Let me tell you a story!
Some “diets” improve our weight, some improve our health. Very few approaches to eating will do both predictably and consistently.
There are three variables, or three balls we need to juggle if we want to use food to help us manage both our health and our weight.
The 3 variables of eating
All diets will address one or more of these three things.
- Food Type: What the food is. Ex. Meat or veg, local or organic, protein or fat, etc.
- Food Timing: When we eat
- Food Energy: How much potential energy is in the food (calories are a common measure)
Let’s take a look how some popular diets juggle these 3 variables.
1 a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.
Paleo diet cares about food type. It’s an eat this food type don’t eat that food type prescription based on some reasons we imagine are connected to our collective eating history.
Food Timing (when we eat) and Food Energy (how much we eat) are outside the palio circle of attention.
1 Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of eating and non-eating during a defined period. Intermittent fasting protocols can be grouped into two categories: whole-day fasting and time-restricted feeding.
Intermittent Fasting pays attention to food timing. Cycling between periods of eating and not eating to train and condition different hormonal and metabolic systems (metabolic meaning how your body uses food).
Our other 2 variables, food energy and food type (the one paleo eaters care so much about) are not a part of the intermittent equation: As long as you are eating within the proper “eating window” or window of time you are intermittent fasting.
1 A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals. For food, clothing or any other purpose. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
The vegan variables get an extra crown of values. As fanatical as it’s sometimes seen, this is a value-driven lifestyle, that extends beyond food to every dollar a vegan spends. Sniffing out out the smallest hint of animal cruelty in anything they purchase, including the TYPE of food they consume.
Just like these other diets – a vegan diet is focused on only one variable (food type) leaving out food timing and food energy.
Here is the key:
For a diet to successfully manage your weight along while it improves your health – it must have some attention on at least two variables.
A vegan who pays attention to the amount food energy they consume can manage both their health and weight. A vegan who consumes endless amounts of flour, sugar and raw deserts can still be vegan, but will not have effective control of their weight.
An intermittent faster who pays attention to eating high quality, nutrient dense food can see improvements in both their health and their weight.
A paleo eater who restricts their eating window properly will see improvements in their health. Attention to energy consumed will help them more predictably manage their weight.
- Pick a diet you know, perhaps one you have tried ~ and look for these three variables.
- Reflect on your success with both feeling healthy and managing your weight predictably.
Learning how to juggle these “actual things” can free you from diet dogma and confusion and allow you to think for yourself in the incredibly confusing space of diet information.
Understanding these variables can empower you to create your own approach to eating based on what’s most important to you at any given time – instead of searching for a prefab diet you can somehow fit yourself into. You are more unique than that, aren’t you?
Questions? Comments? Think I’m full of it? Leave your comments below ….