actively informed

News and insights from your clinicians at Precision Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

Percision Blog Header 100223

Breaking Down Popular Diets – Are Any For You?

Precision Orthopedics By Precision
October 2, 2023 | Health

Before we dive headfirst into breaking down three of the most trending and common diet types circulating in the health and fitness realm, please keep in mind that we’re only here to lend you the facts; take away from this article what you will.

We intend to identify the pros and cons of each, hopefully allowing you to understand certain aspects of these diets a little better before considering them as a part of your lifestyle.

On that note, what better place to start than the ketogenic diet, otherwise known as keto?

In the past, few diets have gained as much traction as the keto diet. Known for its approach to macronutrient distribution, which focuses on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate macro split, the keto diet has amassed a solid and loyal following.

The primary idea behind the ketogenic diet is an extreme reduction of carbohydrates through diet in order to push your body into a state of ketosis. This metabolic state shifts to fat as its primary source of fuel as opposed to carbohydrates.

With such a drastic reduction in blood glucose levels, this diet could potentially benefit those suffering from diabetes and insulin resistance.

Early results have suggested that the keto diet may also be beneficial for managing various health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and even certain types of cancer. However, further research is required in order to give more concrete data.

However, some potential drawbacks of the keto diet should be carefully considered.

With such a strong restriction on carbohydrates, the keto diet doesn’t allow much room for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Consequently, this could result in certain essential vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as Vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Furthermore, the keto diet has also been shown to present difficulties in long-term adherence. Generally, people find bread, rice, and pasta far too delicious to cut out entirely, and quite rightly so!

Early studies have also found that the keto diet if followed long-term, can present various health conditions such as liver disease and potentially a weakened immune system.

Finally, it’s important to remember that by drastically reducing or entirely removing carbohydrates from your diet, your muscles and liver release certain amounts of stored water in the form of waste. This water was originally required when storing carbohydrates as glycogen.

As a result, your body weight will drop pretty rapidly for the first week or so, but this is merely water weight and not necessarily body fat loss.

Next up, we’re set to tackle intermittent fasting, otherwise known as IF.

Popular within the weight-loss community, IF focuses purely on when to eat, as opposed to the majority of diets placing the focus on what to eat.

There are various options for making intermittent fasting a part of your diet and lifestyle, but they all include daily time windows for fasting and daily time windows for eating. The most popular approach is the 16/8 option. Practiced by following a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour feeding period.

Hypothetically, within that 8-hour feeding period, you can eat whatever you choose. The general understanding is that you’re not able to reach a daily caloric surplus within the shortened feeding period.

The results for weight loss, when followed rigidly, are actually very good. Intermittent fasting provides a clear route when sticking with a diet without the certain complexities that often arise when tracking calories and macronutrients.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to protect certain organs against numerous diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

However, like with most diets, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It may become rather difficult to uphold when attending social events or other commitments. Of course, variations can be applied to your feeding window, but it does remove a certain spontaneity when practiced on weekends and holidays.

Fatigue and low energy have also been frequently reported when following a strict intermittent fasting regime. This could potentially lead to overeating during the feeding window, making the whole process redundant, so keep that in mind if it’s something you’re looking to explore!

The third diet discussed today is actually more of a lifestyle choice: veganism.

In the rare event that you haven’t heard of veganism, it refers to a lifestyle choice that eliminates the use of all animal products entirely. When practiced strictly, this includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, and even leather, fur, and cotton clothing.

Either for environmental reasons, in support of animal welfare, for simple health choices, or a combination of all, veganism has grown in popularity over the recent decades.

And it makes total sense.

Livestock farming has been proven to be a major leader in affecting climate change, with around 15% of all global emissions coming from this industry.

On the basis of animal welfare, the conditions in which animals are kept, bred, and slaughtered have raised many eyebrows in the Western world, consequently increasing the number of people moving in the direction of a more plant-based diet.

Generally, recent research has found that those following a vegan diet have a lower risk of early mortality. The same reputable studies have also shown that the risk of heart disease and even certain types of cancer are reduced when following a vegan diet.

A diet that’s naturally rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is bound to check the majority of boxes when it comes to a healthy, nutritious lifestyle.

But it’s key to consider the following:

Reaching the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) of various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and iodine, becomes naturally difficult for vegans, as these essential vitamins and minerals only appear in animal-based foods. However, supplements can cover these otherwise missed, essential micronutrients.

The recommended intake level of high-quality protein can also become overlooked when following a vegan diet. Only a small handful of vegan protein sources contain the complete amino-acid chain necessary for the repair and growth of muscle tissue.

Most importantly, despite vegans having a lower risk of early mortality when compared to the general population, reputable studies have shown that both vegans and health-conscious meat eaters alike share the same level of reduction in early mortality risk.

On the level of animal welfare, it’s also reasonable to bear in mind that just because a food labels itself as containing no animal products, it doesn’t mean it fully adheres to animal welfare. Soybean plantations have wiped out vast amounts of the Amazon rainforest, while palm oil cultivation has destroyed the habitats of entire species in Indonesia. Both of which are considered vegan food products.

Of the three diets mentioned today, the keto diet has the least amount of data supporting its favorable results.

Whichever diet you choose, whether it be one of those mentioned today or another that seems beneficial to you and your goals, know that calorie manipulation is the key to any form of weight loss or weight gain.

If aiming for weight loss as a primary goal, any diet on the planet that allows you to reach and maintain a calorie deficit over time will allow you to lose weight.

In a nutshell, it’s not the diet; it’s the diet’s ability to help you obtain that calorie deficit.

To highlight the importance of caloric manipulation, what better example to give than ‘The Convenience Store Diet’? For 10 weeks, professor of human nutrition Mark Haub ate only sugary foods, Doritos, and other store-bought snacks. His principle diet rule was to remain in a calorie deficit during the entire period.

He lost twenty-seven pounds in 10 weeks.

Was it the food choices that allowed him to achieve this massive level of weight loss? No, it was the calorie deficit.

Which is exactly what he aimed to prove.

Of course, we would never recommend following the convenience store diet as a lifestyle choice! We merely aim to display that if you are aiming to lose weight healthily, your primary objective should be to maintain a caloric deficit steadily over time.

We hope that we’ve helped clear the naturally murky waters of popular diets, even by just a little. If you’d like us to cover more popular diets in the future, don’t hesitate to let us know!