In the era of fad diets and nutrition information overload, it can be hard to figure out what works for you. We’re here to help you sort through the noise. Today, our Lead Dietitian Sam is here to break down three popular eating patterns: Paleo, Whole30 and Keto. She’ll give you an overview of each one to help you figure out which might work best for you!
While the paleo lifestyle is nothing new, it gains new devotees each year, and for good reason. Paleo focuses on avoiding commonly inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, soy, legumes, vegetable oils and refined sugar. This is a great option if you struggle with certain health diagnoses, like an autoimmune condition, thyroid issues, diabetes, digestive issues or just want to feel better! Common benefits include improved digestion, better sleep, clearer skin, improved blood sugar control, and improved mood.
A step beyond paleo is the paleo Autoimmune Procotol (AIP for short), which is particularly helpful for those with autoimmune conditions. AIP includes the same guidelines as paleo, but also omits eggs, nightshade vegetables (like peppers & tomatoes), nuts & certain spices. If symptoms have resolved or improved after 6-8 weeks following an AIP diet, you slowly reintroduce one food at a time. The Paleo Mom has a great AIP reintroduction resource that you can find here.
The Whole30 is a 30 day reset designed to improve your health, your habits, and your relationship with food. You can think of Whole30 as a slightly stricter version of paleo, with the removal of all added sugar and alcohol. Your plate will revolve around veggies, fruit, high-quality protein, and healthy fats (like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, olives, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, and grass-fed meats).
After 30 days, you reintroduce one food at time to see how different foods impact you. This is a great option if you’re new to healthy eating, feel you need a reset, or just got diagnosed with a specific health condition and want to see improvement. You’ll notice many of the same benefits as those who embark on a paleo diet, though the added benefit with a Whole30 is the community support and the structured nature of the program. After you’ve finished reintroduction and you know how different foods impact you, you’ll have your own perfect dietary fit that (hopefully!) allows you to eat a wider variety of foods while still feeling great.
Though the ketogenic diet (keto, for short) has been around for decades as a nutritional therapy for epilepsy and some cancers, it’s recently gained traction in the mainstream wellness space. Keto is a very low carbohydrate (typically 30 grams of total carbohydrates per day to start), high fat and moderate protein diet. The focus is on healthy fats, non-starchy veggies and quality proteins. Done correctly, the keto diet promises weight loss and blood sugar control, among other benefits. This may be a great option for you if you have issues with blood sugar regulation or you want a weight-loss jumpstart. A word of caution: if you currently eat a standard american diet (lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates), it’s best to slowly ease yourself into a keto way of eating by first spending a few weeks eating low carb (around 100 grams of carbs per day).
For some people, keto is a lifestyle, but others like to take advantage of the metabolic flexibility that keto lends by cycling between keto and low carb eating.
Have questions on paleo, Whole30 or keto? Drop them in the comments below!