Veganism? Vegetarianism? Should I be on a keto diet or Paleo? What’s the difference?
Within the last decade, there have been a million and one ways to lose weight. The real question is, what works best for you? Throw away the categories! The pressure to follow one kind of diet can feel quite overwhelming, especially when it’s impossible to understand if cutting out animal-based products is better, like veganism, or eliminating carbs, like keto.
VEGAN VS. “PLANT-BASED” – IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
The vegan diet has popularized tremendously, in case you’re living under a rock and aren’t on social media. But if you don’t really know all the details, being vegan means excluding all forms of exploiting animals for food, clothes or products, including make up or body wash. Most of those who categorize themselves as vegan heavily support the animal rights movement, hence why even using supplement capsules with gelatin is something vegans steer away from. When it comes to being “plant based,” it’s portrayed as a gentler term and those who consider themselves plant based may more lenient in what they consume. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s possible for someone to be vegan or plant based and still eat ice cream when they want to, but like all these diets, it’s a lifestyle that they choose – so just take it day by day.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE VEGETARIAN?
Unlike veganism, a vegetarian diet doesn’t avoid animal products completely. It’s involves mostly abstaining from the consumption of meat, but is heavily plant based. Although it’s not the same, it does share the same health benefits of being vegan, for example:
- Can help lower cholesterol
- Easier to maintain weight
- Increase your fiber intake
- Increases fruit, vegetable and antioxidant consumption
VEGAN SUBSTITUTES AREN’T NECESSARILY HEALTHIER FOR YOU
Anybody loves a good Reeses, they’re decadent and delicious. But Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups – a vegan option – are just as good! Does it mean you can demolish a whole bag of Justin’s without feeling the same guilt as a bag of Reeses? Absolutely not. The sugar may be less but the calories are the same – but people are more prone to eating vegan options because it makes them feel like they are doing the healthier thing (Jessica falls into this group, lol).
If you think about vegan substitutes, for example, cheeses, their ingredients include nuts, sometimes coconut oil. This can be healthier depending on which option you choose, but the caloric intake may remain the same.
KETO VERSUS PALEO DIET – IS IT WORTH LIMITING OUR OPTIONS?
Keto has been taking social media by storm, and it’s based on individuals eliminating carbohydrates in order to lose weight. This can be extremely significant in the beginning – “wow I’ve lost 5 pounds in the first week!” But choosing the right carbs are important, especially in your weight loss journey. It’s not plausible to cut an entire food group because your body does actually need some of it, even if it’s just a little. Examples of good carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, quinoa, oatmeal, lentils, beans – and dont be mistaken, you don’t have to avoid bread!
Paleo is that idea that we should eat like our ancestors. Does it mean you have to go fishing to eat dinner tonight?
No, but the diet is geared towards foods that can only be obtained by hunting and gathering. This is another limitation in your diet, similar to keto, which can cause more weight loss in the beginning but will be difficult to maintain over time. Studies have shown that low carb diets such as paleo and keto, cause quick weight loss because “fat fills you up more than carbohydrates, so you could be taking in fewer calories.” Secondly, when you cut out carbs, you lose mostly water weight since that is how carbohydrates are stored inside your body.
IT’S OKAY TO INDULGE! YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW ALL THE RULES
The most important part of your health journey is how you are feeling, not how many calories you consumed that day or whether that piece of chocolate is going to add two pounds to the scale. Unless you have a medical reason, pressuring yourself to follow these diet rules will only make you go crazy. Everything can be done in moderation; let yourself have that slice of cake at your best friend’s birthday party! We only have one life to live so don’t focus on the boundaries and limitations. Losing weight is supposed to make you feel good, not cause you to worry if that glass of wine was really worth it.
BEST KIND OF TRAINING! (FOR YOU!)
Depending on your fitness goals, there are certain workouts that may be more beneficial to you. Now if you are reading this to know whether or not you’ll become too bulky, just stop right here. No workout will make you too bulky, unless that’s what you want.
Resistance training is helpful for everyone, as it keeps your bones dense and prevents osteoporosis. If you’re looking to be more lean and lithe, weight training with lighter weights and higher repetition such as pilates, yoga or barre classes will help you reach your goal. Now, if you want to have big shoulders and strong legs, weight training with heavier weights is going to be your go-to. This doesn’t mean you have to squat 300 pounds a day; bodyweight exercises are just as beneficial and will help you focus on form. Finally, you burn the most calories doing cardio, specifically high intensity cardio workouts, keeping your heart healthy and burning off your body fat very quickly.
So whether it’s being vegan that makes you feel the most confident, or going to yoga class every Tuesday with your sister, whatever works for you, do it! There are so many diet fads to follow but everything is not for everybody. The most important thing is to choose what makes you happy because as we all know, “We only have one life to live.”