A look inside the fridge of some trendy diets

These are the top Diet Trends of 2019; are they worth the hype?

Like many health and wellness topics, diet trends can be super confusing and hard to keep up with. To help simplify things for you, in today’s article we’re going to look at buzz-worthy diets of the moment, what they consist of and who can benefit from them the most.

KETOGENIC DIET

Going “keto” has gained a lot of notoriety amongst diet trends in recent years for its potential health benefits, particularly weight loss. This diet is based on eating high-fat and low-carbohydrate foods, which causes your body to enter a state of ketosis. This is when the liver makes ketone bodies as the body’s main energy supply, instead of using glucose (the main energy source from carbs). This helps to reset our baseline metabolism. In order to enter ketosis, you should restrict carb consumption to less than 20 grams a day. This mimics the effects of fasting while still avoiding muscle loss.

HOW TO FOLLOW IT

Typically eating a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of daily grams of fat, to carbohydrate and protein is the way to do it. The suggested carbohydrate intake is between 20 – 50 (net) grams per day, so if you want to follow it strictly, this means you need to track the macronutrient content of your meals. One way to get an approximate measure of whether you’re actually in ketosis is by using urine strips to measure ketone levels (typical target between 80-160 mg/dl).

WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

Struggling to lose weight? Some research shows greater benefits in metabolism, weight loss and belly fat with the keto diet compared to low-fat diets. While the diet was initially used for seizure control in epilepsy, research also indicates benefits for gut health, brain function, mood, and metabolic dysfunction (ketosis also decreases insulin levels, which is something to be mindful of).

With high fat intake, it’s important to be cautious about the source of fats you consume. High levels of saturated fat can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, whereas polyunsaturated fats (such as Omega-3 essential fatty acids) have benefits including reducing inflammation, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, and supporting brain, gut, and cardiovascular health.

AUTOIMMUNE PALEO (AIP)

The AIP diet is an elevated version of the paleolithic, or “caveman” diet. The diet is based on only eating foods that our ancestors had access to when they had to hunt and gather food. This means eliminating all processed foods, grains, legumes, dairy, and sugars.

HOW TO FOLLOW IT

The AIP diet takes this one step further and also eliminates any foods that might cause inflammation or trigger our immune system, such as nightshade vegetables, eggs, alcohol, nuts, seeds, and some spices. This diet emphasizes eating anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, herbs, and healthy fats.

WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

Compared to other diet trends, people often find AIP challenging because it restricts many foods. If you are following it due to an autoimmune condition, you should follow it strictly (no cheat days!) for at least 1 month (ideally 10 weeks).

INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)

IF can impact metabolism by affecting our circadian rhythm, lowering glucose and insulin levels, and even affecting inflammation and the gut microbiome. IF typically also results in lower calorie intake because of the shorter eating window, and may also lower appetite. In comparison to a restrictive caloric diet, IF helps to preserve muscle mass while promoting fat loss.

HOW TO FOLLOW IT

Intermittent fasting usually consists of following a 16:8 or 18:6 hour ratio of fasting to eating. Eating this way can be hard to follow initially. Often starting with one or two days of IF per week is more manageable.

Most people skip breakfast when intermittent fasting (often with an eating window of 12 – 8 PM). However, some research suggests greater benefit in weight loss, metabolism, and hormonal regulation during fasting periods in the evening. This is due to the increased blood sugar response to each meal as the day progresses.

WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

F-FACTOR

F-factor has also become a popular diet recently. Initially started to help clients regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, founder Tanya Zuckerbrot (MS, RD) noticed that they were also losing weight. F-factor is all about fiber, which is an indigestible carbohydrate. This means that our net carbohydrate intake (what gets used as glucose for energy, and stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver) is the number of grams of fiber subtracted from our total carbohydrate intake. Many people don’t eat enough fiber (and over-consume digestible carbohydrates). Once the liver and muscle stores of glycogen reach capacity, any extra glucose from our diet (in the form of digestible carbohydrates) gets stored in fat tissue in our bodies.

Fiber also promotes feelings of fullness, stimulates metabolism, and binds to fat and helps to expel it from our bodies. This diet emphasizes addition to diet (through fiber-rich foods), rather than dietary restrictions.

HOW TO FOLLOW IT

There are 3 steps on the F-factor diet. Each phase differs in the target number of daily net carbs and sources of carbohydrates you should focus on eating. The mantra: is “fiber and protein at every meal, make losing weight no big deal”.

Examples of fiber sources include: berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, artichokes, flax seed, chia seed, pistachios, wheat bran. Whereas carbohydrates such as: white flour, starchy grains and vegetables, and many processed foods, have high total carbohydrate content and little fiber.

Initially increasing your fiber intake may cause bloating or abdominal discomfort and constipation, so it is important to drink enough water to encourage digestion.

WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

  • People struggling to lose weight or adhere to a restrictive low-caloric diet
    • F-factor also allows dining out (while making healthy choices) and alcohol in moderation
  • Metabolic disorders, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease
  • Constipation, some gastrointestinal concerns (fiber acts as a prebiotic for our gut microbiome)

WHOLE 30

The Whole 30 diet has generated buzz as a 30-day detox and metabolic reset, which is especially popular after people indulge over the holidays. The protocol is based on eliminating any inflammatory foods from the diet, giving the body a rest and a chance to heal.

HOW TO FOLLOW IT

The mantra is “when in doubt, leave it out”. Similarly to AIP, the protocol for Whole 30 emphasizes sticking to the diet without any cheat days for one month, in order to reduce inflammation and any immune triggers or blood sugar fluctuations. It’s also recommended to avoid weighing yourself during the 30 days, as the diet highlights making healthy and lasting improvements rather than focusing on weight loss.

What’s allowed: vegetables, healthy fats, meat, eggs, seafood, fruit in moderation, herbs and spices.

Not allowed: sugars/sugar substitutes, alcohol, any grains, legumes, dairy, sulfites, baked goods, carrageenan, MSG. This diet also recommends avoiding processed foods (i.e. anything with more than one ingredient).

WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

  • Inflammatory and autoimmune conditions
  • Suspected food sensitivities
  • Blood sugar or hormonal dysregulation
  • Poor sleep and mood

LET’S SUM UP THE DIET TRENDS HERE…

I tend to avoid using the word “diet”, and focus on making long-term lifestyle changes that are more sustainable. But, diet protocols can be beneficial to use as dietary guidelines and follow short-term depending on your health goals. They can also help to ultimately incorporate lasting changes into your lifestyle. As always, it’s best to consult with an ND or healthcare practitioner to see if specific diet trends are right for you (and worth the hype!}

In good health,

Caroline

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WRITTEN BY:

Caroline Lewis is from Toronto, and has achieved her Doctor of Naturopathy degree. Her Master's education in neuroscience and blossoming interest in gut and digestive health inspire her focus on the mind-gut connection and its role in wellness. She is also interested in women's health, fitness, mental health, and holistic beauty. Caroline is passionate about using an individualized evidence-based approach to help others heal from the inside out, make empowered lifestyle changes, and achieve their unique wellness goals in order to thrive.

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