top of page

Selecting the Right Fad Diet for You


A common question we get asked here at Clar-e-ty is: what’s the “best” diet out there?


Pretty loaded question, right?


But the answer here is simple.


There is no universal “best” diet out there that is absolutely perfect for everyone. This is mostly because everyone is chasing different goals, has different preferences, is managing different lifestyle factors, & has different dieting histories.


Moreover, the best diet out there for me, might not be the best for you or your mother, your brother, or your friend.


Because the best diet out there for you is going to be the diet or nutrition plan that you can adhere to long-term & is the one that’s sustainable for you.


Now the issue with most fad diets is that they prey on people who aren’t as well-versed in the nutrition space & capitalize on the ambiguity of the word “health.” More often than not, the people promoting certain fad diets may have gotten really good results implementing them which is great! However, issues arise when these people or “influencers” sell these fad diets as “magic” or “quick” fixes.


When in all reality the secret behind every fad diet out there is…


A calorie deficit.


It’s not the fact that you’re in ketosis, or that intermittent fasting is speeding up your metabolism, or because you’re eating like ancestors.


Fad diets work because (whether or not you know it) you’re eating less energy than you’re expending on a daily basis by cutting out certain foods/food groups, thus creating the perfect equation for fat loss.


Calorie deficit = fat loss

Calorie surplus = weight/muscle gain

Maintenance = maintain weight


And there’s nothing wrong with taking the fad diet approach if you truly don’t enjoy carbs, processed foods, eating before 1pm, or animal products, but the fact of the matter is you don’t HAVE to cut these foods out in order to achieve fat loss.


So today’s blog post is going to be a deep dive into 4 of the most popular fad diets out there, why they’re so popular, & how to decide if it’s the right diet for you or not.


Intermittent Fasting


If you’ve read our blog on intermittent fasting, you probably already know that it’s not the magic solution to fat loss, but what is it & how does it work?


There are many approaches to intermittent fasting, but the most common is the 16:8 approach. This means you have an eight-hour eating window and a sixteen-hour fasting window. Most of that fasting window is meant to occur while you’re sleeping, so many choose to have their eating window set between the hours of 1-9 PM and some between 12-8 PM.


With IF, there aren’t specific guidelines to what you can and cannot eat, but only when to eat.

Many people advocate for this approach as a weight loss diet because some people prefer to restrict their eating window to restrict calories versus restricting their calories while eating in a larger window.


So let’s say you typically eat breakfast at 7 AM and finish dinner between 8-9 PM. With the most common approach to IF (the 16:8 approach), you’d be cutting your eating window almost in half.


With that being said, you’d more than likely be skipping breakfast and maybe a snack in between breakfast & lunch until you reach the beginning of your eight-hour eating window. Meaning, you’d be decreasing your food consumption by skipping a whole meal and maybe a snack.


By decreasing your daily caloric intake, whether it’s intentional or not, you’re putting yourself in a calorie deficit.


Conversely, you could restrict your eating window with intermittent fasting BUT not see fat loss if you’re still eating at your body’s maintenance or eating in a calorie surplus.


Needless to say, it’s not the act of fasting that leads to fat loss, but the calorie deficit it oftentimes creates in shortening our eating windows.


So who might consider using intermittent fasting as a strategy for controlling their daily caloric intake?


If:

  • You don’t have an appetite and don’t train in the morning.

  • You prefer larger, less frequent meals.

  • You are already managing your stress levels.

  • You have a strong recovery game.

  • You can’t commit to tracking your food intake consistently.

  • You want to control your caloric intake without tracking for a period of time (i.e. while traveling).


If any of the above describes you or where you’re currently at on your health & wellness journey, intermittent fasting might be a good strategy for you.


However, fasting is a stress on the body. Although small doses of stress are good for us (i.e. training stress), there are certain individuals or scenarios that fasting will not be the best option for.


If:

  • You train early in the morning, your body will need fuel pre & post-workout to optimize your performance & recovery.

  • You do any type of high-intensity exercise (i.e. CrossFit, Orange Theory, HIIT).

  • You are working to improve your hormone imbalances.

  • You already have a difficult time eating enough food throughout the day.

  • You live a high-stress lifestyle either at work, at home, or both.

  • You enjoy eating breakfast in the morning.


If any of the above describes you or your lifestyle, intermittent fasting is probably not the best option for you. Because again, fasting is a stress on the body. If you have a stressful job, aren’t managing that stress, not sleeping 7-8 hours each night, and are doing high-intensity exercise, the additional stress of fasting on your body will not outweigh any benefits that come with it. In fact, you might be doing more harm than good.

The bottom line with this fad diet is it’s just a tool that can be used to create a calorie deficit, just like any other diet out there. It’s definitely not a magic solution to fat loss and it’s not for everybody, but it can be a helpful tool for those that don’t want to track their food consistently create a deficit.


The Ketogenic Diet


The Ketogenic diet or the Keto diet has been around since the 1920s. Its original purpose was to help children with epilepsy. However, the Keto diet was always prescribed by doctors & performed in controlled environments to help prevent seizures.


The keto diet is a very high-fat diet in which 70-80% of your calories come from fat and the remaining 20-30% come from protein & very little carbohydrates.


Today, the Keto diet became popular because avid-keto followers claim that this diet is the “magic” solution for fat loss because it allows your body to burn more fat.


However, burning more fat does not mean your body is losing body fat! This just means your body is using more fat (dietary fat, not body fat) as fuel. This makes sense if your main source of energy is coming from sources higher in fat than carbohydrates.


Conversely, if you’re consuming more carbs, your body will utilize carbs as its primary energy source (which is preferred & is most optimal) & burn more carbs.


Now the reason why people often get such fast results on Keto is that by cutting out carbs, they’re depleting their bodies of all their glycogen & losing a decent amount of water weight. Hence why when people come “off” the Keto diet they gain a lot of weight back as they reintroduce carbs. Not necessarily because they gained fat mass back, but because their bodies have carbohydrates transporting water to their cells once again.


So who might consider using Keto as a strategy for controlling their daily caloric intake or who would keto be a good diet for?


If:

  • You have epilepsy or suffer from seizures (talk with your doctor or a medical professional first).

  • You suffer from a metabolic or autoimmune disease (talk with your doctor or a medical professional first).

  • You prefer high-fat foods.

  • You have a more sedentary lifestyle.

  • You don’t care as much about your performance in the gym.


If anything mentioned on the list above describes you, Keto might be a good diet for you to try.


But if:

  • You do any type of high-intensity exercise (i.e. CrossFit, Orange Theory, HIIT).

  • You are looking to maximize your performance in the gym.

  • You live a high-stress lifestyle either at work, at home, or both.

  • You have trouble sleeping at night.

  • You are active throughout the day (i.e. walking, standing, or on your feet a lot)

  • You prefer & enjoy carbs.


Then Keto is probably not the best diet out there for you.


And, from a fat loss perspective, Keto is not the end all be all, & is yet, just another way to create a calorie deficit. So if you enjoy carbs, please don’t feel like you have to cut out the carbs to get results (cause you don’t!!).



The Paleo Diet


Ahhh the Paleolithic diet or the Paleo diet. I have a soft place in my heart for the Paleo diet because I did the Paleo diet for 2 years after it was introduced to me in my early CrossFit days.


The Paleo diet is similar to Keto in the sense that it requires you to cut out carbohydrates to a degree, but the idea is that you’re eating foods that would have been eaten during the Paleolithic era. Basically, anything that could have been hunted or gathered during this time.


With that said, you’re looking at a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds, lean meats, fish, sweet potatoes, & oils from fruits/nuts. If you’re familiar with CrossFit & their motto around nutrition, this sounds VERY familiar, right?


The problem with the Paleo diet that many people run into is they’re very limited to what foods they can consume. Therefore, making it very difficult to attend work functions, holiday parties, go out to eat, & just enjoy food in general.


When I did the Paleo diet, sure I was at my leanest, but was I my healthiest self? Absolutely not. I was working out 3-4 hours a day, eating less than 2000 calories a day, had no period, felt like crap all the time, & felt MAJOR anxiety around food. I felt out of control around sweets or anything that wasn’t labeled as “Paleo” because I knew I wasn’t going to be “allowed” to eat the sweets after it was all said & done.


And I wasn’t even doing Paleo for weight loss! But because I cut out a ton of my options for food, I was unintentionally putting myself in a caloric deficit.


Although we loveeee Paleo from a health perspective & love that it encourages people to consume more whole foods than they would otherwise, there’s typically a better, more sustainable way to go about incorporating more fruits, veggies, & protein into your diet which is why we advocate for looking for what you can add instead of just take away here at Clar-e-ty.


So who might consider utilizing the Paleo diet?


If:

  • You want to learn how to incorporate more whole foods into your diet.

  • You have a more sedentary lifestyle.

  • You don’t care as much about your performance in the gym.


But if:

  • You do any type of high-intensity exercise (i.e. CrossFit, Orange Theory, HIIT).

  • You are looking to maximize your performance in the gym.

  • You have trouble sleeping at night.

  • You are active throughout the day (i.e. walking, standing, or on your feet a lot)

  • You prefer & enjoy carbs.

  • You have thyroid issues.

  • You live a high-stress lifestyle.

  • You want to learn balance & build a better relationship with food.


Then the Paleo diet probably isn’t the right diet out there for you.


Moreover, the advantages of Paleo aren’t proven to outweigh the advantages of an overall balanced diet from not only a physical standpoint but also phycological. Again, as with the other two fad diets mentioned above, the Paleo diet is just another way to create a calorie deficit by restricting certain foods BUT isn’t the quick fix for fat loss.


The Vegan Diet


The Vegan diet really started to become popular in the mid-2010s after the Game Changers documentary hit Netflix. The main premise of this fad diet is to exclude all animal products from your diet & eat mostly veggies, fruit, beans & legumes, whole grains, & nuts & seeds.


Although we love plants here at Clar-e-ty, we want to reiterate that Veganism isn’t automatically healthier than any other diet out there.


This is because Veganism doesn’t indicate how much nutrient-dense food a person will consume as it only excludes animal products. I mean think about all the foods that can be labeled as Vegan. Potato chips, soda, baked goods, candy, etc. all come in vegan options.


A few other issues that tend to occur within the Vegan diet space is that plant-based eaters are prone to certain nutrient deficiencies because they don’t eat animal products. Some of these nutrient deficiencies include protein, B-12, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, & omega-3 fats. These deficiencies are just something that plant-based eaters should be aware of to supplement with when necessary.


*I want to preface this next section out by saying I'm not against veganism or the plant-based diet whatsoever. I do just want to fully educate you on the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision going forward on whether or not it’s a good diet for you.


The problem with a lot of the documentaries made about Veganism and the plant-based diet is that they make extreme claims and fallacies that aren't backed by science. They also don't paint the whole picture or tell the whole truth. For instance, the majority of the documentaries say that plant protein is superior to animal protein BUT animal protein has a higher bioavailability meaning it actually gets absorbed in our digestive track whereas plant protein doesn't as easily. That's just because of the chemical makeup of plants (high in carbs/fiber) vs. animal protein (amino acids).


Also, back to the amino acid discussion, plants are very high in non-essential amino acids (our body makes on its own) and animal protein is high in essential amino acids (like leucine) that our body cannot make on its own. It is typically recommended that Vegans consume more protein than animal-based eaters because plant-based protein has fewer essential amino acids than animal-based protein. Now it is possible to get in a sufficient amount of protein on a Vegan diet, however, it just takes a little more planning to do so.


The claims made about Veganism being "healthier" just honestly depend on the context. So if we're comparing Veganism to the standard American diet, then YES absolutely. But if we're comparing Veganism to a diet comprised of 80-90% whole foods and 10-20% of treats, maybe/maybe not. It's all relative. Most of the time people that are coming into the studies and documentaries on the plant-based diet don't eat veggies before the study, so yes their biofeedback is going to improve just because they're increasing their micronutrient profile by adding fruits and veggies, not by taking away animal products.


Alright so now that we've discussed the science of why a Vegan diet isn't necessarily healthier than one that balances animal and plant products, let's discuss the impact animal farming has on the environment. It’s not necessarily that animal products and animal farming are bad for the environment or for the animals but more so HOW the animals are farmed. A book I recommend people read who struggle with the sustainability of animal farming is called Sacred Cow. The book dives into why:


  • Meat and animal fat are essential for our bodies.

  • A sustainable food system cannot exist without animals.

  • A Vegan diet may destroy more life than sustainable cattle farming.

  • Regenerative cattle ranching is one of our best tools for mitigating climate change.


When I have clients coming to me who are concerned with where their animal products are coming from, we discuss where they can purchase meat that is grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught, free-range, which actually supports the environment and creates a happy life for the animals. We buy sustainably sourced products in our house and definitely notice a difference in how the meat tastes and how we feel versus when we eat regularly farmed meat.


So who might consider going Vegan?


If:

  • You want to learn how to incorporate more whole foods/fruits & veggies into your diet.

  • You have an ethical reason for not wanting to consume animal products.

  • You have a religious reason for not wanting to consume animal products.


But if:


  • You aren’t educated on the effects sustainable farming has on the environment.

  • You prefer & enjoy animal protein.

  • You want to learn balance & build a better relationship with food.


Then going Vegan probably isn’t the right decision for you. Although there are definitely factors that can be pulled from the Vegan diet & incorporated into many of our lives (i.e. eating more plants/whole foods in general), the Vegan diet isn’t inherently healthier than any other diet out there. And as you probably already guessed, works from a fat loss perspective by cutting out major food groups to create…a calorie deficit.


The bottom line


If you take anything away from this blog, it’s that we hope you realize that no fad diet is superior to any other diet out there nor does doing a fad diet necessarily mean you’re going to lose body fat in a sustainable way or at all.


Our mission at Clar-e-ty is to show people that they don’t have to cut out foods that they truly enjoy in order to get results & to help people sift through all of the noise that is the nutrition & fitness industry so that they can make informed & educated decisions based on how they want their health and wellness journey to look, not what society tells them it should look like.


And hey, if a fad diet works for you and you truly enjoy the process of doing it, we love that for you! However, we don’t want people to feel like they have to jump from fad to fad & hop on board with cutting out carbs, eating like their ancestors, cutting out dairy/animal products, or skipping breakfast in the morning if it will suck the joy out of living & eating food for them.


Because as you now know, there are other ways to create a calorie deficit (i.e. achieve fat loss) that don’t require you to cut out foods completely & make the transition back to maintenance MUCH easier.


So whatever diet you choose to implement, make sure it’s one that is the best & most sustainable approach for YOU.


Not sure what that might look like?


Head to the links provided below & schedule a free consultation call with a Clar-e-ty Coach today! We’d love to chat with you.

 

Resources and Coaching:

Online Coaching here.

[Free] Nutrition Guide here.

Recipe & Macro Guide here.



30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page