The Paleo, Raw Intermitent fasting, blood type diet

or how we can benefit from diet ‘fads’.

If one diet’s good then 4 diets make a superdiet, right?!
Let’s take a look at them individually for a minute.

Paleo

The premise:

Our prehistoric ancestors ate the food our bodies were designed to consume. Supposedly this is meat, nuts, seeds, berries and seasonal fruit and vegetables.

How this works in 2012:

The saturated fat brigade run around trumpeting the health benefits of bacon! Because we all know our paleolithic ancestors ate the equivalent to 6 chickens, 2 pigs and a side of beef each week. Probably not. Neither did they eat antibiotics, nitrates and growth hormones.

Why this might not be a good idea:

Carbohydrates are somewhat restricted. If you lead an active lifestyle, especially if you like to run or play team sports you need carbs for fuel.
Fat stores in animals are the places where the most toxins/chemicals are stored.  Pig (those magical animals that brings us such hits as bacon, ham and chops) are heavily farmed and fed all sorts of antibiotics and growth hormones which, you guessed it, are stored in the fat.

The real lesson to be learned:

Eat unprocessed food as close to it’s natural state. Eat a balance of fats from animals and seeds. A good guide is equal amounts of fish oil, plant or nut fats (olive, peanut, macadamia) and animal fat from free-ranging, traditionally farmed animals.

bacon

Raw

The premise:
Food heated above 40ºC is dead, thus the enzymes and nutrients are no longer available to our bodies. The current popular form of this diet is raw veganism. Advocates suggest large amounts of juiced green vegetables to provide adequate amino acids. However there are people who combine raw and paleo, eating the same items as in a paleo diet but raw (including meat). Grains and legumes, if consumed are soaked and sprouted to make nutrients more ‘bioavalable’.

How this works in 2012:

Sales of expensive juice extractors and superfoods skyrocket.
Sprouting becomes cool
Raw food ‘gurus’ emerge
People look undernourished, have dull skin and look hungry

Why this might not be such a good idea:
Severely limiting any macro-nutrient, means that your body is not fuelled effectively for performance and even your appearance. If you are aiming to build muscle the aminos provided in greens alone may not be enough. Aminos and B-vitamins are the building blocks of muscle, skin and bones. Deficiencies can result in dry brittle skin, dull hair and weak nails.
It’s expensive, all those aminos from organic leafy greens have to come from lots of organic green vegetables.
The real lessons to be learned
Eat your greens, they’re good for you. Especially the leafy ones.
Experiment with sprouting and soaking grains to see if your body feels more energised from them.

Photo Sura Nualpradid

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

The premise:
There are many forms of IF with varying lengths of fasting periods. Some advocated sight out prehistoric cousins again, while other just claim that after fasting our bodies are more receptive to taking on nutrients and less food will be stored as waste as body fat.

How it works in 2012:
One of the most popular choices, lean gains or 20/4, has dieters fast for 20 hours, workout just before breaking the fast and then eat all their daily nutrients in a  four hour window following.
Advocates say it it allows them to eat larger portions and feel ‘full’ as well as partitioning nutrients more effectively.

Why this might not be such a good idea:
If you suffer or have ever suffered from disordered eating this might sound familiar. Starve then ‘reward’ yourself by stuffing your face.
If you have a healthy relationship with food you may enjoy eating a variety of different foods throughout the day.
It can be anti-social. If you are someone who has an active social life and has to /likes to meet people for meals then you have to schedule your catchups around your feeding window.
If you are trying to maintain or gain muscle mass or enjoy running, cycling or team sports this could affect your performance and ability to improve.

The lessons to be learned:
Hunger isn’t an emergency. Various durations and degrees of hunger can help to understand that hunger is not an emergency and that you do not have to eat straight away.

photo chawalitpix

The blood type diet

The premise:

Dr D’adamo suggests that depending on your blood type the human body is able to process different food items differently. This is traced back to our paleo friends, again, and how they evolved differently depending on their environment and local food sources.

How it works in 2012:
Food lists can be found at http://www.dadamo.com/typebase4/typeindexer.htm Depending on your blood type foods are beneficial, neutral or should be avoided. Additional refinement can be made depending on your ‘secreter’ status using a saliva test kit.

Why this might not be such a good idea
Practicality. The list of foods cataloged is massive and sometimes quite hard to remember. For example type O’s can eat most berries but not  strawberries (if you’re a ‘non-secretor’). This is made easier if you have the iPhone app, but quite troublesome if dining out or at friends houses.
Skewed importance of certain foods. The perceptions that certain foods are ‘super beneficial’ can lead to their over consumption. Over consuming any food will not improve our health.

The lessons to be learned

All blood types are recommended to keep their refined foods to a minimum, including grain based products (ie flour) and instead encourage to eat their starches in less refined forms (ie rolled oats, sweet potato).
Eliminating foods can be really useful to find the ones your body works most optimally on. By eliminating the most common allergens (dairy, nuts, gluten, crucifer, eggs, coffee, chilli, artificial sweeteners) and for a few weeks and then reintroducing the one at a time you may notice symptoms such as bloating, water retention, drowsiness, itchiness, inflammation, sniffles, other respiratory problems or positive effects such as boosts in energy and concentration.

Photo: Idea Go

This  paleo, raw, IF, blood type superdiet sounds possible, but pretty restrictive! The truth is, I’m not interested in the restrictiveness, but the lessons to be learned from each which can be summed up briefly.

  • Eat unprocessed food,
  • especially plants,
  • not too much,
  • but don’t heavily restrict any fat, carbs or protein,
  • pay attention to what you’re eating and how your body reacts.

Sound familiar? Micheal Pollan came to similar conclusions in his book ‘In Defense of Food’

I’d like to add one more rule in. Make eating enjoyable.
It is not by mistake that our bodies receive pleasure from food. Learn how to cook and learn how to cook with fresh natural ingredients.

About Michelle

Michelle is passionate about showing people how easy it is to prepare food that is healthy and packed full of flavour. She has just completed her first recipe book, Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. She began sharing her love of food in 2007, when she produced two series of the online cooking show ‘Healthy Helpings TV’, making fast food healthy and healthy food fast. In 2008 she competed in bodybuilding as a novice figure shaping competitor and she remains passionate about physique sports. She was a 2009 Australian Masterchef semi-finalist, and contributes articles to Oxygen Magazine Australia. Michelle lives with her husband on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, where she loves to search out new ingredients and food ideas from local farmers markets, health food shops and ethnic grocers, and take her two dogs on long rambles through the vineyards. Find out more about Michelle's book