With So Many Diets, Which Is Best?
I just finished watching a very interesting healthy documentary on dieting called ‘Horizons Eat Fast and Live Longer’ which takes a UK man to the United States to learn about various diets and what leading research is telling us. This is such a fascinating subject for myself, especially being in the health world and being an influential person where I am constantly asked about diets and which one is best. Below I will detail only diets mentioned on this program and in a following post will do my review for all of them.
In the beginning of the film the host is told that there are sub-species of humans that are thriving off low calorie diets; please don’t mix this up with an eating disorder, as it’s quite the opposite. These people live off plant based diets, many of which do the 80/10/10 diet (80% carbohydrates, 10% fat and 10% protein). These types of diets are very nutrient dense while being lower in calories than your typical Western diet. They consist of high levels of raw foods (meaning their nutrient profiles have not been damaged due to cooking) such as fruit and vegetables. Eating a plant based diet does not necessarily mean raw but there is emerging research stating the 80/10/10 is a powerful lifestyle to reverse many diseases and to help prevent various cancers and other illnesses. It is very low on protein and includes no animal products, which yes I will tell you- is extremely good for the body to be cutting out.
My thoughts: My only issue with 80/10/10 is that is does not accommodate for a moderation-based lifestyle. For me personally, I still enjoy a glass of wine, cooking with friends and yes sometimes this will include meat, bits of feta cheese and yes, sometimes I even have coffee. If you are looking to do a diet for health, this is quite a powerful one as you will be flooding your body with nutrients, however it does not allow for weekends out with friends or “cheat meals.” This is a complete lifestyle change.
Fasting is the second concept talked about and the host does it for 3.5 days. Doing this can decrease your your toxin levels, increase energy and promote a healthier immune system. However, it can also lead to intense cravings, binging once you finish and can mess with your metabolism if you don’t get back on a regular eating schedule. Fasting has been done for centuries and Muslims for Ramadan do once a year. (other stats)
My thoughts: I have previously thought about fasting for 24 hours but didn’t follow through after having a somewhat negative experience with juicing for 5 days. Juicing on the other hand, allows you to have extremely nutrient dense juices throughout the day without any other food. For me this was the most viable option, however I found that after 5 days I began binging like crazy and it didn’t really stop for a whole week. So I chose not to do any fasting after that. This is another extreme style of dieting but is incredibly good for your body. After four days you run out of glucose (sugar) stores and your body starts burning fat, you most likely will also see weight loss, clearer skin, brighter eyes. But it’s not easy, not does it teach you how to eat post fast.
5:2 (THE FAST) DIET
The last diet that is mentioned in this program was the 5:2 diet in which you calorie restrict to 400-500 for females and 500-600 for men on your fast days then on non-fast days you can eat whatever you want. This diet become the leading one in the UK this past year and loads of people were doing it. In the film, it was mentioned you can eat whatever you like on your non-fast days, whereas in the 5:2 diet book you are told to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats all of which is a much more sensible approach. The research to this diet is quite impressive stating that intermittent fasting can help reduce body fat, increase metabolism, and is thought to improve cognitive function (although many reports stating there is not enough research to prove any claims). The host ended up losing 12 pounds in 5 weeks, decreased his LDL (bad) cholesterol and found it the easiest to do of all the diets he tried.
My thoughts: I’ve met quite a few people who are on the 5:2 diet and while I understand the premise behind it, for me it’s hard to recommend a program that allows you to eat ‘whatever you want’ on non-fast days. These people on it, none of them were trim, none of them seemed to care about their health- it seemed like this diet was only only focused on weight loss and for me it’s hard to get my head around something that isn’t promoting health.
My final verdict: All of these various diets are so interesting and I’m completely fascinated by the research behind everything. I try to live my life by moderation and clean eating, however I’ve seen the best changes in my body and least amount of cravings when I was doing my own version on the paleo diet (this was years ago before paleo was even known or popular). I have always wanted to try the 80/10/10 diet, however with my lifestyle as it is now, I travel quite often and I’m not going to lie: when I get to a new country I want to be able to experience their culture by way of eating their food. I don’t think fasting is right for me for longer than 24 hours, which I will try at some point. Of all of these, I am quite intrigued by the 5:2 diet and am willing to give this a go. I will try it for a week and keep a detailed journal for everyone during the time.
Overall, my feeling is that moderation is probably the best for most people, meaning finding if 3 big meals and 2 snacks works for your, or smaller snacks throughout the day. Either way, I do feel its key to get on a routine (no matter what diet you are doing) because at the end of the day, it’s consistency that will give you results, not any of this fad diet stuff that promises loads of weight loss quickly.