Intermittent fasting. The "Keto" Diet, If It Fits Your Macros....
You may have heard of one or even all of these trendy "diets." Maybe you even know someone who swears they followed one of these and had great results.
Do they work? Are they right for you?
The answer is not a simple yes or no. These diets all have good and bad qualities so I want to break them down, explain what they are and why they may or may not be effective.
What it is: Going for a pre-determined, extended period of time without eating as often as daily, as infrequently as once or twice a year, or even weekly or monthly. "IF" usually involves a fast of 12-24 hours. During this time only water is to be consumed.
Why it is good: There is some evidence intermittent fasting can boost metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, which means you store less body fat. It can also reduce overall calorie intake which can produce weight loss.
Why it might be bad: IF has been shown to be less effective for women, because a woman's body responds less favorably to a fast than a man's. It can raise the body's stress response and elevate cortisol. If you're someone who gets jittery or "hangry" (LIKE ME) when you go too long without eating, IF is probably not a good choice for you. It could also lead to over-eating because you might be starving when you complete your fast and eat more than you otherwise would have.
Does it work? Yes and No. There are definitely people who have had great results with intermittent fasting. For some people they have more energy and like that they don't have to think about food or eating as much. For others, IF is going to add stress, make you cranky and be difficult to stick to, which means it isn't going to be effective.
The Keto Diet
What it is: This diet is intended to produce Ketogenesis which means the body is burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate. In order to produce this result, participants eat very low carb, moderate to low protein and high dietary fat. A typical macro breakdown would be about 10% of calories from carbs, about 20% from protein and 70% from fats.
Why it is good: Some research has shown eating a Ketogenic diet is very effective for treating disease states such as cancer. It has also been used with favorable results to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.
Why it is bad: Eating 10% or fewer calories from carbohydrates leaves very little room for even healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables. These are healthy, nutrient-dense foods which belong in a balanced diet. Also because it is so low carb some people will feel lethargic and might suffer brain fog and fatigue. It can make social events extremely difficult. Also, because fats are much more calorie dense than carbs and protein it could lead to eating more calories and contribute to weight gain.
Does it work? In the short term yes, any diet this low in carbs will produce water (and some fat) loss pretty much immediately. The trouble is this way of eating is going to be difficult to sustain for some people. It can make eating away from home tough, and it can also lead to low energy and negative side effects from the lack of carbs. No diet will work if you can't stick to it long-term and that can be problem with Keto.
If It Fits Your Macros
What it is: If It Fits Your Macros or "IIFYM" is a way of eating that treats your calorie intake like a bank account. You have a certain number of calories and macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) to eat each day and you can eat what you like so long as you remain within these calorie and macro goals.
Why it is good: Flexibility and being able to eat what you like has been shown to be a major factor in sticking with any type of diet or way of eating. IIFYM let's you choose what you want to eat and make things "fit." It also allows you to eat out at restaurants, enjoy desserts and eat different foods daily without sacrificing your weight loss goals or feeling like you've gone "off track." This makes it a lot easier to stick with for a long period of time.
Why it is bad: For some, having the flexibility of choosing their own foods is too overwhelming and they prefer more guidance and structure. Also weighing, measuring and tracking food can be tedious, time-consuming and stressful and IIFYM requires you to keep track of nearly everything you eat.
Does it work? Yes IIFYM works. I've used it for both myself and clients and seen great results. Having the flexibility to not only eat what you like but also still have a social life while trying to lose weight makes it a lot easier to stick to long term and that's what ultimately is going to determine whether any style of eating produces results.
Anything can work for anyone, but not everything will work for everyone.
The only diet that really works is one that can be followed as a lifestyle and one that you can stick to consistently long term. So before you go thinking the newest diet that's "all the rage" is a magic pill for weight loss determine if it is something you can see yourself doing forever. If it isn't, it is not going to work.
Hopefully that cleared up any confusion. Best of luck!
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