The diet world is on fire!
I set out to try some of the most popular, most challenging, and downright wild diet trends of 2019. In. One. Week.
Why did I do this?
I wanted to:
- Assess the physical and mental effects of the top trending diets.
- Assess the long term sustainability for an "average" person.
Day 1 : Whole30
If you're not familiar with the Whole30 diet, it's a 30 day "reset" that eliminates all dairy, soy, sugar, sweeteners, grains, legumes and certain additives. They have a sheet of rules and common additives in case you need some help.
My experience: To be completely honest, I have gone through a Whole30 before. I think when used properly, this diet can be ok. Depending on the person, this may have different mental effects. I found it somewhat refreshing to challenge myself to give up the diet sodas and energy drinks for a while. While the concept is nice and can be useful if you have food intolerances, the strict set of rules and regulations can make this diet feel a bit like punishment. I think having an appropriate mindset is the key and I think it's often touted as a weight loss plan when it serves better as an elimination diet.
Physically I was simply more tired because I consumed less caffeine (black coffee is just not that appealing lol). My overall energy, however, was pretty good. I had no abnormal bloating and my bowel movements remained normal. The other test subject reported a stable mood, normal bodily functions and feeling sluggish the next morning (likely due to decrease in caffeine).
Okay, that wasn't so bad. We got this.
Day Two: Keto
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb diet with the concept of burning fat as fuel when you enter the state of ketosis. While I didn't have a blood glucose monitor or ketone strip, I followed the general rule of thumb to keep net carbs below 25g. We definitely did a bit of "dirty" keto consuming some "keto" bars, sugar free chocolate and zero calorie energy drinks - all which made the experience a little bit more fun. However, I did find that I was thinking about what foods I could eat, what the carbs were in one strawberry, etc. Subjects reported it was easier than expected but not sustainable as a lifestyle. Bodily functions and energy levels were reported as normal.
Day Three: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a diet method of eating in a time restricted window. It is typically 16 hours fasting with an 8 hour eating window or up to 14 hours fasting with a 10 hour eating window (more often for women). We opted for the shorter fasting window (obviously lol!).
Physically, I didn't find it that hard. Hunger subsided for me rather quickly but mentally, I was consumed with thoughts of food. The other subject reported hunger and that once the fasting was over, they overconsumed on carb-heavy foods.
I think it would definitely get easier the more you do it, but I don't see why you would. A good breakfast is something I look forward to start my day. I kept my caloric intake the same because I don't want to lose weight. The idea (for using this as a weight loss method) is that you consume less food, however, the hunger and subsequent overfeeding seems to negate that effect for an average person. I have limited knowledge of the longevity, cell autophagy, etc. effects of fasting and the windows that would be necessary to reap these benefits but I'm quite certain the masses that are adopting this trend are doing it primarily for the "weight loss".
One perk of this day was that we got to eat whatever we wanted during the eating window.
Day Four: Vegan
Veganism is on the rise. It is a diet comprised of plant based foods only (no meat, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.). Not only do vegans claim this diet is healthier, but also morally superior and better for the environment. (Let's not get into that!) Both test subjects have no intolerances to animal products. Subjects reported bloating and less satisfaction. Carbohydrate consumption increased and protein decreased despite the use of supplements. Energy and mood levels were stable. Some meals did not seem satisfying.
I found that there is a lot to take into consideration - even some beverages are not vegan! If veganism is being adopted for someone's personal viewpoint or taste, I completely respect that, but I don't think it should be sold as another diet or tool for weight loss. Oreos are vegan! Lol!
Day Five: Carnivore
The Carnivore diet is a very restrictive diet that includes only foods from animals: meat, fish, eggs, and certain dairy products. We included cheese and also (maybe cheated) zero calorie flavored beverages. It is purported to potentially reduce symptoms of autoimmune disease, have anti-inflammatory effects and obviously, aid in weight loss.
I started strong with eggs and bacon - can't go wrong there. I also consumed beef, lamb, chicken, bone broth and a small portion of cheese. Subjects reported no bloating and normal energy. However, the diet was very hard to follow with such heavy restrictions. It also caused a decrease in appetite which was not desirable for us. This diet is definitely unsustainable simply from a mental perspective. I think personally, I would consistently be underfed and preoccupied with thoughts of food.
So there it was. Five days, five diets. (And guess what, I caught a cold by the end of it!)
None of the diets appear to be sustainable for long term or effective as a long term weight loss method.
Whole30 is marketed as a 30 day program and is acceptable as such, however, should not be primarily for weight loss.
The Ketogenic diet is a therapeutic diet for people with certain medical conditions and is not a magic weight loss diet. It creates a food focus and tendency towards processed foods.
Intermittent Fasting is effective as a weight loss tool due to a decrease in calories, however, the mental effects may negate the benefits. The effectiveness would vary person to person.
Veganism is not a weight loss diet and should not be approached as one. It is a choice for those with certain intolerances or personal viewpoint.
The Carnivore diet is the ultimate elimination diet, possibly could be beneficial to those with severe autoimmune issues or intolerances, for a temporary time period to ascertain the underlying issues.
If you personally benefit or enjoy a certain way of eating, go for it! However, I think it's important to remember that what works for someone may not work for you. Also, if something feels like punishment, it won't be sustainable as a lifestyle and there will most likely be a repercussion. That's why so many people "can't keep the weight off" after a "successful diet".
My personal recommendation would be to focus on fueling your body with good foods that make you feel good inside and out!
Which diet do you think would be hardest? Do you follow a diet for weight loss or other reasons?
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice. Do not attempt any diet without consulting your medical professional. These were the results of our personal experiences. Thoughts and opinions are my own.