WHAT DIET IS BEST?
“I eat Paleo”
“I’m low carb”
“Fat makes you fat”
“I am a clean- eater”
If you ever venture out in the world for any meals you are bound to hear or overhear statements like these- but what do they mean?? With so many different diet options and trends, it’s no wonder people get confused about eating and health.
Let’s break it down…..
The Paleo Diet:
This diet claims to eat the way a caveman ate. Consuming lots of fresh veggies and fruits, eggs, lean meats, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils. It also avoids dairy, grains, legumes, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, and salt.
While there is a lot on this list to avoid that I would agree with, I don’t necessarily stand by the need to avoid grains, dairy, potatoes, legumes, and even salt like the plague.
We all know someone or lot of someone’s who claim to follow a no carb/low-carb diet as they happily munch away on their bed of greens topped with chicken or fish. Reality is—all those veggies they are eating are all carbs and what they truly are following is more of a low starch diet.
There are two types of carbs that we need to be aware of- simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are fast acting and tend to be found in foods as additives (think raw sugar, high fructose corn syrup, juice concentrate, etc), whereas the complex carbs are slower and take longer for your body to break down. Grains, potatoes, and legumes fall into the starchy complex carb category, that gets left out when someone follows a low carb diet. The thing is, these foods can provide a lot of great benefits. They provide vitamins and minerals, fiber, as well as a steady supply of energy that our bodies need.
Low Fat/No Fat:
UGH! Why, oh why would you want to sacrifice the delicious taste of something to save a few calories by choosing a low-fat version of a food, instead of just adjusting your serving size to a more appropriate amount. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Now, consuming too much fat (or too much of anything) can cause unnecessary weight gain. There is a BIG difference. Fat is another one those things that our bodies need. Just like complex carbs.
There are 4 types of fats: Saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and trans fats.Trans-fats you can totally avoid. This is one thing that everyone agrees you should cut out of your diet. Trans fat is pretty much a fake fat that extends shelf life of foods. It is minimally found in nature. We don’t need it, and it does NOTHING for us.
The other fats though- fat is used in every cell of our body. The nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system, hormonal system, reproductive system, and digestive system all depend on fat to keep our body fit, happy, and healthy. So- how much fat should you eat? Well…. unfortunately, it isn’t that cut and dry- it depends. Work with a nutritionist or a trainer to find out what amount of fat in your diet works for you.
What exactly does this mean? If you’re vegetarian it means you don’t eat meat. If you do eat meat- it means you eat minimally processed. If you are gluten intolerant- it means you avoid that. So—the “eat clean” diet is different for each person. However, this is what diet is all about. Eating for you and for your goals.
Nutrition depends on each person’s body and each person’s goals. One person’s body could do totally fine with starches and dairy, where another person with the same goals and physical body type can’t tolerate it. The biggest thing with diet and nutrition is finding what works for you and what makes you feel good. It isn’t easy and nobody said it would be- but finding what your body likes in regards to nutrient intake can be an adventure. Open your mind to trying new foods and new ways to prepare the same old stuff to keep from getting bored. Focusing on a diet that works for you will be the sure-fire way to feel your best, and when we feel good, we radiate and look good too!
Emily is co-owner of San Diego Premier Training, a fitness and wellness studio in Carlsbad, CA. She holds certifications with ACE and Precision Nutrition, after having completed her degree in Exercise Science at the University of Florida.
Mike is co-owner of San Diego Premier Training, a fitness and wellness studio in Carlsbad, CA. He is the Director of Education for Exercise Etc, adjust professor at Miramar College, certified Strength and Conditioning coach, Spartan SGX Coach, and the host of The Spartan Underground Podcast.