From Keto to Whole30: A Sports Nutritionist Weighs in on Popular Diets

Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
by Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
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From Keto to Whole30: A Sports Nutritionist Weighs in on Popular Diets

New diets pop up all the time, and it’s common to get excited and want to jump on board for the promise of improved health, a smaller waistline, clearer skin, better focus, etc. But what if you train hard and your goals are fitness and performance related? Which eating style could potentially deliver results and which hold you back?

Let’s check in with some of the basic pros and cons — as they relate to performance fueling — with some popular diets.


The diet: Cutting out all gluten-containing foods, which include standard wheat-based foods (breads, pastas, cereals, beer), some soups, sauces and dressings.


The diet: This strict, very low-carb, high-fat diet severely restricts carbohydrate intake (less than 10% of daily calories) to promote burning fat for energy instead of the preferred source: carbohydrates.


The diet: The vegan diet is free from all animal products and byproducts (honey, eggs) either for ethical and/or environmental reasons or the promise of decreased chronic health issues and increased vitality.


The diet: Give up most processed foods (there is a list of permitted items) along with grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes and sweeteners for 30 days.


The diet: This style of eating is high in monounsaturated fats from nuts and oils, vegetables, whole grains and seafood with moderate amounts of fruit, dairy, eggs and only occasional red meat and added sugar. It’s been highlighted as one of the most beneficially proven ways to eat for overall health.

This is just a small sampling of the popular diets that exist. Remember any diet can help achieve short-term weight loss, but not every diet leads to long-term health and performance improvements.

If you’re interested in adopting one of these diets (or one not listed above), consult a sports dietitian who can help you combine your fitness and nutrition goals.

About the Author

Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD

Lori, MS RD CSSD is an accomplished sports dietitian; she holds a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Certification as a Specialist in Sports Nutrition. As a current professional road cyclist and previous elite marathoner and ultra-runner, Lori knows firsthand that food can enhance or diminish performance gains. She understands the importance of balancing a quality whole food based diet with science-backed performance nutrition and strives to share this message with others. Learn more about her @HungryForResults.


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