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Pros and Cons of Three Popular Diets: Paleo, Keto, and Mediterranean

Submitted by Robb Bird on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 03:11

Compare paleo, keto and Mediterranean diet

We are going to let you in on a secret: Most popular healthy diets that are touted for weight loss--Paleo to Mediterranean and Keto--share many of the same basic principles.

All of them involve eating whole foods (not processed or packaged) and include quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and fiber-rich vegetables. But keep in mind, the diets we'll look at fall somewhere on the healthy spectrum, not unhealthy fad diets like the Grapefruit Diet.

Each diet proposes a slightly different path that leads to fulfilling those principles.

In this article, we'll break them down for you one by one, so you can figure out which (if any!) is right for you. We'll explain the facts and then the pros and cons of each.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is a modern-day version of our ancestors' diet from the Paleolithic era, over 10,000 years ago, before the agricultural revolution. Paleo focuses on food that can be hunted or gathered: fruit, vegetables, seafood, grass-fed meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds, plus small amounts of healthy oils. Modern foods (including grains, dairy, and other processed foods) are discouraged.

According to Paleo diet founder Loren Cordain, Ph.D., food has evolved and changed more rapidly than the human body, which hasn't adapted enough to digest many modern-day foods adequately. This can result in cellular inflammation and increased risk for chronic diseases. However, the Paleo diet is associated with preventing many of the ailments associated with typical Western diet.

What You Eat

Meat, fish, poultry, (some) fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and coconut. Emphasis is on pasture-fed animals who were raised in a humane environment under sustainable conditions.

What You Don't Eat

All refined sugars, dairy products like milk, yogurt, butter and cheese; cereal grains like barley, wheat, corn, oats and rice; legumes, including all beans, lentils, peas, peanuts and peanut products and soybeans and soy products; starchy vegetables like potatoes and all potato products, sweet potatoes, and yams; salty or cured meats such as deli meats, and bacon; pickled foods, many condiments, and really all packaged or processed foods.

Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet

Pros

  • Eliminate reliance on white refined carbohydrates
  • Encourages lots of vegetables
  • No processed snack foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients
  • Paleo diet is naturally low in sugar
  • Encourages careful selection of meats, poultry, eggs, and fish which have been humanely raised and/or pasture-fed

Cons

  • No large studies assessing paleo diet for long-term weight loss
  • Ultra-restrictive diets are difficult to maintain and can lead to yo-yo dieting
  • Beans and whole grains, which are not allowed, are an important source of nutrients, fiber, and protein
  • High reliance on meat which has been shown to increase the risk of disease and is taxing on the environment
  • Time consuming and expensive (which could be considered a pro, too!)

Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet originated in the 1920s when a team of physicians at the Mayo Clinic were working to develop a high-fat, low-carbohydrate dietary program to help epilepsy patients. The goal of the keto diet is to induce ketosis: a metabolic state in which the body, unable to convert carbohydrates into glucose, burns fat instead, which the liver converts into water-soluble molecules called ketone bodies that take the place of glucose as an energy source.

What You Eat

The keto diet is high in fat (80%), super low in carbohydrates (<5%), and moderate in protein (15-20%), making meat, fish, butter, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, oils, nuts, avocados, seeds and low carb green vegetables your keto diet staples.

What You Don't Eat

You have to cut out carb sources like grains, rice, beans, potatoes, sweets, milk, cereals, and fruits. And you can forget about alcohol. 

Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

Ketosis is natural and normal, though arguably not optimal. Our bodies run well on glucose (carbs), which gives us the necessary energy we need to function on a daily basis. When our body doesn't get enough glucose (either because we're cutting carbs too low, OR we've gone too long without eating), our body freaks out and looks for other forms of energy to satisfy that role. That's where the fat comes in. Without carbs, our insulin levels drop, and fat is released from our cells. The fat overwhelms the liver which turns it into ketones, our body's second choice to carbs for energy. One of the benefits of using the keto diet is for weight loss, especially since it gets people to stop fueling their bodies with sugar. When we convert from using carbs to using fats, energy levels are more sustained, you don't have the mid-day slumps, and you can go throughout the day with a better energy source.

Pros

  • Effective for weight loss
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Helps balance hormones
  • Improves blood lipids
  • Improves immune function
  • Beneficial for reaching low insulin levels

Cons

  • Very restrictive, as you must measure your food
  • Loss of certain minerals and nutrients in the diet which requires supplementation
  • Can cause GI disturbances
  • There are many junk keto products on the market
  • Risk of kidney stones and muscle cramps
  • New way of eating, so there is not a lot of long-term data available
  • Have to measure glucose and ketones twice daily

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is inspired by the diet of cultures near the Mediterranean sea, such as Greece and Southern Italy. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, whole grains, legumes, and extra-virgin olive oil.

What You Eat

Tons of fresh veggies, some fruit, whole grains like brown rice, beans, and nuts. Fish and chicken are key, especially flavored with fresh herbs and spices. Dairy is included, occasionally in the form of fresh cheeses and yogurt, as are eggs. While pasta is a staple, it's usually consumed in small portions at the start of a meal and freshly prepared.

Picture a vibrant Greek salad with greens, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta, tossed with herbs and topped with a piece of grilled chicken or fish.

What You Don't Eat

Stay away from processed, packaged foods with added sugar or refined grains and oils. Red meat is limited to a few times a month, and you use olive oil instead of other cooking fats like butter or canola oil.

Pros and Cons of the Mediterranean Diet

The basics of this diet are essentially the basic principles of good nutrition: whole foods, tons of veggies, and healthy fats. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well-documented by research studies, including studies on its heart health benefits. It's been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood sugar to reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet may also protect your brain as you age.

Pros

  • Contains a good balance of carbs
  • Low in processed foods
  • High in healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fish.
  • The Mediterranean Diet can be cheap and easy to keep up as it is full of basic, 'real food' ingredients

Cons

  • Generally requires you to cook meals yourself.
  • Eating out can be trickier as these meals will generally include high salt, fats, and processed food.
  • Cooking for the Mediterranean Diet is quite straightforward, and most restaurants should provide some healthier options that adhere to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet.

How Can transformyou Help?

The three diets above, when followed for just weight loss, don't really need physician supervision. Most people can follow these programs by finding diet guidelines online or by picking up a book that provides instruction. Tips, tricks, and even recipes are usually included.

If you are following one of these diets and aren't seeing the results you expected, explore the weight-loss enhancement options below.

Lipotropic Injections

Various vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids are required for metabolism, energy, health and enhanced weight loss. Most of these nutrients are easily absorbed via injection. transformyou offers a variety of injectables to enhance your performance, weight loss, and energy.

Lipolean fatburner injections include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, L- Carnitine, Taurine and three lipotropics: Methionine, Inositol, and Choline. This combination of vitamins and amino acids are an important part weight loss. Lipotropic agents (methionine, inositol, and choline) belong to a class of substances that play important roles in the body's fat use. Through their involvement in the lipid (fat) metabolism, lipotropics help maintain liver function and promote fat excretion. These injections can be administered 1-2 times per week during your program.

Appetite Suppressants

Appetite suppressants, when taken correctly and combined with the right diet and lifestyle changes, can produce dramatic results. Appetite suppressants, along with a healthy diet, can help promote weight loss by making the body believe it is full. They quite literally block out hunger sensations by increasing two chemicals in the body: serotonin and catecholamine. These two brain chemicals affect mood and appetite. Most people find it difficult to eat less when they are hungry, and appetite suppressants help overcome that emotional barrier. Not all appetite suppressants are the same. When you work with transformyou, we go over your options, and what appetite suppressant is right for you, your body and lifestyle, taking all guesswork out of it.

Hormone Optimization

Research, studies, and medical evidence show us that hormone optimization therapy does indeed have a positive impact on weight loss. As we age, our metabolism--regulated by the thyroid--slows. Stress can also have a negative impact on metabolism. A slow metabolism can affect energy levels and how the body uses fat stores. This is why many people find it more difficult to maintain or lose weight as they age, even with the same eating habits and exercise regimen that worked before. Low energy levels often encourage people to turn to comfort foods and reduce activity levels, which also contributes to weight gain. With this in mind, we need to consider whether weight gain may be related to changes in habits, stress levels, or exercise regimens.

If you have already made diet changes and are exercising regularly but not seeing results, hormone replacement or optimization therapy may be right for you. When hormones are out of balance or not being synthesized by the body at optimal levels, weight gain and sluggishness are common symptoms.

Testosterone (in both men and women) has the greatest impact on muscle and bone strength, lean muscle mass and overall energy and mood. The so-called "spare tire" of middle age is a common sign of low testosterone in men. Women begin to produce less testosterone during menopause, and estrogen supplements can reduce the production of testosterone. Along with testosterone, most men and women also see a reduction in the function of the thyroid as we age. This creates a sluggish metabolism that no longer processes fat stores effectively. Insulin receptors are not as efficient, which results in more storage around the middle and hip area, rather than the body using those stores for energy. By optimizing the thyroid, you can reverse these effects so you can begin to see real weight loss again.

Better Together

Diet and lifestyle modifications are a must if we want to lose weight and keep it off.

Finding the diet that works for you will depend on which one you think you can be successful at following. Patients always ask us which diet program we think they should follow. The answer is the same: pick the one that you know will work for you right now. If needed, add in some weekly vitamin injections or appetite suppressants. A hormone check isn't a bad thing either. Let us help you make sure everything is working right so you get the best results!