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1 year ago
Here’s Why So Many Diets Ban Healthy Foods

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Today’s hottest diets come with hefty do-not-eat lists. And sure, the regulars (like doughnuts, soda, and bacon) are among them, but it’s healthy foods, like milk, black beans, and sweet potatoes, that leave most dieters scratching their heads.

 

If these foods are so good for you, as we've been told, how come they ended up on the blacklists of popular eating strategies, like the Paleo, Keto, and Pegan diets? 

 

The exact reason depends on the diet you’re considering, but unless you have a food allergy, removing food groups like these from your diet means you're throwing out the good with the bad, says nutritionist Georgie Fear, R.D., author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. For instance, cutting back on refined carbohydrates is smart if you want to lose weight, but getting rid of all grains, especially whole grains, can backfire in the long run.


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In the short term, you can expect to lose water weight by following restrictive diets since carbs from dairy, grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and even beans can make your body hold on to water. But the longer you try to stick with these diets, the more you'll realize it’s not a maintainable change. You might even experience nutritional deficiencies in carbohydrates, B vitamins, and fiber.

 

Instead of signing up for a diet with a lengthy do-not-eat list, find out why some healthy foods have gotten a bad rap and how you can actually eat them and lose weight.

 

RELATED: 12 Foods You Used to Think Were Healthy

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Dairy

While many Paleo, Keto, and Pegan dieters still consume dairy in small portions, following any of these diets to a T requires giving up the food group altogether because cavewomen didn’t drink milk and dairy contains carbs (the Keto diet's enemy). But dairy also contains energy-boosting vitamin D, muscle-building protein, and bloat-fighting potassium, says Vandana Sheth, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to a recent review of studies, people who enjoyed the most dairy while on a low-calorie diet lost more fat and gained more muscle than those that ate less dairy.

 

“Eating less ice cream might be a dietary improvement, but banning all dairy is not a science-backed weight-loss strategy," says Fear. What’s more, whey protein found in dairy has been shown to help muscles recover faster after a tough workout, she says. To reap the weight-loss benefits of the milk, yogurt, and cheese, aim to eat about two to three servings a day (as long as you're not lactose intolerant, obviously). 

 

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Beans and Other Legumes

Paleo dieters give beans and other legumes the side eye because they claim that the compounds legumes wreak havoc on the human body. However, that theory hasn't been scientifically proven, and some studies actually show that legumes come with health benefits, says Fear. Meanwhile, the Pegan and Keto diet both exclude those foods for their carb content. But as a source of unrefined carbohydrates, they're a healthy way to get more energy-revving B vitamins and iron. Plus, one 2014 study published in Obesity found that eating a single serving of beans or other legumes per day can increase satiety and aid weight loss. The study authors suggest eating at least three-quarters of a cup of legumes per day to boost your weight-loss goals.

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Whole Grains

Though the Paleo and Keto diets ban whole grains due to their high carbohydrate count, excluding all of them from your diet can cause your energy levels to plummet and screw with your exercise routine. By slashing your whole grain intake, you reduce the amount of belly-filling fiber and B vitamins you consume, which means you might be hungry and tired, says Sheth. Fear recommends working at least three servings of whole grains into your diet if you're looking to lose weight—and six if you’re trying to drop pounds and are highly active.

 

RELATED: 7 Signs a Diet Will Just Leave You Hungry, Miserable—and Even Heavier

 

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Fruit

According to the Keto diet, pretty much all fruit is a no-no since it contains sugar and carbs. And since the Pegan diet prohibits foods that are ranked at 69 or above on the glycemic-index, meaning they might spike your blood sugar levels, some fruits, like bananas, melons, and pineapples, are also off-limits. But you shouldn't let the naturally occurring sugar or carbs in fruit keep you from munching on the waist-friendly foods. “I don't believe this level of restriction benefits dieters at all," says Fear. "It just provides a sense of virtue by excessive control,” she says. Fruit provides many of the same nutritional benefits as vegetables, including vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants for minimal calories. Aim to eat several servings every day, says Fear.

 

RELATED: 14 Foods Nutritionists Never Eat

 

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Starchy Vegetables

Carrots and squash are a no-go on the Keto diet because their carbohydrate content can prevent ketosis, says Fear. (FYI, one medium bell pepper contains six grams of carbs, a far cry from white bread’s 45.) At the same time, the Pegan diet nixes some veggies, like beets, pumpkins, potatoes, and parsnips, since they rank above 69 on the glycemic index. But there’s no reason you shouldn't incorporate these types of veggies into your daily diet, says Sheth. After all, their satisfying carb content is the perfect substitute for a pasta craving. Plus, any healthy eating plan should have you eating more, not fewer, veggies, she says.

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