A No B.S. Look at “Diets”

NEWS FLASH…Most diets work and it’s the people on the “diet” that typically fail.

Let’s be real honest, if there was one diet that worked for everyone…everyone on earth would be on that diet and everyone would be thin. Also, the person who created said diet would be filthy, dirty rich.

So, how do we go about picking the “diet” that works for us? Well, the answer lies in yourself. Just picking a diet based off of someone elses results, and not your likes and dislikes, will more than likely lead to failure.

The following  (in no particular order) is a pro and con list of what I feel are the most well-known diets today. Yes it is rather lengthy but I wanted to be as thorough as possible. Remember, these are my opinions and should be taken as such.

Atkins or Any Low Carb/ Low Sugar Diet

The Atkins diet involves limited consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body’s metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy.

Basically, the Atkins diet is a high protein, low carb diet where the idea is to eat a very, very low amount of carbs each day in hopes the body will access your stored fat as energy, leading to weight loss.

PRO’s – The science is right. If you eat a limited amount of carbs each day, your body will in-fact search out stored fat for energy. Most people gained weight because they ate way too many carbs everyday. So, eating less would make sense. Many body builders use this type of diet right before a competition to help get as lean as possible.. Another positive is that you get to eat a lot of meat, which to me is aces. Atkins also promotes eating a ton of vegetables, which is something most dieters don’t get enough of. Many people love this diet because results come almost immediately.

CON’s- Many people see “EAT MEAT” and don’t eat the right types of protein. Meat, like beef, can be high in bad fats and if you aren’t careful you can end up with a flat belly, but an unhealthy heart. Another major con is that people generally like carbs (I know I do). So, only getting a very limited amount each day will undoubtedly lead to cheats. Plus, since you are denying the body something it wants, once you do indulge yourself with delicious carbs, weight gain will follow.  Also, carbs are a major source of energy for the body. So if you exercise a lot, you’ll need carbs to sustain a high level of intensity.

Final Verdict- These low carb diets work but shouldn’t be looked at as a long-term diet. Yes, results come fast but they tail off rather quickly.  If you are a person who loves meat and hates bread or sugar, this is the perfect diet for you. But I wouldn’t recommend this diet for carboholics because you will hate life.

Paleo

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture.

Basically, eat only what your body, 10 thousand years ago, was meant to eat. So, no highly processed foods or anything that has to be “processed” or even milled to eat. Paleo is the chosen diet in the Crossfit community and many other fitness gurus mainly cause it advocates eating “clean”.

From Wikipedia-

The Paleolithic diet consists of foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat, offal and seafood, and can be gathered, such as eggs, insects, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices.[1][3] Some sources advise eating only lean cuts of meat, free of food additives, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared with grain-produced domestic meats.

PROs- Obviously, your body wasn’t originally meant to eat the processed foods we find in fast foods restaurants and super markets today. So by getting “back to the basics” your body can perform how it was meant to. By eating so clean, your body more easily digests food and can perform at the highest possible level. This is great for those who are very athletic and need to be as lean as possible. It’s also great for people who are environmentally friendly and love organic food.

CONs- Very very strict. There are a lot of “Don’t’s” and not very many “Do’s”. Also, the Paleo diet can be one of the most expensive around since you are only buying and eating food that has a fast spoil rate. (meaning more frequent trips to the store) Many articles I have read suggest only shopping on the “outside ” of your grocery store isles. And like the Atkins diet, you are eating very little carbs and sugars. So, just like the Atkins diet, results come fast but tail off as your body adjusts.

Final Verdict– Paleo isn’t for everyone. If you have the money and self-discipline to stick to this diet than go for it. But from my experience and research, Paleo would not be my first choice for most people. Again, great for meat lovers, not so much for carboholics.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is an American-based international company that offers various dieting products and services to assist weight loss and maintenance. The core philosophy behind Weight Watchers programs is to use a science-driven approach to help participants lose weight by forming helpful habits, eating smarter, getting more exercise and providing support.

Basically, Weight Watchers uses a very simplified and helpful approach to weight loss that suggests a moderate weight loss per week of 1-2 pounds.

PRO’s- They make it very easy and clear what you are and are not supposed to eat. Weight Watchers has one of the best support structures of all the diet plans. They have on-line and in-person meetings you can attend to “weigh in” and get personal support. They also have classes and group sessions you can attend if you need an extra boost. Weight Watchers is a great choice for someone who has no clue where to start.

CON’s- People can become too reliant on the “Weigh in’s” and struggle to do things on their own. Subsequently, once the person can no longer afford the services and tries to make on their own and since they never really learned self-reliance, they typically struggle and gain the weight back.  I’ve also heard Weight Watchers pushes some misguided eating habits like, “Eat as many grapes you want each day”.

Final Verdict- I would suggest Weight Watchers to anyone who needs that support and spoon fed diet plan. If you want to be told when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat, then Weight Watchers is perfect for you.

The “Eat 5-6 Times A Day ” Diet (My personal choice)

Sorry, no fancy Wikipedia definition for this diet. Actually, I don’t think it officially has a name anyways. Basically the idea is to eat 5-6 equally proportionate, small meals a day. The science behind this diet is that if you eat smaller, more frequent meals your metabolism will speed up and you’ll lose weight. If you ask any random person at a gym or a trainer I bet $100’s they follow some version of this “diet”.

PRO’s- A huge pro would be muscle growth. I’m not talking about “Muscle Man” type growth here but lean muscle mass. With this diet you should be consuming at least 40% of your calories from Protein, 30% from Carbs and 30% from Fats. If you combine this diet with any exercise program, you will gain muscle. The amount just depends on what type of exercises you do. BTW, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories and fat your body will burn. Another pro is that you get to eat…a lot….and still lose weight. Some athletes  will consume up to 5000+ calories in a day but since they are burning so much, it balances out. Now the average person doesn’t need 5000 calories every day.  So just take your alloted calorie amount for the day and divide by 5 or 6.

CON’s. Well for starters you have to eat 5-6 times a day. You also have to make enough food at home to supply you with that many meals. So there is a lot of work put into this diet. You will also most certainly need some type of exercise program with this diet. If you are going to eat more frequently and possible more each day, you’ll need a way to help burn it off. But what diet truly works without exercise? 

Final Verdict- Honestly, this diet isn’t for everyone and regardless of what some self promoter of their own “diet” will tell you, the science is dead on. We are meant, from birth, to eat every 2-3 hours. Yet, at some point in our lives, we begin to believe eating larger, less frequent meals is better for us. Well I’m sorry that’s not how your body was designed. Again, this diet takes some effort but in my opinion it is the best diet for active individuals who are looking to gain lean muscle and burn fat.

Nutrisystem

The company states that its mission is to provide a weight loss program based on quality foods and a nutritionally balanced meal plan. The foundation of all Nutrisystem programs is the home delivery of portion-controlled entrees and snacks. Customers supplement these packaged foods with grocery foods, including vegetables, fruits, and dairy items. When followed, the diet is low in glycemic index and provides nutrition consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – 2010.

Basically, Nutrisystem is just like Weight Watchers. The main difference is that Nutrisystem is primarily a meal plan delivery service with very few, if any, brick and mortar facilities. 

PRO’s- Easy, relatively cheap and teaches portion control. Yes, the start-up cost may seem pricey, a couple hundred dollars, but remember they are basically supplying you with every meal you’ll need every day. So in the end, you’ll probably save money on your grocery bill. And just like Weight Watchers, if you want to be told what and when to eat than Nutrisystem is perfect.

CON’s- The meals come delivered. Maybe I’m crazy but I don’t want to eat some freeze-dried, processed meal that was “created” in some factory weeks or months ago. I mean its one thing to eat those meals when in a pinch, but every meal…every day? That just seems horrible. Plus, I’ve seen these “meals’ up close in personal and they look and smell TERRIBLE. And talk about being spoon fed. What do you learn about nutrition and proper eating habits when all your meals are pre-made?

Final Verdict- I really don’t see a situation where I would suggest this diet to anyone. I’m sure it works for some but for the vast majority of people this is a terrible choice.

Summary

In the end, all these diets, in one way or another, work. Some are just better than others. But ya wanna know a dirty little secret that all these diets don’t tell you? There is a perfect diet that works for everyone….And its SUPER easy and cheap.

Eat more healthy meals every week than unhealthy meals and combine these meals with some sort of exercise program.

BOOM!  IT’S THAT EASY.

Here’s another dirty little secret. There is a diet that doesn’t work no matter the results you may get and that’s the “Work out 4 hours a day, starve yourself, only eat 800 calories a day, eat salads three times a day, “meal supplement” shakes three times a day, cottage cheese for a meal,  dont’ allow yourself to enjoy life at all and when you do eat something awesome you gain all the weight back” diet. Yeah….that one doesn’t work…ever.

In the end, no matter what diet you choose, just make sure it fits as many aspects of your life as possible. Your body will thank you later.

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