Despite the large-scale studies and the amount of research invested into nutrition, humans know a lot less about how the body responds to food than you may think. The media delights in publishing articles in which a study is simplified and suddenly, a single food source (recent victims being eggs, chocolate and potatoes) is deemed “good”, or “bad” for you.
The truth is, it’s a lot more complicated than that. As well as the mysteries behind the science of nutrition, everybody is different and reacts differently to food and exercise programs. Also, large-scale food studies are very difficult to implement, as researches have no way of knowing what candidates really eat.
Banting or low carb, traditional clean eating, Paleo, the strike sugar diet… Which one (if any) is right for you? This article will explain a little about each of them, and then discuss what they agree upon.
The “eat clean” body building diet
The “eat clean” lifestyle is one that many of us are aware of – and for most people, it works. It includes eating five or six small meals a day, which largely consist of lean protein, small amounts of complex carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of unsaturated fats. It’s the whole “oats and egg whites for breakfast, chicken, broccoli and avocado for lunch” mentality that we’re used to seeing in gyms everywhere.
Following this diet puts an emphasis on food preparation, and you’ll need to be prepared so that you don’t get hungry. Many people also build a weekly “cheat meal” into their diet so that they are able to indulge regularly.
If you’re interested, check out Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean movement.
The paleo diet, essentially based on what humans ate when they lived as “cavemen”, has become popular in its association with CrossFit. In following the paleo diet, the emphasis is on natural, unprocessed foods – meat, animal proteins and fruit and vegetables. As well as processed foods, dairy, legumes and grains, even whole grains, are discouraged.
If you’re interested, check out the book “It starts with food” and their (free) diet programme – the popular Whole 30.
Low-carb, high-fat (Banting)
Similar to the paleo diet, with the exception of dairy, Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) or Banting is based on the theory that fat doesn’t make us fat, but that depending on individuals’ insulin resistance, carbohydrates do. Well know LCHF diets include the Atkins diet and the Real Meal Revolution. Both of these sites have food lists, recipes and helpful resources.
If you’re interested, read Gary Taubes’ “Why we get fat” – it’s guaranteed to change the way you view food and weight. For user-friendly guidelines, checkout food lists here.
Kayla Itsines and food pyramid guidelines
Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines has become famous for the effectiveness of her eating plan and exercise programs, and she has helped thousands of people to become fitter and healthier. Similar to eating clean above, but including more carbohydrates, Itsines’ eating plan is based on the Australian food pyramid and national nutrition guidelines.
If you’re interested, look at Kayla’s website.
As you’ve read, the lifestyle movements above disagree about what we should be eating. However, there are some areas on which they all agree. Some of these areas include:
- Fat is good. While the outlined eating programs above differ in the volumes of fat they think you should eat, they all agree that an amount of saturated or unsaturated fat is essential.
- Sugar is terrible! There is no well-balanced diet in the world that recommends high quantities of cane sugar. The diets outlined in this article all encourage followers to cut sugar out of their lives.
- The more unprocessed, the better. Whether you eat low fat, high fat, low carb or high carb, nutritionists agree that we should be eating unprocessed food. If you eat grain, eat wholegrain. If you’re cooking a meal, or ordering out, choose options with as many fresh ingredients and as few additives as possible.
However you personally choose to eat for good health, whether it’s by mainly sticking to one of the above lifestyle diets or a mixture of them all, try to eradicate as much sugar and processed foods out of your diet – we may not know much, but we know that eating for health and longevity includes eating foods close to the earth.