The word “diet” is casually thrown around these days. It has taken on so many meanings (see my article) that it most likely carries a negative reaction when mentioned. The word is dreaded. In actuality, what we eat is our diet, and everyone wants to find the diet that they like and works for them.
I have summarized four of the top diets of today, all with certain validity and meaningful, healthy purpose. These aren’t fad diets or extreme calorie cuts, they all basically deal with what you eat, how your body reacts, digestion, etc.
The Paleolithic diet, referring to the time period, or meaning “caveman” diet follows simple rules. It is based off what our ancestors would have eaten in pre-agricultural days; nothing processed or packaged (including bread). You eat a diet that’s gluten-free, but rich in lean, organic meats, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruit and nuts. As much as possible should be sourced locally. You exclude grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. In theory this diet sounds great, and seems to make logical sense.
Higher protein and low carbohydrate, this diet supports a healthy metabolism, and with the abundant nutrients it helps with inflammation within the body and energy levels. This diet first surfaced back in 1975 after gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin published a book about it. Since, the diet has been around, shifting in popularity. One thing that must be noted is that scientific backing is lacking behind this diet, and more studies need to be developed to either prove or disprove of it.
Blood Type Diet
This is a diet that has gained popularity very recently. The basis of the Blood Type diet is that, depending on an individual’s own blood type (O, A, B, or AB) , certain foods should be eaten while others should be avoided. Foods are either highly beneficial, neutral, or dangerous. The diet also indicates how you should exercise based on, of course, your blood type. Starting with type O (“for old,” as in humanity’s oldest blood line) your digestive tract retains the memory of ancient times, so your metabolism will benefit from lean meats, poultry, and fish. You’re advised to restrict grains, breads, and legumes, and to enjoy vigorous exercise. Type A (“for agrarian”) flourishes on vegetarian diets.
The type A diet contains soy proteins, grains, and organic vegetables and encourages gentle exercise. The nomadic blood type B has a tolerant digestive system and can enjoy low-fat dairy, meat, and produce but, among other things, should avoid wheat, corn, and lentils. If you’re type B, it’s recommended you exercise moderately. The “modern” blood type AB has a sensitive digestive tract and should avoid chicken, beef, and pork but enjoy seafood, tofu, dairy, and most produce. The fitness regimen for ABs is calming exercises. Just as with Paleo, this diet is lacking in scientific backing, but even more controversial and in some circles, “absurd”. It sounds scientific, so therefore it matches the desperate people’s search for the right diet.
The Acid-Alkalinity diet is one I have researched very recently, especially after having watched and idolized Randy Couture (Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler and 5x UFC Champion) for years. At age 46 years old he was able to not just compete, but be competitive within his division against guys half his age. Randy always talked about “a solid vegetable base” in his own diet which keeps pH levels in check, internal acidy down, therefore promoting health and warding off disease, bacteria, etc.
Now The Acid-Alkaline diet is simple in theory, but very complex as far as food combinations and lists. So, to describe the diet in short, our body is designed to stay alkaline and will do whatever it takes to do so, which includes using up alkaline stores within our body to neutralize acids. When we consume acidic foods and drinks, stop exercising and continually have negative emotions our body is overrun with acids and this causes major disruption. Not surprisingly most acid foods are the ones you already know are bad for you (cola, chips, chocolate, sweets, burgers, dairy, beer, etc.) and the alkaline foods are the ones you already know are good for you (fresh foods, leafy green vegetables, salads, nuts, seeds, etc.) To become alkaline you simply need to start focusing 70-80% of your diet on the alkaline foods and try to limit the acid foods. Back this up with 3-4 liters of good quality, clean, filtered water each day. This diet, unlike the two others already discussed, has much scientific backing behind it.
Eating “Clean” is what I preach to my clients, members, friends and family all the time. Now there is no “Clean” diet, or food list dos and don’ts, just some simple guidelines. I guess if you can coin such a term, credit might go to Tosca Rena, an average overweight middle aged woman who regained control of her health by eating “clean” and afterwards published a very successful book “The Eat-Clean Diet”.
The Eat-Clean Diet recommends avoiding all saturated fat, trans fats, overprocessed, refined foods — especially white flour, sugar, sugar-loaded colas, juices, and alcohol. The plan’s guiding principles: Each meal should be between 200-300 calories. Eat a complex carbohydrate with protein (20-21 grams) at every meal. Drink at least 8 cups of water daily. Never miss a meal, especially breakfast. Consume adequate healthy fats each day.
“I recommend shopping at farmers markets or when at the grocery store, stick to the perimeter and choose foods with one to three pronounceable ingredients only, staying away from any food that comes in a box or bag that man has had a hand in creating or contains ingredients you can’t pronounce,” Reno says. This diet is the least restrictive of all four, and generally has positive feedback from users and scientists. Experts do recommend you skip Reno’s advice on supplements and her nutrition information. Most of the stuff found in the Eat-Clean diet, to me, is just plain common sense.
So in conclusion, which diet is best? Which one is for you? Well that’s for you to decide. I believe they all have good information and principles, some more extreme or irrational than others but all viable. Bottom line is each individual is different and will respond better or worse to these certain diets. I believe there is something to take from all of these diets. With that information form your own eating habits, your own modified “diet” and get to know your self. I do want to point out that all four of these diets have a common theme: digestion. This isn’t just coincidence, learn to know what certain foods and drinks make you feel after consuming them.
Just stop and think about it. This simple notation can improve your diet and health tremendously. I also recommend you research these and any other diets extensively and talk to your doctor and/or trainer or nutritionist as well.