I’ve tried Whole30, Paleo, Keto, and Intermittent Fasting (IF), and I thought it might be a good idea for me to do a quick write-up about my experience and feelings about them. Note: Bear in mind that these are my opinions based on my experiences. Your own may vary and may even be 180 degrees different from mine. My experience and opinion doesn’t invalidate your own.
Whole30: This is the best way to get away from sugar. It’s not easy, and it’s not designed specifically to lose weight, although weight loss is common among those who do a Whole30. It is great to teach you about the benefits of whole, natural foods and also great in getting you away from grains, dairy, sugar, beans, soy, and alcohol. However, there’s a cost: the first week or two can be especially difficult with many experiencing flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks. It’s also a very different way of cooking, and you have to change your relationship with food. Once you complete a Whole30, chances are you will feel better, have more energy, sleep better, and generally feel more mental acuity.
Paleo: This is how my wife and I eat 98% of the time. To us, it seems to be the most natural progression from Whole30, as it feels like Whole30 Light. There are a few natural sweeteners allowed back in the diet, but you have to remember to use them in moderation, and to continue to eat well. The emphasis on the Paleo Diet is not weight loss but eating better, more natural foods. Once again, many people (Sherry and I included) experience weight loss on Paleo, and I lost a total of 150 lbs after one round of Whole30 and then going Paleo. It can be difficult to get used to at first, and ingredients can be expensive, but more and more stores are carrying Paleo-friendly ingredients, and as the diet’s popularity grows, the prices for Paleo-friendly foods continues to decline.
Keto: This is a great diet, but it is the most difficult to get into out of the three listed so far. This diet is where you force your body into ketosis (not be be confused with ketoacidosis which is very bad). Ketosis is the process in which the body stops using carbs for energy and starts using lipids as energy. It is a very effective diet, and while it was first used to treat epilepsy and to reduce seizures, it is also very effective for weight loss. It can be difficult for some people to get into ketosis, however, and it is difficult to maintain ketosis. It requires a strict adherence to the diet, and in tracking macronutrients. It has recently become a little easier to get back into ketosis with the use of exogenic ketones, but this is controversial, and some people don’t believe that they are effective. Regardless, the few times I tried the Keto diet, I lost a lot of weight and I felt great. There is a burst of energy you feel when you are in ketosis, and while I liked how I felt, it was difficult for my wife and I to track and maintain the right balance of macronutrients to remain in ketosis. We stopped doing keto and went back to Paleo, although we do allow some keto concepts into our diet now.
Intermittent Fasting: This is something I dabbled in, and to be fair, I didn’t do long-term. I tried it, but I didn’t give it the same chance I gave the previous three. It’s not really a diet, per se, as much as it is a schedule for eating. I have read many accounts of IF working, and I don’t doubt its efficacy and as far as I can tell, it holds up well scientifically. However, I feel that it’s quite difficult, and I personally felt that Whole30, Paleo, and Keto were all much easier to adhere to on an eating schedule I’m accustomed to and that fits in well with my family, friends, and co-workers.
So there you have it: three diets and an alternate eating schedule. Do some research, and once you find one that makes sense, give it a try. That’s what I did, and I am much healthier, lighter, and more fit now because of it.