Paleo, Keto, Vegan? The Pros & Cons of Trending Diets

Everyone thinks that their diet is THE diet to follow for weight loss, energy and vitality. But the advocates of these trendy diets don’t talk about the downsides you might come across. Let’s review a few diets and see what all the fuss is about.

Intermittent Fasting

An overview

Intermittent fasting is not a ‘diet’, per se. It is a type of eating pattern where you limit your calorie intake to a specific time window during the day or over the week.

The most popular form is a 16/8 approach – fasting for 16hrs per day, then consuming all of your calories within an 8-hour period. There are also diet approaches that ‘mimic’ the benefits of fasting, such as the 5:2 diet.

The benefits

  • Intermittent fasting may help to balance blood sugars and support weight loss
  • Many people report having improvements in concentration and energy levels
  • Short-term fasting (under 24hrs) does not appear to increase hunger or cravings
  • It can be used in conjunction with healthy eating to aid weight loss and other health-related goals

The downsides

  • Restricting food times like this could be a potential trigger for someone with a history of eating disorders.
  • This approach is about food timing, not quality. You could intermittent fast on a diet of McDonalds and Krispy Kreme! To reap the most benefits, it should be combined with a balanced wholefood-based diet.

Low Histamine Diet

An overview

A low histamine diet is a therapeutic diet that aims to avoid foods that are high in histamine. It should include plenty of good quality low histamine foods. This diet is useful for migraines, allergy symptoms and fatigue.

The benefits

  • Lowering the amount of histamine in the diet helps to lower the overall histamine load on the body. This allows the gut lining to heal and increase DAO, the enzyme that breaks down histamine.
  • Reducing histamine intake can help you get on top of symptoms of skin rash, hives, allergic rhinitis, fatigue, brain fog, heat palpitations and anxiety in as little as 3 days. Once the symptoms have settled down, understanding and resolving the root cause (i.e. hormonal imbalance or gut issues) will allow you to reintroduce foods while remaining symptom free.
  • Low histamine meals can still have loads of flavour. Check out these ginger carrot and apple muffins.

The downsides

  • Many low histamine diets contain just the very highest histamine foods. Sensitive people may still react to moderate histamine foods, histamine liberating foods and amines so you might not notice any improvement.
  • It’s easy to still live on junk food while following a low histamine diet. But without quality ingredients in your meals you may still be reacting to colours, preservatives and flavourings.
  • Without a good guide you may end up living on just a couple of very boring foods! Following this Low Histamine Food Guide will give you lots of ideas to try.

Paleo Diet

An overview

Made popular in Australia thanks to media personalities like Pete Evans, a Paleo diet eliminates the foods that have been grown since humans turned to farming for food. To put it simply, it will remove seed oils, grains, legumes and dairy. The diet is focused on fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and quality protein.

The benefits

  • As most junk food and processed foods contain one or more off-limits foods, you are likely to reduce your intake
  • Fruit and vegetables make up a big part of a Paleo diet, so you’re likely to eat plenty of those
  • As refined carbohydrates are removed, you will have more balanced blood sugars and steady energy levels

The downsides

  • Paleo eliminates other nutritious foods such as legumes. These sorts of foods only need to be eliminated if you are intolerant, so if you are fine with them, there’s no need to remove them
  • Paleo can still include a lot of processed foods such as raw treats made with dates. These are fine in moderation, but if you consume them frequently, you will still be consuming excess amounts of sugar
  • An unbalanced Paleo approach can mean eating too much animal protein and not enough plant foods
  • Eliminating multiple food groups may be triggering for someone with a history of disordered eating

Here are a few Paleo recipes to try:

Photo by Marius Venter on Pexels.com

Ketogenic Diet

An overview

A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet. People following a ketogenic diet will typically consume less than 50g of carbohydrate per day. Some will even reduce to 30g or less. The aim of a ketogenic diet is to switch the body’s energy system from burning sugar to burning ketones, which are creating in the liver using fats.

The benefits

  • A ketogenic diet will include plenty of fats and a good amount of protein, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer and balance your energy levels.
  • You will likely consume more high-fibre vegetables and low-carbohydrate fruits such as berries.

The downsides

  • Because you are eliminating a lot of carbohydrate, you may not consume enough fibre to maintain a healthy, happy gut
  • Some people struggle to consume enough electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, and may need to use supplements
  • Restricting a macronutrient to the extreme may be triggering for someone with a history of disordered eating
  • Athletes in explosive sports or people who lift weights competitively may not do well with a ketogenic diet, as it can inhibit their performance

Veganism

An overview

A vegan diet is one that excludes all animal-based and animal derived products. This means that it doesn’t just avoid meat and fish, but also eggs, dairy and even honey.

The benefits

  • When following a vegan diet, you are more likely to be consuming more nutritious foods, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Because many processed foods contain animal-derived products, you’re likely to reduce the amount of processed foods that you consume.

The downsides

  • Because many food groups are excluded on a vegan diet, there is a higher likelihood of nutritional deficiencies occurring. Iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids are all nutrients that can be deficient in a plant-based diet. You may need to work with a practitioner or even take supplements to prevent deficiencies.
  • There are still plenty of processed foods that are vegan. For example, Oreos are vegan! So just because you are eating a vegan diet doesn’t mean that you can’t eat a diet high in processed foods.
  • Eliminating multiple food groups may be triggering for someone with a history of disordered eating

Try these vegan recipes:

The best diet approach is one that is tailored to your body and lifestyle. I work with you to understand your individual goals, symptoms and lifestyle to help you make and stick to dietary change. Book today to find out the best dietary approach for your goals.

References

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2688344

https://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/sports-med-physical-fitness/article.php?cod=R40Y9999N00A18040408

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