Stephanie and I are often asked what diet approach we think is the best. Clients always want to know if they should be eating vegetarian, vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, flexitarian or paleo. So MANY to choose from!
Isn’t there one best practice that will deliver the most energy, vitality, and weight loss?
Well we are here to tell you the answer is NO. And I’d like to share a story to illuminate what I am talking about.
A few months ago I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I immediately noticed that he looked different. Most obvious was that he was leaner, had a nice clear complexion, and a new spring to his step. “Steve,” I asked, “you look so healthy! What have you been up to?” He proudly exclaimed “I went vegan!” He went on to tell me how he had given up all meat and dairy, even fish and chicken. He was eating lots of veggies, beans, and whole grains, and had not felt or looked this good in over 20 years.
Later that afternoon I was chatting with a friend who was telling me about her new Paleo diet. This way of eating eliminates all grains and beans, and focuses on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lots of animal protein. Karin was telling me how she had never felt better. She had more energy during her workouts, an easier time managing her weight, and had lost the “brain fog” that was plaguing her for months.
So here we have two very different eating regimens, both with followers who are finding success.
How is this possible? Take a step back for a minute and look at the similarities between these two eating styles.
- They both include tons of raw and cooked vegetables as well as healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
- They both focus on whole foods, with emphasis on organic when possible.
- They both strictly limit processed foods and sugars. The health-minded paleos eat organic and/or pasture raised beef, chicken and eggs, not McDonald’s burgers minus the bun. The health-minded vegetarians are eating baked or sweet potatoes, not French fries and potato chips. Get the picture?
With that in mind, here are some action steps you can start putting into practice right away.
- Ditch the diet foods. Forget all the low-cal, low fat, artificially sweetened foods and opt for the real thing (see bullet #3)!
- Get the sugar out. Excess added sugar promotes weight gain, depresses the immune system, throws off your hormonal balance, ignites food cravings, and promotes heart disease and inflammation, among many other things.
- Go for WHOLE. Limit processed foods as much as possible. This means packaged cookies, frozen dinners, 100 calorie snack packs, bagels, and sugary yogurts. Aim to build your meals and snacks around fresh fruits and veggies, beans and legumes, lean organic animal protein, and healthy fats like almond butter, coconut oil, and avocados.
The bottom line comes down to what we call “bioindividuality.” For instance, some people do better (meaning: feel more energetic, have an easier time maintaining weight and not constantly feeling hungry) when they include animal protein, whereas others feel sluggish eating animal protein and like to rely more on beans and nuts. The important thing is to listen to your own body and find out what works best for YOU.
A great place to start is by following the guidelines in our PM Meal Mastery program. It includes meal plans and recipes for omnivores and vegans alike, but avoids excess sugar and processed foods. For less than the cost of a bag of groceries, you can have access to this amazing resource that provides a scientifically-backed nutrition plan for optimal health, energy, and confidence after menopause.