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Comparing Whole30, Paleo, Keto and Macro diets

With so many different diets promising amazing results, it can be really overwhelming trying to pick one that best suits you. Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Macro… where do you even start? Well, you start by deciding what your goal is. Are you trying to lose weight? Maybe you’re interested in lowering cholesterol or blood pressure, or even regulating blood sugar. Dieting is often associated with weight loss, but, when done properly, a diet can have health benefits beyond physical improvements. Some diets can work for a quick weight loss boost, while others may help inhibit development of health diseases. Finding a diet that fits your lifestyle is the best way to secure healthy eating habits. We’re comparing four popular diets to give you the pros and the cons for each. We understand that developing and maintaining healthy eating habits is difficult in a world of endless to-do lists and packed schedules.  We narrowed it down for you:

 

 

  • Whole30

 

      • What is it? 30-day clean eating regime intended to detox your body and revamp your eating habits. The idea behind it is simple: you have to eat WHOLE (i.e., not processed) foods for 30 days. That means you have to cut out all foods that might throw your natural body processes off (toxins), like alcohol and sugar, grains, dairy, and even legumes.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Proteins, like red meat, poultry and fish.
        • Veggies. All of them. We mean it, from leafy greens to starchy veggies.
        • Fruits. Also known as nature’s candy. You can enjoy berries, apples, bananas.
        • Fats, like avocado, coconut oil

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • Alcohol and sugar/artificial sweeteners
        • No smoking (nicotine, tobacco, pot… none at all)
        • Absolutely no grains (rice, quinoa, bread)
        • No legumes (beans, peanut butter)
        • No soy / dairy
        • No processed foods.

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Weight loss
        • Improved energy
        • Improved health benefits
          • No more random headaches, insomnia, fatigue
          • Clearer skin
          • Digestive health
          • Improved sleep
        • Less cravings
        • Better relationship with food

 

  • Drawbacks

 

        • Really inflexible / intensive – Sort of like a training bootcamp
        • Hard to be social when on a demanding diet

 

  • Paleo

 

      • What is it? Also known as the “caveman diet,” the paleo diet trend requires you to reset your eating habits back to hunter-gatherer. By cutting out “modern food” from our diet, or basically anything that comes in a package and cannot be found as is in the wild, some experts believe we can reverse or prevent diseases associated with diets full of high-processed foods.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Lean proteins / game meat / eggs / fish/shellfish
        • Fruits
        • Non starchy veggies
        • Nuts and seeds
        • Olive and flaxseed oils

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • ALL dairy, cheeses, and butter
        • Cereal grains
        • Legumes
        • Starchy veggies
        • Artificial sweeteners
        • Sodas and sugary drinks
        • Cured meats
        • Processed foods

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Improved health factors
          • Heart disease prevention
          • Blood sugar regulation
          • Weight loss
        • Improved energy/mood
        • Can be cheaper than buying processed foods

 

  • Drawbacks

 

      • Limited carb options
      • Inflexible/intolerant

 

 

  • Keto

 

      • What is it? Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. On a standard ketogenic diet, 75% of the calories you consume needs to come from fats, 5% comes from carbs and fiber, and the rest of the 20% is reserved for protein sources. The diet is based on the idea that a drastic cut in carbohydrate consumption sends your body into a state of ketosis, making it an efficient fat burning machine. The metabolic state of ketosis also turns fat into ketones, which provides our brain with energy.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Meat: red, poultry, fish, eggs, lean, fatty
        • Butter and cream
        • Cheeses, the less processed the better
        • Nuts and seeds
        • Healthy oils/fats: avocados, coconut oil, olive oil
        • Extremely low carb veggies: tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers, onions
        • Condiments: salt + pepper, herbs and spices

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • Sugar
        • Grains / starches
        • Fruits, except berries on occasion
        • Beans / legumes
        • Root veggies
        • Processed / “low-fat” foods
        • Unhealthy fats like mayo, hydrogenated oils
        • Alcohol / “sugar-free” foods

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Hormone regulation = improved mood
        • Lower health risks
        • Weight loss
        • High fat sounds counterintuitive and it might be exciting for someone who’s been doing low fat diet fads for a while.
        • More manageable in a social setting

 

  • Drawbacks

 

        • You’ll get tired of bacon
        • Should need to have a workout regime in mind because of all the high fat/greasy foods

 

  • IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

 

    • What is it? If it fits your macros, also known as flexible dieting, is the diet phenomenon that literally takes dieting out of losing weight. IIFYM requires you to calculate your daily caloric expenditure based on your activity level, then use nutrition labels to track the calories the food you consume. The idea is that, no matter what you eat, or what time you eat, or how many times a day you eat, if you are at a caloric deficit, you will burn fat.  Similarly, if you are at a caloric surplus, you will gain weight. Where IIFYM differs from traditional calorie counting is that a certain number of calories are allotted for proteins and fats while the rest are allotted for calories (see the IIFYM website to see your recommended allotment). The most liberating thing about this diet is that it puts no restrictions on food, so it doesn’t even feel like a diet. IIFYM can teach you a lot about your personal macro ratios, as each person performs optimally on varying macronutrient ratios. Don’t neglect your vitamins and minerals, though! Tracking your three main macro groups are important for energy, but for all-around health, it’s also important to get enough micronutrients too. Yes.., this means we encourage you to eat nutrient rich foods (A.K.A. veggies), along with tasty treats. It’s all about balance!
    • What can you eat?
      • Anything. Really. If it fits your macros, you can eat it.
    • What should you avoid?
      • Nothing! It’s called flexible dieting for a reason
    • Benefits
      • Flexibility
      • Improved moods because you’re not crash dieting
      • Improved relationship with food
        • No “bad” or “unhealthy” foods
        • Learn to enjoy things in moderation
      • Cookies on a diet? Yes!
    • Drawbacks
      • Need to add up calories by macros and track them
      • Too flexible?
      • Easy to develop bad eating habits – technically, you can eat 2000 calories worth of pasta per day and still lose weight if you burn 2500 calories a day.

 

When comparing different diets, it’s important to make realistic goals and commitments based on your lifestyle. If you have a busy, unpredictable schedule, it might be difficult to commit to a diet like Whole30 that’s very demanding and inflexible. If you have specific health issues you’re trying to address, it makes less sense to go with flexible dieting or IIFYM. When you find a diet that fits your lifestyle, dieting will start to feel less like dieting and more like healthier habits.

Note/ disclaimer: Always consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet or food regime.

By: Leticia T.

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