Rachel Wagner, MS, LD, a licensed dietitian at St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center tells us the pros and cons of the hottest diets and how to achieve your long-term weight goals. “Trendy diets tend to have more negatives than positives. Although some of this year’s trends are backed by good research. The positive effect is trendy diets can get people thinking about steps to improve their health.”
The Pros and Cons for Keto, Paleo, Fasting and 21-day Fix
The Keto Diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It restricts carbohydrate intake and replaces it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
- Pros – There is research that supports this diet. Ketosis can also lead to a decreased appetite, which can actually help with an overall restriction of caloric intake.
- Cons – The diet can be very hard to follow in today’s carb-centric society. You can’t cheat on this diet. If you go off diet, your body will go out of ketosis and you therefore won’t see the benefits. In addition, you must carefully plan your meals to ensure you have enough vitamins B and C, and fiber.
The Paleo Diet restricts your food to things eaten during the Paleolithic period including meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies and seeds.
- Pros – The focus on whole foods is good for your nutrition and the diet tends to be higher in fruits and vegetables. The diet restrictions force you to decrease added sugars and processed foods.
- Cons – Following the diet can be expensive because you must eat grass-fed meats. This diet also takes good menu planning to ensure your body gets enough vitamin B.
Intermittent Fasting is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. There are two common forms – fasting for 16-18 hours a day or eating normally for five days and restricting to 500 calories for the remaining two days.
- Pros – Research supports this diet because it will send your body into ketosis, which means you begin to burn fat. It is very easy to follow and you don’t have issues getting the overall nutrients you need if you follow a balanced diet when you aren’t fasting.
- Cons – Most people are so ingrained to eating three meals a day, it can be difficult to adjust to a period of fasting. This diet does not force adding healthy foods to your diet so you must follow a balanced meal plan and not eat only sugary foods.
21-day Fix Program is a commercial diet program that focuses on portion-controlled eating combined with an exercise program.
- Pros – The meal plan you are given is a well-rounded menu providing your needed nutrients. In addition, you are given exercise routines even a novice can complete.
- Cons – This is a commercial diet so you need to pay to buy the program. In addition, it doesn’t teach you proper portion control for you to follow once you are off the diet.
There is No Quick Fix to Long-term Weight Loss
The bad news for trendy dieters – most fad diets don’t work long term. They can create a yo-yo effect of weight loss and weight gain.
Wagner says, “Trendy diets promise a rapid weight loss but most people don’t keep the weight off since they don’t change their eating habits over the long term. They may fit into the swimsuit before beach vacation but then they go back to their old eating habits. Then the weight, or even more weight, comes back. The up and down of weight gain can lead to larger health issues.”
Wagner believes the only way to keep a healthy weight over the long term is to develop a healthy relationship with food. “You have to rethink how you think about food. It’s about feeding your body. Not feeding your soul.”
If you need help keeping your weight goals on track, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling (859) 212-4625.