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Nutrition Tracker & 3 Key Diets Part 2/4
There are a variety of diets to choose from today to suit our dietary requirements which enables us to reach our wellness goals. Thanks to the 360Wellness Tracker, you can check the progress of your nutrition and add, based on what you eat, portions of foods daily which will then translate into points contributing to your overall Wellness Score.
When choosing a type of diet, you should consider its advantages as well as its risks and not opt for the ‘trendiest’ one. Changing your food choices and how this affects your body is an important decision that should be based on your preferences as well as suggestions from a medical expert.
When downloading the 360Wellness app, among the diet choices you can choose a variety of diets along with dietary requirements without dairy, meat or nuts for example. I chose to explore three of these diets: keto, paleo high-carb and low-fat one. Below I combined an overview of each diet along with both the benefits and risks supported by medical studies.
The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet, also called keto diet, consists of eating small amounts of carbs while prioritising foods containing high percentages of fat. The diet has this particular name as its purpose is to put your body in a ketosis state. This affects what source of energy your body chooses. Normally your body would choose glucose, which is basically sugar in your blood taken from the foods you eat. On the other hand, when thinking about the keto diet, its main objective is to switch this use of energy and make our body use our supplies of fat instead.
To induce your body into this process of ketosis, you need to limit your amount of carbs per day and this figure will depend on each individual’s needs. This doesn’t only mean to reduce the amount of bread, pasta and rice, but also other foods that contain high percentages of carbs, like bananas, potatoes, legumes. While limiting these foods, insulin levels decrease and fatty acids transform into ketones which then provide our main source of energy.
So why are people taking up this new diet? Well, one of the main reasons is that a keto diet seems to make people lose weight faster than other diets. For example, a study conducted by American professors from sectors of health behaviour, medicine and nutrition sciences in 2020 found that these types of diets are more effective than others for older obese individuals.
However, the keto diet also has some counter effects. For example, some may suffer from nausea, fatigue and vitamin/mineral faults, as shown in a study conducted by American academics. One of the main arguments against the keto diet is that there is limited evidence around its long-term effects on weight loss and that not many individuals can integrate this diet into their lifestyle for the long run. There’s also the risk of putting too much pressure on your renal system when eating high portions of protein in your diet, which can lead to kidney stones and other complications.
Although there are some risks, further research shows that the keto diet is particularly effective for losing weight, if that’s your primary goal. A 2013 study from the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that those on a high-fat diet, compared to those on a low-fat one, lost more weight in the long term and decreased the risk of cardiovascular complications.
This particular diet is inspired by what humans ate during the Paleolithic era thanks to primal activities such as hunting. The main objective of this lifestyle is to return to the origins and imitate what humans ate thousands of years ago. Paleo focuses on the foods that were consumed by cavemen before farming became a popularised activity.
One of the main reasons besides the regime of this diet is that farming introduced new items into humans’ diet which are not essential. Since individuals lived a long time without farming and foods, such as dairy, legumes and grains, came late in the evolution of the human being, this didn’t leave them enough time to adapt to these new products. As a result, the new foods are still not seen as beneficial today and they are one of the causes for excessive weight and blood and organ diseases, according to this hypothesis.
Although the paleo diet may sound pretty straightforward, it doesn’t have a rigid set of rules on what to eat and what to avoid as some point out that what cavemen ate in prehistoric times depended on what was available to them and the place where they lived. For example, some might have consumed more animal-based products and small amounts of carbs while others did the opposite. As a general guideline, people on a paleo diet focus on eating things like animal protein, vegetables, fruits, oils, while avoiding processed items such as dairy and sugary foods.
Some studies show that the paleo diet is effective for weight loss and helps with long-term diseases. For example, a study from Diabetologia (a science journal focused on the study of Diabetes) did an experiment with 30 individuals who had either diabetes or a heart disease and compared the effects of a paleo diet and a Mediterranean one. They concluded that a paleo diet influenced humans to eat less calories and therefore showed sharp decreases in their glucose levels as well as weight.
However, this diet isn’t easy to incorporate into our everyday lifestyle, as the School of Public Health from Harvard warns. The school outlines how the demand for fresh foods in the paleo diet, will ultimately cause consumers to spend more money when grocery shopping and spend more time preparing meals, and not everyone has the willingness or capabilities to do this in the long-term. Also, the exclusion of some foods, like dairy and grains, can result in deficiencies of calcium and certain vitamins.
Considering some of the downsides of this diet, it’s worth pointing out that the paleo diet is believed to be effective against long-term diseases. This specific diet showed to be useful in minimising the risks of cardiovascular diseases thanks to a 2009 Swedish study from professors in the food and health departments.
High-carb and Low-fat diet
As the name suggests, the high-carb low-fat diet takes the opposite approach to the keto diet. This approach is also quite different compared to the paleo diet as it limits animal fat and integrates foods which tend to be higher in fiber. Those supporting this diet say that by excluding for a long time carbs from your nutrition, eating them all of a sudden can cause you to gain weight. Whereas the high-carb lifestyle lets you include healthy foods and limit animal-based foods.
A book about eating when diagnosed with diabetes was published by C. Khambatta, PhD, and R. Barbaro, MPH, who believe that a plant-based diet combined with higher amounts of carbs than fat can help you keep those pounds off in the long-term while ensuring your blood sugar levels are steady. When interviewed, the two authors also claim that high-fat diets can clog up your cells and be a contributing factor to heart diseases. They also say that including carbs into your diet is not an issue, as long as their intake is lower than the fat one. The ratio should be 70% carbs, 15% protein and 15% fat.