The Diet Dilemma

Risa Groux, CN
 | Published: 
June 18, 2019

Perhaps you fall into the 95 percent of women who have failed on a diet and regained all the weight that was lost.  Maybe you are among the 75 percent of American women that endorse unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or your body.  Or just possibly you contributed to a portion of the 315 billion dollars that was spent on commercial weight loss programs, weight loss drugs, or bariatric surgery centers.  If you answered yes to any of these statistics then you are among a huge population set up for health and wellness failure.  I firmly believe that weight loss is a side effect of wellness so that is what I focus on.

We are all unique.  Our body types, chemistry and genetics make us that way.  So, if that is the case then why would a one size fits all program work for everyone?  In my office, I see firsthand how each person thrives from a customized diet plan. Just to clarify, when I use the word diet I do not mean a restrictive program for short term weight loss results. Rather I am referring to an eating lifestyle that is long term and is designed to maximize wellness.  To decrease systemic inflammation and increase good gut health as those comprise of the foundation of wellness.  Here is an overview and summary of four of the most popular diet plans in hopes that this sheds light on what is a good fit for you. There are many more plans so if none of these sound like a good fit, keep searching.

Paleo Diet:

The Paleo Diet is short for Paleolithic which is the time of the Stone Age, two and a half million years ago.  The premise is to eat like the caveman ate way back when and you will stay fit and trim and dodge the modern-day diseases that we deal with today.   It believes that those diseases result from packaged and processed foods filled with chemicals, dyes, preservative and additives that make us sick and fat. Therefore, the diet consists of foods in the highest quality and unprocessed forms available.  The animal proteins are to be wild not farmed, pastured, organic, non-GMO and grass fed and finished.  Currently, the FDA has made it legal for farmers to claim that their meat is grass fed even if the cattle is fed grains the last remaining 30 days of its life.  Therefore, it is critical that you buy grass fed AND grass finished.  Of course, those meats are a bit more expensive and can be challenging to source.

In addition to animal protein, the Paleo plan includes lots of low starchy vegetables, good fats, and nuts and seeds. It removes all legumes, grains, and most dairy and anything processed.  This plan provides a substantial supply of Omega 3 fatty acids, known for its benefits with brain and heart health.

Most people do well on the Paleo plan as it is highly anti-inflammatory, easy to adhere to and convenient for traveling and dining out.  Other than vegans, the Paleo plan is a great fit for a large majority or people.  The results being great health, weight loss, increased energy, decreased blood sugars, and effective prevention for declining of health.  This diet type is the one I recommend for most people I work with as it can be maintained for a lifetime. Many specialized diet types have been spring boarded from this plan.

Ketogenic Diet:

The body’s primary source of energy comes from glycogen.  We make glycogen from glucose (sugar) that enters the body.  Whenever we eat any kind of sugar, either from fruit or sweets or carbohydrates that come from bread, grains, or potatoes, the pancreas excretes a hormone called insulin.   That insulin then converts the glucose into glycogen.  At that point, the glycogen travels up to the brain and into every cell of the body and is used for energy.  So, what would happen if we decided not to provide hardly any glucose to the body?  Our body would resort to using the stored fat we have or newly consumed sources of fat (avocados, salmon, coconut) for energy rather than carbohydrates.  When the body is in a state of ketosis, it starts to burn fat and produces ketones instead.  Once the ketone levels in the blood rise to a certain point, you enter into the metabolic state of ketosis.  Simplistically, the process of ketosis is when the liver breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol known as beta-oxidation.  There are three primary types of ketone bodies made in the liver: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.  The body breaks down these fatty acids into ketones that are full of energy and circulate throughout the blood stream.

The diet is comprised of:

15-30% animal protein (high quality beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs)

75-80% fats (avocado, olives, oils)

5-10% carbohydrates (low starchy vegetables)

You can also enjoy nuts, nut butters, seeds, coconut, cream, full fat cheeses, sour cream, a little vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, gin, brandy, and wine.  There are no grains, legumes, fruit, refined or natural sugars, or potatoes of any kind.

The goal of ketosis is staying fueled by circulating ketones.  While in this state, you will experience consistent weight loss as it enhances your metabolism.  The objective of the ketogenic diet is to maintain the fat burning state of ketosis. This diet is meant to be a short-term lifestyle of three months with a break then back on again.  I find that Keto is great for mostly men and anyone who has seizures or brain impairment.  People who have a lot of adrenal fatigue or imbalance of cortisol to not tend to thrive as much on Keto.

Low Lectin Diet:

All living organisms have defense mechanisms because our two main purposes are to survive and procreate.  Humans have the ability to defend themselves if danger presents itself.  We can run, kick, bite, flee, etc.  Plants are unable to do that so instead they have a protective lining called lectins. Phytates (or phytic acid) along with lectins are known as anti-nutrients.   Lectins are proteins that are found in most vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruits and vary in levels of concentration.  When ingested, lectins firmly attach themselves to specific carbohydrate molecules in our blood which inhibits the cells to communicate with our immune systems.  Those cells then break open the little holes in the lining our intestines to cause leaky gut. When we consume lectins, if we experience pain, discomfort, heartburn, fatigue, stomach aches, nausea or diarrhea, that’s a clear sign that lectins are doing what they are designed to do.  Protect themselves to survive and hopefully land somewhere where they can spread their seed and procreate.

There are significant studies that demonstrate lectins as being the root cause of many diseases.  The research being done on lectins and how they affect our health is expanding.  There is no doubt from what I see in my office, that removing high lectin foods from the diet has resulted in a decrease of discomfort, symptoms, brain fog, and inflammation and an increase in weight loss, energy and stabilizing blood tests results.  It not only helps people with autoimmune disease, it appears to help anyone of all ages.

Foods that are high in lectins to remove (or limit) from the diet include:


  • Eggplant
  • Peppers (bell, jalapeno, cayenne but not black pepper)
  • Potatoes (all kinds except yam, yucca, taro, and sweet potato)
  • Tomatoes (particularly the seeds and skin).
  • Goji berries
  • Beans & Legumes, grains, squashes, corn and corn-fed ‘free-range’ meats, casein A1 Milk and dairy, fruit (except seasonal berries)
  • Foods to enjoy are leafy greens, cruciferous and other veggies, avocado, olives and olive oil, most nuts and seeds, and animal protein.  The breakdown is roughly:
  • 80% greens/veggies
  • 10% healthy fat
  • 10% animal protein
  • This diet lifestyle is great for weight loss and balancing of blood sugars as is Paleo and Keto but it is also well suited for anyone with an Autoimmune Disease.

Vegan / Vegetarian:

A vegan lifestyle is one that excludes all animal protein and all product ingredients derived from an animal.  The only source of protein is obtained from beans, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables.  Vegetables do contain protein but not in high enough quantities to sustain wellness for a human being.  Beans, nuts, and seeds can provide a suitable amount of protein but the only vitamin not provided is B12 which is critically important so I would suggest supplementing with a quality B12.   Adhering to a strict vegan diet can be quite challenging in comparison to a vegetarian diet as vegans avoid all dairy and eggs.  True vegans will not even eat honey or wear clothing made from an animal.

There is a large population of vegans who survive on a mainstay of cookies, pasta, fruit, and French fries so it is important to make sure a large amount of vegetables and proteins are consumed and sourced from quality farms.  If a person is vegan, I recommend pressure cooking the beans and legumes prior to eating as it decreases the lectins and makes them easier to digest.

I tend to see many vegans who have elevated sugar levels, diabetes and a B12 deficiency due to all the carbohydrates and lack of protein in the vegan lifestyle.   I don’t typically recommend this diet type for many unless it is a religious or ethical choice.

Regardless of what diet type is best for you, I always recommend 60%-80% of each plate being greens/vegetables.  We know all human bodies need fiber and micro nutrients and there is no better source than vegetables.  Drink half your weight in ounces of clean water each day and move your body.

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