Low Carb, Atkins, Ketogenic, Paleo? Which One Is For Me?

How do you eat?

With a knife and fork? Some might say it’s an absolutely ridiculous question. To you I say, well fork you! Just joshing, I mean this is a serious question.

Do you fork or not?

Ok, so some people might answer food is fuel, food is tasty, food is whatever is cheap or whatever it takes to get me gains.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know over the past few years the paleolithic (also called the paleo diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet) has been all over TV and social media. According to my friend Wiki, the paleo diet is based mainly on foods presumed to be available to paleolithic humans. Ok, so that might be a tad difficult since we live in 2016, however, the basis behind it seems to me like avoid processed foods – right?

There’s a healthy diet and then there’s ‘diet’. So, when is a diet a healthy and when is a diet a fad? I don’t like the label diet because it has come to involve restriction, deprivation, hunger and struggle with the aim to lose weight and be healthy. Let’s face it – it’s not really a nice word! We as a society have been using the word diet forever and the amount of mental health conditions that has come of this dirty little word is still something we struggle with today (think body dysmorphia, anorexia, and bulimia).

That being said I’m going to touch on a few diets or trends that have been popping up in my Facebook feed and some that I have tried.

Before I go through some of them, let’s go back in time to where we looked up to a group of Greeks in robes reciting poems and contemplating life. Hippocrates who was a Greek physician (c460BC – 370BC) is considered to be the father of medicine. I don’t know what Hippocrates was eating but he sure had a great appreciation for quality. He said “Man should be acquainted with the qualities of all food and drink in the natural and prepared states”.

 Interpreting that statement is up to the individual, but since I’m blogging, I will decipher the code for you. My mate Hippocrates is basically trying to tell us to eat good quality produce- in this day and age it’s less processed and packaged foods. These foods are low in essential nutrients compared to whole, unprocessed foods. The more you eat these foods, the less you will get of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various trace nutrients. In a nutshell real food is the key to good health, period.

No fancy supplements, expensive superfoods or overpriced protein shakes. I’m not saying you should completely abstain from certain vitamins and minerals, which are needed for normal cellular activity (as prescribed by your GP, Dietician, Nutritionist or maybe in conjunction with your Naturopath). Just saying keep it real and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg. Well maybe plenty of veg and not as much fruit.

I keep seeing the ketogenic diet EVERYWHERE, I mean every time I scroll  Facebook I see keto articles, blogs, recipes and comments about ketogenic this and ketogenic that. Have I said ketogenic enough? The ketogenic diet is high-fat, moderate protein and super low in carbohydrate consumption. The ratio is often between 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein and 5-10% carbs. Eating this way induces the body into a form of ketosis that switches your body from using glycogen for fuel (think sugars and carbs) into using fats for fuel. The one thing I like about the keto approach is that it teaches us not to fear healthy fats like oily fish, whole eggs, cheese, avocado and nuts, which in combination with protein keeps you fuller for longer and stops you from snacking. Yay! Win to control the caloric intake!

Some studies suggest that the ketogenic diet is a form of ‘restrictive diet’, which is low in calorie and low in carbs. In a recent study, scientists at the Gladstone Institute discovered that it could delay the aging process and may one day allow scientist to treat age-related conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as many forms of cancer. How? A study on mice found the release of ketones protected against the oxidation of cells.

The Atkins diet made famous by Dr Atkins who advocated a high protein and low carbohydrate diet is also a restrictive diet because it restricts a macronutrient aka carbohydrates.

Findings in a 2010 study according to The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition suggest that a low carbohydrate diet and a restrictive caloric diet yield the same effects in terms of weight-loss. So if you want to lose weight, why cut out carbohydrates if the studies show that you will be getting the same results by just cutting down on your portion size?

Still don’t know what I’m talking about?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your goals? Is it fat-loss/increase muscle mass/weight maintenance/reduce allergies?
  • Can you maintain this lifestyle?
  • What type of training are you doing to complement your nutrition?

If you still don’t know which one you fit into then can you please close your eyes and think. All you have to do is think of your most difficult and vulnerable family member and ask yourself would you approve or even feel comfortable recommending paleo, keto, Atkins or a supplement diet to them?

If you answered YES, then you must be a dietitian who has a brief on their medical condition(s). If you answered NO, well you’ve answered your own question – Which diet suits me?

References

 L, Hernandez, J. P Sutherland. Lack of suppression of circulating free fatty acids and hypercholesterolemia during weight loss on a high-. fat, low-carbohydrate diet. AMJ Nut 2010.

K. Mancinelli. 2015. The ketogenic diet. 2010. 

Shimazu, M. D. Hirschey, J. Newman. Suppression of Oxidative Stress by β-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor.Science, DOI December 6, 2012.