If you read anything at all about nutrition, you’ve likely come across a variety of diets that all tout health benefits and claim to be the best. Here’s a little breakdown of the most common diets and a commentary that, hopefully, makes it all less confusing!
Standard American Diet (SAD)
This is the most common diet in the US and includes sugar, fried foods, trans fat, prepackaged foods, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), foods filled with pesticides, and other chemicals/additives that keep you addicted and cause you to gain weight. These foods have low nutrient levels and because you aren’t getting what you need, you tend to eat more in an effort to
The paleo diet is designed to resemble what our hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic) ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Researchers believe their diets consisted of whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils. Foods to avoid would include grains, sugar, processed foods, most dairy products, legumes, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, margarine, and trans fats.
The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet, usually recommended for weight loss. Proponents of this diet claim that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods high in carbs. The Atkins diet was originally promoted by the physician Dr. Robert C. Atkins, who wrote a best-selling book about it in 1972.
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins diet, but with a bit higher fat content. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy.
It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in the 1960’s. The basics include eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil and eating in moderation poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
Plant-based diets have been popular for centuries because of their health benefits. Vegetarian diets contain various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds. The inclusion of dairy and eggs depends on the type of diet you follow. The most common types of vegetarians include:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and egg products.
- Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs.
- Vegans: Vegetarians who avoid all animal and animalderived products.
So what are we supposed to eat?
The simplicity of it is…the more your food is unaltered and in its natural form, the better. Chemicals don’t belong in our food or in our bodies. So, start there. Our nutritional needs can fluctuate depending on the season, age, energy demands, ancestral heritage, etc. We all need protein, fat, and carbohydrates but the RATIO of what we need can vary. Some do well with a 100% plant-based diet and some need animal protein. In the summer, we usually feel like more fruits and vegetables but on a cold winter night, we might want a beef stew. Once you clean out the chemicals from your diet, it will be easier to tell what your nutritional needs are because your body will tell you. Pay attention to how you feel and adjust until you find what works for you. If you can, attend our upcoming classes and ask questions!