Trendy diets have a quasi-religious-like zeal. They’re more than just diet fads; they’re lifestyles. In this day and age, people don’t go on diets. They change their lifestyles. A South Beach diet brings to mind, well… South Beach. You don’t think about lean protein and high fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates; you think about nightclubs, Art Deco hotels, muscled men in Gucci suits, and models drinking margaritas on the hoods of Ferraris.
The Science Behind Diet Fads
The latest diet fad to take the world by storm is the Paleo diet, a caveman-inspired nutritional regimen that revolves around meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Paleo-practitioners believe that our modern diet, with its reliance on grains, starches, dairy, salt, and processed sugar, isn’t natural and has led to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Is there any hard science behind diet fads or are these trends simply cooked up by creative entrepreneurs, Silicone Valley hucksters looking to squeeze every last dollar out of America’s obesity epidemic -like the Bulletproof, the no calorie-counting diet dreamed up by Dave Asprey, which claims that 60 percent of your diet should be healthy fats, 20 percent good quality meats, and that each day should be kicked off with a bulletproof coffee, a cup of joe mixed with butter and oil. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that there’s no explanation for how you can lose weight on a limitless calorie, high fat diet.
The science behind the Paleo diet has been endlessly debated. Leaders of the trend believe that a “wild” diet, one similar to our Paleolithic forager ancestors who didn’t cultivate or eat grain, is our natural diet. In other words, they believe the human body isn’t designed to thrive on grains, starches, dairy, and processed sugar. On the other hand, nutritionists insist valuable nutrients such as calcium, fiber, and vitamins B and D are found in grain and dairy. The Virgin diet is an offshoot of the Paleo phenomenon. It claims that the cause of weight gain is that we all suffer from some type of food intolerance. The Virgin diet suggests eliminating seven high intolerance foods, including sugars, gluten, and dairy. Scientists have called into question whether or not we really have food intolerances; symptoms like headaches, tiredness, sluggishness and bloatedness may simply be the result of eating a diet of fast food and processed meals and not the consequence of a food intolerance.
The Paleo diet is part of a larger “evolutionary fitness” trend. Not only should we be eating the same foods we ate 10,000 years ago, we should be exercising the same way too –this is why Cross-Fit is big with the Paleo crowd. As for the science… you can find facts and figures to support almost any type of lifestyle.