If you’ve been thinking about changing up your diet, but are wondering how beneficial the current hot diets may be we will be discussing pros and cons from five of the more popular diet plans currently out there. The key is to find a plan that includes a healthy balance of nutrients, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fluids. With any diet the right foods can mean the difference between having the energy needed to make it through your day and crashing early.
All five of the following popular eating approaches can provide the health and performance benefits you need – as long as you’re willing to follow (and possibly bend) some rules and make a few tough sacrifices. Here’s what you need to know.
This plant-based diet nixes all animal products, including meat and dairy – even honey, whey, and gelatin. Research shows that filling up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds can fend off chronic disease, lower blood pressure, and increase longevity. And there’s evidence that diets based on these foods, which are typically high in antioxidants, can reduce injury and speed recovery. But you miss out on key nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamin B12, which are critical for athletes.
This diet is based on eating only foods that were available before the invention of agriculture. These include grass-fed meats, pastured poultry and eggs, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and seeds. The idea is that by eating like your Stone Age ancestors you can shrug off modern-day disease, not to mention lose weight, improve sleep, get better skin, and gain more energy. Starting the day with meat and nuts for breakfast does raise levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Take note though that this diet is short on complex carbs you might rely on for energy. You might want to bend a little bit for your complex carbs and have grains, dairy, and beans. It’s best to eat mostly fruits and vegetables with this diet, animal based proteins should comprise no more than 30% of your diet. As a final note coffee is discouraged.
In this diet none of your food can be heated above 118 degrees. Proponents claim that heat destroys the natural enzymes and nutrients in food that promote good digestion and optimal health. Raw foodists boast of having boundless energy, glowing skin, and mental clarity; as well as needing minimal sleep. Some stick to a vegan approach while others allow raw fish and meat, and raw dairy. Since nothing is cooked or processed you’ll avoid the nutritional void of certain prepackaged foods. Devotees rely on preparations that add variety to the diet including juicing, fermentation, and dehydration. Whether or not the benefits are real there’s nothing inherently wrong with going raw, as long as you’re vigilant about preventing food-borne illness. Wash and store your ingredients carefully. Prepare to eat a lot, not only is raw food naturally low in calories, its water content is higher than that of cooked foods so you’ll have to eat more to get enough calories, carbs, and proteins. Fill up on fruits and veggies (spaghetti squash and raw kelp noodles can replace pasta), nuts and seeds, sprouted beans and grains, fresh juices, dates and other dried fruit, plus cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil.
Forgoing gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, provides relief for people with celiac disease, an illness in which the protein triggers an autoimmune response that affects digestion and overall health. Plenty of people who are not gluten sensitive have embraced the diet because of the claims that it improves well-being and energy. Avoiding the protein isn’t easy, however, especially for athletes. In addition to being an ingredient in such fueling staples as bread and pasta, it’s also found in many energy bars and other surprising places like salad dressing and soup. The good news is that steering clear of gluten encourages you to pass on processed and packaged foods which are often high in sugar and calories and low in nutrition. Switch to carb sources like bananas, sweet potatoes, almond flour, brown rice, polenta, and pastas made from quinoa. Plenty of packaged energy snacks are now gluten-free including ones easily found at your local market.
This low-fat, high fiber approach to nutrition is more than an eating plan, it’s part of a lifestyle meant to balance mind and body. What you’d eat: roughly 50% whole grains, 30% local in-season vegetables, and 10% beans and seaweed (such as dried nori and kelp). Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut are also encouraged. You can cheat, a little: Meat, fish, dairy, and other normally forbidden foods are allowed occasionally, but artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, heavy spices, and caffeine are not. A plant-based diet that relies on whole foods means more nutrients, less inflammation, and better recovery. And fiber and fermented foods promote good gut bacteria for better nutrient absorption and a strong immune system. Good macrobiotic options include millet, oats, brown rice, quinoa, seaweed, fermented soybeans, and sauerkraut.
In short, you can make any of these diets work for you if you do them properly and pay attention to the needs of your body. Eating proper nutrition and cutting out processed foods can increase your health and wellness. The best diet/food choices a person can make are the ones they can reasonably stick with for a long time. Short-term diet fixes usually are null and void if a person doesn’t implement positive changes over a long period of time.
Our goal at Vallejo Chiropractic is to give our patients helpful information so they can navigate through today’s trends in health and wellness, with nutrition playing a large role in that arena. We hope you found this helpful and welcome any questions you may have.