It’s midafternoon and I’ve landed at my favorite coffee cave to write. I know it’s crazy but sometimes I’m more focused and less distracted writing in the mix of elevator music, the chatter of the baristas ( even when they go on break and sit and talk with me for awhile) and the low rumble of customers conversations.
Today, yesterday too, my goodness there were a few that felt like they had to talk over everything going on in the café.
Like… didn’t your mommy teach you about inside voices??
OK on to todays topic!
If you’ve followed me for awhile then you know I’m kind of “anti” diet person.
As in a structured plan for “x” weeks where you eat foods someone else has generated for you to eat, in the quantities they think you should eat, based on a caloric intake that has nothing to do with your person/life/fitness level.
No. Just no.
I think it’s ’cause I’m a free spirit and just want to do my own thing… and it’s worked… and if you missed me blabbing about that in my blog the other day … you can check it out… “The Dangerous Game Of Off Limits Foods”….
BUT… I fully realize some people do need that structure and it’s the vehicle that gets them to success….
So I thought I’d discuss one diet that flies under the radar and is balanced, sane, normal and has years of support from the medical community.
The other side of the coin is one that’s on the “popular train” right now and it’s like a newer, more hyper, version of Atkins. It shows up a lot on my social media sites and if I see it, I’m sure you do too.
Ok the first one….
The Dash Diet
DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) was designed to target those with high blood pressure (hypertension) but anyone can benefit from this plan.
It’s a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats and whole grains. It’s similar in many ways to the Mediterranean diet, but it focuses particularly on whole foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium — minerals crucial to regulating blood pressure. The heart-healthy diet also includes loads of fiber and steers clear of sugar, processed foods, and saturated fat, supporting weight loss, which, in turn, can lower blood pressure and heart disease risk.
What do you eat? the diet has a strong focus on :
Whole foods. Processed foods account for most of the sodium Americans consume, which can elevate blood pressure. DASH’s focus on whole foods over processed can help reduce sodium intake. Making an effort to scale back your salt intake further can boost the diet’s effects on blood pressure.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium and magnesium, and low in sodium and fat. They also contain lots of fiber.
Whole grains — like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal — are also packed with potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, like skim milk, feta cheese and low-fat yogurt, are important sources of calcium, and their low fat content supports weight loss and heart health.
Lean meat, poultry, and fish contain magnesium and protein, but not the high levels of saturated fat found in fattier cuts of red meat, which can raise blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes contain protein, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of monounsaturated fats, which can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, and boost HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados, are important sources of energy and nutrients, but don’t increase cholesterol or pack on the pounds.
Keep sweets to a minimum. Sugar-sweetened foods and beverages can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight.
The same for alcohol and caffeine, which can raise blood pressure.
Of course it also focuses not just on food, but on maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.
What are health benefits?
Keep blood pressure in check, improve heart health, prevent type 2 diabetes, shed pounds, strengthen bones, keeps your memory sharp, and curbs cancer risk.
The Dash diet is easy to follow as it doesn’t eliminate certain food groups. It includes all food groups with the foods being practical,affordable and easy to find at your local grocery store.
The main goal of this diet is to improve overall health. With a consistent lifestyle change and adhering to it, weight loss will come. The Dash diet is practical and offers all food groups with a focus on reducing sodium/salt intake to lower blood pressure and other potential health problems.
Overall, this is a good program anyone could benefit from. It is not restrictive which will lead to a higher level of long term success.
On the flip side of diets….
The newest hype on the diet market is the Ketogenic (keto) Diet. I have to say, researching it I found a couple things swirling through my head…
1… it sounds just like the Atkins thing my Mom did in the 70’s. In fact Keto is like Atkins, it’s a high protein, low carb diet. ( and you don’t get birthday cake on either one)
2…. it sounded very much like my (brief) stint with the Whole 30/Paleo thing I experimented with in a fitness challenge a few years ago. The foods you eat, the food groups excluded, the high protein/fat only Paleo doesn’t focus on being in ketosis.
Ahhh there’s a word you may be unfamiliar with.
What does ketosis mean anyway?
I’m going to keep it super simple here.
Normally your body burns carbohydrates for fuel. When you drastically cut carbs your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis and it begins to burn it’s own fat for fuel. Basically, you burn out your glycogen stores ( as an athlete just typing that makes me nervous) When your fat stores become your primary fuel source you may lose weight. You maintain a level of ketosis by keeping your carb level at next to nothing which keeps your body burning fat for energy.
Interestingly enough, the keto diet has been used since the early 1900’s to treat uncontrolled epilepsy in children.
Supporters of this diet also say it also controls blood sugar, helps with mental clarity, increases energy and normalizes hunger.
In my research it seems there are two camps… those who think it’s the cat’s meow of he perfect diet and those who are conservative about it’s success rate and overall long term affects on the body.
Of course I have my own thoughts. I’m just not sure it’s long term sustainable.
The diet is ridiculously high in fats. Perhaps this is where I get hung up, I just don’t see consuming vast amounts of butter, meat, bacon, cheese etc in my best health interest. The desired ratio of fat consumption is 3-4 grams of fat to every 1 gram of carb and protein which amounts to getting about 75-80% of your daily calories from fat.
The diet is all about the fat to carbs/ protein ratio, so even though you aren’t technically counting calories meals have to be planned carefully to adhere to the strict formula.
I found these words about the diet…. ” Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat.” Let that be your guide on if this could be a good choice for you.
What foods do you avoid?
Carbs. And that means no birthday cake for you… or ice cream.
Seriously though, carbs are in almost everything and you must account for them in your daily diet to stay in ketosis. Even good veggies have small amounts of carbs and therefore have to be counted. When you are working with…. 20-30grams……. or less a day you don’t get much wiggle room. The bread/grains//beans etc food group is completely eliminated with other food groups being kind of scarce in what you’re allowed to have (like fruit)
Can you lose weight on this diet?
You can because your body is burning fat for fuel. The other thing to consider is you are not eating any of your favorite foods like crusty breads, pastries, chips, cookies, crackers, cereals, potatoes or sugars so that will definitely knock weight off.
Ok.. the food groups. The nuts and seeds category could be overrated. It sounds good, like there’s so much to eat, but after awhile you want something more than nuts or avocado. And honestly, so many of the “foods” listed just aren’t where I’m at or they aren’t easy to get, or they are costly.
( Seriously, I love nuts and avocados and they are in my daily diet but I’m not dependent on them to not starve)
Of course I see more “eat all the bacon, fat, cheese, butter” posts and articles than I see on eating a plethora of veggies and fruits. Mainly because you can’t have many of them or you have to be restrictive of them too if you are truly going to keep yourself in a state of ketosis.
The diet is low in fiber so that could cause digestive problems for people. You may not get certain vitamins and minerals from this diet so you may need to supplement or take vitamins.
There are also a host of issues that can come along with this diet but if I’m to believe my research, those things can possibly go away once your body adjusts to not having carbs.
Weight loss can be seen as maybe, impressive? in the first week or two someone is on the diet but you must remember this.
Carbs hold water. A huge reduction of them will cause a lot of water loss in the first few weeks. This can’t be counted as fat loss but it could be the kick start someone needs to get going on their weight loss.
This diet can be helpful for those who are over weight or obese and needing to lose a good amount of weight . It’s not recommended for heart patients or people with kidney disease.
On an athletic level, I’m not sure it would deliver what I would need to perform well, or that it would for any athlete.
it can be costly since high quality meats, cheeses, proteins are encouraged. Some foods on the accepted list might not be easy to find and others might not be on your personal palate.
This isn’t recommended long term, but it seems most people don’t last that long on it. I mean after awhile you just want some crusty bread for your pricey grass fed butter!
Hear me on this. It’s not a bad thing for any of us to reduce (simple) carbs in our daily diets which are found in foods like cookies, crackers, chips, baked goods, fast foods, sugar drinks etc. and increase healthier snacks like whole raw nuts, fruits/veggies, low fat dairy and other heart healthy foods. Simple steps like this might be all someone needs to have some changes on the scale and we’d all be healthier adopting this attitude towards food.
From a purely personal perspective, I don’t see it sustainable for anyone long term. I don’t think if offers enough nutritional value by cutting so many of the good fruits and veggies we need for health as well as a minimal focus on other food groups, and I don’t think a high fat diet is in anyone’s best interest and you’d have to sell me really hard on that idea. Really hard.
It can lead to weight loss but overall it’s a restrictive program that many will quickly end the relationship with… because…well….. birthday cake 😉
Tell me… have you tried either of these diets? Or was there a diet that helped you get started on your weight loss efforts that worked for you?