You probably know someone who is doing one of the following three diets:
- The Ketogenic Diet (Very high fat, very low carb),
- Intermittent Fasting (not eating for most of the day, squeezing all of your meals and snacks into a specified window, usually 8 hours),
- Plant based (eating little to no animal products).
The practitioners of these diets proudly proclaim that their way is the best! But which will actually help you drop those extra 10 kg?
Most of the experts agree: The ideal way to eat for health and longevity is something like the Meditteranean diet. This is a diet based on whole grains and legumes, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and fish in moderate amounts. This type of diet supports cardiovascular health over the course of a lifetime.
Have you ever visited a village in the old country? The elderly are lean and vital. That’s because they eat simple whole foods like these and are physically active daily. (Contrary to popular myth, “Paleolithic” populations such as the Inuit of Alaska were riddled with Artheloclerotic plaque and had very short life expectancies. Contrast that with places with some of the highest average lifespans such as Japan or Italy, they eat mostly complex carbohydrates with low to moderate amounts of protein).
But what about short-term weight loss? Which diet works the best for getting rid of that stubborn belly fat? People who are doing the Ketogenic diet, Intermittent fasting, Plant- based, Paleo, Zone, etc.. all seem to get great results (at least in the beginning), and they fanatically insist that their way is the best! So who is right?
In a sense they all are. All of these diets work by getting you to eat less total calories than what you are burning. As long as you are doing that, you are guaranteed to lose weight. That is it! Nobody has rewritten the laws of thermodynamics!
For example, say you are eating a very low carb, high fat diet such as the Ketogenic diet. By almost totally eliminating a natural source of nutrition which the body needs and craves, namely complex carbohydrates, you end up consuming a LOT less total calories. There is only so much fat you can eat without making yourself sick!
So a big guy who normally consumes 3000 to 4000+ calories per day suddenly drops to 2000 calories while doing keto. He is eating less than what he is burning (especially if he adds a powerful exercise routine such as CrossFit) and the fat just melts off his body.
Same with intermittent fasting (IF). By crunching your eating window into 8 hours per day (a typical IF scheme is 16/8, meaning you are taking in zero calories for 16 hours of the day) suddenly your total intake is reduced, even if you are pounding hamburgers and french fries for those 8 hours you are still taking in less energy than if you had been eating the whole time.
People who switch to plant-based from a standard diet tend to drastically decrease their junk food consumption in favor of whole foods like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. These whole foods are packed with good things like fiber, water and micronutrients which makes them more satisfying. So they end up eating less total calories, especially since they are not eating meat/eggs/dairy.
(If you are eating a plant based diet which consists mainly of packaged foods and refined carbs like pitas and sugary stuff, you my friend are not doing yourself any favors.)
Here are some examples of how you eat less calories by having more whole foods and less processed stuff:
You would never eat 4 or 5 whole baked potatoes but (if you are me) you could easily polish off the whole bag (4 to 5 is the actual amount of potatoes in the bag, not to mention the processed vegetable oils they are full of).
You’d never eat more than an apple or two in a sitting, but did you know that a single cup of apple juice contains three apples. And who stops at one cup?
What are some other examples you can think of?
Bottom line, if you want a quick burst of weight loss, pick one of these diets. They will work excellently for a period of up to a year, but understand that there will come a time when it will no longer work for you. At that point you will need to radically change the way you eat or risk weight regain and/or plummeting energy levels. None of them present a real long term approach (except perhaps plant based if done right).
If you eat a balanced diet which is mainly whole foods, I can absolutely guarantee you that you will lose fat and stay lean and trim over the course of your lifetime.
How much weight can you lose? Realistic weight loss for someone who is overweight is a half kilo per week. This is sustainable for years, even without exercise.
Adding an exercise program will make you feel better about yourself, and accelerate changes in body composition. This positive feedback will make you much more likely to stick with healthy eating habits and you will see the changes in your body and in your life accumulating more and more.
Interested in learning if a personalized exercise program is right for you? Book a Free No Sweat Intro by clicking here.