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No matter the diet, any time you reduce caloric intake you’ll lose weight in the short term. But that doesn’t mean your weight will decrease in a healthy or sustainable way. The problem occurs when too much emphasis is placed on a one-sided approach, causing you to miss out on the benefits other foods provide.
The Keto diet.
Originally designed as a medical diet for epileptic children who couldn’t metabolize carbohydrates properly, the Keto diet has been effective at managing seizures. However, restricting carbs also lowers caloric intake, making the Keto diet one of the most talked-about weight loss trends, garnering numerous celebrity endorsements.
The Keto diet promotes weight loss in the short term because, in today’s culture, most of our calories come from high-carb foods that don’t fill the stomach, causing us to feel hungry sooner and overeat. Eliminating carbs eliminates calories. Nevertheless, carbs are necessary in metabolizing fats into energy. If we don’t get enough carbs in our diet, we draw from other bodily sources just to sustain basic life functions.
The sound nutritional approach — Minimize simple carbs that metabolize too quickly and give us short bursts of energy. Avoid soda, other sweets, and overly refined bread and pasta. Be sure to include complex carbs that provide a sustainable source of energy over hours. Capitalize on veggies, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains.
The Paleo diet.
The Paleo diet proposes that our bodies haven’t evolved enough to process modern food and that we should revert to a diet presumed to have been eaten by Paleolithic humans.
While there is merit to consuming minimally processed foods, the Paleo diet forbids some very healthy choices available today, such as dairy (rich in calcium and vitamin D) and whole grains. Legumes and beans (also prohibited on Paleo) are great sources of protein and complex carbs. And it’s fairly unrealistic for most people to sustain such an unprocessed diet over the long haul.
Back to human evolution: our bodies are designed to adapt to new eras and environments. Eliminating healthy foods we have now just because they weren’t available to our ancestors just isn’t good advice.
The sound nutritional approach — The Paleo diet is getting us back to eating whole foods, lean meats, and nuts. Naturally occurring fats, proteins, and carbs fill us up and metabolize more slowly. But don’t dismiss the health benefits and variety of our present-day food offerings.
The Whole 30 diet.
Its premise is to eliminate all “trigger” foods (considered inflammatory for anyone with an intolerance) for 30 days before reintroducing them into your diet. These forbidden foods include dairy, grains, and legumes, and the 30-day reset promises to help you identify the culprits that make you feel puny.
The sound nutritional approach — The Whole 30 diet stringently eliminates foods that provide excellent nutritional value. On the plus side, Whole 30 encourages preparing a week’s worth of meals in advance, which promotes more mindful eating. You’re not enticed to grab fast food when you have home-cooked at the ready, and you have built-in portion control. (A word about portion size: it’s almost doubled in the last 40 or so years. Any diet is ineffective if you eat twice as much.)
Your body needs lifelong nutritional balance.
Beware of diets that emphasize a singular aspect without proper consideration for the whole. These diets not only deny your body essential nutrients to properly function, but they’re also not sustainable over time. Achieving healthy success requires mindful eating, medically sound advice, and forming lifelong good nutritional habits.
Author of this article
Addison Haynes, DO, specializes in family medicine. He is a guest columnist and located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care – Tipton, 1010 South Main St., Suite 200, in Tipton. He can be reached by calling the office at 765.675.1400.