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Nutritional Strategies That work! (Part II)

Mike Lipowski

Last month we looked at ketogenic diets, flexible diets, and low-fat diets. As with part one I won’t be taking a position on which I like most or least but rather just present you the facts. However since I was asked by many of you what my preferred approach to diet is I will release an article soon that will detail what it is and why.

Let's get it on!

Intermittent Fasting:

HISTORY: The concept of fasting dates back centuries and has played a role in almost every religion. Fasting was a way of life for our ancient ancestors who would frequently go days without eating as they hunted their food. However, fasting as a weight loss strategy or a means of improving health biomarkers didn’t gain popularity or garner much attention until the late 1990 when Ori Hofmekler published his book, The Warrior Diet.

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Other methods include the popular Lean Gains, from Martin Berkhan which is also referred to as the 16/8 Method. This protocol has you fasting for 16 hours a day (that includes sleep hours) followed a by an 8 hour eating window.

Then there is Eat-Stop-Eat which consists of one or two 24 hour fasts per week. The simplest application of this protocol is basically not eating after dinner one night until dinner the next night.

The 5:2 Diet consists of eating 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and then eating normally the other 5 days.

PROS: Though the number of studies on IF is limited they have shown to be an effective strategy for fat-loss. One surpridoes not result in excessive binging as one might expect. It also does not appear to negatively impact athletic or training performance, or muscle mass.


Maybe the biggest PRO is its efficiency in helping people reduce their overall caloric intake which is the number one determinant of fat-loss success. No deficit...no fat-loss.


CONS: It is not necessarily a CON but it should be noted that, in an analysis published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology: "Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials" (Seimon. 2015), intermittent fasting holds no advantage over continuous [calorie] restriction (i.e. “ normal” diets).

Psychologically some IF’ers become “obsessive” about their feeding window or overindulge during their “window” in effect negating all the benefits of their fast. Some women experience missed periods, hormonal imbalances and adrenal fatigue.

Paleo

HISTORY: The history of Paleo Diets points sharply back to history. That is, “Paleo” is short for Paleolithic which refers to The Stone Age. The concept of eating like our ancient Stone Age ancestors was first written about in 1975 by gastroenterologist Walther Voegtlin in his book, The Stone Age Diet. In the mid to late 80’s Boyd Eaton expounded upon the concept and it finally reached the pinnacle of popularity in 2002 with the publication of Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet.

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WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: The Paleo Diet is a diet high in animal protein, omega 3 fats, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber and low in salt and refined sugars. Cereal grains, dairy products, vegetable oils and processed foods are completely banned from ever touching your tongue. All-in-all it’s a very healthy way to eat and is very commonsense.

As a sidebar, what I find most interesting about Paleo was best summarized by Adel Moussa who runs the SuppVersity.com blog where he does a phenomenal job dissecting the latest research on exercise and nutrition.He said: “...if it was not for the (imho) unnecessarily rigid exclusion of dairy and legumes [it] is a actually very similar to what fitness experts have been suggesting for decades. If you do the math on the macros...you end up with 32.5% protein, 22.8% fat, 43.7% carbohydrates and the rest of the energy in the form of fiber. With this common macro ratio from the fitness community and the requirements to “get all of that from whole foods” you end up eating almost the same diet.”

PROS: The pros of Paleo are pretty much what you’d expect when eliminating processed foods and refined sugars and eating more fruits and vegetables, like Mom told you, and consuming more muscle repairing protein. You get fat-loss, improved biomarkers of cardiovascular health, stable blood sugar and increased insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation.

CONS: According to critics the major con is that we’re being coned. The fact is we really don’t know the exact makeup of our ancestors diet because what they ate largely depended on where they lived. Also, we don’t hunt and gather our food; our lives resemble nothing like theirs.Contrary to Paleo advocates beliefs, the human has evolved over the last 10,000 years and we have adapted to everything from our environment to our food.

In his Scientific American article “How to Really Eat Like a HunterGatherer: Why the Paleo Diet is Half Baked” (2013), author Ferris Jabr rightly points out that... “If humans and other organisms could only thrive in circumstances similar to the ones their processors lived in, life would not have lasted very long.”

Two other negatives associated with Paleo are 1) its extremely restrictive nature (good luck going out to eat and staying within Paleo Law) and 2) how expensive it can be (i.e. buying grass fed beef only and organic whole foods). Society isn’t set up to make this type of eating easy or even possible at times. Say goodbye to any and all dairy (no more yogurt, ice cream or frozen yogurt), or anything that comes in a box or jar.

Vegetarian / Vegan

HISTORY: The earliest mention we have of vegetarianism was by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras around 500 BCE. Buddhists and Hindus were also vegetarians based on the belief that humans should not inflict pain on other animals. Vegan—a term coined by Donald Watson in 1944 when he co-founded the Vegan Society—is just a more extreme version of vegetarianism. Essentially it goes beyond just food and includes the exclusion of any clothes, accessories, or items that come from animals.

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WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: We’ll begin with vegan since its steadfast rules make it very simple to understand as well as what differentiates it from vegetarian.

The only foods you are to eat on a vegan diet are those that are not animal or do not come from animals. Foods you can eat are: vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, butter, seeds, tofu, seitan, tempeh, and processed foods...like Twinkies!


Foods to avoid include: meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, bee products, and any foods with animal based ingredients such as whey, casein, animal derived Vitamin D and fish derived Omega-3 fatty acids.


The makeup of a vegetarian diet depends on what “type” of vegetarian you choose to be. Here is a list of the various types (from The Mayo Clinic website):


- Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included.


- Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.

- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.

- Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.

-Pollotarian diets exclude meat, dairy and fish, but allow poultry.

PROS: Vegan/vegetarian diets are really high in fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and are low in saturated fat.



These diets have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and premature death. With the exception of the “junk food vegetarian” most vegetarians are lean to the point that they don’t mind hearing the doctor tell them what their BMI is.


CONS: Aside from never savoring a juicy cut of filet mignon vegans and vegetarians tend to be deficient in some key micronutrients like B12, D, omega 3, calcium, and zinc.

With the exception of the Vegan Bodybuilding community (yes, it actually exists) many look like a strong gust of wind will blow them over. If you’re the exercising type—which YOU are—then getting complete proteins in optimal amounts is a must for muscle recovery. Too many vegan/vegetarian diets are low in protein volume and quality so one needs to be mindful and plan accordingly.

Transitioning to this type of diet can be very difficult and certainly is not for everyone. Sustainability can be an issue as well as cravings for foods that would be considered vegan but are unhealthy (i.e. junk food).

So there you have it!


Over the past two newsletter issues I gave you six viable nutrition strategies, all of which work! The question is, which is the proper approach for you? Once you decide that you are well on your way to better health and a leaner meaner physique—a PURE PHYSIQUE.

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