I tried keto, vegan, raw, juice diet, carnivore, paleo, fasting: here is what works.
How did it all begin?
I’m 11 or 12 years old. I get Vitiligo. All doctors know exactly nothing for sure how to stop it, reverse it, making my teenager life normal again, making my skin color return.
I had to figure something out on my own. And I did. It seems, that food and gut issues caused the problem. And food was the solution (Check out Plant Paradox for the possible answer).
After that my interest in food and nutrition, healthy lifestyle, preventative medicine never stopped growing.
I’ve been passionately curious about how food affects our bodies, our minds, our energy — how we experience life — ever since.
And so I’ve been trying all these diets and eating theories to see what works, how, how it affects me and other people, how I feel and look physically, how I feel mentally and emotionally, how I perform in life.
Raw vegan? — 4 years. 6 months of that was almost entirely fresh juices diet with some plant protein powder. Green juice cleanse? Orange juice week? Cold pressed juice? Coconut water month? You bet! I even got certified as a raw vegan chef and helped set up a few raw vegan weight loss retreats!
Before that — low fat, moderate carb, high protein — kind of bodybuilding and fitness model diet. When I had the time to count and weigh everything and could make myself suffer as much as needed to get as lean as needed.
Paleo was next.
Then I decided to take it all the way to keto — there wasn’t much information about it back then (6 years ago), but what I did ended up being keto naturally with all the coconut oil, meat and lots of veggies — I lived in Brazil, Rio back then.
And I’ve been keto, refining it, learning about it more, as the science kept evolving, teaching others all that I’ve learned over the years of my experiments, and from every book, every science paper, every study, every “authority” in the field — anything I could get my hands on.
I’ve always been fasting. Mostly because I love to feel full — you might think it’s the opposite of fasting, but hear me out. I love to feel full, I love big meals and I love being in 2 states — fully enjoying my meals, not rushing anywhere, not counting anything, or being fully immersed in work and life not having to think about food, or to bother cooking, eating, shopping for it, cleaning after. And that’s why I enjoy my big meals and then I fast. Intermittent fasting? Yes, that’s my second nature. I did that even before it was invented. Maybe this book I read, when I was a kid (got it from my father’s collection), had something to do with it.
And now I’m doing a month on fruit, plus some raw mushrooms, celery juice, for the heck of it — missed all the fruit and berries after 6 years of keto with very rare fruit! Also needed to recycle my proteins, felt like I needed a break from all the fish, eggs and other animal products.
But… let’s get back to why we started this post. I obviously tried a lot (while studying nutrition as a career). I had my failures/lessons, I felt good most of the time — no matter the diet, I’d always do as much whole food of the best quality as possible (VS packaged and refined food products).
I kept learning, adapting, studying, working with my clients and learning from them, their experience even more.
So, what works? What did I learn from all my dieting/fasting/juicing/macro-counting experiences?
(Unless you are 100% on juice — I’m yet to see a person, who won’t lose weight on juice only). You can eat zero carbs and get fat. You can eat zero fat and animal products and you can get fat too. You can even get fat, being a raw vegan, if you do it “right”. And by calories I mean the amount of food, the amount of energy your body gets from food.
Results come from what you CAN do. Theories are irrelevant.
Weight loss success? Health transformation? What you can actually DO, VS some theory you love, that makes you fall off the wagon all the time — what you can do is YOUR best strategy. Not keto. Not fasting. Not vegan. If you can’t do it for some reason — it won’t work. It ONLY works, when you consistently do it.
What you CAN do now will change.
In my late teens early 20s I could live on chicken breasts and broccoli — no problem! Could I do it now? NO F*CKING WAY! Unless you pay me a million dollars or something. This kind of diet/starvation craziness, that is deficient in many nutrients, doesn’t work for me anymore.
There is NO BEST DIET.
What are you trying to do? Lose weight super fast before wedding? Build the maximum amount of muscle in the shortest time? Run a marathon? Look and feel great for life? Live the longest? Get on stage as a fitness model? Your best diet approach depends on the goal you have. You can’t optimize for everything. Not at the same time.
Your short-term strategy doesn’t have to be a life-long commitment.
What you decide to do short-term for some goal — doesn’t have to be your life-long strategy. Juicing works amazing for fast weight loss. You can even maintain your weight loss with a smart exit strategy. But obviously you are not going to live on juice — I actually thought I could! Biology proved me wrong real fast. The point is — your short-term health or weight loss strategy doesn’t have to be life-long solution. If you need some results fast — just make sure not to compromise your health too much. Same with keto, or any diet, try it for a month, see how it feels, you don’t have to do it for life, if you don’t want to. Try things the smart way. Keep what works — throw away what doesn’t.
Things never work the same forever.
Often, you will do the same thing, you will stick with some diet or exercise program, and then it will stop working. It’s normal guys. The body changes. Nobody’s getting any younger. Your life changes on so many levels. Your nutrition, your fitness, your lifestyle will change too. If you want to be your best, to feel and look your best at any stage of your life — you got to keep changing, keep adapting — don’t let anyone convince you anything is forever, and that you probably are doing it ALL wrong or eating cookies at night, if it stopped working. Sometimes things stop working, they just do — so change too!
The word STUDY doesn’t guarantee success.
There is a lot of noise out there guys! Poorly designed studies, that are designed to prove the point, not to find the truth. People who claim things, that have no scientific foundation whatsoever. People and organizations are paid to say things. And everyone, you and me including, are biased towards something. We all have a lens through which we see the world, a lens, that colors everything in our life. When I was a raw vegan, I thought things like that, “Humans have degenerative diseases, because we are the only animal, that cooks our food”. Sounds OK actually. (Especially when you skew all the facts in your favor, disregarding anything that proves otherwise). Only it has no proof in reality. Only, there is more sense in science of, “Because we cook our food we can afford a bigger brain, that builds civilizations.” And when you eat a well-balanced diet of cooked food — you live well and long. People who live the longest, centenarians, eat cooked food and don’t have much disease at all. And I’ve never seen a raw vegan, living past 100. Studies, papers, theories — science evolves, there are better and worse studies, some mean a lot, some mean nothing, some are a pure fraud, even when supported by AHA, ADA, WHO etc. (Those are paid and biased the most very often)
Only results matter.
The only approach, that works 100% — evidence based. What does that mean exactly? You design an experiment. You try things. You track changes. You get some results (Even, when there is no change — it is still a result). You keep what works. You eliminate the rest.
My perfect diet might kill you.
Different foods, food combinations applied to different human beings, or at different stages in their life, work differently. I used to be a vegan, and it used to work. Until it didn’t. I used to think I could go carnivore. Until my energy levels and hormones took a deep dive, leaving me feeling the most incapable and unmotivated human being on Earth. Some people feel like superhuman on keto, some people collapse like a sand castle with no carbs. Don’t judge. Do what works. For you.
The last, but definitely not least — this one seems to endure centuries, linking together diet and health methods from across the world, between generations, religion, branches of medicine — fasting. No matter what I did, intermittent fasting has always been a part of my health equation. I fast daily. Weekly — 24–40 hours. Yearly — two 5–7 day fasts. But even in fasting, there is a balance, and you can do it wrong, and it only works, when you supply all the nutrients your body needs, when you eat. Fasting is like the best anti-aging therapy — the beauty from inside out. But it is NOT a ticket to unlimited binges. If you eat crap and then fast — you make your health worse. Because you don’t ever give your body the nutrition you need for a healthy life.
Based on all my lessons, diet trials, building muscles burning fat experiments, what’s the best way to design your diet/nutrition/healthy eating program?
- Set a goal first. What is it you are trying to achieve? If you have no precise goal — you’ll arrive exactly nowhere and most diets will fail you.
- Make a grounded-in-evidence (personal or of someone trustworthy) plan, that YOU can stick with. Chicken breast and broccoli might sound simple and workable, but I personally wouldn’t do this sh*t anymore.
- Track progress — are you getting closer to your goal? The rest is irrelevant.
- Adjust your actions and strategy based on evidence. Take actions — give it some time — measure progress — adjust.
- Once you hit your goal — create a maintenance plan. Old habits will always bring old results, all the weight or/and health problems back. Nothing is forever. If you want a 6-pack for life — you need a lifestyle to match the ambition.
My best advice guys — use it and lose it!
And when you feel you need a little help, support, a better plan, accountability, someone to kick your ass into high gear, someone to make sure you get through this — you know where to find me!
Nutrition/Health/Performance/Weight Loss Coach
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