The world of fad diets is ever-changing. One day you have to avoid sugar, the next no fat. Eat all the carbs you want, or never see a strand of pasta again. Scientific studies emerge every other day with advice, warnings, and new discoveries. We all know that we need to eat well to be healthy and maintain our weight, but with so many conflicting reports and suggestions, it can be hard to know what's best.
That's where our amazing team of health experts step in! SoFAB's monthly collaboration with The University of Queensland - Ochsner Clinical School and Eat Fit NOLA tackled fad diets, a fitting topic for the beginning of the year when resolutions are flying around. We focused on the gluten free diet and the paleo diet since they seem to be everywhere these days.
Medical student Deborah Levy introduced the basics of the two diets, and explored a bit of what happens in your body when you follow them. With gluten free diets, she emphasized that it's only helpful to avoid gluten when you have an allergy or intolerance. People are being diagnosed with Celiac disease and gluten allergies at a much higher rate in recent years, but Deborah speculated that it might be our diagnostics that are getting more accurate. The gluten free industry is growing at an accelerated rate as well, so it's nearly impossible to walk through the grocery store without seeing gluten free breads or cereals on display. Deborah warned that while these could be tempting for people looking to make their diets more healthy, gluten-free foods often lost other essential vitamins with the gluten, so you might be getting less iron or B12 than you would in the regular products.
Andrew Adorno, our nutrition professional, also warned that gluten free foods often switch out the fortified grains like wheat for starches with no protein or complex nutrients. They both agreed that there weren't many recorded benefits for the gluten-free diet if you didn't have a problem with gluten, so it would be better to focus on increasing your consumption of whole grains, like barley, rye, oats, and whole wheat.
The Paleo diet, by contrast, does seem to have a lot of benefits for those interested in eating like cavemen. Deborah pointed out that it was one of the better studied diets, and results seemed to point to increased weight loss for participants, but she noted that the sample sizes have been relatively small thus far. The diet calls for eliminating dairy products, grains, soy products and beans while eating lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Deborah noted that medically, there weren't many problems with this diet but Andrew thought that it was a bad nutritional idea to cut out whole categories of foods that provide a lot of benefits. He recommended instead to stay to the principals of the diet but to incorporate high protein dairy like Greek yogurt and to bring back beans with their complex proteins, as well as whole grains.
Then Barbara Blank, owner of Clean Creations, demonstrated how to make a simple, protein packed meal that took the best of all worlds and combined them into a Southwest Protein Bowl. As a body builder and personal trainer, Barbara had realized that her clients were coming up short on properly refueling their bodies after a workout. She started her company to provide pre-made clean, healthy meals to accommodate all diets and activities, and the idea took off from there.
All in all, everyone agreed that there were some ideas to take from fad diets, but they recommended a balanced approach with an understanding of your personal needs. Everyone is different, and weight loss is never a one-size-fits-all system. Happy New Year, and good luck with those resolutions!