Blog #6

Fad Diets Crushed

So I thought I’d give my insight on a bunch of diets out there, as we all know diet is the main thing to focus on to achieve your weight loss goal.  First off, I think the word “diet” is restrictive.  If you feel you are being restrictive every meal, you must have a miserable life.  Find a “diet” that you can stick to, forever, and then it just becomes your normal eating pattern.

Now I’ve picked a couple of diets that I know of and shared my experience personally, with clients, and with friends, so I hope it is a fair overview of these diets.  As always, you should consult with a professional before starting any new diet.

Anyway, on to the diets!

Keto, Atkins, No Carb

These three are pretty much all the same.  They all focus on EXTREMELY low carbohydrates to induce weight loss.  This is definitely not recommended for athletes or anyone competing in sports.  As extremely low carbs result in low energy, and you know if you play a game of rugby with no energy, an injury is just around the corner.  People forget that even protein turns into fat if you don’t use up the energy.
Definitely a no no from me.

Carb Cycling 

Now this is less fancy and less talked about by “celebs” but it does have it’s place.  This involves keeping your carbohydrate intake high around your high intensity workouts/games, and low carbs on your off days. This is also particularly used in endurance sports.  I do think this is a reasonable approach to follow apart from it pays no attention to the other macronutrients – protein, fats, and of course calories. 
Carb cycling is useful for rugby players, but make sure you look at the rest of your nutrients too!

No Alcohol

Aaaah the old mistress.  Forever knocking at our door, and forever causing weight gain.  Everyone knows alcohol makes you put on weight.  Be it the dropped motivation, the increased calories, or the drunk munchies, alcohol = weight gain, fact.  Cutting out alcohol will result in a short-term weight loss but again it pays no attention to the rest of your diet, FOOD.  Building a healthy relationship with alcohol is a more sustainable strategy.  Because we all know after dry January, we’re all back on it, and with a vengeance.
Overall I think no alcohol is too restrictive and a short-term fix.  Limiting alcohol is good yes, but again you need to watch your food too.  

Paleo

The paleo diet is essentially the caveman diet.  You can only eat what cavemen did.  Essentially this means meat, fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains etc.  This cuts out all processed food, all snacks and some say is what humans are meant to be eating.  It is time consuming as you need to prep almost every meal yourself, but it is very beneficial.  This is the diet I recommend for my clients.   
Overall a sustainable and enjoyable diet to follow.

Carnivore 

Going one step further is the carnivore diet.  This is essentially having meat at every meal, with a very small side.  Now all the “low carb gurus” will stand by this because you are mainly eating protein.  However as I said, even protein turns into fat if you have too much, so there’s that theory crushed.  Having dabbled in vegan research I can’t recommend eating meat all day every day.  Your body needs nutrients from other food sources.  I had a carnivore diet growing up and my energy level was very low.
I would not recommend a 100% carnivore diet.

5:2 

Now this is the biggest load of BS I have ever heard.  This is essentially consuming a crazy low amount of calories for 5 days of the week, around 500-600 if I remember correctly, and on the other 2 days you can eat whatever you want.  I know, stupid right.  Z list celebrities on Instagram swear by it and now everyone tries it.  Even though most people live like this anyway.  Again it teaches nothing about eating healthy, or being able to manage your own behaviours.  It’s basically saying starve yourself in the week and go crazy on the weekend.

Again, not something I would recommend

Herbalife 

The theory behind Herbalife is whilst you are on the diet, you will swap 1-2 meals for a meal replacement shake.  This is an abomination (click here to read my article on this).  This teaches nothing about cooking and eating healthy food, but just to swap meals for powder.  Once you stop the shakes you are back where you started and often rebound with your weight.

Sorry if offend anyone because I know a lot of Herbalife distributors, but I would definitely not recommend this diet.

Vegan/Vegetarian 

Ask me this a few years ago and I would say this doesn’t work, but I am a supporter of vegan/vegetarian diet.  People worry about protein content on a vegan diet, but if you swap your meat with a non-meat high protein substitute, you are getting more or less the same amount of protein, and if not then a vegan protein shake will get you there.  Going veggie means you have to eat a lot more veggies (durrr), and this results in better energy and tonnes more vitamins and minerals going into your body.  It makes you cook a lot and really think about what goes into your food.

I can recommend the vegan/vegetarian diet as long as you tackle the protein content.

Fasting 

Fasting is when you would choose to fast for a period of the day, usually 16 hours.  This means that you only have an 8 hour window to consume all your calories.  There are a load of benefits to fasting including a digestive system reboot, increased energy levels, reduced time taken out of your day to cook and eat etc, but the real benefit is coming from not allowing yourself to eat all day.  Again you still need to watch what you eat in the 8 hours, but it is a good principle for cutting out a meal, usually breakfast.

I would recommend this diet as long as the meals you eat are also helpful.

Weight Watchers (and any other similar service out there)

Now these do work.  I know plenty of guys and girls who have lost weight on there, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.  You track your meals on a rating that they give you (which isn’t an accurate scale in my opinion) and report back to your group. This social pressure usually results in following the rules and then weight loss.  Again once you leave the diet group it is easy to drop off as you have no internal motivation.

These may work for certain populations, but I wouldn’t recommend it for rugby players. 

Well there you have it.  I mean to write this as a quick email, but it turned into an article.  I hope this sheds some light on some of the diets out there.  If you have specific questions on a different diet feel free to drop me an email.

Overall, you need to pick something that suits your lifestyle, taste and that you can continue on your own.  Swapping in and out of diets will get you nowhere.  Try a few until you find something you enjoy, and stick to it for a healthy life!

All the best

Regan

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