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Diet & Nutrition

Which diet would work best for you according to your personality

Jo Hartley looks at why your personality is the key to successfully losing weight.

By Jo Hartley
Keto, paleo, Mediterranean, fasting.
If you're trying to shed kilos, there is no end of diets to try that promote health and wellbeing, convenience and ease.
But, when it comes to choosing a diet, one size doesn't fit all... if only it were that simple.
But how does our personality and lifestyle affect the success and sustainability of an eating plan? Should social butterflies avoid the stricter eating regimes? Are diets requiring organisation and pre-planning doomed to fail for us time-poor folk?
Here we explore the most common diets and help find the fit for you.

Keto diet

Hello bacon, avocado, cheese and nuts. Goodbye grains, legumes and processed foods.
Some studies have shown that keto is effective for weight loss and lowering the risk of some diseases.
The lack of carbs, and subsequent blood sugar, means that your body starts to break down stored fats for energy. The process is called ketosis.
Who could it work for?
"If you're deskbound through the week, not regularly exercising and don't eat many carbs anyway, keto could work for you," says Olivia Morrison, accredited dietician and nutritionist at No Worries Nutrition.
"Sticking to keto means saying goodbye to a lot of beloved high-carb foods, but that can be beneficial if you have an 'all or nothing' mentality when it comes to eating."
Olivia notes that keto could be a winner if you prefer to have small portions and love the taste of rich foods.
Who may struggle?
"If you love hot chips or pasta and hate the idea of recording and weighing out ingredients to track your carb intake, keto probably isn't for you," says Olivia.
"Keto's quite restrictive for people who don't like planning meals or enjoy cooking. It's also challenging for vegetarians or vegans or for those regularly travelling for work."
Olivia recommends avoiding keto if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nutritional deficiencies, immunity issues or type 1 diabetes.
Be aware that...
  • The keto diet lacks fibre as it cuts out all whole grains, the majority of vegetables and fruits and limits 'approved' vegetables due to their carbohydrate content
  • Keto diet research for weight loss and long-term health is still new
  • 'Keto Flu' is real and causes fatigue, constipation, headaches, changes in mood and bad breath. Symptoms can last up to three months.

Paleo

Image: Bauer photographic / bauersyndication.com.au
Unless you've actually been living in a cave, you'll have heard of the paleo diet.
Referred to by some as the 'caveman' or 'hunter- gatherer' diet, this is about consuming foods that people would have eaten in pre-farming times over 10,000 years ago.
Paleo limits foods such as dairy products, legumes and grains. Instead, it's about lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Who could it work for?
"The paleo diet can work well for those who enjoy cooking and eating at home, and already limit carbohydrates," says Olivia.
"It seems easier to stick to for young adults without children."
Who may struggle?
Due to the high amounts of saturated fat in this diet and restriction of essential dietary fibres, anyone with high blood pressure, cholesterol, or has a high risk of cancer, stroke or heart disease should avoid this diet.
"For those wanting to lose weight, it may be difficult following this diet due to the high fat content," says Olivia.
"Truthfully, there's yet to be any conclusive evidence to show this diet is beneficial long term. Currently, the risks outweigh the positives."
Be aware that...

Mediterranean Diet

Image: Ben Dearnley/bauersyndication.com.au
The Mediterranean style of eating isn't about restriction, weight loss, or following a meal plan, but rather focuses on simple home cooked meals with minimal processed foods.
The diet incorporates plenty of plants, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seafood and healthy fats like nuts.
Research has shown it helps control blood sugar and weight, improves mental health and heart health, prevents cancer and reduces inflammation.
Who could it work for?
"I believe nearly everyone can follow the Mediterranean diet as it's very simple and flexible," says Olivia.
"It includes all the food groups and is really easy when it comes to eating out and socialising.
"If you're someone who doesn't do well with the typical 'diet' structure and restriction, this relaxed way of eating might be the one for you."
Who may struggle?
While the Mediterranean diet suits almost everyone, Olivia notes that there's one personality type who can struggle.
"If you're someone who loves structure, rigidity and organisation when it comes to eating, the relaxed nature of this diet might seem overwhelming at first," she says.
"You'll need to learn how to plan meals for yourself or have a chat with a dietitian to help guide and provide structure for you."
Be aware that...
  • Some of the foods, such as nuts and seafood can be expensive
  • Although the Mediterranean diet allows moderate drinking, particularly of red wine for the cardiovascular benefits, it's still important to limit alcohol intake and have at least three alcohol-free days each week.

Fasting

The 5:2 diet, or variations of, incorporates intermittent days of fasting.
For five days of the week, you eat what you like (balanced and in moderation – hold off on that family chocolate bar) and for the other two days you only consume 500 calories.
Research has shown that fasting diets can help reduce inflammation, improve brain function and prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and control blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
Who could it work for?
"If you regularly travel for work, particularly overseas, fasting can be beneficial for weight management and also reducing jetlag," says Olivia.
"Night shift workers can also benefit as time-restricted eating helps with hormonal regulation, sleep, immunity and digestion."
For social butterflies, non-breakfast lovers, or those who regularly eat out, the 12–16 hour or 5:2 style of fasting can help structure the day and help balance energy to avoid weight gain.
Who may struggle?
Fasting is not recommended for children, the elderly, pregnant women, type 1 diabetics, people with very low blood pressure or those needing to gain weight.
"If you're someone who is or has struggled with binge eating or an eating disorder, I don't recommend fasting," says Olivia.
"Seek advice from your doctor or dietitian before trying any fasting diet, especially if you have a known health condition."
Be aware that...
  • Fasting is designed to reduce the time we have to eat, therefore reducing the amount of food we eat, but for some it does the opposite
  • Restriction can push people to binge eat and crave high calorie foods.

Before to start a diet you should consider:

Social butterflies and people-pleasers who regularly dine out with friends often end up eating more.
A study on pairs of women found that we tend to mimic our companions' eating habits.
So, if your friend orders those extra sides, you're likely to eat them too.
A busy social life means more dates with high calorie foods, making it harder to resist those fatty, savoury and sweet delights.
Research has good news for the conscientious. According to experts, conscientious people tend to make healthier meal choices and eat more fruit and vegetables.
For emotional peeps, the chip aisle at the supermarket may hold extra appeal.
A UK poll of 2000 women revealed that the main reasons they reached for chocolates or chips is because they were sad, miserable or stressed.
Ask yourself:
  • Am I willing to cut out XYZ forever?
  • Am I willing to restrict eating out with friends, possibly forever?
  • Does this align with the life I want to live?
  • Do I enjoy this?

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