Calculating macros, counting calories, cycling carbs, intermittent fasting, atkins, paleo etc etc are all ways to lose weight or get shredded. So, while I'm sure these particular diet will get you 'lean' in the short term, none of them truly take health into account. I take a naturopathic and holistic approach to diet and with my clients and myself, and there is a much better and easier way to get lean, add muscle, without cycling through carbs etc or any of that truly complicated stuff; it's called a whole food plant based diet.
Firstly macros are individual specific- some people do need more protein/ carbs or fat, but that's another ball game entirely. Most plant foods come in perfectly packaged 'macros' that include protein, carbs and fat just as our bodies need, rather than us trying to ‘engineer’ them. The fitness industry and a lot of nutritionists/ dieticians generally just concentrate on the macros and calories, while ignoring micronutrients, enzymes and phytonutrients. Most people in the western world are not deficient in any macro, however many people are deficient in a number of micronutrients, which we can test for and phytonutrients and enzymes which unfortunately we can't test for , but their presence is anecdotal, preventing disease, making people feel good and giving energy etc. Also calories are completely man made. Your body doesn't recognise a calorie. Many people who eat a diet rich in plant food are probably in a natural calorie deficit but don't realise it or suffer from it.
Nutritional deficiencies in some form or another are the root cause of many diseases. While being shredded is often people's 'now' goal. Surely being fit and healthy (and alive) enough when they are 70+ should be everybody's end goal? I'm sure you know as much as I have, people who have been struck down with cancer and the like even though they exercised every day and were generally perceived to be 'healthy'. As I always take a holistic approach, of course health is not just down to the food that we eat, health to me is all about layers of an onion, so sleep and rest matters, mental health matters, relationships matter, sunshine matters, stress matters, reducing chemicals (be it in food, air, water, products) matters a lot.
Food also has a large anti inflammatory effect. With my clients , reducing their inflammatory load through diet (and also through lifestyle habits) is key so that they can not only train the next day or day after, but also to reduce any health issues that they are experiencing (knowingly or unknowingly). Inflammation is the starting point of all disease. Anti inflammatory foods are fresh fruits and veggies.
Proteins are not just animal products, plants have protein too. Yes animal products are 'pure protein' without carbs etc, however animal proteins are a 'dirty source', they all come with a good helping of cholesterol and saturated fat, produce endotoxins and putrify in the gut, causing us to re-absorb the toxins. Animal products also do not come with any fibre and therefore do not contribute to gut health. If non-organic, meat comes with a healthy portion of antibiotics, drugs and hormones. Maybe even a side portion of fear and despair from a metaphysical perspective because of the ethical considerations of a cruel industry. Animal agriculture contributes 55% towards greenhouse gas emissions (by the animals themselves- methane, CO2 and nitric oxide) and climate change generally which includes land use for growing crops to feed to animals, soil degradation, deforestation, species extinction not to mention an inefficient use of food , while billions starve every day. The fishing industry is not exempt either; if we continue fishing in the ways we do now the seas are expected to be devoid of fish by 2048 which will have a catastrophic impact on life on this planet. Eating fish typically comes with a healthy side portion of heavy metals and microplastics these days.
Oh and by the way, black beans have more protein and iron than beef, without any of the downsides.
If you’d like another way than macro and calorie counting, there is a lot of information out there about a whole food plant based diet. If you’d like specific help to get you on the right track, then shout me, I offer face to face and online coaching to help improve your health and whittle your waistline!
Ally van de Pol is a personal trainer and holistic nutritionist and will certify as a healing diets coach in 2020 and a naturopath in 2022. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.