Good 'n Healthy: Don’t get caught in the vortex of fad diets
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Good 'n Healthy: Don’t get caught in the vortex of fad diets

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It never fails. You read about a new miracle diet that is going to change your life like nothing you have ever experienced. These articles are usually paired with a doctor’s name or claim to have this deep scientific understanding, which is supposed to legitimize their claim.

All of these fads are to be taken with heavy caution. Usually, it’s a way to collect your money fast, and you may see some quick results from the recommended program. One thing I try to guide people toward is asking yourself, “Is this sustainable for a lifetime, or is this fad diet a means to an end?” I guess you will have to weigh your options on this one and what your intended goals are.

If you are looking for a quick fix with no intention of really observing your overall health, then maybe these fad diets are for you, and there is nothing wrong with that. In my professional opinion, I would try to guide you toward looking at your nutrition journey from a more holistic perspective that ensures health for the long term.

I would also agree that most of these fad diets have good things about them, but they are all just pieces of the holistic nutrition prize. Let’s take a look at a couple of these so-called fad diets: Keto, intermittent fasting and vegan diets.

Keto

Keto Diet is a recently described nutritional protocol that recommends eating a high fat, medium protein and low carbohydrate diet. It’s suggested that the energy that is derived from fats is a more sustainable energy source for the human body than carbohydrates, and in the western style of eating (high carb), this protocol will help with maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Other benefits are eating less throughout the day because of the reduced feeling of hunger, which is attributed to the high fat intake and better regulation of hormones that are associated with preventing chronic disease. This diet has been medically recommended to people that suffer from epilepsy.

Doctor Atkins’ diet, the “Atkins,” is held around the same principles. He suggested to decrease carbohydrate intake and always choose the veggie over the fruit, because the veggie has more bang for your buck when it pertains to nutrient density. This has commonly been mistaken for the carnivore diet. The carnivore diet is a meat-only diet.

Keto can be a great way to become a healthier version of yourself when you consume a variety of plants. The problem is you can be Keto and eat cheese sticks and pepperoni slices all day. Despite contrary thought, this is not a healthy way to go about losing excess body fat.

If you are deciding to try it out, I would recommend tracking your food intake on My Fitness Pal app. Make sure to eat a well-rounded diet to ensure quality nutrient consumption. Veggies are low carb and high in nutrient density, meaning they are Keto-friendly foods. Fat consumption should come from nuts, seeds and oils such as: olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil.

Intermittent Fasting

This is also known as “Time Restricted Feeding.” There are many ways to go about this type of diet, and it seems to be one of the most popular fad diets right now. This is best described by going extended periods of time without the consumptions of food or anything that will spike your blood insulin levels.

Fasting promotes a lot of good things for the body. First, think about the last time you restricted the amount of time you ate for eight, 12 or maybe 24 hours. Do you think you could abstain from food for that long?

Part of this method is to start developing discipline with food. Most of us in the western world are consistently eating with the intention of using that food as fuel. This is just the world we live in and it doesn’t support chronic health, it supports chronic disease. By designating times to eat, you start the process of discipline which puts you in the driver’s seat. For most of us, our lives are driven by food.

Another great concept of this diet is the process of autophagy. This is the “survival of the fittest” mechanism that the body has. When we are consistently eating we are fueling weak cells. These weak cells replicate themselves and create even more weak cells. These cells can become cancerous. When you remove the excess consumption the weak cells cannot support themselves anymore and get removed from the body. This is the type of cleanse we should all be after.

One really important part of this is you still need to consume food. The longer you prolong the absence of food, the shorter amount of time there is to consume the proper amount of nutrients to support health. Make sure you are supporting yourself when it’s time to eat.

Vegan

This fad diet has had some heightened popularity since Netflix featured a documentary about it. This is a diet that abstains from consuming animal products. It appeals to those who want to protect animals, and it even suggests that humans don’t need animal products to sustain a healthy life.

There are those who choose a vegan lifestyle for personal or religious reasons that have nothing to do with weight loss. Lifestyles or religious choices aside, this style of dieting has a lot of mindfulness to it when it comes to things outside of the human body, and it will take a lot of mindfulness of foods to sustain human health with this diet. One of the diet’s arguments is that we have a long digestive tract that imitates a herbivore, so we should only eat plants.

This is definitely true when it pertains to having a long digestive tract, but most scholars and scientists argue that humans are omnivores — as evidenced by our teeth which include incisors and canines life carnivores and chewing molars like herbivores — which means we can eat both animal products and plants. To the extent at which you should polarize toward is merely based on your gut biome and genetics. Ethics can definitely be brought into the picture, but that is not for this article.

On a positive note, this diet tends to have positive reactions by those who try it. They suggest that they feel better after a short period of time. There are also a lot of great vegan recipes out there.

I suggest that the positive feedback is due to consuming a more well-rounded diet than prior to starting vegan, but I would argue its ability to sustain health over a course of a lifetime. Everything is made of proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of life, and humans need a variety of them to sustain long-term health. Each type of plant has a limited amount of proteins, which means that we need to eat a variety to get all the protein we need to be healthy. Animal products contain all the protein we need.

Let’s look at some evolutionary facts. Go back to the hunter/gathering times. Think about which was easier to find and eat: a plant or an animal? Plants are rooting in the ground. They can’t run away, and they make up the majority of all living things on this planet. Animals take special tools to build. They run away and they can also protect themselves, which makes them a risky meal. It only makes sense that the majority of the ancestral diet was mostly plants due to convenience. They still went out and hunted animals, though.

Conclusion

None of these diets are bad unless you don’t know what you are doing. Make sure to seek out a professional that is well versed in nutrition to help you figure out how to go about these diets. They shouldn’t be isolated and used to the extreme. I suggest having Keto meals, intermittent fasting and consuming vegan dishes, but first you should know how to eat and what good food is before starting.

I help my clients figure out what their plates and portions should look like before diving down the rabbit hole of fad diets.

CrossFit’s Way of Nutrition:

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO sugar. Keep intake levels that support exercise but no body fat.”

Keep it simple and don’t get caught in the vortex of fads.

— Drew Goodin, masters of arts, Athletic Training Certified, CrossFit Level 2 Certified is owner and head coach at CrossFit Council Bluffs.

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