Over the past many years, I have tried a number of diets and lifestyle changes to help kickstart betterment with my health. I am going to review them with you here. These are simply my experiences with these methods and only reflect how I was able to work with them and how they worked for me.
I will be dividing this into two posts. The first will be what I call “crash course” diets. Some may call these fads, I found them to be intense intake strategies that required incredible effort and discipline. For me these were not sustainable long term. The second post will be on those that I consider more ‘lifestyle”. Ones that, for me, I could actually do long term.
I cannot emphasize for you enough that this does not reflect how your efforts will be. This is simply my journey and I am trying to provide personal experience that can be a building block in your information gathering towards what works for you. What is unsustainable for me, may be sustainable for you. What I find to work or not work may be the opposite for you.
- The Whole 30
The whole 30 is a diet plan that relies on the elimination of food types. In a nutshell, you exclude all soy, dairy, grains, legumes, and added sugars for 30 straight days. No exceptions. The authors specifically say that if you mess up a day, you should start over. The idea is that once you finish this plan, you can add certain types of food back in to find the true balance that is right for you.
It is undeniable that the elimination of foods can have an impact on weight change and it did for me. I often have less self-control with added sugars and carbs. My wife and I did this together and stuck through the 30 days. I was very proud of completing it (though I kicked and screamed the whole way) and I had great immediate results.
I did not use a scale during this time, but I would guess I dropped 15-20 pounds in the 30 days. That was exciting but I also noticed that I just felt better. The lack of added sugars did very real and good things for me. I found myself to be more alert and generally felt ‘cleaner’, if that makes any sense.
I still missed a lot of foods during this period and the cravings did not go away. I love dairy products and I love carbs. A favorite meal of mine could be a really good cheese paired with an artisan bread. Ultimately I could not sustain such an elimination diet, and while we tried to slowly re-introduce foods, the rebound was real and I gained all the weight back, probably in 3-6 months.
The suggested meals also heavily relied on sweet potatoes. I loved sweet potatoes, but now I can barely eat them, 2 years later
For me this was an effective crash course. It aided in weight loss and it did show me the real effect added sugars have on me. I still do not consume as much sugar as I used to, but ultimately the elimination of grains, legumes, and dairy is not a sustainable decision for me and the life I want to live. Some people may be able to reintroduce certain foods and make it work, but I am not one of them
The reason I said 3.5 in the title Is because I never really gave keto much of a chance. It only lasted a few days so it is only “.5”.
With that said, the Keto diet focusses on getting your body into a metabolic state of ketosis. This diet is a very low-carb and high fat diet which moves your body away from burning carbs and into burning fat. Studies have shown this diet to be very effective at burning fat but relies upon heavy discipline and denying your body those carbs so it doesn’t exit ketosis.
I cannot give this a justifiable analysis and will explain why I included this in my post, but also why I did not follow through.
Ultimately, we need to choose a plan for betterment that works for us. We need a plan that pushes us to be healthier and better, but is realistic enough that we can actually do it. We so often shame ourselves into thinking “it doesn’t matter if this is too hard, I need to suck it up and do it.” How many times do we succeed with that mindset? Finding a lifestyle that is compatible with our life will lead to success.
Keto instantly did not feel right for me. The high fat content and common recommended meals (see bullet proof coffee with bacon as breakfast) felt heavy and awkward. And again, many foods that I love were omitted. I have friends that have had tremendous success with keto and follow some Instagram folks who also have. Despite all of that, I knew from the start that it would not work for me and so I chose not to force it.
One thing I have learned with these elimination diets is that if we are not careful when moving out of them, it can be more destructive than the gains we made while on them. What does that mean? I will use my whole 30 experience as an example. When reading the book, they talk that you can eat virtually as much as you want of many fruits and veggies because the overall effect of the diet is greater than the calories that would be consumed. They also suggested certain nuts for snacks and those become my go-to. When moving out of the diet, I was no longer strictly on it so I was eating more, but still snacking at the whole 30 mindset. Because of this, my caloric intake skyrocketed and I no longer had the benefits of elimination to outweigh these intakes. We need to be super careful that the things we carry over still fit into the broader health goal that we adopt after these diet plans. I realized that I could not snack on as many things as I did and that being half in and half out would not work.
Thank you for reading this. Please like, share, and follow my blog! Stay tuned for the second part of this blog where I talk about my experience with more ‘lifestyle’ approaches to health and weight management.