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Macro or Paleo?


By Lila Bennett

There is something enticing and optimistic about a brand new diet. Like buying the latest wrinkle cream promising to eliminate wrinkles within days, we hope that THIS diet will work THIS time. Americans spend over 30 billion dollars a year on an overabundance of diet books, pills, potions, and exercise devices promised to aid in shedding excess body weight. 

The harsh reality however, is that 95% of any weight lost by these methods is eventually regained. The truth is most diets are not meant for long-term results. Instead, they are set up for instant gratification and results then marketed so the dieter believes that they will really work. These diets make the time tested concepts of calories in, calories out especially difficult for fitness professionals to impart. As it turns out, this actually is the premise of most modern diets today. Knowledge of each trending diet will help us safely navigate through the hype and realize the concept is always the same.

Macrobiotic Diet


Those who follow the traditional approach believe that specific food and their quality powerfully affect health, well-being and happiness. The modern macrobiotic approach suggests foods that are less processed with sensitivity to what foods help sustain health and well-being. Most macrobiotic diets derive from a common menu. They are essentially vegetarian, some nearly vegan, that emphasize natural, organically and locally grown whole foods. 

Does it work?

Lack of studies makes it hard to define specific results and weight loss potential. However, its boycott on processed foods and emphasis on healthful whole grains, vegetables, and legume products will likely yield some form of weight loss and health benefits. It is important to eat less than your daily recommended max or burn off any extra with exercise. Vegetarians typically eat fewer calories than their meat-eating counterparts however meat is proven to keep us satiated and lack thereof can lead to overeating. 

Paleo Diet


The eating patterns of a highly processed and carb obsessed nature is the biggest cause of our health problems today. Paleo advocates say we should go way back to the Paleolithic period or more than 10,000 years ago when processed junk foods, fast food, and pastas didn’t exist. Paleo diets are based on one simple premise, if the caveman didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. The foods included are meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables. Exclusions to this diet are refined sugar, dairy, legumes and grains. 

Does it work?

Researchers have not tapped into the Paleolithic diet to suggest any evidence for or against it. This diet can be so restricted it can be unsustainable in modern times. Careful planning can help one to follow a “primal blueprint” which is a version of the Paleo diet that allows for some dairy, alcohol, and chocolate while still following the philosophy of Paleolithic eating. 

Gluten Free Diet


A gluten free diet is essential to follow for those that suffer from celiac disease. In those with celiac disease, ingesting gluten triggers an auto immune attack of the intestinal lining, causing gastrointestinal distress and potential malabsorption of necessary nutrients. Others may have a gluten sensitivity, which can cause many similar symptoms, without the intestinal damage. Advocates say you may not know how good you can feel until you go gluten free claiming it can ease a number of ailments including digestive problems, chronic inflammation, chronic fatigue, headaches and depression. 

This diet includes naturally gluten free foods such as meat, fish, legumes, nuts, vegetables, rice, corn, potatoes and quinoa. The diet excludes foods with gluten such as wheat, rye, barley and processed foods that contain them. Many foods may contain gluten so following specific gluten-free labeling is crucial. 

Does it work?

Gluten free diets have been heavily endorsed by celebrities and the media over the past few years. It is important to be diagnosed with a gluten allergy by a professional first. Many individuals use gluten free as a means of weight loss, eating healthier, or to diagnose one’s own symptoms, but there can be risks to this popular diet. Great care must be taken when following this diet or it can lead to a lack of proper amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are found in many gluten containing foods.



According to this diet the key to weight loss is achieving proper hormone balance and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Elevated levels of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood sugar, and other hormones can cause you to pack on the pounds. The diet recommends operating in your optimal hormone “zone” through specific food consumption ratios: 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. Consuming this balance of nutrients allows the body to stay healthy, slim and operate at peak performance. The Zone diet typically restricts calories for women at 1,200 and 1,500 for men and promotes eating five times a day: three meals and two snacks. Each meal should consist of a colorful carbohydrate, a lean protein and a dash of a healthy fat. 

Does it work?

There has been very little research completed on the Zone diet. Small amounts of evidence suggest it is moderately effective for weight loss however scientific evidence has cast doubt on the carb/protein/fat ratio’s efficacy. 

21 Day Fix Diet:


No counting calories, points or logging your food into diet software. This plan has everything laid out for you. Specially designed portion-control containers teach followers to eat the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins and good fats. A nutrition guide is also included to list the best foods to fill your containers with. This diet will simplify how to create healthy options with the foods you like. 

Does it work?

The portion control containers offer the accountability of a nutrition coach by limiting what foods you can have and giving more of what you should have. Following the suggestions of what foods to fill the containers with will be crucial to your success however, the simplicity of this diet makes it easy to follow away and at home. 

Each of these diet trends, all with a unique twist, describes the same clean eating premise: eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, a lean protein, good fats and limit your intake of carbohydrates. The common denominator is to consume fewer calories. While understanding that some form of structure to adhere to is important, a diet will only be a short-term fix for a bad long-term track record. As a fitness professional, my toughest challenge is helping people realize that real change comes not with the latest fad diet but from recognizing specific lifestyle habits that brought them to where they are now, and taking reasonable and attainable steps to a healthier way of life. 

As we embark on hopes for a healthier existence and promising goals for 2015, let us not make a New Year’s resolution, yet again. Instead, commit to a lifestyle resolution. Change the way you think about foods and create a pattern of positive clean eating. Alter your consumption habits by reconfiguring lifestyle patterns. Go to the grocery store instead of the restaurant. Choose fresh, whole foods instead of processed, packaged foods. Revisit your commitment level and free yourself of any excuses you’ve had in the past. Excuses lead only to self-doubt the biggest contributor to demotivation and eventually failure. This year, vow to stop ordering the newest diet books and pills. Instead, spend your time finding small changes you can start making now to create a lifestyle of healthy habits in your future.