In defense of diets – especially Paleo, Keto and LCHF.

Let’s face it – diets work! When you are on these diets, you watch what you eat and how much you eat. Therefore, you start seeing results. You lose weight, you gain muscle, you feel energized. In the beginning, all is well. Then the seesaw starts. You fall off the wagon, you get back on; you fall of again, and get back on. If you last through a bunch of these cycles, you even incorporate the diet into your lifestyle – a key component of sticking with a diet.

The greatest advantage in many of these diets (besides the aforementioned discipline) is the fact that you start eating “real” food. You cut back on your salt, sugar, alcohol intake and by and large, you eat veggies with no pesticides, chicken with no antibiotics, milk with no hormones, etc. Many pre-diabetics that are on such diets find that their insulin resistance is decreasing and their fasting blood glucose is dropping. Great news for (type II) diabetics! Another association I have seen is that many, especially those that are doing the paleo and keto diets are also doing strength training with amazing results.

Even science backs these diets up! There are unbiased peer reviewed journal articles that show the benefits of such diets– weight loss, strength gain, better cardiovascular endurance, etc. So where is the catch? There isn’t one… mostly. If you somehow incorporate these diets into your lifestyle for long-term, you will see the benefits we discussed earlier. However, here are somethings to consider as you embark on this dietary journey.

  1. If you do not incorporate these diets into your lifestyle and do it for a short-term, there is a possibility of a rebound back to your old habits (and weight!)
  2. If you do incorporate it into your lifestyle, studies show that ingesting high quantities of animal protein and/or fat, long term, has detrimental effects on your health.
  3. Often times, the ones that exercise regularly and eat such diets land up eating more than they need to to sustain themselves. The added calories brings with it, the probability that there will not be weight reduction (if that is what you are seeking) and with an added calorie intake; shorter lifespan.
  4. If you do incorporate it, and do strenuous strength training, besides the short-term effects of ruining your joints, there is the added setback of an increase in the probability of developing cancer later on in life. I say this because with added strength training, comes the “need” to eat more protein. As you ramp up your metabolism your cells never get a chance to be in homeostasis – a stable sort of condition where they get a chance to “breathe” because now they have the added responsibility of creating more cells particularly muscle cells, because those were destroyed in the previous exercise session. When there is more frequent cell division (and therefore DNA replication), there is a greater chance that some replication may not go as planned and some cells might mutate. This mutation, if not caught early by own natural defenses can grow into cancer cells.

Confession time – I was a huge fan of large quantities of protein and working out like a maniac. I felt strong, confident and my mood was always in the upswing – all thanks to the large doses of protein I was taking. I was so obsessive about it that I remember carrying tons of protein shakes and bars in my backpack. All this came to a halt when I, the big meat-eater saw repeated studies in the literature about the long-term negative effects of large quantities of protein on your body. I now get 99% of my protein from beans and other plants, occasionally eating a meat dish, but even then, only for its taste.

So what do you think about diets in general and this one in particular?

Science Says

The bottom line is that higher intake of red/processed meat could increase the risk of cancers, particularly colo-rectal cancers, whereas fibers, especially from whole grains and cereals, as well as fruit and vegetables may decrease the risk.

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