People always approach me with this question! It often happens when they have begun dieting or working with a trainer who has (without adequate education) given them dietary direction. They are invariably counting calories or avoiding fats or meats, eating copious amounts of oatmeal and whole grains, and binging on chicken breast and poached fish or some variety of tofurky or tosteaky or beyond burger synthetic food nummies.
They approach me with their almond milk, non-fat, hip-whip latte and whole grain bagel or sugar laden booster juice in hand, smiling from ear to ear because they are so excited to be finally making a change for the better in their health and eating ‘clean.’ And because they haven’t realized the sham of those diets yet.
I cringe-smile and nod. The wrinkles on my face that don't belong to my son are caused by the work trying to undo this nutrition misinformation. I don't want to be dogmatic, or espouse anything rigid, and I'm always excited when people want to make changes for the better in their health! But I get frustrated because I know so much of this information leads to health problems downstream - these people often find the weight won't go away and people develop depression and anxiety and get diagnosed with type II diabetes.
I realize it's not popular to say this, but after well over 10 years as a clinical nutritionist I can say definitively that less than 5% of the people I have ever met are able to sustain a low-fat diet over time with anything resembling good health. And, the ones that I have seen are tremendously athletic or devoted to strength training and are slim yes, but also filled with inflammation. Joint pains, back pains, migraines, tinnitus, alopecia, and other woes. But they stay slim, so they think they're healthy.
Wait a minute. If skinny isn't synonymous with health, what is, you ask. How does one define health? I've thought a lot about this. I define health as resiliency. The body and psyche's ability to withstand the abuses and stresses of life and bounce back, without injury or pathology to function or form. (Well, one often equals the other, as it turns out, but you get my drift.)
So health is essentially the body that takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin' - without pain or compromised function.
I see a lot of people adhering to a vegetarian or vegan diet, with the occasional chicken product if they want to be ‘bad.’ These people invariably substitute carbs or sugar for protein in their diets, do not even remotely reflect good health, and usually suffer from anxiety, adult acne, eczema, dysmenorrhea, metabolic syndrome, high body fat weight, polycystic breast or ovarian syndrome, poor muscle tone, chronic candida, rampant inflammation, sleep disturbances, and some sort of mood or mental disorder if the diet has been prolonged.
Ironically, they also are the most vocal and passionate about recruiting others to their dietary persuasion, in my experience. To save the earth or the animals, usually. No matter that clear cutting and mono-cropping are the primary drivers of climate change and soil degradation, and vegetarian 'plant based' grain crops - namely soy and corn - are the biggest offenders.
These foodstuffs are also frequently included in factory processed foods. Corn syrup has been correlated to the explosion in diabesity and metabolic syndrome. Corn oils have been associated with inflammation, which covers all the 'itis' diseases we suffer. 82% of the world's soy crops are now GMO. And soy is known to be estrogenic, which can switch on cancer genes.
But. But. But plants are healthy. Plant based foods are healthy! Aren't they?
Well, first of all, when did corn and soy get lumped in with vegetables? They more accurately belong to the grain and legume categories, respectively. Legumes are high in lectins that are difficult to digest and almost all grains are high in phytates which cause the same issues. Corn, in particular, is known to reduce specific B vitamins that are essential for stable mood and mind.
If one is going to eat copious carbs, once they reach 30 they generally must count calories to sustain anything resembling a slim figure. I say generally because vegans and raw foodists are exceptions, as they can struggle with keeping weight on.
But calorie counting as a lifestyle is horribly unsustainable. Nobody I know has stayed on this model for any length of time because it's so difficult to sustain. The ones I know who’ve used it with rigor have used it through Weight Watchers – lost much excess weight – then returned to their usual weight or higher when they’d had enough, only to return years later when they felt it had gotten out of hand again. It’s the yo-yo diet of choice in the people I have come across.
Bernstein uses a low carb model that will get great fat loss results if you stick with it, but a high protein low carb diet is notoriously hard to sustain. Humans are not satiated without fats. So if you remove the fat, what is left to turn on the satiety hormones in the brain? Furthermore, I don't feel it teaches enough about nutrition to empower clients to know how to manage their own health for life.
For health purposes the paleo diet is far superior. And we want dieting to restrict us as little as possible. So why on earth would anyone recommend KETO dieting (ultra high fat, low car, moderate protein) as the best diet? Inflammation and satiation reset. That’s why.
Paleo will reverse inflammation and disease tendencies in the body. But until you find your groove, it can be difficult to change your food preferences from sweet to savory, which Paleo ultimately requires. Not so with KETO. It will reset cravings and stop inflammation dead in its tracks, with a very short transition period. Weight loss will be effortless. Brain fag and mood swings that hold you back will disappear. Sleep cycles will improve, resting metabolism will improve, insulin resistance will improve – much faster than with Paleo alone. And, as you become KETO fat-adapted, you will be satisfied in a way that is almost impossible with any other diet.
Then, after a good KETO reset (at least 2-3 months), when you have reached your zone for body composition (always always look at body comp or a measuring tape and not a mirror or scale to determine fat loss!) (your abdominal fat will tell you about your body composition without uber high tech equipment) you can slowly increase the carb portion of your macros and reduce the fats to create a sustainable Paleo diet that does not feel restrictive at all. Just look what you can eat on a KETO diet while losing weight that you can’t possibly touch on any other but Paleo:
homemade gravy and jus, full fat beef, pork, and lamb, full fat fish with skin, chicken, and fowl with skin, sea salt, herbs, spices, all veggies, even fried, except high starch ones – which you can add in later, butter, full fat dairy, olive and coconut oils, almond and coconut meal for baking, erythritol and monkfruit and stevia for sweeteners, and fruit is allowed in small amounts in moderation until you're in the maintenance zone. Fermented foods, as long as the sugars are low are also allowed.
The only thing you do not eat are starches, grains, and sugars. These foods are heavily processed anyway and won’t be good for you in the long run. Just look at the gurus from different disciplines who say so:
If you’re having a hard time getting your head around this diet, or not understanding if it will work for you, I invite you to book a free consult with me. We can evaluate if it will help address your health issues. A diet should not just keep you slim for life but also give you the best health possible with your particular genetic predisposition and limitations.
But if you want the diet most able to prevent and or reverse cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, epilepsy, obesity, arthritis, colitis, IBS, osteoporosis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, dysmenorrhea, candida, infertility, memory and brain decline – then you want a KETO diet for a reset, followed by an Ancestral / Paleo diet and KETO cycling for maitenance.