Understanding Popular Eating Lifestyles

"I'm going to eat better." That sentence is probably said daily when pants are a little tight or feeling sluggish after a big meal. Once the decision is finally made to change an eating pattern, how should it be done? Ketogenic (Keto), Paleo, Whole 30, Weight Watchers, intermittent fasting... it seems that every week there is a new popular eating lifestyle. We decided to take a look at 5 different eating lifestyles and look at see the differences between them. In no way are we doctors though. We encourage you to speak with your doctor before altering eating habits.

Whole 30

Changes can happen with the body if you adjust your eating habits for 30 days. That's the thought behind Whole30. According to the Whole30 website, it's a "short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."

For 30 days, cut out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes (beans, peas, peanuts), and dairy. What is allowed is meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, and natural fats. Eating this way is supposed to help curve food cravings and may alleviate issues from food sensitivities, like digestive issues. After the 30 days, foods are reintroduced slowly into the diet in hopes to determine what foods a body will tolerate and what they won't.

Initially, this is a very strict eating lifestyle. After 30 days are complete, you move to "food freedom" where more types of food are allowed and the diet is not as strict.

Overall, Whole30 cuts out foods that should be cut back on, like sugar, But it also cuts out healthy foods too like whole grains and legumes. Basically, Whole30 is a reset for your body and should not be strictly adhered to for more than 30 days.


The basic thought behind eating Paleo is cutting out modern foods and eat the way hunters ate back in the Paleolithic era (2.5 million to 10,000 years ago). High-fat, processed foods are eliminated and emphasize healthier fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

Lean meats, fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds were things hunters could find and are the focus of this eating lifestyle. Foods to avoid are grains (wheat, oats, barley), legumes, dairy, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, and highly processed foods. While strict, this diet is simple.

Exercise is a requirement when eating Paleo. So, cutting back on processed foods and exercise will contribute to weight loss. Eating Paleo may also help with glucose tolerance, control blood pressure, and help appetite management, however, there are no long-term studies to back up those statements.

Ketogenic (Keto)

If eating Keto, high-fat and low-carb food will be on your menu. Cutting out most carbohydrates and eating foods high in fat, put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When in ketosis, the body burns fat for energy. It shifts the body from requiring carbs to fuel the body to fat fueling the body.

Keto has some similarities to the Atkins diet. What you can eat is red meat, ham, bacon, chicken, turkey, salmon, eggs, butter, cream, cheese, nuts, seeds, healthy oil, avocado, and low-carb vegetables. Foods to avoid are sugar, grains, fruit, beans, low-fat products unhealthy fats and alcohol. Carb intake is typically under 20 grams per day. About 5% of your macronutrients will come from carbs, 15-25 percent is from protein, while about 75% is from fat.

People have been known to get the "Keto flu" when they begin eating this lifestyle. The flu side effects are sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort, and a foggy feeling. This is usually over within a few days. Other continuous side effects are dry mouth, thirst, and frequent urination; this will happen when the body is in ketosis.

There are not many scientific studies about the long-term effects of eating Keto on the body. Being in ketosis, though, has been shown to help people with epilepsy have fewer seizures. Keto will help with weight loss, but also may curb hunger and provide extra energy however some doctors advise against eating this way long term. Limiting nutrient-rich foods, vegetables, and grains, and eating many high-fat foods may contribute to heart health issues down the road.

Weight Watchers

Jean Nidetch, a housewife from Queens, New York created what would become known as Weight Watchers after she lost weight in 1963. She developed meetings where she would discuss how she lost weight. People paid $2 for each meeting (the price of a movie ticket then) to attend. The attendance grew and grew and she applied her knowledge to develop what we now know as Weight Watchers.

The elements of Weight Watchers includes weekly meetings, a support network, and a points system. The idea is that community support will help someone continue to eat healthier to achiever their weight loss goals.

While on Weight Watchers, you're not restricted to what foods you can/can't eat. Instead, the points for those foods (determined by Weight Watchers) must fit within your point goals for the day/week. Points are determined based on the foods fat, sugar, protein, and fiber content. More protein, fewer points. More fat, more points. Basically, everything in moderation.

Showing what points foods are is supposed to help members load up on more protein, fruits, and vegetables and eat fewer sugary, fatty, processed foods. Exercise is also part of the Weight Watchers programs with exercise points figured into weekly goals. Weight Watchers is not a hard lifestyle to follow, however, but is fee-based to participate.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting isn't a diet, per se, more so it's a way to eat meals. There are three approaches if intermittent fasting.

One method is known as 16:8. That means for 16 hours you are fasting, and food is consumed within 8 hours. Another method is Eat/Stop/Eat. Here, one or two times a week you eat dinner, then don't eat again until dinner the next day (24 hours later). A third method is 5:2; 2 days a week limit caloric intake to 500-600 calories.

The 16:8 method is the most popular. When fasting, no food is allowed. Water, coffee, tea, and bone broth are allowed; typically keeping it to under 250 calories. During your 8 hour window, you eat your meals. This does not mean to eat anything you want, eating healthier, unprocessed foods is still encouraged.

Your body is in a fed state for 3-5 hours after eating a meal. After that time, it goes into a post-absorptive state which basically means you're not processing the meal anymore. This lasts for 8-12 hours. After that, your body goes into a fasted state. When in a fasted state, the body burns fat that wasn't accessible in the fed state. Our bodies rarely get to the fasted state since typically we don't wait 12+ hours to eat a meal. By intermittent fasting and not eating for 16 hours, your body ends up burning that stored fat.

When fasting, blood sugar and insulin levels drop and hormone levels change. Fat ends up being burned rather than carbohydrates to fuel the body. Intermittent fasting is supposed to help the body with lose weight and help with metabolic health. Some studies have found intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. When fasting, fewer calories are eaten which will result in weight loss. There are no long-term studies to support or be against this method of eating.

Again, in no way are we doctors or specifically recommending one of these eating lifestyles. This article is purely to spotlight trends in eating and to help determine if a lifestyle is right for you. Before adjusting your eating habits in any way, we highly recommend speaking with a doctor.


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