Top 3 Diet Trends: Which One is Right for You?
Awareness, education, empowerment, advocacy, declining health statistics, and social media are the main contributing factors to the changes I see in my practice when it comes to perspective on food. We are certainly seeing a shift going on regarding what we put in our mouth and how it affects our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. And I say Kudos to you! When I first started practicing 9 years ago, we were just on the edge of this shift. But now, we’re in full force. We no longer look to change our diet for the sole purpose of losing weight. We are now changing our diet to feel better!! This is ground breaking. With changes in diet, our moods stabilize, our sleep improves, our aches and pains largely decrease, our skin glows, and we can decrease our risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And sure, we can also lose weight. But where do we start? There are 3 popular diets making their rounds and I’m going to briefly break them down for you.
- Ketogenic Diet
This diet switches our metabolism from using carbohydrate-based fuels (like glucose from starch and sugars) to using fat-based fuels. In doing so, our bodies create by-products called ketones. The presence of these ketones can make positive changes to our cells.
Instead of relying on carbohydrates (sugar) alone for energy, our body and brain use the ketones to make energy; a process called Ketosis.
The nutrient intake while on ketogenic diet looks like this: 70-75% of calories from healthy fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. So generally speaking, this is a high-fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. How low of a carb diet is it? Most people reduce carb intake to 20-60 grams per day. Compared to the standard North American Diet, this is not a lot of carbs. As in, barely any. As in, you’ll go through withdrawal for sure….but it’s doable.
Reasons not to do this diet: any medical history with kidney dysfunction, and severe heart disease. In addition, our bodies were not designed to be in ketosis for long periods of time – this concept has created quite a bit of controversy within the medical world and is something to consider.
- Paleo Diet
This diet takes us back to the Caveman days, when meat, fruits and veg were aplenty, and processed foods, ovens, and microwaves were not. Basically, you do NOT eat dairy, all grains, most legumes, and all processed and refined foods. It’s foundation endorses nutrient-dense foods, while omitting foods that are known to be problematic for our health. What do you eat? Exceptionally high amount of veggies, quality meats, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, fermented foods, and herbs and spices.
The purpose behind the diet isn’t to take us back to our earliest human days, because a lot has changed since then, including our genetic makeup. The diet has more to do with what modern science is showing to be what’s healthiest for our bodies! It’s focus is on foods that help us heal vs. foods that cause harm. It’s rooted pretty deep in current research and there really is no reason that would prevent you from trying it. It has been shown to help improve cardiovascular disease, decrease inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, helps with weight loss, and can reduce the effects of autoimmune disease.
- Intermittent Fasting
Generally speaking, this is a practice that involves completely abstaining from eating for a period of time. For some, this means fasting for a certain number of days/week. For others, it means abstaining from eating for a certain number of hours within each day. It’s focus is on timing of eating and not on what you are eating.
The most common practice of intermittent fasting is only eating from 12 pm – 8pm of everyday, and abstaining from food from 8 pm until 12 pm the next day. Some research evidence does exist for this diet; it has been shown to improve blood sugar dysregulation, decrease risk of some cancers, slows cognitive decline (eg. Alzheimer’s), and can improve weight loss.
Reasons not to do this include uncontrolled type 1 or type 2 diabetes, eating disorders, being underweight, pregnancy, and some mental health conditions.
So which one is right for you? I don’t know! Ha!!!! To just pick one and hope for the best isn’t how my mind works. I think there is a specific way of eating for all us, but it must be individualized to have the most benefit. Before embarking on any major diet change, I highly suggest seeing a Naturopathic doctor, who can rule out any reason why you shouldn’t eat a certain way and give you guidance on the right path for you. To speak for my own practice, after I complete a full assessment of your health, together we will decide what path works best. I am very lucky to have two amazing Nutritionists in my clinic who can help you even further by mapping out exactly what to eat, taking the guess work out for you.
While you ponder a diet change, hang tight, it’s a tough time of year for most of us but Spring is just around the corner!
I’m about to go bask in the sun myself,