tip from researching all of this is simple, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!