Diet. It’s a four-letter word.
We associate deprivation and hunger and misery with it.
Forget about diets.
While you can lose weight by starving yourself, that’s just miserable. To boot, after the diet, most people find they regain the weight they lost and even a little bit more!
In addition, you can take all the psychiatric meds and supplements you want to attain emotional balance, but it is futile if you aren’t feeding your body the nutrients that it really needs to stay on an even keel emotionally.
What is the best diet for sustained weight loss and emotional balance?
Here is the quick and dirty about the most popular diets out there.
Quick Weight Loss Diets
I’m not a fan of temporary diets like the Whole 30 Plan.
It encourages followers to cut out alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and additives from their diet for 30 days, and is advertised as a ‘total lifestyle change’.
After the initial 30 days, you slowly reintroduce off-limit foods to see how they affect your health.
Yes, you can lose weight on the diet. Plus, the concepts behind the food choices during the diet are solid, but eating healthy for sustained weight loss requires a lifetime of healthy food choices, not just for a month.
The HCG diet is also not one of my favorites. We tend to give this diet more credence because it is administered by a doctor. The HCG diet is a very low-fat, very low-calorie diet.
The diet consists of two main components:
- An ultra low-calorie diet of around 500 calories per day.
- The HCG (hormone chorionic gonadotropin) hormone administered via injections (some use pellets, drops or sprays).
You absolutely will lose weight on just 500 calories a day!
But that is not sustainable either.
Not to mention, your body goes into starvation mode and slows down your metabolism so that it can conserve what little food you are feeding it.
That’s the exact opposite of what you want!
I don’t subscribe to a vegetarian or vegan diet either.
Meat is the single best source of protein.
Sorry, vegans and vegetarians: You may have heard that legumes have a lot of protein, and they do—for plants. But they lack a number of critical amino acids.
As Dr. Mark Hyman says:
“Animal protein is our only source of vitamin B12, which is essential for life itself. Meat also provides valuable minerals and other vitamins. It contains enzymes that we need to access nutrients, essential amino acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A, which cannot be obtained directly from vegetables. Vegans often become deficient in B12, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D and more. Yes, plant foods contain many of these nutrients, but they are more bioavailable in meat.”
It is extremely difficult to be successful at being a healthy vegan. It requires an enormous amount of work to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet.
As a result, many times would-be vegans become ‘junk food vegans’, eating processed food just because it’s easy and doesn’t have meat or eggs in it.
What is the BEST diet?
The one that you will stick with for life.
There are a number of good plans out there for sustained weight loss and emotional balance. You need to select the one that resonates with you or that will support your health concerns.
Below is a quick overview of some of the ‘diet’ plans that I have found to be effective for my clients.
You will note that NONE of them require calorie, carb, fat counting or weighing food.
I find that clients do much better without the extra burden of counting or weighing. It feels less like a diet.
There are a number of variations of each, depending on who is administering the diet.
Certainly, if you have food sensitivities/allergies, auto-immune diseases, autism, cancer or any other type of illness, those things need to be factored in to your diet and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner.
The Paleo diet is based on emulating the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It includes whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they look like in nature.
The rub is that not all of our ancestors ate all the same things–it depended on what was available at the time.
You can eat on the Paleo diet:
- nuts and seeds
- herbs and spices
- healthy fats and oils
Avoid on the Paleo diet:
- processed foods
- soft drinks
- most dairy products
- artificial sweeteners
- vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats
Small amounts of chocolate and red wine are okay. Yay!
Water and green tea are encouraged.
There is usually no need to track calories or macronutrients (protein, carbs or fat) on the Paleo diet.
The Primal diet and Paleo diet are similar, but they also have distinct differences.
The Primal diet encourages the consumption of raw, full-fat dairy as a source of healthy fats, while the Paleo diet restricts dairy.
The Paleo diet eliminates nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.), while the Primal diet does not.
The Primal diet includes coffee, while the Paleo diet restricts it.
Other foods to avoid include:
- all grains
- sugars, except natural sugars like honey or maple syrup
- processed foods
- refined vegetable oils
Foods to eat on the Primal plan include:
- fruits and vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- raw or fermented dairy, like raw milk and cheese
- pure maple syrup and raw honey
- meat and fish
- complex carbohydrates like starchy tubers, wild rice, and quinoa
Just like the Paleo diet, the Primal diet prefers organic foods, including fruits, vegetables, and eggs. Any meat should be grass-fed, and both antibiotic and hormone-free when possible.
The Ketogenic diet (often termed keto) is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and other low-carb diets. It was originally designed to help with epilepsy.
The Ketogenic diet is not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is a dangerous condition when there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough insulin.
It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, and replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause big reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
There are several versions of the Ketogenic diet, but the standard one is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet.
It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.
A list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a Ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods
- Grains or starches
- Fruit (except berries)
- Beans or legumes
- Root vegetables and tubers
- Low-fat or diet products
- Some condiments or sauces
- Unhealthy fat (vegetable oils, etc.)
- Sugar-free diet foods
You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:
- Fatty fish
- Butter and cream
- Cheese (unprocessed)
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado oil, etc.)
- Low-carb veggies
- Herbs and Spices
I have to say, I lean toward this diet because 90% of my clients have blood sugar or inflammation issues.
For many years, it was ingrained in us to avoid fat. As a result, most of the processed food we eat is heavy with sugar to give it some taste and to keep you coming back for more.
Unfortunately, this was misguided information and is the underlying cause of our nation’s obesity, blood sugar and and inflammatory disease problems.
The Ketogenic diet is so satisfying that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food.
AIP (Autoimmune Protocol)
The Autoimmune Protocol is a diet that is designed to help heal the gut to reduce inflammation created by autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, etc.
Autoimmune conditions can’t be cured, but they can go into remission. The AIP diet attempts to reduce some of the symptoms of these conditions.
It’s an elimination-focused diet.
Its goal is to cut inflammation-causing foods to reset your body’s immune system. You need to follow the strict eating plan for several weeks before you can start adding foods not included in the diet.
It’s rooted in the Paleo diet, but it’s even more restrictive.
These foods should be avoided on the AIP diet:
- legumes (beans, soy, peanuts, hummus, etc.)
- dairy products (including raw products)
- processed foods
- refined sugars
- industrial seed oils (such as vegetable or canola oils)
The AIP diet also restricts the following foods, which aren’t always banned in the paleo diet:
- nuts and seeds, including coffee, chocolate, and certain spices (for example, coriander and cumin)
- nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and more)
- alternative sweeteners
- emulsifiers and food thickeners
Foods you can consume on AIP are:
- coconut products
- olive oil
- fermented foods, so long as they don’t contain dairy (for example, kombucha, nondairy kefir, and fermented vegetables)
- a variety of vinegars, including balsamic, red wine, and apple cider, so long as they have no added sugar
- small portions of honey or maple syrup
- arrowroot starch
- gelatin from grass-fed beef
The best resource for the AIP diet is from AutoImmuneWellness loaded with recipes, tips and ideas.
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)
It was originally designed to help with autism, but is beneficial for anyone with psychological or neurological disorders.
The GAPS diet is a strict elimination diet that requires you to cut out grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and refined carbs.
It is a difficult and restrictive diet, but the rewards are great for those who need it.
The goal is to heal leaky gut.
The GAPS protocol is made up of three main stages: the GAPS introduction diet, the full GAPS diet and a reintroduction phase for coming off of the diet.
The Introduction or Elimination Phase includes:
- Stage 1: Consume homemade bone broth, juices from probiotic foods and ginger, and drink mint or chamomile tea with honey between meals. People who are not dairy intolerant may eat unpasteurized, homemade yogurt or kefir.
- Stage 2: Add in raw organic egg yolks, ghee and stews made with vegetables and meat or fish.
- Stage 3: All previous foods plus avocado, fermented vegetables, GAPS-recipe pancakes and scrambled eggs made with ghee, duck fat or goose fat.
- Stage 4: Add in grilled and roasted meats, cold-pressed olive oil, vegetable juice and GAPS-recipe bread.
- Stage 5: Introduce cooked apple purée, raw vegetables starting with lettuce and peeled cucumber, fruit juice and small amounts of raw fruit, but no citrus.
- Stage 6: Finally, introduce more raw fruit, including citrus.
The Full Gaps Diet or Maintenance Phase includes:
- Fresh meat, preferably hormone-free and grass-fed
- Animal fats, such as lard, tallow, lamb fat, duck fat, raw butter and ghee
- Organic eggs
- Fermented foods, such as kefir, homemade yogurt and sauerkraut
The Reintroduction Phase suggests introducing each food individually in a small amount.
If you’re following the GAPS diet to the letter, you’ll be on the full diet for at least 1.5–2 years before you start reintroducing other foods.
Real Plans makes it Easy
If you need recipe ideas and meal plans that will keep you on your chosen plan and still taste great, check out RealPlans.
This subscription service allows you to enter the type of ‘diet’ you would like to be on (Paleo, Keto, Primal, GAPS, AIP, etc.) and eliminate the foods you don’t like.
You will get suggested recipes, a shopping list and all the nutrition breakdown (if you’re into that sorta’ stuff).
For $14/month, cancel at any time, it makes life so much easier than scouring through recipes, Pinterest and cookbooks.
It’s got to taste good to keep you involved. (I am not an affiliate of RealPlans in any way, it’s just a great service).
Be well. Eat well.
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
Mind Blowing Wellness is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Mind Blowing Wellness is also an affiliate for Thrive Market receiving a small commission for new memberships.