It has been proven time and time again that an effective way to lose weight, live healthier and stay in good shape is to diet, give your body the nutrition it needs, and exercise regularly. However, with lots of diet plans being promoted as the next best thing since sliced bread, it's hard to tell which ones are effective and safe.
Over the years, while several fad diets have come and gone, three unique diets have continued to remain popular. These diets are paleo, keto and intermittent fasting. These diets have managed to stay relevant to date for one reason: they work!
In this article, we will be telling you all you need to know about these super three diets to decide if they’re right for you, how they work, and what makes them so relevant to date.
What Is The Paleo Diet All About?
Paleo is a dietary plan that promotes the exclusive consumption of food items that humans of the hunter-gatherer era (from tens of thousands of years) ate. Although it is almost impossible to tell for sure the exact foods these people lived on centuries back, researchers believe that their diet was primarily whole foods.
Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed or unrefined as much as possible. Some examples of these are fish, lean meat, eggs, herbs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, etc. Pretty much any food item that would have been possible to obtain back then through hunting and gathering is considered a whole food.
Examples of food items restricted under the paleo diet are certain dairy products, processed foods, soft drinks, sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, legumes, margarine, vegetable oils, etc.
The basis for promoting the exclusive consumption of foods within the paleo diet is that men from the palaeolithic era were free from present-day lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. And this primarily attributed to the fact that they were living on whole foods and staying physically active.
Some other names for the paleo diet are palaeolithic diet, hunter-gatherer diet, caveman diet, and the Stone Age diet.
How Does Paleo Work?
Proponents of the paleo diet blame present-day diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart disease on our modern-day diet, which are excessively processed and laden with sugar, fat, calories and “food” sources with little to no nutritional value.
The solution proposed by proponents of paleo diet is that we cut down on consumption of modern foods, and focus on the whole foods that were eaten by our ancestors. By doing so, we will begin to eat healthily and reduce the risk of suffering from any disease linked with present-day foods.
Another line of thought that argues the effectiveness of paleo diet is that when modern-day men went into farming, foods that the body was accustomed to were replaced. These foods were replaced with food items like legumes, dairy and grains, which led to a genetic mismatch. This idea is termed "discordance hypothesis".
By following this logic, if we start paleo dieting, we will be able to avoid diseases that occur due to the hypothesized genetic mismatch.
Next Up: Keto
Keto, fully called ketogenic dieting, is a low-carb, adequate-protein, high-fat diet plan that’s very similar to the Atkins diet.
The logic behind the keto diet is to force the body to get most of its needed calories from proteins and fats. And less from carbohydrates, since carbs promote a rapid rate of fat deposition in the body.
In the keto diet, you are meant to cut back more on carbs that the body finds easy to access. Examples of these are soda, sugar, white bread and pastries in general.
How Does The Keto Diet Work?
Ketogenic dieting is primarily used as a “tool” to promote weight loss. The idea behind this is that when you eat more carbs, your body produces more insulin and glucose. And when this happens, it will promote the storage of fat in the body, leading to weight gain.
Here is a full breakdown of how the weight-gain process happens when our carb intake is high:
When you eat foods high in carbohydrates, two things happen within your body:
1. Your body will break down the carbs into glucose, which is the easiest molecule for your body to convert into energy.
2. Higher amounts of insulin get produced by the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for processing glucose in your bloodstream and taking it to all the cells within your body.
Since glucose is what is primarily broken down to generate energy in the body, when you eat a lot of carbs, due to an abundant supply of glucose, your body will be forced to store fats and actively use the glucose.
On the flip side, when you eat fewer carbs (leading to lower availability of glucose), insulin levels in the body will drop, and the body will go into a state known as ketosis (hence the name of the diet).
During ketosis, the body will be forced to “eat” from the fat that has been stored in the fat deposits around the body, thereby leading to weight loss through “fat burning”.
Intermittent Fasting: Last, But Not Least!
Intermittent fasting (IF for short) is an eating pattern that involves alternating between long periods of fasting (total or partial abstinence from food), and periods of food consumption.
Of the three diet plans being looked at here, in terms of food choices, intermittent fasting is the least restrictive diet plan. This is because in intermittent fasting, you are not limited to eating specific foods. You only change when you eat.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting works similarly to ketogenic dieting because it also has a lot to do with glucose levels, insulin levels and ketosis.
The significant distinction between intermittent fasting and ketogenic dieting is that while you are cutting down on consumption of carbs in the latter, you abstain from all types of food (over a given period) in the former.
What happens in intermittent fasting is that by abstaining from food for a significant period, you will “manually” trigger ketosis within the body - which will still lead to the body turning to stored fat sources for energy.
There are several different schedules advocated for maximum effectiveness in intermittent fasting, but common practice is to fast for 16 hours in a day and consume all of a day’s calories in the remaining 8 hours.
Paleo, keto and intermittent fasting are all effective diet plans that can help you lose weight and live healthily. But regardless of this, the existence of multiple diet plans is necessary for a reason - there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.
After learning about these three leading diet plans and understanding the unique mechanisms behind them all, it is left to you to pick the ones that would be most effective and beneficial to you based on your unique physiology, personality, and lifestyle. It’s important to remember that these take time and consistent effort, just like a house needs a good foundation, your body needs solid nutrition to be healthy!
As always, if you need any advice or desire professional assistance with your nutrition, Dr. Lonny is a top chiropractor in Bellevue that is happy to help!