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Alarming truths about diets and which one is best for you?

What is the prefect diet? 

With so many popular diets being promoted it’s hard to know which ones are harmful and which are beneficial. If we break down each of these diets and consider the pro’s and con’s, it might be easier to make sense of all the information, because there is so much out there. Not to mention, there are industries that literally make millions in profits from selling us the next “Magic Bean” or “Lose Weight Quick” program. So, it’s important to do your own research before falling for clever marketing or as President Trump would say “fake news”. 

The calorie restricted diet

Although a calorie restricted diet may help lose weight (if that’s your goal) it’s not necessary the easiest diet to maintain. There are companies out there like Weight Watchers that promote you can eat whatever you want, just don’t eat over your daily recommend calorie intake, which doesn’t sound so bad. However, it is important to keep in mind if you are considering this diet as a method to help lose a few kilos, that you try to eat good, nutritious, whole foods. This will ensure your body gets all of the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy or you could end up with unwanted side effects from a lack of essential nutrients if you’re only eating junk.

Low Carbohydrate diet

The popular belief is that restricting carbohydrates will get you that lean, strong rocking body you always wanted, and that CARBS ARE THE ENEMY! But, one could argue this isn’t always the case at all.

The logic behind a Low Carbohydrate diet is that when you eat carbohydrates and your body doesn’t burn them off, your liver turns them into fat. This can happen in some cases however, for the majority of a reasonably active, healthy people when we eat carbs the liver turns it into glucose, which is then transferred to energy and rarely into fat. When your body has excessive glucose, it will produce insulin which turns the glucose into glycogen and is then stored in the liver and muscles. Then when the body goes through periods of low glucose, it will turn to the glycogen stores to fuel the body. 

There are two types of carbs: Simple and Complex – Simple carbs can come from honey and fruit or from refined sugars like soft drinks and sweets. The main problem with simple carbs is they are generally moreish, making it easier to overeat. 

High carbs diet.

Complex Carbs come from whole grains and veggies and these carbs are great for energy and will help you stay fuller for longer. So, eating the wrong carbohydrates can make a difference to your weight as simple carbs are more likely to be turned into fats whereas complex carbs are more commonly used by the body for energy! The downside to a low carbs diet is that it has quite restrictive guidelines and doesn’t allow any pasta, sugars, fruits, alcohol and starches (like potato) which can bring along some pretty intense side effects. Some of these include nausea, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Not only that, most people find the low carbs diet hard to stick with and they end up playing a game of Yo-Yo with their weight.

Keto diet

The Keto diet which is based on a high fat, high protein, low carbs, no sugar eating plan. So basically, allowing an individual to eat meat, cheese, milk and cream while being able to lose or maintain weight, which doesn’t sound too bad. The downside of a diet so high in saturated fat is that is leads to an increased risk of high cholesterol and blood pressure causing heart disease. This diet also restricts some vegetables which cuts out essential nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. Many argue that taking supplements to ensure their body is getting the vitamins and minerals it requires, is all you need. However, the body doesn’t absorb them as effetely as it would coming from whole foods. 

Paleo diet

The Paleo diet teaches that 10,000 years ago agriculture was introduced, and the hunter/gatherer lifestyle changed from eating mostly meats, fruit, veggies and nuts to diets containing more grains and processed foods along with refined sugars. Advocates for this diet believe the human body wasn’t designed to digest foods like grains, dairy and breads. Some also believe that eating these types of foods can lead to inflammation and other digestive issues but, this is largely untrue unless you suffer from Celiac disease or have a sensitivity to gluten. The Paleo diet is however, one of the easiest diets to follow as it has simple guidelines and basically promotes the consumption of whole foods packed with nutritious, cutting out all processed foods. The only main downside to the Paleo diet is that it cuts out a lot of fiber rich foods which helps keep the body regular.

Cleanse diet

A cleanse diet is promoted to ‘detox’ the body and hep you lose weight fast. Many celebrities have promoted the ‘lemon detox’ or ‘green tea cleans’ diets and claim that it helped them to shed the extra kilos. Most of these diets will completely restrict any calorie intake over a 7-14-day period and during this time you only allowed to drink or eat the one thing. This doesn’t sound like a good time! We have written another article on the why you should try fasting and what some of the benefits are. 

Although many people lose weight on these diets, most of the weight loss is water weight. There are also other side effects to consider which include headaches, fatigue, tremors, dizziness and dehydration.  After following some of the contestants from the TV show The Biggest Loser over 6-year period experts observed that not only did the participants gain all the weight back, but their metabolic rate also changed. One Contestant in particular now burns 800 fewer calories a day than another person of the same size. So, this is definitely not something to be recommended if your goal is for long term health, wellness and a steady number on the scales.

The takeaway from this is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to diets as we are all different. No two bodies are the same and it’s important to change things up with your diet if you find something is or isn’t working for you. A balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and lots of water while reducing your consumption of junk and alcohol is a good place to start. For more information here is another interesting article – 5 Questions to help You Choose a Diet That Works For You at verywellfit.com. 

 

Written by Sarah Gordon – 12/04/2020

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