I have tried a few diets in my life. I’ve never been a fan of cleanses (even as a teenager suffering from an eating disorder). But, diets, oh boy! I know those! The diets I’ve tried for the longest amount of time (1-2 months, fairly-rigid strictness) are Jamie Eason’s LiveFit, Paleo (yes, it was diet, sit down.), Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean, and a general “low density” near vegetarian diet.
How did these all work-out for me?
Jamie Eason’s LiveFit: I saw relatively fast results on this after I skipped the first 4 weeks. I decided to skip the first four weeks after I realized, A. I was in better shape than the work-outs allowed for (I believe the exercise plan is aimed at cardio queens) B. my sleep, eating, work, and work-out schedule did not facilitate eating the grain portion at dinner (which I ate right before bed at 7-8pm). At first I was sticking to the exercise days strictly, but I felt like my gains had been hampered because I had a couple of years of lifting under my belt and I’ve discovered what works & what does not. Her exercise plan didn’t work, I did my own thing exercise wise. The diet is what killed me though, I couldn’t microwave or cook food at work so I had to eat either room temp. or cold food everyday. This limited my food options significantly until I got off work when I would have a snack, go to the gym, and eat dinner after. Unfortunately, eating dinner was terrible because I couldn’t eat any starchy carbs like pasta or quinoa. I would cook those for my boyfriend and not be able to eat them–this really wasn’t a problem, I cook him many things I don’t end up eating..this issue was I was STARRRVVVIINNNGGG. While I’m not a carbo-holic, I am a mean, mean person if I do not get to eat chocolate, sugary foods, and pasta, EVER. My boyfriend and I would get done at the gym and inevitably get into a fight after; I was grumpy & tired. So in the end? Hated it for daily living, but I know now I need more carbs to maintain sanity..If I were dieting to lean out temporarily I’d take a method similar to this (cutting carbs (calories), carb cycling for a few weeks) with a few modifications. Things I liked: the recipes! Her cinnamon swirl protein bars are to die for! Like high protein coffee cake!
Paleo: I was big on the paleo boat for about 3 months. This is probably due to the fact I worked with a lot of people into crossfit and thus the paleo diet came up in conversation a lot. At first I decided it was ridiculous, no grains? really? is this real life? Anyways after a little research and clearly what I was doing at the time wasn’t yielding results (higher carb, lower fat, moderate protein near vegetarian diet). So I decided to give it a shot. I stuck to it two weeks straight and decided to do a cheat weekend. My first cheat
binge–I mean meal was an entire large Zpizza and pint of ben & jerry’s. I purged. Not cool. I decided to do a weekly cheat meal after that and would instead eat half a pint and half a pizza..and save the other half for the following week. (my cheat meal wasn’t ALWAYS pizza & ice cream, but that was the most frequently consumed cheat meal). I lost about 8 pounds the first two weeks and 13 lbs total for the 3 months I did paleo. After I stopped eating “primal” I gained all of that weight back plus a couple pounds in a 2-3 month span. Which is totally understandable because I was starving myself on Paleo. I would go to bed hungry almost every night. I imagine I averaged about 900-1400 calories daily. I was working out regularly, but I can’t recall if it positively or negatively impacted my training..(I was also doing almost 0 cardio and just lifting heavier 3-6x a week)
What I liked: increased my protein intake, new recipes, tried new food, adjusted my palate slightly–I now eat nuts, less focused on rice & breads–I realized the “stuff” that goes with those is actually what I liked, I discovered almond milk
What I disliked: extremely limited breakfast choices–I’m sorry, I absolutely can’t stand to eat meat when I first wake up, limits on eggs, limits on nuts (I always ate more, I was always freaking hungry), no grains at all, expensive–I was making like $800-900/month all of my extra money went to food, basically couldn’t eat out ever, couldn’t go to someone’s house and eat and not sound like a crazy loon or eating disordered, meat all the time kind of sucks–I just don’t like meat THAT much, no whey protein, no green beans–actually this is a “food fear” now: I had to convince myself they were still okay, no peanut butter, limits on fruit–I broke this so sue me I wanted more blueberries or grapes, I hate coconut everything is coconut
overall sentiment: Paleo diet is an option for someone who is looking to lose a couple quick pounds for a one or two day event–it did lead to very quick weight loss at first, just know it will all come back when you go back to a more balanced diet. I think a paleo meal here and there wouldn’t hurt either. However, it is very expensive and grains are not bad for you. For someone looking for long term results, steer clear.
Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet: I recently learned I had been doing this wrong all along, I guess, so I am reviewing my version. Apparently the diet is a lot more strict that I translated it to be. Anyways, my take from the book was: eat more protein, avoid prepackaged food, avoid fast food, avoid artificial ingredients, read your labels, eat organic if it’s affordable-, only eat stuff you can pronounce, shop on the outsides of the grocery store primarily. I wasn’t insanely strict about this diet, I was pretty flexible and lived my life with out driving myself insane (my boyfriend at the time was a cook, he cooked our food, we went grocery shopping, ate mostly nonprocessed foods, occasionally ate out, and didn’t eat fast food; but I would eat differently if other people wanted to do so for a random occasion). I still ate ice cream just higher quality.. I focused on food quality vs. quantity and bought within our budget. (sometimes cost won over quality)
What I liked: increased produce consumption, cheaper than eating fast food all the time, better workouts, variety in foods, tried new food, new recipes, perfected old recipes, no calorie counting–I’m obsessive this is really important, if I ever accidentally eaten too much & counted I’d purge.What I disliked: nothing really, I made changes very slowly, and I basically stuck to moderation. But, if I review Tosca’s as it is word for word… I do believe it can make people too obsessive about food quality, it will get insanely expensive, and sometimes “unnatural” things aren’t bad.
Low Density diet: I did this “diet” throughout high school. Basically I counted calories and ate low fat. I ate a lot of foods that were low calories but were voluminous like fruits and vegetables. I didn’t eat denser foods like meat or high fat anything regularly. I would eat how other people wanted to eat too, but in smaller portions and/or I would fast until that point. It eventually lead to me fasting & purging fairly regularly. I became obsessed with calorie counts. I started out with healthy intentions but eventually fell into disordered eating.
What I liked: Increased fruit and vegetable consumption–previously I ate basically none, stopped drinking pop–I actually like water now, in the beginning I was just eating better and being a little more active, weightloss did occur
What I disliked: virtually no fat/protein, easily becomes obsessive, developed guilt over eating–I never had this before, I still have it occasionally 5+ years later, I wasn’t a clean plater so this wasn’t exceptionally beneficial to me.
Overall thoughts: I wouldn’t recommend my final take on this diet to any one ever. I do recommend people eat more fruits and vegetables especially if they do not currently. However completely cutting macros will not work long term and calorie counting can get a little obsessive if you have that personality trait. Overall, I’d say add in some low density foods to partially replace starchy foods or very high fat foods. (instead of steak and a potato, you would have half a potato, a cup of broccoli, and steak)
I guess I didn’t talk about cleanses…that’s my next diet rant