Keto, Paleo, Whole30...what's right for me? : Nutrition, Fitness, and Lifestyle

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Keto, Paleo, Whole30...what's right for me?

by Cathy Gold on 11/08/17

I get asked all the time to recommend a diet that WORKS.  So what's my answer.  Well, it's complicated....

First, it depends on your definition of "it works."  Pretty much anything that controls your food intake and increases the quality of the foods you eat will result in weight loss.  But does that mean it "works?"  How many times have you done that and then gained it back, often even more than you lost!?  The problem is, if a way of eating isn't something you can do forever, then you will not keep the results!

Plus, what if "it works" means it messes up your metabolism?  Yep, there are extreme diets out there with massive weight loss claims.  But the severe calorie restriction ends up lowering your resting metabolic rate, so you gain it back and then some, even if you DO stick to it!  Think Biggest Loser....

But you want to lose weight, you're willing to do whatever it takes, and you understand that it's a long process that will require consistency and will likely be lifelong.   How do you choose which way of eating is right for you?  I'm going to tell you a little about that.

First and foremost, I hope you know by now that there's nothing magic out there.  No pills.  No shakes.  No meal plan.  No workout program.  Nothing will make it easy.  It's hard. Very hard!  No matter what route you go, you must decide to get rid of processed, packaged, and convenient food.  After all, it's not even real food!  And those products are responsible for more added body fat and diseases than anything else.  Simply switching to real food "works" for a lot of people.  That's what CLEAN EATING is all about.  If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it. 

Now, no one's saying you can't EVER have anything packaged or processed.  There are financial limitations for some people.  And access is sometimes an issue as well.  And we've all found ourselves in less than ideal circumstances from time to time.  You do your best.  You make the very best choice you can at every opportunity.  Pretty much never is your best option a bag of Doritos washed down with a Coke... be honest.

For the most part though, we have a lot of control over what we eat.  We have to plan ahead and have the right things in the fridge, or in a lunchbox at work.  But with a minimum of effort, it's all our own choices.  So secondly, cut the excuses.  You're a grown up.  Learn about food. Shop for the stuff you need.  Keep the crap out.  Don't use the kids as an excuse.  And by the way, "I can't cook" is lame... are you seriously the first generation in millennia who's unable to FEED itself?

OK, so what about the actual plans of eating?  What's good? What's not? What's right for you?

Think about how you eat now and what you know you need to give up.  We're all at different places with that.  Take a step in the right direction, based on what you're doing now and what kind of goals you have.

Do you eat a lot of fast food and packaged junk?  If so, then take the first step and move toward clean eating.  Whole30 is a great 30-day plan to get you off the junk.  You don't eat any foods that can cause inflammation or addiction type issues.  So no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no dairy, no processed foods, no artificial ingredients of any kind, no white potatoes, no grains of any kind, and no alcohol.  It's tough but eye opening and a great kick start into healthier living.

If you eat pretty clean, but want to drop some weight, then look at dropping carbs.  Paleo is a great start.  That basically involves eating meat, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.  Most paleos avoid grains, legumes (peanuts too), potatoes, refined sugar, dairy (tho that varies!) and of course anything processed.  The idea is to eat like our ancestors did.  And it's a really healthy way of eating! 

If you've been eating pretty close to paleo and still struggle to reach your goals, then the science shows lower carbs is the way to go.  Cut the sweet potatoes and other starchy veggies.  Drop the fruit.  And limit your  adult beverages.  Whether or not you need to go full-bore keto is a personal decision.  It's definitely got its benefits beyond weight loss!  So, don't be afraid of it.  Millions of happy keto'ers never thought they could give up bread!

The bottom line is what WORKS for one person may not be the answer for someone else. We all have unique metabolic needs.  We come from different backgrounds and have different lifestyles.  You have to make the effort to determine what's right for you, what you can live with long term, and what's going to make you happier.  Life's too short to be food obsessed!  Let it go, and move onto a focus on health and wellness.  Then the weight comes off as a bonus!

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