world continues to churn out the newest and “best” eating styles, many dieters begin to subscribe to one belief over another. Some think the production of meat is destroying the world, is inhumane and is filling our diets with harmful hormones and antibiotics, while others base their diet around lean, organic proteins and contribute weight gain to the grains and carbohydrates in the modern world. So who is right? Could they both be right and wrong? What are the health benefits of eliminating an entire category of macronutrients from your diet, considering there are only three; proteins, carbohydrates and fats? And how are the same results achieved with almost entirely opposite methods of dieting?
First and foremost, I live by two rules when it comes to health and weight loss:
1) Each person’s body is as unique as their own finger print; different ancestors, blood types, family histories of diseases and pre-existing conditions, different food intolerances, allergies, and the list goes on and on. No one diet will work the same for any person, so it’s important to experiment with your own body and to pick a lifestyle that is sustainable for maximum health and weight maintenance.
2) Weight loss is as simple as calorie intake minus calorie output. You could eat four small McDonald’s cheeseburgers a day at 300 calories each and land yourself at 1,200 calories for the day. You will be filling your body with fats, toxins, chemicals, antibiotics, bleaches, and dyes while completely neglecting the majority of the very necessary vitamins and nutrients needed in a healthy diet, but calorie-wise you could realistically lose weight. I’ll probably say this a million times: weight and health are two completely different things.
We can get into the health benefits much more deeply in later blogs, but for the sense of focus, we’ll look mainly at the weight loss benefits of vegetarian diets versus paleo or low-carb diets. Could both diets be right?
tend to look at the food industry standard of meat, which are genetically-modified corn-fed animals, who are injected with hormones and are barely thriving before going to slaughter. These meats are detrimental to any diet, be it paleo, blood type diets, or a regular low-calorie, portion control diet. Avoiding meats of all kinds will help you avoid the hormones and fillers that contribute to weight gain and health problems.
supporters, however, look at the damaging effects of simple carbohydrates, refined sugars and overly-processed packaged foods that we use to fill our modern, American diets for taste and convenience. This includes everything from chips, candies, sodas, ice creams, fast foods, all the way to the so-called healthy, whole wheat breads, pastas, and starches that the food industry recommends for a well-rounded diet.
The truth is, both diets can contribute to a healthy, conscious lifestyle, when you take into account which foods are important to avoid. Studies have shown that our ancestors lived on a diet of about 65-75% fruits and vegetables. Any healthy vegetarian or paleo supporter will agree that filling your diet with nutrient-rich, organic fruits and veggies is beneficial to any lifestyle. Both diet enthusiasts should also recommend avoiding sugars and processed foods of any kind, like pastas, breads and packaged, junk foods.
Most vegetarians and paleo supporters also understand the effects of dairy on a diet, and how saturated fats from dairy can pile on the pounds quickly and create major problems with digestion. Most will recommend finding better sources of calcium and vitamin D in vegetables, fortified rice and soy and in various types of fish. Vegetarians should also agree that protein is an essential macronutrient that is necessary for building muscle, whether you find alternative sources or you opt for organic, hormone-free, lean animal meats. So while these two diets may seem like complete opposites, they should both be founded on the principles of high protein, nutrient-rich diets with few, if any processed foods in the picture.