Now that we are starting a new year, many people are looking at hitting new fitness goals and nutrition goals. There is a huge amount of information with different diets, many with seemingly conflicting points.
Instead of looking into these differences, it would be better to look into the overwhelming amount of similarities. The fact is, most of these diets are 80% similar, the debate is on the last 20%.
Lets start with easy points. Every diet advocates eating more veggies. Eat a serving with every meal. Doesn’t really matter what ones, just eat a variety of them.
This one has a little bit more debate, but eating enough protein is essential for maintaining a healthy body weight and muscle mass. The debate is whether its plant or animal protein. Vegetarianism cuts out everything except dairy and/or eggs (lacto-ovo-vegetarian), or fish (pesco-vegetarian), while vegans cut out animal products entirely. The research shows that animal based products are essential for good health, though how much can be debated. Some people can’t handle a ton of meat, and maybe can stick to eating fish or red meat once every week or biweekly. Instead of meat, you could have some soy based products (in moderation), eggs and leaner sources of dairy products such as skim milk. Vegan options get a little more complicated and will be expanded upon in a future article.
Fats are crucial for health and help control inflammation, hormones and as a vehicle for digestion of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). These can further separated into saturated fats (animal fats, coconut oil), mono-unsaturated (some animal fats, dairy, nuts/seeds) and poly-unsaturated (fish, olive oil, nuts/seeds). The debate with this is the same as protein, which is the animal sources. The thing with plant sources is that the body can really use them in the form they are so they have to be converted over into more usable forms. This conversion process can be very inefficient, which is why lots of people don’t do well on a vegan diet (and why some people can get by on it) as the ability to convert nutrients seem to be based on genetics.
This is probably the most debated point. It can range from heavy carb intake in vegetarian and vegan diets to a complete absence in ketogenic diets. Also, the type of carbs is debated with grains being the most controversial. For most people, eating starches (root vegetables) and fruits will be fine, but for people that aren’t celiac, grains can be a fine choice, especially for those that have a high calorie intake and need the carbs. Eating nothing but fruit, veggies and potatoes will be very hard to get that amount due to the high fiber and high satiety scores these foods have.
Eat a fist sized portion of veggies with every meal
Eat a palm sized portion of protein, preferably animal based, with every meal
Have a teaspoon of fat with every meal
Have a cupped handful of carbs with every meal
These standards are for women and men would have 2x the portions.
The fundamental points have always been to eat good quality food, eat the right quantity of food, and not restrict any foods.