When I first started this blog, I was predominately a “clean eater,” like, you know… Tosca Reno style. Then I did a trial eating protocol that included not eating: wheat, gluten, or grains. It wasn’t a huge change as I wasn’t a huge bread eater anyhow, besides, I thought at the time, it would be temporary right.. just a trial..
It wasn’t like I was having noticeable issues regarding my digestion, if I did they weren’t terrible, however, now that I’ve mostly eliminated grains from my diet, I certainly notice a lot of changes for the better.
Now I am in transition, trying to describe how I align my current eating style. I’ve spent the last few weeks going through various plans, checking off the do’s and don’ts to see where I fit in.
I’m not sure why labeling an eating style matters to me, perhaps due to the groups I converse with, groups who spend a lot of energy tearing apart plans to discover how they come together from a planning to implementing. Still, at the end of the day, no matter what the name of my style, organic locally grown foods are eaten as much as possible and meats are locally grown field raised too.
I was a clean eater but first….
What is Clean Eating exactly?
It is more of a lifestyle than a diet, you’d be eating close to the earth or foods closer to its natural state, consuming little that is processed or nothing with an ingredient list full of chemicals.
So if not a Clean Eater, what other options are there and why the change?
The process started because I wanted to take advantage of nutrient timing: or utilizing our body’s hormonal cycles to better influence muscle growth and repair, also to manipulate a higher percentage of fat loss. (More on that later, because I know you want to know)
Before I go into deeper detail, as I’ve mentioned before, I read Good Calories, Bad Calories, the Renegade Diet, Carb Back Loading, and on to Carb Night Solution, which I followed for 90 days before transitioning back to Carb Back Loading. At the moment I still somewhat Carb Back Load, but with a performance styled twist. (Again, more on that later)
- Clean Eating What is Clean Eating exactly? More of a lifestyle than a diet, eating is done "close to the earth" or foods closer to its natural state, consuming limited processed or no foods with an ingredient list full of chemicals. Tosca Reno is the originator, this is a great eating style, which I've recommended many times.
- Mediterranean? This is an eating plan that evolved around traditional nutritional patterns of southern Italy, Greece, and Spain. Known for increasing good heart health and longevity, excellent reason for the interest in this eating style.
- Paleo The hottest eating trend at the moment, but what is it? Loosely, it is an eating style that many believe to mimic how our “caveman” ancestors might have eaten “back in the day.” The concern, for some, with this eating protocol is the: low carb, high protein and high animal fat content with this eating style.
- Atkins This low carbohydrate diet was designed to switch the body's metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy, called ketosis. Robert Atkins read a 1958 piece by Dr. Alfred Pennington, in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled "WEIGHT REDUCTION." Atkins used information from the study to resolve his own overweight condition, and wrote a series of books promoting this eating plan.
- South Beach Originally designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon as an alternative to low-fat approaches. (like the Ornish Diet and the Pritikin Diet which were advocated by the American Heart Association in the 1980s.) The original purpose of the diet, during the early 2000s, was to prevent heart disease in Dr. Agatston's own patients, however, word of the diet spread and quickly gained popularity as a means to lose weight.
- The Zone This eating plan is somewhat along the lines of how I previously ate as it was 40/30/30 carbs/protein/fat; this eating style seems to have a focus on being anti inflammatory. Sears once commented that the increased consumption of carbohydrates in the American Diet contributed to the increased obesity rate.
If I am no longer eating clean,
What other options are there?
What about the Paleo Diet?
The eating style, endorsed by the Crossfit group, is trending at the moment, but what is it? Loosely, it is an eating style that many believe to mimic how our “caveman” ancestors might have eaten “back in the day.”
- Paleo Dieters eat: Lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from: nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed meats.
- Paleo dieters don’t eat: grains or dairy (milk, cheeses, and yogurt), processed foods, sugars, legumes, starches, and alcohol.
I’ve been reading a nicely written post (with adorable graphics) by Nerd Fitness, “The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet,” which does an excellent job at breaking down the specifics if you want to read more about Paleo Eating.
- How does this fit into my style? I’m on board regarding the items on the allowed list, however I had reservations about not consuming legumes or dairy as yogurts and cheeses are something our family enjoys often and any eating plan that hates on peanut butter won’t fit in at our house. There isn’t a specific macro breakdown for the eating plan and it varies depending on what you are trying to accomplish: i.e., muscle growth, fat loss, or general well-being.
Okay, so I’m not exactly Paleo… now what?
This is a an eating plan around traditional nutritional patterns of southern Italy, Greece, and Spain known for good heart health and longevity, which created an interest in their eating style.
- Mediterranean dieters eat:
Fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine.
- Mediterranean dieters eliminate:
Processed foods, limited amounts of red meat (only twice a month), and only two meals a weeks of fish or poultry.
- How does this fit into my plan:
A diet of 50% carbs, which is on the higher end, would fuel my workouts but as an active fitness person I feel I need more protein than this plan has to offer. If I manipulated the macros it might work for me, otherwise the ideals of the plan look great. I’m not much of a wine drinker or a fruit eater, so this type of eating doesn’t seem to suit me at all.
Could it be, Gluten Free?
Could I simply be a gluten-free clean eater, that would make planning a lot easier, but what is a Gluten Free Diet? Simply stated, it is an eating plan that removes products that contain gluten from wheat, barley, rye and other grains.
- Gluten Free Dieters eat: meats, seafood, legumes, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Grain substitutions are: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn/cornmeal, flax, quinoa, rice and many other gluten-free flours from things like coconut, rice, almonds.
- What Do You Eliminate?
Foods containing gluten. This includes malt, barley, bulgar, semolina, spelt, rye and wheat.
- How does this fit into my style: Other than the obvious modifications in cooking, this is an easy change to my eating style as I am not a big bread eater. To do this successfully I would need to modify the majority of my recipes as I go along. Nutrient timing would still be a viable option with this plan as well, of course it wouldn’t include GMO substitutes.
What about Atkins?
I’ve never considered the Atkins Diet, it sounds like a lot of work to figure out the phases. It is a low carb styled eating plan that focuses on proteins, fats, and fibers. Perhaps I should get over my preconceived notions and take a look..
- Atkins Allows:
This changes slightly with each phase but: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fats/oils at first; legumes, fruits, nuts, and some grains as the phases progress.
- What you eliminate?
Phase one: no fruits or grains
Phase two: add in fruits and juices along with nuts and seeds.
Phase three: Starchy vegetables
Phase four: legumes and grains.
- Does this fit my plan? With Macros like: Protein: 65% Fats: 35% and Carbs only 5%, I’d be in a constant mental fog going that low carb. Based on my TDEE of 2280 (more on that later), 5% would equate to less than 30 grams of carbohydrates daily and certainly be ketogenic. I’ve just completed 90 days of ULC, during that time I was less that 30g of carbs a day, I barely knew my name and often lost track of what I was doing in the moment. While you could run the program short-term, It wouldn’t work as a long-term eating plan.
Then there is South Beach?
The South Beach Diet offers three phases of the eating plan, which is like Atkins somewhat in that the plan has phases, the first phase is rather regimented, then things relax as the next two phases cycle into place.
- What Do You Eat?
Phase One: meat, vegetables, legumes, dairy, nuts and seeds.
Phase Two: Whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables are added back in.
Phase Three: Includes the above, with the addition of more grains and sweets.
- What Do You Eliminate?
Early on you aren’t eating grains, starchy vegetables or sweets, but they are added back in over time.
- How does this fit into my plan?
It really isn’t an eating style at all, more like a short-term diet plan without any nutrient timing or long-term plan for health. I’m not fully aware of how it comes together, but it doesn’t sound like it would be effective once the starches and sweets are added back in toward the end of the plan.
Finally, the Zone?
It seems The Zone Diet is a 40/30/30 (C/P/F,) plan balances the consumption of protein and carbohydrates in specific ratios in an effort to reduce cellular inflammation. Dr. Sears believes you can’t store fat and burn fat at the same time, his diet aligns your eating to keep the fat burning higher. A google search seems to pull up a lot of Cross Fit sites quoting the Zone as this particular group embraces this particular plan. In fact, I believe that the Cross Fit environment teaches the Zone Diet to their followers.
- What Do You Eat?
The Zone Diet isn’t about eating either “low-carb” or “high-protein,” instead by balancing protein, carbohydrates and fats, it is believed you can control the major hormones– insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids using the human diet.
• Lean Natural Protein
• Low GI Carbs
- What Do You Eliminate?
No grains, breads, pasta, rice, and other similar starches
- How does this fit into my plan?
This plan is fairly close to how I currently eat, one that I feel I should investigate further to determine how this could fit into my plan. Perhaps the combination of Paleo and this plan might be the best answer for me, I need further research before embarking on that eating plan.
I guess at the current time I am eating:
How did I come to the title of “Dirty Paleo? It was the fact that I am really loosely following the paleo diet now, with the exception of occasionally eating legumes, dairy, and some starchy vegetables. I identify with Paleo eating style over South Beach, the Zone, or Atkins and I’m not eating in phases. Another interesting point, which I got from a performance nutrition site, is that I only follow Paleo 80% of the time, the remaining 20% of the time I am foot loose and fancy free, eating intuitively.
Researching this blog post has really opened up my eyes to the variations to these eating styles, it made me think hard about how my current style could fit into each one of them. Being physically active and a weight trainer requires more attention to my nutrition than most people would think is normal, which is why I spent the time researching this project.
While I am eating “Dirty Paleo” at the moment, it is with variation of Carb Back Loading (a nutrient timing plan) and a plan that really focuses on increasing your calorie intake to be closer to what your daily energy needs are. In my next post I will go over how I determine my daily expenditure and what happened when I suddenly went from my average of 1500 calories a day to well over 2000.
What about you, my readers, where do you fit in?
I’d love to hear which plan you feel you are eating under or are more of an intuitive eater and whatever happens happens…