Health Trends: Shopping for Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and More
For anyone aiming for a healthier way of eating, there’s no shortage of trendy diets promising to deliver a new level of well-being. And for many of these trends, scientific research shows that they can certainly be effective – the key is choosing the one that’s right for you and making it a part of your sustainable lifestyle change.
Three of the most popular health trends are the keto diet, the paleo diet, and intermittent fasting. If you’ve done any amount of online searching for “how to eat healthier,” the odds are good that you’ve seen at least one of these mentioned. But before you decide which you’d like to try, you’ll need to know exactly what each method is all about.
In order to make your journey to health as simple as possible, we’ve put together a go-to guide that breaks down the basics of keto, paleo, and intermittent fasting. We’ll cover the do’s and don’ts of each way of eating, tips for success, and best of all: exactly how to shop for your new lifestyle. You’ll be informed and ready to dive into a healthier way of eating in no time.
The keto diet focuses on cutting carbs significantly, with most people choosing to shoot for 50 grams (or less) of carbohydrates per day. An important component of the keto diet is the concept of “net carbs,” which allows you to subtract the number of grams of fiber from the grams of carbohydrates to get a net total that counts towards your daily limit.
When you’re on the keto diet, the bulk of your calories are going to come from protein and fat. This way of eating challenges the “low fat” approach of traditional diets, and actually encourages you to boost your fat intake considerably.
For some people that go keto, there is a transition to a slightly higher carb count once they’ve reached their weight loss goals. Others decide that maintaining a daily intake of fewer than 50 carbs provides such positive benefits that they see no reason to make any changes – it’s up to you!
Most keto dieters stick with a handful of go-to food groups, specifically those that are low in carbs. Depending on your specific keto goals, your daily menu might revolve around the following:
- Fruits (only low-carb fruits)
- Some nuts
- Keto-specific products, such as low-carb bread
Going keto does require a certain amount of effort, mainly because you’ll need to regularly pay attention to your carb intake. There are many smartphone apps that you can use to conveniently track your carb count and look up the number of carbs in a specific food. The ultimate goal is to stick with low-carb staples that allow you to eat an appropriate amount of calories while still staying under a daily total of 50 carbs.
Since there are certain off-limit foods on the keto diet, one of the biggest keys to success is being well-prepared with a variety of low-carb foods. If possible, get rid of high-carb temptations in your home, such as potato chips, pastries, bread, crackers, and sweets. Before you head to the grocery store, here are a few keto shopping tips to keep in mind:
- Check the nutrition labels on all packaged food, and you may be surprised to see that some of your former go-to products are high in carbs. Remember that you will be subtracting the number of grams of fiber from the number of carbs to get the “net carb” total, which is what you will factor into your daily count. Also, keep a close eye on the serving size – one of the biggest keto mistakes is overeating and underestimating total carbs.
- Have a basic plan for meals for the week, so you can be sure to purchase all of the ingredients you will need. That way, you won’t end up staring into the fridge on a weekday evening, wondering what to make for dinner!
- Stick to whole foods, rather than processed products. “Whole foods” have just one ingredient – for example, eggs, seafood, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts. Focusing on these types of foods can make it much easier to stick to your keto carb limit. Always fill your cart with a few keto staples, including eggs, lean meats, high-quality oils (such as olive or avocado oil), and plenty of vegetables.
- While it may be tempting to stock up on keto-friendly products, such as low-carb bread, crackers, and sugar-free drinks, resist the urge to become too reliant on these items. For some keto dieters, certain ingredients in these products can actually slow down their progress. Once you’ve had more experience with keto, you might consider adding one or two low-carb versions of your old favorites to the cart as a once-in-a-while treat.
- Even when you’re shopping for vegetables, carbs can quickly add up. Have a clear idea of the vegetables that are lower in carbs, so that you can avoid any that can quickly put you over your daily carb count. For example, potatoes are a high-carb vegetable and one that you’ll want to avoid when eating keto. However, dark leafy greens, asparagus, avocado, and zucchini are great options for low-carb veggies.
- Keep the fruit to a minimum, even if you’re choosing lower-carb fruits such as berries. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are among the few fruits that are slightly lower in carbs, so they’re okay for a sometimes-treat.
The paleo diet is nicknamed the “caveman diet” because it sticks to foods that would have been available to the cavemen of the Paleolithic era. Essentially, if it didn’t grow out of the ground or was something that could be hunted, it’s off the table.
Supporters of the paleo diet believe that there is a range of foods that our bodies are naturally adapted to eating, limited to items that would have been part of the caveman’s diet. As a result of farming and manufacturing, food that came later aren’t able to be effectively processed by our bodies. Thus, the drastic change in diet acted as a catalyst for today’s rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
On the paleo diet, you can eat a well-rounded variety of foods that would have been part of the “caveman lifestyle”:
- Meats (preferably lean meats)
Not included on the list of paleo-friendly foods are grains and dairy products, as those are both the result of the farming era. Cavemen wouldn’t have had access to things like bread, milk, or cheese, and thus, people that eat paleo opt to eliminate them from their diets.
Unlike cave people of era long past, you don’t have to worry about hunting and gathering your food from the wild. Instead, you can just head to your local Gelson’s and fill your cart with a delicious variety of paleo staples.
One of the biggest benefits of the paleo diet is that it makes meal planning pretty simple. While you can certainly get creative with complicated recipes, the simplicity of the types of foods that are paleo makes this way of eating as easy as you want it to be.
Here are a few simple tips for grocery shopping for paleo-friendly foods:
- Much like eating keto, going paleo is easiest when you have a solid selection of whole foods at home. Remember, “whole foods” are those that have just one ingredient; so, that includes items such as lean meats and seafood, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. Make these types of foods the foundation of every shopping trip, and you’ll be well-prepared for eating paleo.
- Buy food that you’re actually going to enjoy eating, instead of wasting your money on items that you don’t particularly enjoy. One of the biggest downfalls of any new way of eating is attempting to “force” yourself to eat foods that you dislike. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever try new ways of preparing certain foods, especially because you might just discover that you like something more than you’d expect.
- Have a paleo shopping list ready for your trip to the grocery store, so that you’re not left wandering the aisles, unsure of what to buy. A shopping list can help you make sure that you have everything you need for a week of healthy eating, as well as keeping you away from non-paleo temptations.
- In addition to ingredients for your daily meals, have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. When the late afternoon hunger strikes, being prepared with paleo snacks is always a good idea.
Most of us are accustomed to the idea of eating three meals a day, maybe with a couple of snacks sprinkled in as needed. However, intermittent fasting (or “IF”) turns that idea on its head and instead provides you with a specific window within which you do your full day of eating.
There are a few different ways to approach intermittent fasting, though the most common by far is the 16-8 pattern. In this scenario, you fast for 16 hours a day and eat for 8. Although 16 hours might sound like an extended period of time, it’s important to remember that it also includes the hours you spend asleep. Creating a specific schedule is up to you and can be suited to your unique schedule. For example, you may plan your “eating window” to be 10:00 am-6:00 pm each day. This means that you will complete all your eating during these hours, and fast the rest.
Some people opt to incorporate 24-hour fasts into their intermittent fasting plan, choosing one or two days a week where they abstain from food. Another method, called the 5:2 diet, allows you to eat normally for five days out of the week, but restrict your diet to 500-600 calories on the remaining two days. Whether you choose a short or extended fasting period, you can have water and certain liquids during the fast.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t specify the foods you can and cannot eat; rather, it simply outlines the period of time in which you will be eating. However, most people that intermittently fast stick to a relatively healthy way of eating. Many decide to combine intermittent fasting with a keto or paleo diet to boost their results.
During your fasting, you are permitted to have:
- Non-caloric beverages
Do not add sugar to your tea or coffee, as this will disrupt the goal of fasting. However, many people are able to use small amounts of milk or creamer without any effects.
Since intermittent fasting doesn’t necessarily limit which foods you can eat, there aren’t certain foods that you have to stay away from in the grocery store. However, you can set yourself up for a great start by approaching your weekly grocery trip with these tips in mind:
- Stick to the outer sections of the grocery store, where you’ll typically find the healthiest foods. Usually, the middle aisles are reserved for more processed foods, such as cereal, cookies, and chips. But on the outer limits, you’ll have a huge variety of produce, meats, seafood, nuts, and healthy grains to choose from. Plus, you won’t be tempted to impulsively throw junk food into your cart, making it easier to stick to your goals at home.
- Make sure that you’re well-stocked with a variety of foods you enjoy, including plenty of options for proteins and healthy fats. Because you’re condensing the time period in which you’re eating, it’s important that you’re consuming nutrient-rich foods when you do eat. You don’t want to realize that you’re out of an important ingredient at the last minute, because you may not have time to make a grocery run before your fasting period begins.
- Get plenty of snack-friendly foods to keep hunger at bay, opting for healthy snacks such as raw nuts, fruit, Greek yogurt, hummus, and other options. That way, if hunger strikes at a random time, you can satisfy your appetite without taking up too much time with meal prep.
Ultimately, there’s no single trend that is a perfect fit for every individual – in fact, you might find that none of the diets mentioned above are right for you. But the good news is that regardless of whether or not you choose to adopt a specific dietary plan, eating healthy and staying active will have a positive effect on your long-term wellness.
Fill your fridge and pantry with simple staples that are nutritionally dense, avoiding sugar-laden and processed foods. Protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates are a good foundation for a diet that’s both satisfying and fuss-free, whether you like to spend time cooking in the kitchen or choose pre-prepared meals from your grocery store. Find easy, healthy recipes to add to your weekly routine, and you’ll be well on your way to developing better eating habits in no time.
No matter which health trend you want to try – or even if you’re sticking with the classic approach to clean eating – your fridge and pantry will need to be stocked with healthy staples. Reaching your healthy eating goals is much easier if you’re well-prepared with a wide selection of nourishing foods, including plenty of meal options that don’t take too much time or effort to prepare.
You can always be confident that your local Gelson’s Supermarket will be stocked with everything you need for keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, or any other method of healthy eating. From top-quality meats and seafood to farm-fresh produce, we have an extensive selection of fresh basics and pantry must-haves for you to choose from. Plus, Gelson’s also offers a variety of specialty foods, including keto-friendly brands and all-natural products.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ George Dolgikh