There are so many different diets around, with conflicting evidence, information and results. Here is my take on some of the most common ones out there. The Good, the Bad and the down right ugly.
Intermittent fasting cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Time frames of fasting will vary from 12 hours, 16/8 (16 hours fast) 5:2 (normal eating 5 days severe calorie restriction 2 days) to 24 or even 36 hour fasts. It has been shown to help weight loss and has been linked to other health benefits.
Benefits: Intermittent fasting can increase fat burning and increased metabolism, and has been linked to anti-aging effects, increased insulin sensitivity, improved brain health, reduced inflammation, and many other benefits
Downsides: In general, intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy adults. If you are peri-menopausal, menopausal, suffer from high stress, depression and/or anxiety, then intermittent fasting should be avoided due to the effect on cortisol and circadian rhythms.
Plant-based diets restrict meat and animal products for various reasons. Studies show that they aid weight loss by reducing your calorie intake and offer many other benefits.
Benefits: such as a reduced risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. They can also be more environmentally sustainable than meat-based diets
Downsides: Though plant-based diets are healthy, they can restrict important nutrients that are typically found in animal products, such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Low-carb diets restrict your carb intake, which encourages your body to use more fat as fuel. They can help you lose weight and offer many other benefits.
Benefits: Research suggests that low-carb diets may reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They may also improve blood sugar and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Downsides: In some cases, a low-carb diet may raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Low-carb diets can also be difficult to follow and cause digestive upset in some people as well not allowing for effective fuelling of your body which can leave you minerally depleted as well as lacking in energy.
Side note on Keto: while Keto is minimising carbs and increasing healthy fats, putting you into a state of ketosis, meaning the body is in fat burning mode, so you might see results quickly. The keto diet forces you to cut out a lot of foods that are high in sugar and carbs, so this can naturally cause you to lose weight too.
However, It’s no long-term solution. When you’re in ketosis, your body is technically in a survival state. If you remain in this state for too long, your metabolism begins to slow down. Remember, diets like these are a short term, quick fix solution and not sustainable in the long run, and more often than not you end of putting the weight right back on once you return back to your normal regime – this is especially true for women with their hormone cycles.
Low-fat diets restrict your intake of fat, as this macronutrient is higher in calories than protein and carbs. Studies have linked low-fat diets to weight loss and lower risks of heart disease and diabetes.
Benefits: Can reduce weight initially and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. They may also reduce inflammation and improve markers of diabetes
Downsides: Restricting fat too much can lead to health problems in the long term, as fat plays a key role in hormone production, nutrient absorption, and cell health. Moreover, very-low-fat diets have been linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy oils while restricting refined and highly processed foods. While it’s not a weight loss diet, studies show that it can promote weight loss and overall health.
The Mediterranean diet encourages eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, which may help combat inflammation and oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. It has been linked to reduced risks of heart disease and premature death.
Downsides: As the Mediterranean diet is not strictly a weight loss diet, people may not lose as much weight following it unless they also consume fewer calories.
While all of the above diets have been shown to be effective for weight loss, the diet you choose should depend on your lifestyle and food preferences. Sticking to any way of eating long term is the key to weight control and feeling energetic and healthy.
What do I do now??????
As you can see there are so many options and different ways of doing things. It can be so confusing to find the right thing that works for YOUR body. I hear a lot, “I know what to eat, it’s just a matter of doing it.” And I believe you. But are you getting the results you want without confusion and anxiety?
Here’s the spoiler alert – many people are way off base about what’s really healthy and this is largely due to the marketing machines advertising their sales pitch.
So why use a Nutritionist (or similar)? Some just think they’ll get a lecture on “eat this – don’t eat that” which is so not a nutritionists style. Food is just one component of the big picture of health and we look at the bigger picture of the whole person.
Working through barriers and the “stuff” or “stories” that can stop you from achieving your goals. Organising testing to really see what is happening with your body. Put plans into place that are designed just for you. Not me, not anyone else. Just you.
A Nutritionist can help you with strategies to navigate tricky situations, events and hectic schedules that make it hard to eat well.
Lacking energy or PMS or headaches, always want to sleep or can’t sleep, thyroid issues, anxiety, fatigue, diabetes, mental health, fertility, stress are all things that can be helped with a nutritionist by your side.
In saying all this, I’d like to offer all challengers a 20% discount on my initial consultations and my programs. If you need to be held accountable or need that kick up the bum with this challenge then book in a 20 min free video call (or at the gym) with me and we can have a chat about how we can get the best results for you, long term.