Nowadays, pretty much anyone who half-heartedly pages through a fitness magazine (while noshing on a gluten-free bagel with organic avocado and full-fat cream cheese) will be able to offer you their opinion on the best ways to get into the shape of your dreams. Of course, the person next to them (enjoying a whole-wheat sandwich with lean beef) will happily do the same, and tell you something completely different. Gone are the days when the rules were simple: eat lots of fruit, veg and lean meats, and exercise. Now, some will tell you not to touch carbs, while others will tell you to load up. Let’s look at some of the biggest dieting trends making headlines.
The Paleo Diet encourages people to go ‘back to their roots’ and eat loads of red meat, nuts and vegetables. It gained popularity amongst those who believe that carbs are responsible for weight-gain, and that animal protein is essential for the building of muscle. As such, plenty of bodybuilders and sportsmen follow this diet. Of course, the elimination of dairy products and a vast number of fruit means that the Paleo Diet can sometimes leave its followers feeling low on energy and somewhat lethargic. Eating too many animal products has also been linked to increased cholesterol, which is never a good thing.
Low Carb, High Fat Diet
Similar to the popular ‘Banting’ Diet, fans of the Low Carb, High Fat Diet are of the belief that consuming high amounts of animal and vegetable fats results in lower spikes of insulin, and the body using natural fat reserves for energy, as opposed to the meal they may have just consumed. In theory, the diet really works, and has seen some incredible success stories. Unfortunately, in order for the diet to work properly, it needs to be strictly adhered to, with next-to-no exceptions. As such, those who enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or some bread with their soup would be advised to steer clear of this diet. The intake of any carbs or sugar will cause insulin levels to peak, which won’t fare well with would-be weight losers when you combine that with a high-fat intake. This diet follows similar principles to the popular Ketogenic Diet, with ‘ketosis’ being the process by which fat is burnt for energy.
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Raw Food Diet
There are loads of claims that cooking one’s food actually saps it of vital nutrients and vitamins, so those who follow the Raw Food Diet see themselves consuming loads of fruit, vegetables and nuts, as well as juices. While the added fibre of raw food, as well as the elimination of extra sugar and potassium are definitely beneficial, the avoidance of animal proteins (which one isn’t advised to eat raw, except perhaps certain kinds of fish) and other food groups often leave followers completely exhausted – not to mention the added risk of dangerous pesticides and insecticides which are often eliminated in the cooking process.
Finding the Right Balance
Those fitness fanatics with gorgeous bodies, you’ll often find, are doing something (if not most things) right – at least as far as their health is concerned. It’s a good idea to trade in the somewhat dated concept of a ‘diet’ in favour of a ‘lifestyle’, particularly one that is not only healthy, but balanced. Fad diets have consistently shown to fail and fall away eventually. The true secret to a healthy and happy physique is ultimately doing what works for you and keeping fit. Keen for a pizza and a beer? By all means! Live your life in the way you feel is best for you and your body, and with a bit of balance and moderation, you’ll be far healthier and happier than someone who denies themselves constantly – only to later on end up binging on cake anyway.