The 411 on Health Trends: Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and more

In recent years, a number of health trends and lifestyles have emerged with promises of improved mental and physical wellbeing. Scientific research has proven many of these programs to be effective, but it’s crucial to remember – everybody is different.

There’s oodles of info out there about Paleo, Keto, gluten-free, and vegan diets, as well as intermittent fasting, but it’s crucial to consider your needs and goals before diving in. Studies have backed their benefits, but which one is right for you?

It’s time to stop guessing and start living your best life. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each one and how they can improve your day-to-day.

01 Paleo

The “caveman diet” focuses on foods that were available during the Paleolithic era – lean meat, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Once farming came about, dairy and grains became dietary staples, but the belief here is that we never fully adapted to that drastic change, resulting in diabetes, obesity, and other complications.

Woman pouring green juice into a cup.
Woman pouring green juice into a cup.

Pros: 

Gain muscle: Wanna get shredded like Tarzan or chiseled like Jane?  Lots of healthy proteins and fats without high GI (Glycemic Index) carbs like potatoes and pasta can help get you there.

Sleep tight: Unlike cavemen and cavewomen, you don’t have to stress about hunting or gathering for food (you get to shop at Bristol Farms instead!). Still, the paleo diet can help reduce the stress that keeps us up at night and reduces our quality of sleep.

Lose weight: You may be able to shed body fat with the elimination of preservatives, chemicals, and other unnatural additives. Many also see an uptick in satiety (feeling full between meals) thanks to all of that protein and healthy fat.

Reduce inflammation: With lean protein, fruits, veggies, and nuts, you’ll increase your intake of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and other anti-inflammatories. In turn, your body could be better equipped to protect against disease, weight gain, and brain fog.

Cons:

Tough for vegetarians: The caveman diet is better suited for omnivores than herbivores, since it does not allow for legumes or beans.

Sluggishness, for some: While many experience increased energy with the Paleo diet, some have reported a decrease in energy after taking grains out of their diet.

Too much saturated fat?: Saturated fats are no longer the boogeymen of the fitness world – studies have shown that they can boost HDL (“good cholesterol”) and change the composition of LDL (bad cholesterol). However, the American Heart Association still flags saturated fat as a catalyst for heart disease.

Less calcium & vitamin D: Losing dairy means losing a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which help in the fight against osteoporosis. Those at risk, including thin women over the age of 50, might want to steer clear of Paleo.

If you’re looking to lose weight, catch up on your ZZZZs, and potentially lower your risk of diabetes, the Paleo diet could be an excellent choice for you. It’s also a popular pick for serious athletes, runners, and workout warriors who can power through their workouts without tons of carbs.

If you’re a vegetarian or at risk for osteoporosis, you might want to pass on Paleo.

Keto dish with seasoned shrimp.
Keto dish with seasoned shrimp.

02 Keto

The ketogenic diet is extremely low carb with the majority of calories coming from fat and protein. Sacrificing bread for more butter sounds counterintuitive, but you can’t argue with results: the pounds seem to melt right off when people go Keto.

Pros:

Rapid weight loss: For every gram of carbohydrates your body stores, 2-3 grams of water are retained. That’s why Keto dieters have been known to drop 5-10 pounds within the first two weeks of starting.

Clearer skin: Can Keto really cure acne? Some people swear by it, since a low-carb diet can combat inflammation, including inflammation of the skin.

Better for your brain?: The ketogenic diet was initially created as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. Meanwhile, recent studies have indicated that a Keto diet may help to combat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s while improving cognitive function.

Lower blood sugar: Studies have shown that cutting carbs can lower blood sugar and insulin levels while reducing blood pressure.

Cons:

It’s restrictive: Keto is a blast when you’re cooking at home and chowing down on avocados, bacon, and steak as a means to achieve to a better bod. On the flipside, it can be tough to avoid heavy carbs and sugar-laden sauces at restaurants.

Keto flu: Yup, it’s a thing. At the outset, some dieters experience headaches, fatigue, and irritability as their body transitions.

Gut health: Some have digestion trouble without the aid of whole grains and fruit. If you go Keto, eat your spinach like Popeye.

If you’re looking to lose weight fast and (potentially) protect against certain brain diseases, Keto could be a great choice for you. On the flipside – if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should probably say no to Keto since it can put babies at risk. Keto can also clash with certain medications, so we advise checking with your doctor before making the switch.

03 Gluten Free

In recent years, the gluten-free diet has from a Celiac solution to a mainstream lifestyle. It’s easy to see the appeal: when you cut wheat out of your diet, you’re eliminating a known cause of inflammation and weight gain. Should GF be your BFF?

Pork sliced on a white plate.
Pork sliced on a white plate.

Pros:

Thinking outside of the box: The processed foods that we like to binge on tend to be loaded with gluten. When you stick to a gluten-free diet, you’ll drive past the drive-thru and avoid unhealthy snacks.

Easy, peasy: Remember when you’d hear someone say, “Is gluten the same thing as dairy?” Fortunately, those eye-rolling days are over – you’ll find tons of delicious gluten-free options at Bristol Farms and most restaurants offer GF options.

Rice is nice: Considering Keto or Paleo, but don’t want to go cold turkey on carbs? Gluten-free might be the way to go.

Energy boost: Many find that they’re full of energy when they’re not full of wheat flour.

Cons:

Weight gain….wait, what?: Some gluten-free alternatives contain high levels of fat and sugar, which can lead to body fat. Check the labels on GF products and eat those sweet treats in moderation.

Not enough nutrients?: No gluten ≠ no carbs. That’s important to remember on a gluten-free diet, especially since some carbohydrates can provide valuable nutrition. Rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and popcorn are just some of the carbs that you can – and should – enjoy while gluten-free.

A gluten-free diet can be a great way to improve digestion and 86 junk food en route to a better bod and, more importantly, feeling your absolute best. Not sure if it’s right for you? Ask your doc!

Vegan chicken tacos with onion and cilantro.
Vegan chicken tacos with onion and cilantro.

04 Vegan

Does the vegan diet really live up to all the hype? Well, that depends.

Pros:

Viva La Vitamins: This diet is rich in magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E when you prioritize nutritional superfoods and whole plants. That means better health, which means feeling your best and kicking butt every day.

Cancer crusher?: Thanks to fruits, veggies, and legumes, studies have shown that vegans have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Good for arthritis: Raw and probiotic-rich vegan diets have been shown to ease the aches and pains of arthritis.

Cons:

Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy: You won’t lose weight or feel your finest if you eat nothing but potato chips and pretzels. If you go vegan, opt for healthy snacks in moderate portions and delicious dishes made with whole ingredients (like our Roasted Moroccan Carrot Salad!)

Getting enough protein: There are reasons to steer clear of red meat, poultry, and animal byproducts, but it’s also important to get your daily dose of protein. When you take beef, eggs, and other key protein sources out of your diet, be sure to supplement with lots of legumes and plant-based protein powder.

A vegan diet may be good for you and good for the environment – just be sure to get the protein your body needs.

05 Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has surged in popularity. Should you jump on the bandwagon and limit your eating to a 6-8 hour window?

Big breakfast on a plate.
Big breakfast on a plate.

Pros:

Weight loss, made easy: Studies have shown that intermittent fasting gets results, fast. And, many find that it’s easier to stick to that plan, rather than getting rid of their favorite foods.

Less eating hours, more living?: Some research suggests that intermittent fasting could be the secret to living longer and slowing down the aging process by reducing your insulin levels and increasing your levels of human growth hormone.

Raise your water glass: The fasting periods only restrict calorie intake – not your water intake! When intermittent fasters aren’t eating, they’re usually doing a great job of staying hydrated.

Cons:

Slow transition: As with any diet or lifestyle change, your body may need some time to get adjusted. That’s the case with intermittent fasting – many feel sluggish in the short-term before they start seeing an uptick in energy in the longer run.

Possible danger for diabetes patients: Intermittent fasting may help to keep diabetes at bay, but those with diabetes should consult their physician before starting an intermittent fasting program or any other dietary change.

Binge potential: Don’t go overboard when the eating period goes off. Intermittent fasting won’t help you reach your goals if you eat too much too fast.

Adults of all ages have found intermittent fasting to be a godsend, including athletes. It’s not uncommon for people to mix and match intermittent fasting with the other lifestyles listed here, but we recommend going one at a time.

So, there you have it – these are more than just trendy diets, they’re lifestyles, backed by research and countless believers. Just be sure to try the plan that’s best for you.

One comment on “The 411 on Health Trends: Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and more

  1. Rosario McTigue says:

    Amazing article!! I finally understood the difference amongst all these diets on a simple and easy explanation. Thank you
    Rosario

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