Modern dieting: Which strategies may (or may not) work for you

By Kelli Shallal

Editor’s note: Kelli Shallal is a longtime Tempe resident and registered dietitian with a master’s degree in public health nutrition. Articles and recipes from Hungry Hobby, her healthy living blog, have been featured in magazines such as Today’s Dietitian and Food & Nutrition Magazine.

She is regularly quoted in the media and well known in the health communications field. Her first book, Meal Prep For Weight Loss, is due for release this fall. We thought you’d enjoy hearing from her in Wrangler News.

Do you find yourself trying the latest fad diet only to become disillusioned after a few days? It turns out you might not be alone.

The average dieting American begins a new diet regimen on average about six times a year. That’s a new diet program every other month.

It’s easy to see why so many Americans hop on the diet train. Fad diets usually promise everything from weight loss to practically handing you a million dollars. While full of glitz and glamour, they typically aren’t the best choice for sustainable weight loss.

So let’s take a look at three of the most “faddy” (fatty?) diets out there. Now here’s “the skinny” on getting skinny.

Keto Diet — This program promises improved energy, nonexistent hunger levels and improved health. The Ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and very, very low on (let’s call it nonexistent) carbs. It requires your body to learn how to burn ketones for fuel and in the process will make you sick temporarily, also known as the “Keto flu.”

The Keto Diet requires continuous monitoring of ketone levels (in blood or urine) and diligent planning.

The pro here is that you’ll learn how to avoid sugar and processed foods. A serious con I see is the number of clients coming to me with very uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues including severe heartburn and constipation after trying Keto. You’ll also be unlikely to participate in social situations if you want to stay on this diet due to its extreme restrictions.

Paleo Diet — Many people think that Paleo is the same thing as Keto, but it’s not. While Keto restricts the type of fuel you consume to primarily fat, the Paleo Diet is based around the way the caveman ate and restricts the types of foods you’ll consume.

Not allowed on the Paleo Diet are healthy foods like beans, whole grains, dairy, and peanuts. While I like the Paleo Diet for its emphasis on high-quality meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds which are healthy foods, I don’t think it’s as effective today as it was five years ago.

It used to be an excellent tool for limiting sugar and processed foods, but due
to its popularity the amount of Paleo cookies and protein bars available now definitely dampen this benefit. Plus, as my Mom would say, “didn’t the caveman only live till like 40?” Enough said.

Intermittent Fasting — Intermittent Fasting, also known as time-restricted eating, is also very popular. Funny enough, this fad has nothing to do with the type of food you eat. Instead, you remove that issue altogether by not eating.

There are a lot of different ways to intermittent fast, but most protocols require a 12-hour restricted eating window minimum. Believe or not, research demonstrates many good reasons to try out this diet, including boosting the immune system, digestive rest, and weight loss. Research shows that Intermittent Fasting is no better for weight loss than plain old calorie restriction. The downside here is that females, especially those of childbearing years, risk hormone imbalances if they participate in extended fasting.

Should You Try It? — Any attempt at improving your health is going to be good, and you may pick up new ways of doing things such as eating more avocados, cooking sweet potatoes, or finding you like maple syrup better than white processed sugar. Remember though: Fad diets are not sustainable long term; that’s why they are fad diets. Despite their popularity, it’s best to skip fad diets because they can have unintended severe health consequences.

Disclaimer: Use common sense when it comes to your health and dieting, and if you have any questions, ask your doctor or dietitian. You can also email me with your questions or ideas for future diet articles at kelli@hungryhobby.net

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