So many diets, so little time.
Welcome to Day 3. You’ve triumphed through two days of no sugar, no alcohol, no beans, no grains and no dairy. BRAVO! Give yourself lots of back pats today, my friends. You have trekked up the mountain a good distance; basecamp is just barely in sight.
All the literature about the Whole30 says this is one of the toughest days. And we’ve been talking quite a good bit about what is going to be difficult so far, to prepare you. So instead of continuing to shine a light on what’s hard, let’s divert our attention to something that is of interest to many of you: the difference between Whole30, Paleo and Keto. But before I dive into the battle of the diets, I want to give you just a little bit of Indigo30 motherly love. Today you may feel pretty rough. So if you can, go easy on yourself. If a nap is anywhere possible for you, take one. When you get on your mat, downshift a gear, take a few extra child’s poses. If there’s a chance at a longer savasana or as we call it at Indigo, “extended rest,” then seize the rest. Your body is detoxing, quite literally. It is starting to heal from the damage done by your old less-healthy food choices and perhaps an inconsistent yoga practice. Acne, rashes, fatigue, digestive distress, mood swings — all normal. Not fun, but normal. You may even feel like you are coming down with something. Again, normal. But, don’t reach for the saltines; drink some club soda or sparkling water, lie down for a bit, have some bone broth to comfort or some peppermint tea to soothe. It’s all going to be okay, pumpkin!
So now let’s learn something today. I want you fully and excitedly equipped with useful information from this program.
A popular question of late is, “What is the difference between Whole30, Paleo and Keto?” All three approaches have gained worldwide momentum, and it’s a great topic to break down so that you know which works best for you.
Obviously you are choosing Whole30 now, but knowing about Paleo and Keto for later may suit you in a lovely way for the long term. All have distinct similarities, most notably that they are low-carbohydrate approaches to nutrition. Keto is structured to be extremely low-carb. Paleo and Whole30 are just naturally low-carb because they eliminate all processed food, grains, and refined sugars, which are naturally carbohydrate-dense. All three approaches encourage a move toward clean, whole food eating and educate followers on the importance of knowing where their food came from and what is in it.
The best way to understand each is to examine what you can or cannot eat and some of their specific nuances.
The Paleo diet focuses on eating whole, healthy, natural foods, avoiding (but not necessarily eliminating forever) inflammatory and processed foods. Paleo takes out foods like breads, flour, rice, corn, other grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts) and dairy. This approach is particularly good long-term for people who have gluten sensitivities, celiac, and/or wheat and nut allergies. Refined sugars are also eliminated on the Paleo diet, but many recipes use maple syrup, honey or stevia to sweeten. Alcohol, although obviously not encouraged in quantity or consistency, is not off limits.
Paleo is notorious for having amazing recipes with all-natural, compliant ingredients that mimic typically “unhealthy” food; you’ve probably all heard about the infamous Paleo Banana Pancakes, or the muffins, or my personal favorite, the Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies (sorry, I know that’s painful to read right now.) Because of the flexibility and modifications Paleo offers, many find it to be the most suitable approach long-term.
The Whole30, first and foremost, is a 30-day elimination challenge, or reset. It is not a diet and it is not meant to be done nor is it really even realistic to do long-term. The Whole30 eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes. At the end of 30 days, a “reintroduction” allows you to determine which of the 5 groups mentioned above cause you sensitivities. The Whole30 takes Paleo a step beyond by not allowing any kind of “SWYPO” (you can to read the Whole30 book to find out what that acronym means) or imitation/modified versions of junk foods, baked goods and treats. The Whole30 (and Paleo) do not restrict food intake, or track/count macros, calories or carbs. It discourages the use of the scale and encourages the acknowledgement of “non-scale-victories,” or NSVs.
The Whole30 is most certainly restrictive and “all-in,” which is a really great approach for those who are wanting and willing to drastically clean house and pinpoint food reactions and intolerances. It’s motivating, it teaches followers to think differently about food, it has a remarkable global community and is an overall great reset.
(Can you tell I’m partial?)
The Ketogenic Diet, or “Keto” diet, can be considered the strictest of the three options. It is a strict low-carb, high-fat (let me be clear — high “good fat”) approach to dieting and most specifically, weight loss. The goal of the diet is to achieve, by way of diet, a state called nutritional ketosis. In ketosis, your body shifts from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning from fat reserves (simply because there aren’t enough carbohydrates to fuel your metabolism.) It requires significant carb restriction and a significant increase in fat consumption. Many low-carb diets are high-protein and low fat, but Keto is high-fat and moderate-protein.
One specific differentiator between Keto and Whole30/Paleo is the tracking of macros (daily intake of carbs, fat and protein) or following a detailed meal plan to keep your carb count in the 20-50 grams per day range. Some keto dieters also test their levels of ketones with urine strips. Keto can help people become very aware of how many carbohydrates they are consuming, but because of the restrictiveness and the diligence of macro tracking, it can be difficult to maintain long-term.
Now you know the difference. In a nutshell, one is a reset (W30), one is long-term (Paleo), and one is primarily for weight loss (Keto), although it has a lot of other great benefits too; however, it is neither a reset nor an easy long-term approach given it’s strict and restrictive nature.
And — you may find something really useful and helpful in all three approaches, perhaps using each of them at different times of the year depending on your needs and desires. I know many people who adopt a little or a lot from all three for custom blend that works great for their needs and lifestyle. Often I hear, “I’m about 80% Whole30 about 80% of the time. The rest of the time I’m more Paleo. And like 2% of the time, I have a cupcake. And I love it.”
I love that approach. Even though the math doesn’t actually work, I still love it.
The great news about all three is that they encourage us to eat unprocessed, whole, natural foods, educate ourselves about that food and inquire with ourselves on our relationship with it. Great news indeed.
RECIPE: My infamous “Tajin Almonds”
I was taught this recipe from a dear friend who lives in Monterrey, Mexico. Her housekeeper made these for us when visited a few years ago. She gave me a handful and said, “Try these, you are going to die.” And I did. I’ve shared them with every Indigo30 group since then, and they have become a signature snack and best kept Indigo30 secret!
Raw Almonds, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Kosher Salt, Tajin Seasoning (available anywhere)
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with non-stick tin foil. I always get a big bag of raw almonds at Costco (best price, great quality). Dump them all in a big bowl and pour orange juice over until they are barely submerged. Then add some lemon juice (I don’t have exact quantities, the housekeeper just told me, in Spanish, what was in them, I watched as she made, and I have since guessed!) Let the almonds soak for about 3 minutes. Don’t soak any longer or they will get too soggy. Drain the juice by straining. Return almonds to the bowl and thoroughly coat with kosher salt and Tajin. Stir up really well. Line the baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, gently turn over/around the almonds (add more seasoning now if you want!) Return them to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Let them cool. As they cool, they will get crispy again. Best stored in glass jars. ENJOY!
And, keep going.