Paleo, Keto and Vegan - Oh My!

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“The Ultimate Ketogenic Guide”. “The Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet”. “The 10 Reasons why you Should be Eating Vegan.”

Do those headlines sound familiar? I’m sure they do! Today, we have access to more information than ever before. This of course can be amazing but stressful, too.

It can be overwhelming thinking about the different diet changes to make when there are so many options out there. Let’s break down the most popular trends and add in some study-based facts, too!

Paleo:

  • Sometimes referred to as “the caveman diet”, this focuses on eating what our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic Era, which means whole foods. Studies have shown this to improve overall health in various ways, such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing waist circumference and improving cholesterol.

  • EAT: grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, eggs, healthy fats, fresh fruits and veggies.

  • AVOID: dairy (this includes cheese and butter!), grains, legumes, refined sugars or salts and anything processed.

  • Dinner could look like this: oven baked salmon with roasted asparagus and broccoli.

Keto:

  • The Ketogenic Diet is centered around the idea that eating a diet high in fat and low in carbs can aid in weight loss - and actually much more. This is similar to paleo, however, you place an emphasis on eating fats. Fat for weight loss? Sounds confusing - I know! However the benefits speak for themselves.

  • Studies reveal that this diet can not only aid in weight loss, but improve of type 2 diabetes too! It can even be beneficial for fatty liver disease and PCOS.

  • EAT: grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, high-fat dairy, eggs, healthy fats, low-carb fruits and veggies (like berries or zucchini).

  • AVOID: fruits or vegetables high in carbs such as potatoes and bananas; quinoa, pastas and rice are a no-go, too.

  • Lunch could look like this: green salad packed with avocado, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, turkey and cheese.

Vegetarian:

  • Even this diet can have many sub-categories, such as pescetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian and even more! The basic principle is this: you don’t consume meat, fish or poultry. Everything else is usually good to go, varying by which subset you choose to follow.

  • One study showed that following a vegetarian diet effectively lowers cholesterol. Not only that, but it also has been shown to be protective against heart disease.

  • EAT: dairy (this includes cheese and even milk chocolate!), eggs, healthy fats, veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.

  • AVOID: all meats, fish and poultry.

  • Breakfast could look like this: spinach, tomato and feta omelette with mixed berries.

Plant-Based:

  • A plant-based diet places an emphasis on eating vegetables or fruits (plants) and avoiding animal products… but not cutting them out entirely. For example, someone who is plant-based might eat wild-caught salmon, but only once a month. 

  • The Blue Zones eat a diet that is 95% plant-based. In these five regions, it’s common to live to 90-100 years with very low rates of chronic disease!

  • EAT: fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.

  • AVOID: cheese, milk, butter, eggs, all meats, fish and poultry, with some exceptions.

  • Lunch could look like this: lettuce wrap black bean tacos topped with sliced avocado, sometimes including grilled shrimp.

Vegan:

  • This is very similar to a plant-based diet, however, you completely cut out all animal products. This much more than a diet, it’s a way of life! Vegans are passionate about animal rights and apply that belief to all aspects. For example, they don’t wear leather and purchase cruelty-free products. 

  • This diet has been shown to promote the growth of the gut bacteria which keep us healthy! Having a diverse gut microbiome is crucial for our immune system and even beneficial for mood.

  • EAT: fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds (anything that doesn’t come from an animal).

  • AVOID: cheese, milk, butter, eggs, all meats, fish and poultry.

  • Dinner could look like this: a “buddha” bowl with quinoa, avocado, kale and roasted sweet potatoes.

“Raw” Vegan:

  • A subset of veganism, this diet revolves around eating the same way, however, all produce is consumed uncooked or heated at very low temperatures. 

  • Breakfast could look like this: 32 oz. of a green smoothie or fresh juice.

As you can see, there are so many possibilities. Although there are differences, an important and common theme among all of these diets is to eat clean! No matter which way you choose to eat, remember to do what is best for YOU. That means paying attention to how your body reacts and what makes y-o-u feel good! That’s when you’ll see results.

Lana Butner