Paleo, slow carb, vegan, atkins, intermittent fasting, you name it – they all suck. And all for one very simple reason. They artificially limit food choice. I already hear groaning. Isn’t that the point of a diet? Indeed it is, and it is also exactly why you should avoid them. I believe the only diet you should adhere to is your own. What I mean by that is don’t be lazy. Instead of taking someone else’s pre-defined list of acceptable foods (whatever that means), figure out which foods work well for you, and more importantly, which you should avoid.
We are all different. Different foods affect different people in different ways. For example, eating foods that are high in lactose really bothers my stomach. So guess what? I don’t eat ice cream or drink milk. Another example: eating a huge lunch (1500+ calories) leaves me feeling tired and lethargic. Again, guess what? I limit my lunch to roughly 1000 calories.
There are several important dietary considerations that everyone should account for in their diet…
If you have a known food allergy, then avoid any foods that contain the allergen. For example, if you have celiac disease and cannot tolerate gluten, then research which foods contain it and avoid them.
Even if you do not have a known allergy, pay attention to your stomach. Do you constantly get bloated or have an irritated stomach after eating certain foods? Then avoid those foods. Chances are you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a term that encompasses a wide range of symptoms associated with abdominal pain caused by food digestion.
And honestly, that doesn’t even matter. This is not rocket science. Just notice when you have poor reaction and eliminate the culprit. If you are unsure which food item it was that caused the problem, then eliminate one at a time from subsequent meals. Within a few days you will know. If you end up having sensitivities to grains, starches, legumes, and dairy then guess what – you are eating paleo! Honestly, you probably have a better chance at the lottery.
Different foods will affect your energy levels in different ways. A lot of people report that they crash after a high sugar meal. Personally, I do not notice this phenomenon. If you do, then quit eating high sugar meals. Same goes for eating small meals vs large meals, a lot of carbs vs few carbs, etc.
There is no magic combo that works for everyone. Just because you feel great on diet A or diet B does not mean that a certain diet’s prohibited foods will have a negative effect on you. In fact, many diets lead you to limiting your carb intake. Adding back in some carbs will most likely give your energy levels a substantial boost. Which leads me to my next point.
I seriously question any diet that restricts any one of the three macro-nutrients. Your body needs fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Fats are the only source of essential fatty acids, which are required by the body but cannot be produced by it naturally. Fats also help the body absorb and utilize vitamins A, D, E, and K and therefore are vital for healthy skin, hair, bones, and teeth (1). Carbohydrates can be converted into glucose (the sugar your body uses for energy) faster than fats or protein, and therefore is the preferred form of energy (2). Every cell in your body contains protein, and it also plays a major role in repairing cells and creating new ones (3).
So if you currently ARE following a specific diet, ask yourself why? If it is working for you and you enjoy it, by all means continue. But, realize you are most likely unnecessarily limiting your selection of foods, and in some cases may be neglecting a key macro-nutrient.
Check out my new book Shredded Beast here.
Read More: 4 Reasons Why Your Diet Sucks
1. National Research Council. Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ED. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1989.
2. Turcoatte LP, Hespel PJ, Graham TE, Richard EA. Impaired Plasma FFA oxidation imposed by extreme CHO deficiency in contracting rat skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology 1994;77(2):517-525.
3. Shils ME, Young VR. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger, 1988.