Category Archives for "Meal Plans"

Dukan Diet

how does the Dukan Diet help you lose weight?

When you want to lose weight, chances are you want to lose it fast. Who wants that slow burn? You’re unhappy now! Maybe you have an event coming up that you want to look good for. A class reunion, maybe? Wanting to fit into a dress for a wedding? Got a vacation coming up and want to look good in a swimsuit?

Whatever the reason, one diet that claims to help you lose weight fast is the Dukan Diet. I take a detailed look at this diet below and see if it lives up to its boasts.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The principles of this diet are adhering to a high-protein, low-carb food intake. Designed by Dr. Pierre Dukan in the 1970’s, its origins came when an obese patient of Dukan’s said that he would give up any food – EXCEPT MEAT – if it meant he’d shed his excess weight. Sounds like his patient is a big fan of the Carnivore Diet for weight loss. Dukan got to tinkering with different meal plans, and the Dukan Diet was born.

This diet is split into four phases, two of which are for weight loss, and two of which preach maintenance. You begin this diet by calculating your “true weight”, which is not what you would read on your scale. Instead, it takes into account factors like your age, history of weight gain and loss, genetics, and other factors. This book goes into detail on how to arrive at this number for yourself.

Depending on how much weight you want to lose, the length of each phase varies from person to person. The goal is to ultimately achieve your “true weight”.

Attack Phase


This phase lasts anywhere from 1 to 7 days and consists of eating an unlimited amount of lean protein, as well as 1 1/2 tablespoons of oat bran daily.

Cruise Phase


This phase can be anywhere from 1 month to 12 months. This is where the weight loss occurs, so the length depends on how much weight you want / need to lose. During this cycle, you will alternate between days of lean protein and days of lean protein plus vegetables. Each day you’ll continue to consume oat bran as before.

Consolidation Phase


There is no defined range for this phase and is generally recommended to follow this for 5 days for every pound that you lost during the two previous phases. During this period, you will consume unlimited lean proteins and vegetables, a moderate amount of fats and carbs, one day per week which is solely lean protein, and adding around 2 1/2 tablespoons of oat bran daily.

Stabilization Phase


The length of this phase is indefinite – it comes at the conclusion of the previous three phases and lasts for as long as you want to maintain this diet. It more or less follows the principles of the Consolidation Phase, but you can be a little more relaxed on the rules provided that you maintain your “true weight”. It is suggested to up the oat bran intake to 3 tablespoons per day during this phase.

For more information on what to eat during each of these phases, the book linked below is highly recommended, and the title perfectly sums up the principles of each of these four cycles. Click below to read more!

My Thoughts


A high-protein, low-carb diet can be very beneficial for weight loss. I like the science behind the Dukan Diet. Protein-rich foods help you build musculature, which in turn helps you burn more fat. Foods that are high in carbohydrates are often starchy and bulky, often leading to fat. Furthermore, I like that this diet provides ongoing maintenance after the initial weight loss periods. If you adhere to the Consolidation and Stabilization phases, there’s no reason that you can’t keep the weight off.

Vegan Diet

how does the Vegan Diet work?

While veganism isn’t a new principle to live by, it certainly has come to the forefront in recent years. We all have that friend that’s a vegan and makes sure everyone knows it. As the joke goes, “How do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

(I’ve also heard that same joke for Crossfit, and it’s true in both cases).

Awareness of the Vegan Diet has risen dramatically over the last 5-10 years as many celebrities have hopped on board, much press attention has been given, and many have begun to follow it as well. Suddenly our grocery stores and food menus are littered with “vegan” options.

The question is – does it work?

What is the Vegan Diet?


While this style of eating began way before then, the term of being a “vegan” has origins back to 1944. An offshoot of a group of vegetarians in the UK split off from the Leicester Vegetarian Society, ending their consumption of dairy, eggs, and any other food that is derived from animals in any way. It is the polar opposite of the Carnivore Diet, described here. By taking the first and last letters from the word “vegetarian”, the term “vegan” was born.

Outside of just ridding of consumption of anything of animal origins, this movement also excludes all kinds of animal cruelty and exploitation, which means not using animals for clothing or other purposes.

Why Do People Choose Veganism?


There are a number of reasons that would lead someone to go vegan. For many, it is an ethical choice. They hold the belief that all creatures deserve freedom and not be used for our consumption, whether nutritionally or materially. Whether it is the meat, the flesh, its milk, or other parts, we have no right to end or interfere with an animal’s life for our purposes.

For others, the catalyst to going vegan is an opposition to the treatment of animals. I’m sure you have seen the shock videos online of the cruelty that some of these animals can endure in the farming business, with dirty and cramped cages and pens that no living being deserves to suffer through.

Aside from ethical reasons, many choose veganism because of its health benefits. Going on a plant-based diet is very nutritious and can help ward off risk factors of many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and others. These types of foods also have fat-burning properties, helping you lose weight.

Lastly, some do not trust the hormones and antibiotics that are used in modern animal farming and abstain from their consumption altogether because of this.

All in all, it’s safe to say you won’t see a vegan shopping at Jerky Snob.

What To Eat on a Vegan Diet


It’s pretty easy to explain what you can’t eat on this diet – anything that is an animal or comes from an animal. There is not nearly enough space here to list all of the foods that can be eaten on a Vegan Diet because it includes… everything else! Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, soy, legumes, lentils, grains, etc. I also recommend this vegan pre-workout supplement I review here.

If you’re looking for recipe ideas and meal plans, this book called Forks Over Knives is one of the best on the subject. It includes tons of plant-based recipes that are delicious and nutritious!

While going plant-based certainly has its merits, you’ll be lacking some serious nutrients that you would otherwise get in a regular diet. For that reason, if you go vegan, I highly recommend supplementation. Bauer Nutrition is my go-to source for products like that.

Paleo Diet

Paleo Diet guide and meal plan

The Paleo Diet all about going back to our roots. While it isn’t possible to pinpoint exactly what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago, this diet aims to mimic it best as possible according to what fossil science reveals about their lives.

What is the Paleo Diet?

“Paleo” comes from the word “Paleolithic“, as this meal plan is derived from the eating habits of Paleolithic humans. Given the lack of technology back in the day, it is safe to assume that our ancestors satiated themselves on a whole food diet. It’s not like they could run to the store and pick up some processed foods.

This diet aims to recapture that kind of eating, as well as activity, as much as possible. By leading an active lifestyle and consuming unprocessed, whole foods, you can lower your risk of many diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more. As an added bonus, it can lead to weight loss!

How It Works

There is not a singular “correct” way to follow a paleolithic diet, as our ancestors’ diet was varied. It mostly was driven by what was available in their environment. Some consumed a high carbohydrate diet that was high in plant consumption, while others were on a low carbohydrate diet that was heavy on animal foods. Given that, the following list of foods is not concrete. You can alter it to your own preferences and needs.

Basically, the Paleo Diet is split up into foods that you SHOULD eat, and others that you should AVOID. Meal plans and recipes can be found in this book here.

Eat This: Whole foods, Meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, seeds, nuts, herbs, spices, healthy fats, oil.

Don’t Eat This: Processed foods, soft drinks, sugars, grains, most dairy, artificial sweeteners, legumes, margarine, vegetable oil, trans fats.

More or less, if the food product is not naturally occurring, it’s not something that you would have found in the paleolithic era, and not part of the Paleo Diet. If it has the words “low fat” or “diet” on the label, it’s highly processed and full of additives, and should be avoided. Simply put, if it was factory-made, don’t eat it.

For a visual representation of how this diet works, this video describes it better than I ever could:

What To Eat and Drink

Here is a sampling of foods that are acceptable in this diet. More information, including meal plans and recipes, can be found in this highly recommended book here.

  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, shrimp, shellfish, trout, haddock. If available, try to eat wild-caught fish.
  • Meat: Pork, beef, lamb, turkey, chicken.
  • Vegetables: Kale, peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, etc.
  • Fruits: Oranges, bananas, apples, avocados, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, pears, etc.
  • Eggs: The best choice is free-range eggs, when available.
  • Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes of all sorts, turnips, yams, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Healthy fats and oils: EVOO, coconut oil, etc.
  • Salt and spices: Turmeric (read about the benefits here), garlic, sea salt, rosemary, etc.

In addition, you can indulge yourself a little bit as well. Red wine is high in nutrients and antioxidants and can be enjoyed in moderation. On top of that, dark chocolate makes the list! You want to find chocolate that is 70% cocoa content or higher. Click here to read about the many benefits of cacao.

As for drinks, focus on getting enough water. Tea and coffee can also be consumed, while they aren’t paleo, due to their high level of antioxidants. Just stay away from sodas, particularly.

My Thoughts

While there isn’t one straightforward way to follow the Paleo Diet, I like the principle of avoiding processed foods. I like to go straight to the source for my nutrients, no fillers or additives. This satisfies that, and the food options are delicious. It may be a little more expensive than a regular diet, as you likely will be buying more organic foods, but the benefits are well worth it.

One thing I glossed over above, but is just as important, is getting enough exercise as part of this diet. Think about it – our paleolithic ancestors didn’t always have food at the ready. They had to go where the food source is. For hunters, that meant following migratory patterns. Similarly, our bodies need activity to keep our metabolism going and burning fat. You can switch over to whole foods as this diet describes, but the best results will be experienced by combining it with an exercise plan as well.

For more about this diet, this book is very well-received on Amazon.

Alkaline Diet

restore pH balance with the Alkaline Diet

Also called the Acid-Alkaline Diet or the Acid-Ash Diet, the Alkaline Diet operates on the principle of replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods as a way of improving your overall health. As this was a new one to me, and I try to take in as much health-related information that I can to bring to you readers, I took a deeper dive on this book to see what this diet is all about.

What is the Alkaline Diet?

This diet is all about restoring balance. Particularly, it aims to bring harmony to your acid-alkaline balance, in other terms, your pH balance. The premise of this diet is that you can restore a proper equilibrium to these levels through the food that you consume.

When your body’s metabolism is working – burning fat and calories – it produces waste. This waste can come in two forms: acidic ash, which makes your blood more acidic, and alkaline ash, which makes your blood more (for lack of a better term) alkaline or basic. Having too high of a level of acidic ash in your body can lead to a number of illnesses and diseases.

The theory is that you can restore your bloodstream back to a more alkaline level by eating foods that are high in alkaline. You are, in effect, “alkalizing” your body and improving your health by following this diet.

Examples of Acidic, Alkaline, and “Neutral” foods can be found below:

  • Acidic: Poultry, meat, dairy, fish, eggs, grains, alcohol
  • Neutral: Starches, sugars, natural fats
  • Alkaline: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes

What pH Level is Healthy?

Before you start on this diet, it is best to understand the range of alkaline levels in the body and what they mean. The pH scale is measured in the range of 0 to 14, and as a general rule, you fit into one of the three categories below:

  • Acidic: 0.0 to 6.9
  • Neutral: 7.0
  • Alkaline / Basic: 7.1 to 14.0

Checking your pH is kind of like how you used to test the pH level of a solution back in the science lab in school with a piece of litmus paper. There are many kits, like this one, available on Amazon where you can test your saliva or urine to determine where you fall on the scale above. It is best to take multiple readings over the course of a few days so that it isn’t swayed by your most recent meal. If you are too acidic, then the Alkaline Diet may be a good course of action for you. That particular kit I linked to comes with 100 strips so you can continue to track your levels and see how it changes with your diet.

Risks of Acidic pH

So why do you want to have more alkaline and avoid being acidic? The health risks are many. Being too far on the acidic side can lead to osteoporosis, leading to brittle bones and a decrease in bone mineral content. Others believe that cancer can develop easier in acidic environments, though research has not been found to support this.

My Thoughts

Having checked my pH with the kit here, I found that I was right around neutral, so this diet wasn’t particularly catered to me. However, looking at it objectively, beyond just the pH balancing effect, I can see a lot of benefits to it. It promotes making healthy diet choices, such as eating lots of fruits and vegetables and other plant-based foods. That’s never a bad thing, regardless of your pH. It also warns against highly processed junk foods which, again, is always good advice.

To be honest, after reading more about this diet, there isn’t a lot of research that supports that food consumption can affect your pH levels. There are positive effects because of the unprocessed, whole foods you eat, but it has nothing to do with pH. It more has to do with the nutrients you are getting. Again, those are all good things, even if the theory behind this diet doesn’t exactly hold up.

If you want to read more about the Alkaline Diet, this book comes highly recommended.

MIND Diet

sharpen your brain with the MIND Diet

Most of the diets that I’ve reviewed on this site are geared towards losing weight. That’s the common goal, right? However, there are diets that are designed for other health purposes. For instance, the DASH Diet aims to lower high blood pressure. The MIND Diet is another that serves an alternate purpose, which I’ll go into detail below.

What is the MIND Diet?

This diet was created to prevent diseases that affect the mind, if you couldn’t guess by the name, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. “MIND” isn’t just a clever name, it’s also an acronym, standing for Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Obviously, it incorporates elements from the Mediterranean Diet (reviewed here) and the DASH Diet (more information here). These two diets are regarded as some of the healthiest options, reducing your blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.

What Does It Entail?

While those benefits mentioned above are nice, what does it have to do with the brain? Well, the researchers that put together this diet identified the foods that are most beneficial to brain health. These foods include:

  • Vegetables: try to get six or more servings per week, with a focus on leafy green veggies.
  • Berries: Not all fruit has been linked to improved brain health, but berries have been. Eat these at least twice per week.
  • Nuts: While the creators of this diet don’t specify exactly what nuts are best, you should aim for at least five servings of these each week.
  • Fish: Consume fish at least once per week, focusing on fatty fish like salmon and tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Whole Grains: Get at least three servings daily through brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and similar foods.
  • Poultry: Consume turkey or chicken at least twice per week.
  • Beans: Eat beans as part of your meal at least four times each week.
  • Wine: This part is definitely taken from the Mediterranean Diet. Have one, but not more than one, glass daily – particularly red wine because of its resveratrol content.

If you are not able to get each of these foods in the recommended amounts each week, it is said that it is not particularly strict to these guidelines. Even loosely following these principles is more beneficial to the mind than otherwise making unhealthy diet choices. It goes without saying, however, that the more closely you follow it, you’ll experience better results.

What Not to Eat

While there are plenty of different foods and drinks that you should be consuming while on this diet, there are very few that you should be avoiding. In particular, this diet recommends limiting your intake of butter and margarine, cheese, red meats, pastries and other sweets, and fried food. The reasoning behind this is because of their level of saturated and trans fats. These fats contribute to risk factors of disease, including brain health.

My Thoughts

I took a deeper dive on this book on Amazon and this diet can definitely help those who are at risk of mental issues as they reach an older age. The foods in this diet are beneficial to the mind as they are full of nutrients. These vitamins and minerals fight oxidative stress, inflammation, and the creation of beta-amyloid plaques (proteins that build up in the brain that clog neurotransmitters and slow down brain communication).

If this is something you are at risk of, or already experiencing, definitely give this diet a try. You can find more literature on the MIND Diet in this book here.

DASH Diet

lower your blood pressure with the DASH Diet

Unlike the other diets that I’ve reviewed on here, this isn’t one that I’ve tried out myself. The reason is that it is not like other diets, where the goal is to lose weight. The DASH Diet has a specific goal for health purposes: lowering your blood pressure. As that does not pertain to me, it wasn’t of any use for me. However, knowledge is power so I did some research on what this diet entails and how it can be useful for those who suffer from high blood pressure.

What is the DASH Diet?

As you could guess by the all-caps, DASH is an acronym. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is meant for those who have high blood pressure. This health issue is at an epidemic level, with more than 1 billion people (and growing) suffering from this issue. While some of the roots of this health problem are genetic, much of it has to do with diet, and this meal plan aims to correct that. Dr. Marla Heller goes into detail on this diet in her best-selling book, available here.

What Does it Entail?

It was observed that individuals who consumed a more plant-based diet seemed to be at less risk of heart disease and hypertension. Using this principle, this diet has a heavy focus on fruits and vegetables. Lean meats and whole grains are also key. In some ways, it is similar to the Mediterranean Diet.

It is advised to eat more lean meats like chicken and fish, along with nuts, legumes, beans, and lentils. Foods that you should avoid include red meats, sugars, salt, and unnecessary fat.

Salt is the biggest restriction. It can clog the arteries and lead to heart issues. It is recommended to stay below 1 teaspoon of sodium per day. In fact, when this diet has been clinically tested, the biggest reduction in blood pressure was observed by the test subjects who had the biggest restriction of sodium in their diet.

Other Benefits

In addition to lowering your blood pressure, this diet can have a number of other benefits for your health. Because of the healthy food choices it promotes, it is not uncommon that you lose weight while following this meal plan.

In addition, the increase in fruits and vegetables can provide you the nutrients your body needs to better protect from illness, even reducing cancer risk. Because of the reduction of sugar in your diet, it can also lower the risk of diabetes.

Who Should Follow This Diet?

As mentioned before, this diet is designed for those who suffer from hypertension / high blood pressure. However, studies have shown that it even lowers the blood pressure of individuals who had normal blood pressure to begin with, although the reductions were much smaller than those who had high blood pressure.

Criticisms

While too much salt is bad for you, and this diet should be commended for restricting sodium, there is such a thing as eating too little salt as well. Not having enough sodium in your body can open the door to health issues such as insulin resistance and fluid retention. Some experts have recommended that instead of lowering your salt intake to 1 teaspoon, go for 2 to 2.5 teaspoons. This is a healthy amount and a restriction that can be met by simply removing highly processed foods from your diet.

My Thoughts

The DASH Diet can be a simple plan to follow if you want to lower your blood pressure. There are enough people afflicted with this health issue that this diet can be of great use to many. However, it should be noted that there have been no studies that link this lowering in blood pressure to a reduction of heart risk. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t healthy to get your blood pressure back to a normal level.

For normal individuals, this isn’t the diet to follow. It isn’t geared towards weight loss, rather it aims to treat one particular affliction. If losing weight is the goal, I recommend taking a look at one of the diets below instead.