The latest celebrity diet trends: Do they work and are they right for you?
Keto, fasting and macros seem to do the trick for Bey and Kim K
If you don't post about it on social media, it never happened – that's the general rule for most things in life, especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition. That's why we're inundated at all hours with workout videos, food posts and motivational quotes. Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of it too – there's a lot of pride in sharing how we take care of ourselves and it's super motivating when you know the world (or at least your world of followers) is watching. Lately there have been three types of diet trends dominating my feed – intermittent fasting, macro counting and the Ketogenic diet. And it's not just my fit friends who are trying them – Hollywood is all about these health routines too. So, here's the low-down on what these eating plans are and why they're so damn popular these days.
There are a few different styles of intermittent fasting. Some fast for two full days out of the week, others fast for 12-16 hours at a time (the majority of which is overnight) and there are some who follow the 5:2 which means only consuming 500 calories a day for 2 days a week. As a food lover and an anti-deprivation advocate, I'm always skeptical of anything to do with complete food restriction. However the popularity simply can't be ignored. Not only are celebs like Beyonce, Miranda Kerr, Terry Crews and Hugh Jackman fans, but many health professionals are singing it's praises as well. Toronto based nutritionist and health expert, Melissa Ramos, recently began regular fasts, but not for its weight loss benefits, "My main focus was cellular repair and gene expression. What most people don't realize is that intermittent fasting actually helps to remove waste from cells and helps with gene expression promoting longevity." Other reported health benefits of the longstanding eating regimen include improved cognitive function, reduced insulin resistance, hormone regulation, decreased risk for dementia and cancer. On top of that, there is the weight loss factor. Of course fasting will likely reduce overall caloric intake, but there is also evidence that putting the body into starvation mode improves metabolic function by reducing insulin and increasing the human growth hormone. All this should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as some studies show this is not a successful long-term lifestyle and has a high failure rate. If you're wondering if "IF" is right for you, Ramos recommends going slow, "I suggest to start off with a couple of days (e.g. Monday and Wednesday) and note how you felt during that process. If you feel more tired and wiped out, then your focus should be consulting with a qualified practitioner who can guide you on how to address any adrenal-related issues." She also reminds anyone considering the regimen to consult with a medical doctor with any concerns.
Though I've never tried it myself, the macro lifestyle is reminiscent of the Weight Watchers diet, as in as long as you stay within your allotted amount of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs) you can basically eat whatever you want. Toronto personal trainer and health blogger Marlie Cohen is a fan of the regimen, "It's all about the concept of flexible dieting where you can eat anything you want - a donut or broccoli - as long as you hit your assigned amount of carbs, fats and proteins each day." Depending on body makeup as well as personal goals, everyone's macro prescription is different. "It takes into account your BMI, BMR, lifestyle (i.e. how active you are) and current eating habits," explains Marlie, who worked with a certified macro coach to determine her own personal Macro plan. A benefit of following this routine is you don't have to give up any of your favourite foods and it helps with resetting portion sizes, which is a huge part of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. The downside, well, you have to weigh everything. Marlie laments, "Counting, measuring and weighing food is extremely tedious and time consuming. I track my food intake in MyFitnessPal which makes it a lot easier, however, if I eat out at restaurants it's still really hard to track."
It's what Kim Kardashian claims help her drop the lbs from her second pregnancy and what the health world is buzzing about. The Ketogenic diet looks similar to the Atkins diet – as in, carbs are severely limited. The biggest difference between the two is the Ketogenic diet also limits protein intake, leaving you with a diet made up largely of (hopefully healthy) fats. What this regimen does is put the body into "ketosis" where it starts using fat as fuel instead of sugars. Similar to fasting, aside from weight loss there are a slew of other reported health benefits to this routine. Balanced insulin levels, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol are on the list, but one of the positive effects of going Keto is it's impact on cognitive function. Experts agree that mental clarity goes hand in hand with this diet. Hunstville-based health coach Kelly Hammond was dealing with extreme fatigue and says it changed her life, "I gave it a try and about a week later, it was like a lightbulb went off in my brain. My energy increased dramatically, the fog lifted and I have been on fire ever since." Now, her husband and 11 year old daughter are partaking in the plan as well as her wellness clients, who she encourages to go slow, "We start with increasing their hydration as being in ketosis is a diuretic and dehydration is a concern, we eliminate processed carbs and sugar slowly, while increasing their healthy fat intake and keeping their protein intake moderate. By doing this slowly and with some, one change at a time, we see results and lifestyle changes that are sustainable and maintainable for long term." If a diet of bacon, avocado and nuts sounds good to you, this might be your calling. Again, always consult with a physician if you're unsure what plan is the best for your body.