So today we have somewhat of a special article for you guys. When it comes to dieting and weight loss, there sure is no shortage of programs, courses, meal plans and other fad diets.
Today we’re going to explore 7 of the most famous and notorious weight loss solutions, dissect them and inform you if they work or if it’s just a fad.
Let’s get started.
THE ATKINS DIET: BASICALLY “LOW CARB”
THE ATKINS DIET: WHAT IS IT?
Ah, a fan-favourite of many who have lost considerable amounts of weight. Although the Atkins diet is separated into four phases, the basic gist is to eat more protein and fats than carbs.
You’re going to be limiting the amount of carbs you eat therefore indirectly inducing a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit denotes your body’s state of being energy-depleted. You’re consuming less calories than your body burns basically.
ATKINS: PROBLEM #1
As you might know, a caloric deficit over a certain period of time is the only way to lose weight and Atkins achieves this by limiting carbohydrate intakes.
While this may be a great quick strategy to get the weight off, it may not be the most sustainable for some people (like myself).
Let me explain.
Carbohydrates are what fuels the body for daily life, working out, exercise and more, and carbs also tend to make our meals taste amazing.
Cutting out carbs therefore is a double-edged sword: Your food tastes more bland and you’re left feeling weak, tired, depleted and miserable.
ATKINS: PROBLEM #2
Relying upon avoiding any one specific food group in an effort to lose weight is something that I never, ever teach anyone whether in real life or through this website.
The reason for this is simple. It’s a great idea to measure your food before you eat it so you know how much you’re eating.
We know that limiting your calories leads to fat loss, and simply “cutting carbs” is an extremely inaccurate way of measuring calories. I’m going to assume that you’d want your new-found weight loss to last you a lifetime.
Only by measuring out your food and learning how many calories are in them will you learn the life-long skill of weight control.
THE ATKINS DIET: FINAL THOUGHTS
For some people, cutting carbs is going to lead to weight loss. I personally know some people who have found success. The problem is that the weight mostly came back again but that could be related to something else.
I personally don’t endorse Atkins because it’s really just not accurate enough to lead to anything other than a quick-fix success.
RELATED POST: Is a Low-Carb Diet Good for Weight Loss?
KETOGENIC DIET: THE ULTIMATE NEW-AGE FAD
KETOGENIC DIET: WHAT IS IT?
“Ketogenic” essentially means that you are forcing your body into ketosis. Without getting too science-y, Ketosis is essentially a state in which your body draws its energy stores from ketone bodies in your bloodstream.
This is directly the opposite of what normally happens. Usually your energy supplies come from blood glucose which is known as glycolysis.
The way you force your body into ketosis is by severely limiting the amoun of carbohydrates you’re eating. This is very closely related to low-carb dieting and Atkins, but it’s not quite the same thing.
One of the primary differentiating factors between keto and low-carb is the inclusion of high-fat in the keto diet.
Now that we have the complicated jargon out of the way, let’s explore the benefits, drawbacks and the conclusion on whether you should do it.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE KETO DIET
Like I’ve already mentioned while discussing the Atkins diet, having a lower than ideal amount of carbs everyday can leave you miserable.
If you work out, your workouts will suffer, no doubt about it, and you’ll find it difficult to sleep, focus on tasks and stay motivated throughout the day.
I also really don’t think a high-fat approach is a great one because of the fullness factor of the foods you eat. Staying fuller for longer massively helps you to lose weight.
Fat can be found in fast food, processed foods and a bunch of other foods, and it’s really nutritionally dense with little-to-zero fullness factor.
Foods such as fresh potatoes, fruits, vegetables, meats, and things like that have a much higher fullness factor meaning you will stay fuller for longer.
THE KETO DIET: FINAL THOUGHTS
Keto is a great way to lose weight if you know what to expect going in. However, it’s never a method I would ever personally recommend.
If you want to lose weight in the most enjoyable way possible and without torturing yourself, there are plenty of other methods that do not “limit” your food choices.
THE PALEO DIET: A VERY TRADITIONAL WAY OUR ANCESTORS ATE
WHAT’S THE PALEO DIET?
I am definitely no history buff, but I do know one thing. The industrial revolution that happened between the 18th and 20th centuries marked a massive shift in people’s overall health.
We were suddenly able to eat foods made from different types of food through some form of a process. Thee addition of sugar and fats became more ubiquitous as well making our foods more nutritionally dense.
People were becoming more unhealthy and the incidence of type 2 diabetes slowly began increasing as well.
However, it wasn’t always like that.
Enter the paleo diet or “paleolithic” referring to the paleolithic era of our peoples. As a direct contrast to relying on processed foods, the paleo diet is based on eating only those foods that would have been available to our ancestors during the paleolithic era.
Of course, this leaves many details highly ambiguous, but there are countless articles written covering what foods are and are not allowed on the paleo diet.
EXAMPLES OF FOODS ALLOWED ON THE PAELO DIET
- Nuts & Seeds
- Different oils
THE PALEO DIET: FINAL THOUGHTS
Out of all the diets we’ve talked about so far, paleo is one of my favourites. Although pretty strict, it does focus on choosing really nutritionally dense foods. You really can’t beat a raw food diet from a health perspective.
However, here comes the caveat: Being dogmatic about your fitness and weight loss journey will only serve to sabotage you in the long run and I am going to explain exactly why.
Here at physiqueauthority.com, I focus on making our weight loss journey sustainable. For me, this means including the foods you love instead of excluding them.
Weight loss and healthful eating isn’t just all about choosing the “cleanest” foods, it’s also a psychological thing as well. Don’t you want to enjoy the foods you’re eating as well and not constantly be bored?
RELATED POST: What’s a Clean Eating Diet Plan?
WEIGHT WATCHERS: A SCAM OR LEGIT?
WHAT IS WEIGHT WATCHERS?
On the surface, Weight Watchers seems to be the most sane of all “weight loss systems”. This is largely because Weight Watchers’ actually focuses on creating a caloric deficit.
As a paying member, you can either subscribe to the in-person meetings or do the online programs. You’ll be following the Weight Watchers’ framework for creating your diet plan and the good news is that you’re including the foods you love as well!
WEIGHT WATCHERS: DRAWBACKS & FINAL THOUGHTS
Unlike paleo and keto, and similarly to Atkins, Weight Watchers is not free. It requires you to pay a membership fee.
As with many other “fad” things, Weight Watchers definitely preys upon the ignorant. The more unsuspecting you are, the more likely they are to convince you to give them your money.
Good news: If you simply head over to our Weight Loss section we offer you all the info you could ever desire to lose as much weight as you desire – all for free.
WHAT IS THE “JENNY CRAIG” DIET?
Similarly to Weight Watchers, but very much different than keto, Jenny Craig has you restricting your calories, fats and portions.
I like the sounds of all of these except for two things: low fat is dangerous and portion-control is known to be extremely unreliable in terms of calorie tracking.
Measuring out your portions and weighing them is the most accurate method of tracking food intake.
The good news is that no foods are really “outlawed” so to speak so you’re free to eat what you please, with the stipulation of it being “low fat”.
LOW FAT: IT’S VERY PROBLEMATIC AND DANGEROUS
Dietary fat intake is responsible for maintaining proper reproductive functioning in women and testosterone production in men. Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone and impeding its production negatively impacts all aspects of life.
The second reason it’s problematic is the enjoyment of your meals. Fat is largely responsible for making your meals more enjoyable by adding flavour. Limiting fat will make you less likely to stick to your weight loss efforts if your foods don’t taste very good.
I like to enjoy really delicious, fatty and outrageous meals and still shred off the fat… don’t you too?
BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING OR ‘IF’
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
So, I have to be honest. Intermittent fasting is not a secret fat-loss weapon that instantly freezes and smashes the fat off your body.
But what if I told you that all the bullstuff you have to do in all the above diets is not something you’ll ever have to do with ‘IF’?
Yes, that’s right. No more low-carb, low-fat, portion control rubbish and nonsense with IF.
How intermittent fasting works is you basically cycle between periods of feasting and fasting – otherwise referred to as ‘eating’ and ‘not eating’.
You’ll go a portion of the day after awakening without food, and you’ll have your first meal later on into the day.
BENEFITS OF FASTING
Fasting is one of the best ways to limit the amount of food you eat because you’re eating during a smaller window in the day.
You can enjoy larger, much more satisfying meals all while still drinking alcohol, going to family gatherings with friends and family and living your life normally.
Not only that, you won’t have to cut out any foods such as carbs, fats, sugars, or anything else you love. Just keep in mind that it’s not a magic pill, and some form of calorie tracking still has to happen.
For the most part, however, I think you’ll have a much better time with IF over the other options.
INTERMITTENT FASTING DRAWBACKS
In some people, fasting can sometimes lead to somewhat of an eating disorder. I really feel as though if you’re too rigid with anything, it can lead to obsession.
Certain fasting protocols have you fasting during set periods. For example, one protocol is 16:8 which means you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. Eating outside of this time is not in line with the protocol.
This approach is somewhat restrictive and doesn’t allow for unforeseen events to pop up and things like that where you might be eating later than your “set” time(s).
Examples would be:
- Family events
- Unforeseen meetups with friends
- Any other type of event where food and alcohol might be consumed
I’ve seen this induce anxiety and disorder-type behaviour in some people so it’s worth really not attaching yourself too much to your ‘fasting protocol’. Use fasting as a great tool for fat loss, but don’t let it dictate your life!
INTERMITTENT FASTING: FINAL THOUGHTS
Use fasting as an amazing fat-loss method while eating foods you love and still enjoying your life to the fullest as you normally would.
Simply push your first meal until later so you save some calories, and then enjoy a couple of amazing meals that are delicious and satisfying later into the day.
However, avoid becoming obsessed and rigid when it comes to your feasting windows and calorie consumption
IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS: IIFYM
IIFYM: WHAT IS IT?
IIFYM stands for if it fits your macros. Macros are basically the three types of food we eat: proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
When you eat throughout the day, you’re always eating some sort of a macro-nutrient combination. At the end of the day, these macros are what are responsible for comprising your calorie count.
As a matter of fact, each macro has the following properties:
Fat: 9 calories per gram
Carbohydrates & Protein: 4 calories per gram
So, with IIFYM, they say that as long as you’re eating the right amount of macros (and calories) throughout the day, you can eat whatever you want.
This is a golden strategy to use, albeit with some caveats – but combining this with IF (or, intermittent fasting) is a sure-fire method for repeatable and enjoyable fat loss.
IIFYM: THE CAVEAT
If we’re specifically just talking about macronutrients (fat, carbs and protein and calories, then IIFYM does a great job of making us lose weight.
But there’s more to nutrition than just those three food groups. There are what’s called micronutrients which are made of of all essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
IIFYM doesn’t account for that, so it’s up to the user to always include mostly nutritionally dense foods high in vitamins and minerals to avoid disease and malnutrition.
My point: You could lose weight by eating nothing but Twinkies, but you’d be extremely malnourished and at the brink of death after a few months of that!
FINAL THOUGHTS: WHAT’S THE BEST OPTION FOR YOU?
Honestly, I could sit here and preach about the benefits of IIFYM and fasting all day, but when it really boils down to it, you have to be happy with the method you use.
As long as you are enjoying your weight loss journey, that’s all that matters to me. I can only share my experiences and let you know what I love to do, but that doesn’t mean you have to as well.
Choose the diet strategy you are most likely to stick to because adherence is the #1 key to success in your weight loss journey.
For women, check out Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact for Women if you want to learn about an awesome system that uses IIFYM and intermittent fasting along with exercise to craft the perfect body.
For men, check out ThinkEatLift’s ShredSmart program (the one I am currently doing). It’ll teach you how to use IIFYM and intermittent fasting to make dieting and nutrition effortless. You’ll also build a pretty solid body in the process!