(PART 1 of a series of 3 articles)
Paleolithic, ketogenic, modified Atkins, Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, intermittent fasting?
It’s complicated, to say the least! Almost every day, on the internet, in magazines and newspapers, articles promote the undeniable benefits of each one of these diets. Dozens and dozens of scientific studies are cited to convince you.
Which of these diets would work best for you? Is it really worth changing the way you eat?
What is the purpose of a diet?
The first one would be to nourish yourself in order to be healthy!
If your goal is to lose weight, reduce your cholesterol levels, relieve inflammatory pain, resolve once and for all your gastrointestinal problems, then you would probably benefit from changing some of your eating habits.
Let’s take a close look at all these diets, keeping in mind that each of them can be modified according to your desires and your objectives. For example, when you are planning your meals for the week, you can decide to alternate between a paleo, Mediterranean or vegan meal…you are free to choose!
Our target: have health and pleasure sitting at the same table with a common objective of making you feel great, energized physically and mentally!
The Paleolithic Diet
It is said that this diet was the one of our ancestors. According to Dr Boyd Eaton, our genes determine our nutritional needs. Because our human genome seems to have evolved by only 0.02% over a period of 40,000 years, we have the same genes as our prehistoric ancestors.
The main principles of the Paleolithic diet:
- Low carbohydrates: cereals and grains, sugar and processed foods are not allowed
- Rich in fruits and vegetables (antioxidants, acid-base balance)
- High in omega-3 (fish, nuts and seeds)
- Consumption of lean animal protein
- Special note about the cooking method: the paleo diet favors a slower cooking and when possible, steamed
The quality of the ingredients is a primary focus…Choose organic food!
This diet is based on healthy principles and because it reduces the risks of glycemic fluctuations, you will feel great all throughout the day. This way of eating is satisfying and can be effective to improve the ratio of fat mass versus lean body mass, while having a very positive impact on insulin and leptin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that allows glucose to penetrate through your cells to give you energy. Leptin is the hormone of satiety, sending the signal that you have eaten enough.
The Ketogenic Diet
“High fat, low carbohydrates” with a moderate intake of protein and leafy greens.
When following this diet, your liver produces a higher amount of ketones, which indicates that your body is using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrates.
The main principles of the ketogenic diet:
- The majority of your calories (between 60% and 80%) must come from healthy fats
- Proteins (meat, fatty fish, eggs, poultry, seafood) must be consumed at a ratio of 1 to 1.5g/kg of your body weight per day, depending on your physical activity level. For example, if you weigh 70kg (around 150 pounds), your daily protein intake will vary between 70 and 95g.
- Leafy greens are your vegetables of choice: spinach, lettuce, green cabbage, broccoli, celery, asparagus, etc. and they must not make up for more than 5% of the calories of your meal.
Coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, cream, cheese and butter will be important foods in your menu (but be careful with dairy products if you are intolerant to lactose and/or casein).
More extreme than other diets, this one is recommended for people suffering from epilepsy (proven successful), Alzheimer’s (currently being studied), or cancer. In the case of cancer, it is known that cancer cells need glucose to survive. Others choose this diet to lose weight and better control their blood sugar levels (type 2 diabetes).
In the short term
Initially, it takes some time (two to four weeks) for the body to adapt to this diet. The body will first draw in its glycogen reserve (in the muscles). It will also lose water because every gram of glycogen is bound to 3-4 grams of water in the body. Fatigue, headaches and nausea can be felt. After this step, the body will start transforming fat cells into energy.
- Hydrate well and add some electrolytes in your water if needed.
- Monitor closely your intake of omega-6 as they are pro-inflammatory!
- A balanced multivitamin and minerals supplements will help avoid deficiencies.
To experience benefits from this diet, you must follow it rigorously.
It is estimated that about 30-35% of people can benefit from this dietary approach. Women seem to have more difficulty adapting to this diet, especially those who are chronically stressed, anxious and prone to glycemic fluctuations.
In the medium to long term…the modified Atkins diet
The modified Atkins diet is often said to be an easier to follow version of the ketogenic diet! Some people adopt it from the beginning, while others, after a few months of the ketogenic approach, switch to a low carbohydrate diet, but less rigid in terms of proteins and lipids, as is the case with modified Atkins diet.
Before starting a ketogenic or modified Atkins diet, it would be advised to talk about it with your therapist.
Whichever diet you choose, if you have difficulty digesting lipids and proteins, if you feel bloated after eating, if your stools are often fatty and sticky, a pancreatic enzyme formula could help you. The pancreas is an organ that, before producing hormones likes insulin, secretes several enzymes for the digestion of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates.
…To be continued. Next article: the Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets.- Back to previous page -