It seems everyone is following a special diet, whether or not they’re actually working for them is a totally different ball game. The most important thing is to choose the right diet for your specific goals and make sure it’s sustainable for your lifestyle. This is because the more sustainable your diet is the more likely it’ll be your lifestyle and you won’t relapse into poor eating habits. Give our blog a bit of a scroll and find out what some of today’s most popular diets suggest you put on your plate and why.
Flexible Dieting or IIFYM
You might have seen the letters “IIFYM” floating around the internet. This acronym stands for “If It Fits Your Macros.” It’s a popular form of flexible dieting that uses the principle of tracking your macronutrients over the course of each day. Using a proven formula you’ll be able to calculate the protein, fats, carbs and overall calories that you need to consume to reach your goals – whether it’s losing weight, maintaining your current weight or muscle gain. Its rise in popularity is no doubt due to the fact that it caters to those who don’t want a restrictive diet that completely rules out certain foods; instead, it allows you to enjoy the occasional guilty pleasure just so long as it fits your total macro and caloric goal for the day.
Flexible dieting allows you to eat a wide variety of foods, from pizza to pasta as long as it fits into your macros for that particular day which can be far more exciting than a staple of broccoli and chicken.
The variety IIFYM offers makes it a more sustainable form of dieting as it is not restrictive in nature which makes it easier to stick to in the long term.
Numerous flexible dieters have reached their goals as this is an effective method of dieting as long as it is followed meticulously and supported by an appropriate fitness regime and adequate rest.
Even with the development of apps that can take care of the calculations for us and even scan the barcodes of different foods; tracking your macros is still an arduous task and time consuming.
Temptation & binge eating
In many cases, the attraction of IIFYM is being able to have your favourite junk foods but with that comes the danger of binge eating and promoting less healthy eating.
Most junk food lacks important nutrients like fibre as well as other micronutrients. Focusing solely on macronutrients can be detrimental to your health because your body does need micronutrients to function properly. For example, for proper cell functioning and to boost your immune system.
The effectiveness of the approach is heavily dependent on being able to track your macros, however, it can be quite difficult to track your macros when you’re eating out with family or friends. This could undermine your diet’s effectiveness.
The origin of the Paleo diet is rooted in the notion of the cave man. It focuses on consuming a significant amount of proteins and vegetable-rich meals while cutting out refined sugar, processed food and wholegrain products.
The Paleo diet is founded on the principle of clean eating so discourages the consumption of inherently unhealthy foods.
The high protein and fat content of the Paleo diet will help keep hunger at bay so you snack less day to day.
Between the limited variety of food that is considered appropriate for the Paleo diet and a greater sense of satiety, you will most likely find yourself losing weight.
Meat in general is more expensive than most other food types, which can make the Paleo diet an expensive one to maintain.
The lack of carbohydrates, whole grains and dairy products recommended by this diet can leave you feeling tired and depleted.
Some of the foods that are omitted from this diet carry great nutritious value, which can mean your overall health is compromised.
Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to more of an eating approach rather than an actual diet. The structure of the approach consists of periods of fasting and periods of eating. There are various ways in which this approach can be taken including full day fasts, fasting in a ratio of 16:8 (16 hours of fasting with an 8 hour period of eating) or two days of relatively low eating (500-600 calories) with 5 days of normal eating. Ultimately, if you withhold eating for an extended period of time during a day or for consecutive days, you are undergoing a form of intermittent fasting.
Hunger is as much a mental battle as it is a biological one. Undergoing intermittent fasting can help you distinguish between the two, allowing you to better control your hunger.
Intermittent fasting is also an effective way of getting lean for those with a working knowledge of the ideal amount of nutrients the body requires. This is also a by-product of improved insulin sensitivity which makes stored body fat more accessible (Veldhuis et al, 1988).
Improved body composition
While the body targets fats as an energy source it will result in an improvement in your body composition has your lean muscle mass to fat ratio improves. This is spearheaded by an increase in HGH (Human Growth Hormone) (Heilbronn LK, 2005).
While the effects of long term adoption of the intermittent fasting are yet to be extensively studied, it seems likely that it cannot be sustained for the long term without adverse affects on health.
Prolonged adoption of intermittent fasting can result in hormonal imbalances that affect both mood and capacity to feel hunger. Our bodies function optimally when there is a correct hormonal balance whereas prolonged intermittent fasting can result in the following:
- Throwing of the menstruation cycle in women, occasionally resulting in missed periods
- IF can result in increased blood sugar levels because of elevated levels of cortisol
It is common for intermittent fasters to go through a period of feeling weak and unable think as clearly shortly after adoption of this dieting approach. While this is temporary it is important to be conscious of.
Overemphasis on eating pattern
Over a long period of engaging in intermittent fasting, it is not uncommon for individuals to develop rigid food rules and an unhealthy overemphasis on eating patterns. However, a degree of flexibility should be allowed in any diet to make it more realistic for day-to-day life throughout the year.
The Keto diet gets its name from the small fuel molecules the body produces called ‘ketones’. These small fuel molecules are produced when the body is in short supply of blood sugar, which is caused by a severe reduction in the amount of carbohydrates being consumed. This state, where the body depends on primarily fat and to a much smaller extent protein to produce energy, is called ketosis.
The quickest way to reach this state is through fasting, however, that is a far less sustainable approach then the Keto diet which is a low carb, high fat with moderate to high protein intake diet.
- Reduced appetite
- Fat loss
- Lowered insulin levels
- Improved body composition
- Similar to intermittent fasting there is an adaption period, which can prove to be uncomfortable
- The restrictive nature of Keto diets can make it a frustrating exercise for some individuals
There are two important takeaways from each of these diets: maintaining a high protein intake and sustainability. There are no one-size-fits all approaches but finding what suits you as an individual is always recommended. Furthermore, each diet can be supported by quality supplements to ensure your recommended macro and micro nutrient levels are being maintained. Powerhouse offers an extensive range of quality supplements for you to explore.
Ho, K. Y., Veldhuis, J. D., Johnson, M. L., Furlanetto, R., Evans, W. S., Alberti, K. G., & Thorner, M. O. (1988). Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 81(4), 968–975.
Heilbronn LK1, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. (2005) Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1):69-73.
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