My thoughts on diets

Ok, this should be fun …

There’s hundreds if not thousands of diets, diet books, diet fads out there in cyberspace with adherents ready to defend their ‘way’.  I guess if it worked for you then I can understand why you would become a fierce advocate for it.

But first, a story.

It was around 2003 that I received some disturbing news.  Apparently I was prediabetic, my liver wasn’t working properly and I was told it would only get worse.  I wouldn’t say the news came as a shock.  I mean, I was going out a lot, eating junk and drinking silly most thursdays nights and weekends till early sunday mornings.  So I kinda knew my body was out of whack.  And I’d keep buying new clothes every few months because the old ones wouldn’t fit anymore.  To be honest, It really didn’t bother me.  I still went out, still drank, smoked and didn’t look after myself and didn’t change anything about my lifestyle.

So what actually made me change?

Vanity.

Not my health issues, not lack of attention from my partner nor being broke from going out all the time and replacing my ‘shrinking’ wardrobe.

One day I came out the shower and caught my reflection in my wardrobe mirror.  I had really let myself go.  My love handles had their own handles and my face was bloated and I genuinely couldn’t recognise myself in the mirror.  For a long time I’d been ignoring the signs and just bought clothes to cover and basically just stuck my head in the sand for as long as I could.

Being a typical guy I didn’t ask for help.  I suffered alone but I started hurting.  Hurting from the jokes, the pity looks and lack of intimacy from my partner.  I don’t know if women know this but I reckon most men feel like this once we start letting ourselves go and as much as you think you’re being caring by not mentioning anything, believe me, I would’ve rathered her to have told me something waaay sooner than when it actually came up.

Ok enough with the sob story.  What did I do to actually shed the weight?

I went online.

Yup,  good ol’ Doctor Google.  I looked to the ‘interweb’ (you’ll catch on to my quirky humour soon enough) for answers.  Around that time Atkins and Paleo were the big boys around town and this thing called, ‘the ketogenic diet’ (keto diet) was also around.  Apparently they’ve been using it on clinically obese patients as a part of a monitored medical weightloss treatment plan (those adherents can chime in here and correct me on this if you so wish).

Anyways, I wasn’t obese but I was definitely overweight.  To me the keto diet was a version of low carb, high protein and fats diet.  Funnily, I was already doing some form of the latter (hmmm, similarities). Cycling through low and high carb days/cycles.

First the pros (for me), I noticed results within a few weeks, I adapted to eating this way fairly quick and I enjoyed eating a lot (like a truckload!) of protein in all it’s yummy forms (sorry vegan friends! but back then that’s how I felt).

Now the cons (for me), I got irritable.

A lot! All the time (some would say moody). AndI got sick frequently (although my training regime may have also contributed) Lastly, I allowed myself to eat everything in sight provided it wasn’t carbs.

Now I’m not endorsing keto over low carb, paleo or any other diet out there.  Only that this is what I loosely followed (note how I didn’t feel the need to weigh, measure and count calories). And when I look back, it was almost an amalgamation of paleo, low carb, keto and high protein diets (hmmm, similarities again).

Nowadays Vegan and plant based diets are in.

So where do I stand on that? Simple, I believe if it works for you, do it. if it doesn’t then why are you still doing it? Seems silly to me. Followers of those diets can chime in here and add to this, I recall that it’s low on B12 and calcium so you need to be mindful of that.

The pros of a vegan/vegetarian diet (for me) is increased variety of fruits and vegetables, lots of recipes to try out and losing instead of storing fat just from not overeating (the meals make me fuller, longer. Does that make sense ). I ‘feel ‘ healthier and I’m cooking more (although some might see this as a con instead of a pro).

Cons (for me) are that it’s still difficult to find variety of vegan and vegetarian options when going out, reliance on grains and seeds for calories because you can’t be bothered to prep vegetables, the silent judgement from your barista for ordering nondairy milk, other people who will judge you for not caring about animals when you unknowingly eat something with dairy, honey or egg (yes I’m talking to all you judgemental vegans out there . Where’s the love for the homo sapien species? We’re animals too).

All kidding aside provided you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains & seeds it can be a good way to go.

But having done various diets in the interest of health, experience and experimentation I found that the ones that had the following traits provided the best results for general weightloss and fitness:

  • High in unprocessed foods and low in trans fats. Think fresh fruit and vegetables
  • High in fibre. Think grains and starchy vegetables
  • High in nutrients and minerals. Think variety of all the above
  • High in quality fats.  Think nuts & seeds and omega 3’s
  • Low in processed and carbonated drinks.  Think water
  • Even spread of macronutrients.  Think equal serving sizes of proteins and carbs with a quarter the serving size for quality fats.

To me it doesn’t matter which diet dogma you subscribe to as long as it covers your daily nutrient and caloric needs.  At the end of the day there’s a reason why we’re drawn towards certain foods.

For me that reason is evolutionary, being that we’ve evolved to crave the things our bodies need and that we need to store energy for survival.  Our bodies don’t know that there’s a grocery and convenience store around almost every corner or that we don’t have to hunt and gather our foods nowadays.  We don’t even have to walk to get to places because of public transport or our own vehicles.  Yet we still store fat for ‘survival’ in case there’s a famine.  I’m not going to go into the different functions of the nutrients we need or the foods that contain them here (I’ll leave that for another post).

Suffice it to say that for all our differences externally, our bodies in general have similar needs and function. So provided that your diet is giving you all the nutrients your body needs and the energy to function and perform its daily tasks it really doesn’t matter if you’re following paleo, keto, vegan/vegetarian or any hybrid of the above.

Yours in health,

Leo Roldan

 

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