Yes! Well, at the same time no… As it turns out so often, and in so many things in life, this question is not as simple as it may first seem.
At its most basic, the simple answer is yes, some of the more popular fad diets can help you lose weight. But, much like earning your mobile casino bonus, it’s not so simple as just that.
The first question to ask is, what exactly is a diet? How does a diet help you lose weight, or promote a more healthy, happy, and satisfying life? To answer this, we will have to talk a little bit about nutrition.
Before I even begin to talk about losing weight, I want to speak about basic nutrition, something that is sadly lost on many people in developed and wealthy countries. Especially those countries in the west where high calorie, low nutrition foods are commonplace.
Any diet will keep you healthy so long as it follows a few basic rules. These are the fundamental things that make a diet able to keep you alive. Without these few things, you wouldn’t be able to live no matter what the diet is.
Basic Diet Requirements
Firstly, a diet needs to satisfy your caloric requirements for the day. Calories, or K Calories, or Kilocalories, are a unit of measurement for energy. We use them to determine both how much energy is potentially stored in a food item, and how much energy a living creature uses over a period of time (usually a day).
One Calorie (or Kilocalorie), is equivalent to 4.2 Jules, and is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram (also 1 Milliliter) of water by 1 degree centigrade.
Considering we are warm blooded creatures made of mostly water that heat ourselves, it is easy to see why humans need so many thousands of calories a day.
If the diet you are following does not meet your caloric requirements for each day, then you will lose weight. Your body will “burn” or use fat stores in your body to make up for the missing calories in your diet.
This is all well and good if you want to lose weight, but it is really not what you want if you are at a healthy weight. Losing weight is essentially controlled starvation (I say that for impact as it is technically true, but real self starvation such as bulimia and anorexia are very serious conditions that should be spoken about with a doctor.), so best to keep the calories up if you are losing weight when you don’t want to.
The second basic requirement is that a diet needs is to satisfy your daily nutritional requirements. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, proteins, fiber, and all that jazz are really important for your body to function properly!
With the advent of processed foods, fast foods, and just how many people live their lives nowadays, vitamin and mineral deficiencies aren’t so uncommon. I know many people personally who have Vitamin D deficiency especially.
My guess is this comes about by the amount people spend indoors nowadays. Limited sunlight, and an incomplete diet make for the perfect recipe to have nutritional deficiencies such as this.
Other people, especially people still in school, have the huge problem of eating mostly just carbohydrates, or nothing at all! I know a handful of people who basically don’t eat all day until they get home, and I went to an incredibly small school!
I can only imagine how much of a problem this is in larger schools. Especially with how much I’ve heard people speak about how they skip breakfast etc… because school starts so early.
When I went to public school back in middle school, I know those school lunches didn’t provide a balanced meal. Half the kids just bought pizza every day, and most of the vegetables were thrown in the garbage.
I don’t really blame them! As a kid, who would want to eat some nasty, mushy, steamed broccoli when you could have a thick fresh slice of pizza! They made kids “required” to take a vegetable and a milk with their lunch, but they couldn’t force them to eat the vegetables.
So, those vegetables went from the farm, to the store, to the school, to the kid, then to the landfill! And the circle of waste continues. I digress though.
My point is, people aren’t eating balanced diets. Fiber is something that is especially missing in western people’s diets. High carb, low fiber diets are terrible for people’s guts.
It is not surprising why gastrointestinal problems are common. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nearly two thirds of a 71,000 person sample group suffered from some sort of Gastrointestinal symptom in just the week prior to taking the survey.
These were things like heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and other common digestive issues. Many of these are most likely caused by diet related problems. Low fiber diets especially for constipation.
The third basic requirement that a diet needs is to be able to be followed! A diet will only affect you if it causes a long term change. Therefore, if a diet is not a diet people can follow, then it is not a good diet.
Back to our question of “fad” diets. Some of the biggest fad diets are the “Raw” diet, the “Paleo” diet, and the “Keto” diet. All of them seek to either help you lose weight, or live a healthier lifestyle.
However, how does each one do this? And is that goal supported by science, or is it just something made up to sound like it should be healthier?
First of all, is the raw diet. To follow this diet is simple! Just don’t eat anything that is cooked or processed. The idea goes that it is more natural for people to eat a diet of raw foods, like our hunter gatherer ancestors did? We obviously evolved to eat raw foods right?
Wrong. Cooking was perhaps a monumentally essential step in human evolution and development. Humans, unlike cows, goats, bison, and other ruminants, don’t have all the biological hardware needed to break down complex sugars in plants etc.
We don’t have the 4 stomachs needed to live off of grass, and we certainly don’t want to spend literally all day chewing. Well, then throwing up and rechewing what we chewed before…
Instead, cooking is something that has been done by humans since before we were even Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Widespread use of cooking our food is thought to be as old as 300,000-500,000 years ago.
This is because cooking allows us to get more nutrition out of our food. Cooking things breaks them down with heat. Essentially, we can do what other animals take 4 stomachs to do with a pot and a flame.
The raw food diets claim that raw food is healthier or more nutritious than a cooked food diet is false. Yes, cooking can decrease some nutrients in your food, but it is by a small amount. It also increases the amount of accessible other nutrients, so the trade off is incredibly worthwhile.
Cooking also has the benefit of killing off dangerous pathogens and chemical compounds found in some foods, which can lead to sickness or even death. E. Coli kills about 100 people annually in the US.
With the recent outbreak of E. Coli a couple years back being thought to have been linked to tainted leafy greens, not cooking your food could still be unsafe even if you don’t eat raw meats.
The paleo diet follows similar lines to the raw diet. It limits someone to eating only things that could have been collected by hunter gatherers. This excludes grains, beans, legumes, and dairy products.
The paleo diet doesn’t really have anything wrong with it. Clinical trials have shown that it even has some nice health benefits when compared to other diets. However, it does beg the question of if the diet itself is what causes this.
I think the main benefit of the paleo diet is simply the fact that it limits processed foods and simple carbohydrates. It promotes a more balanced diet, and the lack of grains means you may have to eat more nutritious foods instead of simple carbs such as bread and pasta.
However, I doubt most people could really follow this diet. This is for the exact same reason why I think most people cannot follow the Keto diet. I will explain this reason after I talk about Keto.
Keto is a high fat but low protein and carbohydrate diet. It is named because it’s purpose is to cause your body to go into something called Ketosis, where it generates Ketones for energy.
The main health benefit to the average healthy person by following a keto diet, is once again just a limit of processed simple sugars! There are other health benefits to a keto diet, but they don’t apply to everyone.
Keto diets have been shown to reduce seizures, or even stop them completely, in people with epilepsy. So, if you or someone you know has epilepsy, then by all means keto could be a great diet for you!
I think both the keto and paleo diets have the same major issue that make them an inherently flawed diet. This is that most people will never be able to follow them for a long period of time!
How many of you can honestly say you are okay giving up bread, pizza, pasta, cake, cookies, donuts, and all your other favorite carbohydrates for the rest of your lives? Not many of you I suspect.
This is not anything to be ashamed of, it is not your fault. It is the fault of the people who came up with these diets. They forget that the most important thing about a diet is that people have to be able to follow it.
If someone just follows a diet for a week, two weeks, or a month, but then stops, there is no point to that diet. The best diet is a healthy one you could follow for the rest of your life.
So, if you cannot give up your carbohydrates, then just limit them! Don’t have quite so much quite so often. Eat more healthy foods, and find ways to enjoy them!
Vegetables are like meat. I like steak, but wouldn’t want a microwaved one. Find a way of cooking that makes you like healthy foods. Then, maybe you just won’t want quite so many carbs.