Keto, paleo, cleansing and the SAVAGE approach to diets - what works and why?

“Go keto and your body will be a fat burning machine!” “Go Paleo and you will lose weight, have more energy and sleep better than ever!” “Do a cleanse and you will lose up to 20 lbs in 10 days!”

It all sounds so exciting, doesn’t it? I mean it sounds simple, so just do it and life will be easy and you’ll be rocking those skinny jeans with room to spare, right? Not really. Or at least, it won't be fun and probably won't last forever!

So then why are fad diets so popular?

The idea of cutting out entire food groups and types of foods is actually pretty simple - cut out dairy and, for many, you are eliminating a huge portion of your daily (less healthy) “go-tos.” For example, just getting a deli sandwich and leaving off the cheese will lower that meal’s calories by 100 to 400 Cal depending on the sandwich. That is significant! (Remember this trick, though, when you do think about your own healthy changes!)

Sounds like it works, so what’s the ish? 

If you know me, I'm all about consistency, sustainability and making sure you FEEL good! These diets are not sustainable and often not even meant to be sustained (Keto, for example). You do these diets to get the weight off, and then what? As I’ve talked about before, we are not so good at that moderation, so more often than not, we do our fad diet, lose “up to” 20 lbs and then hop right back into those habits that got us overweight in the first place.

Ok, so what’s the Savage Approach?

I have no problem with a traditional or (most) fad diets to lose some weight. BUT, we want all that effort to actually work, right? So, let’s talk about what does work to keep that weight off and keep you focused on your health and happiness rather than your waistline! 

We are too busy and life is full of too much awesomeness to want to feel deprived. We want to jump right into feeling good and making our changes sustainable. Let's focus on consistency, simplicity and find that moderation. 

Below are 3 ways to make some sustainable changes without feeling deprived or guilty for not being able to stick to the “simple” diets you see in the magazines:

1. Cut the chemicals:

You may already think you eat quite healthy but go into your kitchen and start reading your labels (especially salad dressings and condiments!). Not just to reduce your risk of diseases, lowering your intake of toxins in your food can have a huge impact on your weight loss goals from helping with cravings to helping you more easily drop the visceral fats around your midsection. 

  • Start by throwing out anything with high fructose corn syrup and food dyes labeled with a color (even if it says, “natural”). Caramel Coloring sounds harmless but it’s been shown to disrupt hormones and have carcinogenic properties.

  • Next start seeing if you recognize all of the ingredients listed as FOOD. If so, keep it! If not, chuck it. If something you love ends up in the trash, send me a pic of the label and I’ll help you find a replacement or decide if you can keep it around.

  • Finally - go organic. While the organic label may not always be reliable, it’s still a good place to start. It’s not just fruits, veggies and meats that you should buy organic, wheats used breads and cereals are often saturated in Roundup, a common pesticide that has been linked to a slew of health concerns. There are plenty of articles out there about pesticides, food dyes and preservatives so you can decide for yourself. I like to just walk on the safe side and try to cut them all out when possible!

2. Limit your intake of processed foods:

What are processed foods? Processed foods are any food that has been purposely changed in some way prior to consumption. Sounds like most food we eat, so how do we cut out processed foods? Again, here is where I like to keep it simple. Keep it simple. Don’t get too focused on the definition. Focus on eating foods that are in a natural state. Eliminate foods that have undergone chemical processing or too much extracting and isolating of proteins and lipids.  If you’re doing one of my programs, you know that I have a “no processed foods all day” point that you can earn. I’ll lay out my own view on what to allow for that point here:

  • Rather than say a food can’t have undergone any physical processing, lets look at it from an ingredient standpoint.

  • Allow for anything that is processed to keep it fresh (ie. Many frozen, and even canned, foods and cooked meats).

  • If foods are cooked or packaged for convenience but remain in a natural state, we don’t have to call it processed.

  • Foods with whole ingredients that you can recognize in their natural state can still be labeled “unprocessed” for our purposes here, too. Sausages bought at the butcher are just ground up meat and spices. Those I generally call unprocessed.

  • I even go so far as to allow whole milk (and homemade nut milks), many cheeses and plain whole yogurt unprocessed, too.

  • Simple breads and pastas can even fall into my version of unprocessed.

  • Stay as close to nature as possible and the less packaging the better (usually packing implies preservatives, but if there are none, you’re good to go!).

So are processed foods bad? Not necessarily. I’m pretty sure my children eat mostly processed foods and I still call their diet healthy (ish). But for simplicity’s sake, if you want to keep your diet healthy, a good rule of thumb is to stay away from processed foods.

3. Lighten up on the sugar:

I’d say that one of the biggest problems with our diets as a society is our sugar addiction. It’s literally everywhere. We are being overfed sugar and our bodies are depending on it. 

Not only are we consuming too much sugar in unnecessary places and quantities, but our bodies are designed to need it! We are busy and stressed and not sleeping like we should and our body starts to think, “Man, I need some energy - STAT!” Quick energy? Sugar.

  • Start by paying attention. Avoiding overly processed foods and checking labels will help get the unexpected sugars out of your diet. Look for added sugar in things like salad dressings, breads, and crackers. Next, cut it out!

  • Take that creamer out of your coffee and replace it with a splash of half and half. And, if you need, add a small teaspoon of actual sugar. I guarantee it’s less than what’s in that creamer!

  • Swap whole wheat breads and pastas for the processed white wheat (your body will react to that - as well as white rice and potatoes - in much the same way it does to straight sugar).

  • Naturally occurring sugars in fruits, veggies, and milk products? Totally fine! Eat the heck out of that banana. It’s SO good for you!

  • Finally, we need this to be sustainable. When you “need” a sweet treat, opt for some delicious fresh fruits. But if you have a cookie staring you in the face, there are a few options: 1. You can save that cookie for after dinner. You won’t have to deal with the repercussions of a mid-day sugar bump and you will get to sit and savor it. 2. If you want to have it right away, make sure it’s not the only thing you’re eating. Grab some protein to have with it or within the hour after it. 3. Maybe you don’t need the whole thing! Try the 3 bite rule - 1 bit to taste it, 1 bite to savor it and 1 bite to say goodbye! That’s all your palate actually needs. It’s science - look it up!

Hope this helps you all kick start some new healthier habits! Let me know how it goes and reach out with any questions!