LCHF, Banting, Ketogenic, Paleo, Atkins – What’s the difference??
Quit sugar, cut dairy or eat more fats, are all popular buzz words we hear these days when it comes to the ‘diet’ we should be on to reach our health goals.
The popularity of such diets has soared in recent years as the evidence base for lower carbohydrate diets is ever-growing with multiple health benefits identified.
In this blog we will highlight the similarities and differences between eating approaches asking us to reduce processed foods and foods high in carbs and sugar.
The basis of all these diets is that they involve the limitation of carbohydrates and exclusion of all refined sugars and processed foods. They also provide a higher proportion of fat. But why is that? Isn’t fat bad for us and makes us fat if we eat too much?? Not the case! The body can get its energy from EITHER carbohydrates or fats therefore when carbs are limited the body adapts to using fats for energy. You cannot expect your body to function properly without supplying enough fats when you are limiting carbohydrates. You would end up starving yourself! Fats provide a greater sense of fullness and therefore increasing them will keep those hunger pains at bay.
It is also important to note that all these approaches to eating are LOW CARB and not NO CARB. Unless you eat only meat and butter (which we would not recommend!) you will still have small amounts of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbs are present in vegetables and dairy products also and these food groups are extremely important components of our diets providing bulk micro-nutrients to help our bodies thrive.
This approach encourages a wide variety of whole unprocessed foods including lots of vegetables with moderate (not high) protein intake. Low carbohydrate is generally defined as consuming more than 50g of carbs per day but less than 130g.
LCHF eliminates all forms of sugar, grains, and wheat in a bid to reduce inflammation and prevent obesity, diabetes, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases. The other emphasis with this is approach is the consumption of good quality fats including some animal fats and the exclusion of highly processed vegetable and seed oils that are pro-inflammatory.
Banting is just another term for LCHF used more commonly in South Africa. It was introduced by Professor Tim Noakes after he published The Real Meal Revolution which is now a best-seller globally.
This approach was originally developed to treat epilepsy in children but has gained traction recently for its ability to transform your body into a fat burning machine once a state of nutritional ketosis is achieved. It is similar to LCHF but far stricter with carbohydrate intake (aiming for less than 50g of carbs per day). This can require the restriction of all fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy products and thus maintenance/compliance can be challenging.
This diet is based on eating foods similar to what the cavemen would eat back in paleolithic times. It is rich in high protein foods like meat, fish, and chicken and it similar to LCHF in that it eliminates refined sugars, grains and wheat. It differs from LCHF in that most paleo dieters will not consume any dairy products. All forms of fruit are also acceptable with the paleo approach whereas lower sugar fruits are preferred with LCHF. It is important to note paleo is not always ‘low carb.’ Many paleo recipes and products contain dried fruits, honey, maple syrup and other alternative sugar substitutes which at the end of the day will still drive appetite and perpetuate hunger like plain old white sugar does.
The Atkins diet developed by Dr Robert Atkins back in the 1970’s is based on carbohydrate counting but allows processed foods including artificial sweeteners as long as they are low carb. Atkins branded products including shakes, bars, and frozen meals are still available on supermarket shelves today. The Atkins diet fails to encourage people to increase their intake of vegetables and whole unprocessed foods and was criticised for being too high in protein.
So how do you decide which diet is best for you?
We recommend LCHF and Banting approaches as they require you to have a clear purpose when it comes to the reduction of a specific macro-nutrient without compromising on the overall nutrition requirements within the diet. These are not restrictive ways of eating and allow the person to achieve satisfaction within meal choices, also helping the feeling of sustained fullness and consistent BGLevels when adapted to properly.
Please note: If you are looking to change your eating approach please seek the support of a professional
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