If you read anything at all about nutrition,
you’ve likely come across a variety of diets
which all tout health benefits and claim to be
the best. Here’s a little breakdown on the
most common diets and a commentary that,
hopefully, makes it all less confusing!
Standard American Diet (SAD)
This is the most common diet in the US and
includes sugar, fried foods, trans fat,
prepackaged foods, GMOs (genetically
modified organisms), foods filled with
pesticides and other chemicals/additives that
keep you addicted and cause you to gain
weight. These foods have low nutrient levels
and because you aren’t getting what you
need, you tend to eat more in an effort to
The paleo diet is designed to resemble what
our hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic) ancestors
ate thousands of years ago. Researchers
believe their diets consisted of whole foods
such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits,
nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and
oils. Foods to avoid would
include grains, sugar,
processed foods, most dairy
products, legumes, vegetable
oils, artificial sweeteners,
margarine and trans fats.
The Atkins diet is a low-carb
diet, usually recommended for weight loss.
Proponents of this diet claim that you can
lose weight while eating as much protein and
fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods
high in carbs. The Atkins diet was originally
promoted by the physician Dr. Robert C.
Atkins, who wrote a best-selling book about
it in 1972.
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a lowcarb, high-fat diet that shares many
similarities with the Atkins diet, but with a bit
higher fat content. It involves drastically
reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing
it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your
body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes
incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy.
It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions
in blood sugar and insulin levels.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the
traditional foods that people used to eat in
countries like Italy and Greece back in the
1960’s. The basics include eating vegetables,
fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole
grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and
extra virgin olive oil and eating in moderation
poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
Plant-based diets have been popular for
centuries because of the health benefits.
Vegetarian diets contain various levels of
fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and
seeds. The inclusion of dairy and eggs
depends on the type of diet you follow. The
most common types of vegetarians include:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who
avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy
and egg products.
Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid
animal flesh and eggs, but do consume
Vegetarians who avoid all
animal products except eggs.
Vegans: Vegetarians who
avoid all animal and animalderived products.
So what are we supposed to eat?
The simplicity of it is…the more your food is
unaltered and in its natural form, the better.
Chemicals don’t belong in our food or in our
bodies. So, start there. Our nutritional needs
can fluctuate depending on the season, age,
energy demands, ancestral heritage, etc. We
all need protein, fat and carbohydrates but the
RATIO of what we need can vary. Some do
well with a 100% plant-based diet and some
need animal protein. In the summer, we
usually feel like more fruits and vegetables but
on a cold winter night, we might want a beef
stew. Once you clean out the chemicals from
your diet, it will be easier to tell what your
nutritional needs are because your body will
tell you. Pay attention to how you feel and
adjust until you find what works for you. If you
can, attend our upcoming classes and ask questions!