What Is a Natural Diet?

The term natural diet can lend itself to a range of meanings depending on who you ask, but one thing everyone can probably agree on is that a natural diet must promote good health, help to avoid disease, and be devoid of highly processed foods.

Some nutritionists believe that the paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet), which supports the consumption of wild edibles and naturally available animal products, is the most natural kind of diet in the world of dieting, because it’s based on what we think humans have been eating for thousands of years, before we had agriculture and farming. Yes, even grains, beans and legumes are often dismissed as a valid dietary choice.

Proponents of the paleo diet compare early human foraging behavior to that of other primates, and argue that humans are adapted to omnivory eating, much like their closest living relatives. Surprisingly, many paleo dieters are vegetarian and do not necessarily recommend the consumption of meat. Why is this? Because early humans relied mostly on wild animals and animal products, not industrially produced meats, which are often riddled with chemicals, and give rise to social and environmental concerns, alongside animal cruelty ethical issues.

Vegans have argued that meat and animal products are not naturally suited for the human diet, with fruits, roots and the fleshy parts of vegetables appearing to be the natural food of man. Others think that consuming organically grown foods (that is foods free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetic engineering) is the healthiest way to eat because we’d consume only what nature intended us to. And yet another category of people believe in eating simple foods, with minimum or no cooking and processing involved.

An interesting bit of food for thought (pun intended) is that diets are rarely universal. This means that what may work for some could go terribly wrong for others. While general advice, like eating more fruits and vegetables and less red meat, stands true for most people, metabolic rates and health histories vary from person to person, and that influences our nutritional needs. Humans also have varying dietary needs at different stages of life, so what may be good for an adult may not be fitting for a child.

Sadly, searching for the most natural diet can be a slippery slope into frustration, simply because truly natural foods are hard to find, and may not be feasible options for many of us.

What Is Glycemic Index Dieting?

Dieting based on glycemic index has been a hot topic for a while now. More commonly now the more complex glycemic load is used in dieting. Glycemic load is the number of grams received from the product of carbohydrates and the glycemic index, divided by one hundred.

Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller of Australia became famous after doing a 12-week study for young adults of excessive weights to measure the effects of four popular diets. What all four of these diets had in common was that fat was maintained at about 30% of total calories. The total calories were themselves measured out to about 1900 for the men and 1400 for the women.

One of the key elements studied was how dieting based on the glycemic index compared to diets rich in protein. Dr. Brand-Miller wanted to know how these different types of dieting would influence weight loss. She also measured the correlations between the diets and negative cardiovascular developments.

Below is a list of the daily specifications for each diet:

Diet One – Glycemic Load: 127 Grams

Carbohydrate = 55% of total calories

Fat = 30% of total calories

Protein = 15% of total calories

Diet Two – Glycemic Load: 75 Grams

Fat = 30% of total calories

Diet Three – Glycemic Load: 87 Grams

Carbohydrate = 45% of total calories

Fat = 30% of total calories

Protein = 25% of total calories; Beef

Diet Four – Glycemic Load: 54 Grams

Fat = 30% of total calories

The Results of the Dieting

Interestingly, all of the diets resulted in nearly the same amount of decrease in weight, around 5% on average. But diet one resulted in much less fat loss than diet four. Meanwhile, the unhealthy LDL cholesterol was lower in diet two and high in diet three.

Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller believes is that these results show that glycemic load can have an impact on how we lose weight apart from the impact of total calorie consumption, as all four diets consisted of the same number of calories.

Bottom Line For Dieting Based on the Glycemic Index

You don’t necessarily have to cut back on food to begin to make positive changes in your weight composition. Simply eating foods higher in soluble fiber, such as whole grains and seeds instead of eating starchy foods and drinks can make a difference.