I’m sure by now you’ve heard of all these different terms like paleo, Atkins, intermittent, etc. These different theories and styles of dieting are vouched for by so many different famous and reputable people, it’s hard to get a grasp on who is right and what will work for you.
The first thing to understand is; what is a diet? A diet in the way we talk about is how we eat our foods plus the restrictions or habits we form. One thing most people forget about is that dieting can also be eating food to build muscle mass or gain weight! Because of the complexity and how in depth you can get into dieting, many ideas and theories are out there that claim to work the best overall.
To find out what works best for you, let's go through all the options to get the most informed decision!
Although all these diets have different methods to get to the goals that you want to reach, above all remember that a calorie is a calorie. This means that no matter what method is used, you have to eat less than whatever the total calorie expenditure of the day was.
This is the only way to lose weight. The opposite is true when it comes to gaining weight. So essentially different diet theories come down to an argument of which method maintains the leanest muscle mass, is healthier, and more optimal for your goals.
No matter what diet!
- Calories consumed > Calories burned = Weight gain
- Calories consumed < Calories burned = Weight loss
This is an interesting concept that people like Greg O'Gallagher over at Kinobody is using. Basically, the idea is to lose weight by eating within a 6-8 hours window. This means that you must eat all your calories during that time frame, the rest of the day you are fasting. Everyday.
The idea behind this is that during those 16-18 hours, you’re going to need to burn energy, and since the body generally loses fast before muscle, this method should help people lose mostly fat while not losing any muscle.
This works for bulking as well, and the idea of shedding fat while gaining muscle should apply according to this style of dieting.
The most simple way to explain this is; If it fits the calories and macros, then who cares? Also known as the IIFYM diet, (If it fits your macros) this is a way to eat what you want, as long as you end each day with the right set of macros. This is a great way to lose weight in theory because a calorie is a calorie in the end.
This also helps people realize how calorie dense a lot of processed food can be. When you eat a bunch of twinkies and processed protein bars, you will realize just how hungry you can be while eating a large caloric meal.
This is a diet that is based on eating a low amount of carbs and increasing total fat and protein consumption. This is a calorie that bases itself on our body to be able to switch to ketosis. Ketosis is the process where the body learns to use fat energy over carbs, since in the Atkins diet carbs are essentially not consumed.
This allows for a person to eat larger amounts of fats like ribeyes, salmon with cream cheese, and lots of other options become available compared to a diet that incorporates carbs.
One thing to beware of is that while your body in transitioning into ketosis mode, you might feel lethargic as the body starts learning to use fats as the main energy source.
A fun fact about Atkins diet: Many of the Inuit people (think Alaska and Canada) used to live off a high protein high-fat diet. Actually many still do! In places like Alaska where there is permafrost preventing good farming, getting large amounts of carbohydrates is almost impossible.
In order to live on something like an Atkins diet, a human needs to consume an extremely large amount of fat in order to function well. When a human does not get enough fat, they can go into rabbit starvation.
The Paleo Diet:
This is a diet that many people take on to help themselves lose weight. The theory behind this one is simple. Humans have been farming for only about 10,000 years. Before that we were hunter-gatherers.
This diet assumes that basically anything that a caveman could eat, we could eat. This is more flexible than the Atkins diet in terms that you can eat carbs, just in the form of vegetables and fruits that hunter-gatherers would have had access to.
This diet means you can’t eat Oreos, bread, or and wheat/grain/ processed product. Here why this works so well for most people who try it. Our bodies can adapt to ketogenesis quite quickly, and think about how calorically dense processed foods are.
Trying to eat 2500 hundred calories from only foods that hunter-gatherers ate is a hard process just in itself. A plate heaped with broccoli and some meat is going to make you much fuller than a can of coke and cheese its.
Many who follow the Paleo diet will also argue that eating in the way of the hunter-gather will lead to people live a healthier lifestyle, as it almost completely eliminates sugars except for fruits, and many have dairy and gluten intolerances.
The Master Cleanse (Fasting) diet:
This is the one diet out of all of these that I actually do NOT recommend. I am just putting this in here since most people like to use this type of dieting when they are in desperate need of results. The fasting diet is where you don’t eat. Literally.
The idea of this is to just drink water and not eat anything for 2-3 weeks. During this time, you will lose both a lot of water, muscle and fat. You will see drastic results in the smallest amounts of time.
But This is literally starving yourself. Making this possible will take a lot of research since doing this wrong could literally lead to death. Most organizations like the Mayo Clinic do not recommend this diet at all. Here’s the biggest catch of all for the people to use this diet to cut weight.
A large drop in your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is how many calories your body needs to consume to maintain weight without exercise. This means that after you complete the cleanse, your body will become more effective with calories. Even years after the diet, you will need to consume fewer calories on a daily basis just to maintain weight!
If you have ever watched the Biggest Loser, take a look at what happened to these people after the show, and read THIS article that shows how after the drastic diet, maintaining weight got even hard for these poor people.
So let that be a lesson for you and only use this diet if you have to for a movie or some life-changing moment!
Our Conclusion Of The Most Common Diet Plans
So going back to the question, what diet is right for you? After reading these common diets, think about what kind of diet you can achieve with the least impact on your schedule. Do you usually never eat breakfast? Try intermittent fasting. Can’t get away from Mcdonald's? Use flexible dieting. I think you get the idea.
Try and find a diet that fits into your schedule the best, and then stick to it for a month to see results! Don’t forget to download the Myfitnesspal app in order to get the best results!