What diet is best for me? Perhaps you want to lose weight. Or maybe your goal is to be gentler on the planet and its resources. Maybe your skin is angry, and you have come to realize that your diet is the culprit.
Well, first, congratulations on wanting to change for the better. That is a huge step in the right direction and often the most difficult.
What path should you choose to optimize your health and wellness and achieve your target weight and size?
The answer is not a one-size-fits-all. All bodies are different, and your lifestyle may demand different dietary provisions than what may be optimal for others.
Luckily, our top three picks for diets are each beneficial for different reasons. To learn the ins and outs of keto vs paleo vs whole30, keep reading.
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IF YOU ARE MOSTLY CONCERNED WITH WEIGHTLOSS, HOP ON THE KETO TRAIN!
There is a reason why it has been in the headline of every health, fitness, and wellness publication for the past five years. Keto is arguably the best diet for weight loss. But what is it?
Simply put, the keto diet is when you aim to stay in ketosis for as long as possible. Ketosis? What the heck is that? That sounds like something you would find clogging your shower drain.
Ketosis is just an (albeit ugly) word for a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. It is achieved by cutting carbs out of your diet almost entirely and replacing them with fat.
Your macro count will look something like 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
If you are wondering what a macro is or how to calculate your target amount, check out our article, The Definitive Guide to Tracking Macros on Keto.
So, if your metabolism switches gears to burning fat for you, guess what happens? That’s right! You unlock the ultimate hack for weight loss!
Pros and Con of Keto Diet
As we have already explained, weight loss is a typical result of the keto diet. Sometimes you will not actually lose any weight, but rather inches… in all the right places. Remember that muscle weighs substantially more than fat.
You may get smaller and have more muscle definition while the number on the scale stays the same (or even goes a bit higher). While on keto, you may never lose a single pound, but you may discover that your clothes fit you differently.
Since your body is now devouring fat for energy, you are slimming down without compromising and muscle mass. This makes keto a great option for anyone who is physically active.
A smaller waistline, and I can eat bacon? This is every dieter’s dream! So, let us touch on a few of the downsides of keto. For one, you will quickly learn that most fruits and many vegetables are surprisingly high in net carbs.
For example, you will not be allowed to eat potatoes, carrots, legumes, or really any fruits other than berries. And even then, you will only have an allowance of less than a handful per day.
Because of this, it is easy to become very nutrient deficient. Another potential issue is that your liver may struggle to keep up because keto is a very high-fat diet. Any existing liver issues may worsen.
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IF YOU ARE SEEKING A RE-SET AND NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD, COMMIT TO THE WHOLE30 DIET.
“There is no food neutral; there is no food Switzerland — every single thing you put in your mouth is either making you more healthy or less healthy.”
― Melissa Hartwig Urban
The Whole30 diet was founded by certified sports nutritionist Melissa Hartwig Urban in 2009. The nitty-gritty of this fairly new, revolutionary diet is a 30-day commitment to a diet that follows the following rules:
- No sugar or sweeteners of any kind. (No, not even stevia!) The idea is to break the mental addiction to sweet foods. That can’t rightfully happen if you are giving in to the temptation on the reg.
- No alcohol. This even includes cooking. So, no white wine sauces or cooking sherry. Even when reduced, the flavor can linger on your palette, which goes against the idea of interrupting your dietary habits.
- No grains. None of any kind — no corn, soy, wheat, oats, quinoa, or any other member of the grain family. Despite what you were taught about the food pyramid in elementary school, (sadly) these delicious little morsels often contain proteins that can be difficult to digest.
- No legumes. Did you know that legumes are actually toxic when consumed raw? Even when soaked and cooked, they are not fully neutralized.
- No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. Another way of saying this is no processed or packaged foods. You want to aim for ingredients that are fresh and straight up!
- No recreating baked goods, snacks, treats, or junk foods with “healthy” ingredients. So, no cauliflower pizza crust. No coconut flour pancakes. No almond flour bread. But whyyyy?! The answer is because we are trying to interrupt your entire relationship with food. So, by giving in to cravings for unhealthy things (even with healthy substitutes), you are prolonging your need to include these things in your diet.
- No scales or measurements. One of the biggest differences between the keto diet vs. Whole30 is that the goals of Whole30 are more about being holistic and having a healthier relationship with food. While weight loss may be a result of the 30 days, it isn’t at all the goal.
Pros and Cons of Whole30
Your skin will glow. You will have a lot of energy from eating clean. In many ways, the Whole30 diet is a lot less restrictive than the keto diet because you are allowed to eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables, like carrots.
You may also notice how much more “bang” you are getting out of sleeping. Your sleep will yield better quality of rest when your body isn’t busy processing foreign chemicals all night long. This will leave you waking up refreshed and ready to conquer the day.
Also, since you are not allowed to weigh yourself or take measurements, you can stop obsessing over your weight and pant size.
As with any restrictive diet, Whole30 requires a lot of advanced planning. Because your allowed ingredients will be so specific, it will become challenging to dine out. (We said, “challenging,” not, “impossible.”) You will have to spend a considerable amount of time each week grocery shopping and meal prepping.
Speaking of grocery shopping, 30 days may be a long time when broken down into meals. If you eat three meals per day, that is 90 meals in total. You may end up spending a lot of money on produce and meat to keep the menu interesting.
Let’s face it, tofu and tempeh are a lot cheaper than, say, rib eye and crab legs.
IF YOU ARE SEEKING A LONG-TERM, SUSTAINABLE DIET, CHECK OUT PALEO.
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The paleo (or paleolithic) diet premise is that humans have been eating natural foods for about 2.5 million years. It wasn’t until about 10,000 years ago that the cultivation of grains and legumes began, therefore drastically changing our diets. In the span of time, this is actually a very recent development.
Arguably, not enough time has passed for our bodies to adapt and evolve to a grain-heavy diet. That being said, we certainly haven’t evolved (nor may we ever) to digest processed and packaged foods or dairy. The paleo diet is actually very similar to the Whole30, but it is slightly less restrictive and, therefore, a bit more sustainable for the long haul.
The rules are just about the same, but you can consume “paleo-approved” sweeteners (such as raw honey). You may also eat baked goods and imitations of “naughty” things (i.e., pancakes, bread, and waffles) as long as the ingredients don’t break any restrictions.
Pros and Cons of Paleo
Much like the Whole30, the paleo diet requires that you eat your food straight up, without toxic additives and chemicals. This can be extremely beneficial for your health and wellness. Your skin will glow. You will feel amazing and have endless energy. Perhaps the best part about the paleo diet is that it quickly becomes easy to sustain for the long haul, especially with all the paleo-approved products that have hit the market in recent years.
Like Whole30, you will have to commit to meal prepping most of the time. Ingredients and pre-made paleo-approved snacks and alternatives (such as flours and sweeteners) may be much more expensive than wheat flour or sugar. While there are a few options for an occasional adult beverage, drinking alcohol is mostly a no-go on the paleo diet.
So, whether you have been debating Keto vs paleo, Keto vs Whole30, or simple, which diet is the best for weight loss? it all boils down to what goals you are looking to accomplish. Happy dieting!
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