As a society, we are constantly being inundated by the latest diet trends. We are bombarded by claims like “no need to exercise” or “eat what you want, when you want.” And while the types of diets may change, the “no fail” messages remain the same.
“The problem with diet trends is just that … they are trends,” says Bobbi DiClaudio, a local High Vibe Health Coach. “I see diets as a deterrent to experiencing long term health benefits and weight maintenance because they always leave out the most important factor, which is biomedical individuality. We are living beings who have unique circumstances and nutritional needs, and it’s obvious by the state of health and obesity in our country in relationship to the revenue generated by the ‘diet’ and weight loss industry that our approach is not effective.”
DiClaudio, who has spent 25 years in the health and fitness industry in some capacity, knows firsthand the effects of diets. She describes herself as a “husky” youngster who struggled to find clothing to fit her short and stout frame, and she had a love/hate relationship with diet trends for many years.
“The common theme I see is that people dive in head first, and depending on the amount of steam they have, they see results for a period of time, then either get to their ‘goal’ weight or designated end point, experience some sort of setback, or lose interest and quickly rebound to their previous pattern of eating,” she explains. “They perpetuate the cycle of self-defeat and defamation all over again, making each attempt more daunting and frustrating.”
There are three diet trends that are among the most popular today, according to DiClaudio, who defined each and offered the benefits and downsides.
The Paleo diet is based on the principle of eating the same foods that our ancestors hunted and gathered in the Paleolithic era. This means that your plate should be full of fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds. Contrarily processed foods like refined grains, dairy and legumes are off the table. Paleo is grain-free, which by nature, makes it a low-carb diet that’s higher in protein and fat.
The Paleo diet fits into the current low-carb movement, promotes weight loss and is anti-inflammatory in nature, which benefits many disease states, such as autoimmune conditions, arthritis, lupus and ulcerative colitis. It’s naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that reduce harmful free radicals in the body and not only decreases inflammation, but also lowers the incidence of disease states like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Pros: Promotes weight loss, high in protein, helps regulate blood sugar, reduces inflammation, nutrient dense.
Cons: Restricts some nutrient-dense foods, difficult to follow for vegan or vegetarians, leans toward high-quality and lean protein sources for best “health” benefits from this style of eating.
The Keto diet has been around for many years (since the 1920s), but only became mainstream recently, mainly because there’s no calorie counting, limiting portions or excessive exercise required. This diet is based on the science of altering the preferred fuel source of the body from glucose (sugar) to dietary fat, which happens once a state of ketosis is achieved. This diet is similar to the Atkins diet, which was popular in past years, except protein consumption on the Keto diet is even more limited and there is a bigger emphasis on healthy fats like avocado, coconut and ghee (clarified butter).
Pros: Rapid weight loss once in ketosis, craving reductions, easy to manage foods and stay full.
Cons: “Flu” symptoms can occur, as can headaches, constipation, difficulty sleeping and moodiness.
Relatively speaking, this diet is new on the scene. It came out in 2009 and focuses on whole natural occurring foods with a basic elimination approach, which is simple in that it eliminates only sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. This diet has easy-to-follow rules and detailed cookbooks and great explanations of why it all “works.”
Pros: Emphasizes good choices and lifestyle modifications, no calorie counting or portion control, simple approach of just eating whole, unprocessed foods.
Cons: Zero tolerance for grains and dairy and a tough love approach, which means beginning over at day one of 30 if you have a slip-up.
“Instead of opting for a diet, we need to take steps toward getting in touch with our unique dietary needs, using food as a fuel source and not a reward or for comfort,” DiClaudio notes. “Discover what you are truly ‘hungry’ for in your life. Though the statistics of dieting are all over the place, in my experience, diets fail 100 percent of the time because they do not address the ‘why’ from an individual experience. Pay attention to what it is that is holding you back and correct it from the inside out.”