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Atkins, Paleo, THM, Oh My!

I find my diet (as in a lifestyle way of eating for better health, not temporary weight loss and then go back to eating before) is a lot like my homeschooling. I tweak, combine, and take what works for me.
Atkins, Paleo, Whole30, and Trim Healthy Mama have their differences but there is a lot of similarities as well.

Here’s a quick intro to each one. Not extensive by any means. Please read, read, read, and research to see what will work for you.

Atkins: One thing this is not, and an extremely low carb diet where one is eating bacon, cheese, and is never, ever allowed grains or legumes again. Atkins is very healthy. One is eating fats, lots of veggies, and as you go through the phases of Atkins you start adding in nuts, more variety of fruits and eventually grains and legumes. Once you hit your goal weight you aim to find how many carbs you can eat to maintain that weight, so in other words, you continue to eat good, healthy, God made foods. Some can eat up to 100 net carbs to maintain others less. From the very beginning, one is eating carbohydrates. I find that many people think Atkins is super-duper low carbs and that is not the case.

Atkins is not a quick fix weight lost program. It takes patience. I stalled for a month without losing inches or weight but kept at it and started losing again. Please take advantage of the Atkins website and do your homework by reading:
All of these are great reads and will help one to understand Atkins. Dr. Atkins is one of the pioneers with helping people understand that bad carbohydrates (processed foods) and oils (hydrogenated) are the causes of diabetes and weight gain. Not eggs, meat fat, and good oils like Olive and coconut. He helped pave the way and now you see many ‘diets’ following in his footsteps.

Drawback: having to count carbs

Paleo: Is similar to Atkins but going deeper with it. One will give up dairy, legumes, grains, msg/preservatives, and sugar/sweetener (although I do see some Paleo recipes use Stevia in some form). Paleo is also very healthy. You don’t have to count carbs because you are eating all God made food including sweetening your tea and baked goods by using raw honey and maple syrup.
I love eating Paleo because I don’t feel I have to count carbs as long as I stay away from the higher starch veggies and fruits during my weight loss journey. I also prefer stevia to use honey and maple syrup.

Drawbacks: I miss having some dairy items like cream and kefir.

Good Paleo reads:
The first two books are part understanding Paleo and recipes. I love Practical Paleo for it’s visual aspect of explaining our bodies and how food affects our gut.
You don’t have to believe in millions of years to eat Paleo. For me, it’s about eating right.

Whole30: Like Atkins and Paleo but really only eating whole foods in their own form. No ‘baking’ even with Paleo-approved foods. During the Whole30 you are not allowed any raw honey or maple syrup at all. You are going way back to the basics.

The Whole30 is not about losing weight (although I wanted too of course). It’s about tuning into your body and listening to what it needs. Eating healthy and giving your body a break from what processed foods have done to our gut. I learned so much about food and my body during the 30 days. I was truly amazed with how much I learned on my Whole30 journey.

I would recommend everyone do a Whole30. You’ll be amazed at what you find you can live without and don’t miss. I use to pile on the cheddar cheese when eating spaghetti or lasagna. I couldn’t live without my sharp cheddar cheese. It’s been about 60 days since I’ve done the Whole30 and I just now bought a block of mozzarella cheese. I only so far have used less than an ounce of it. I haven’t purchased any cheddar yet.

Drawbacks: None, this is only for 30 days. Okay, maybe not having my heavy cream in my coffee.

The only book that I actually think every, single, person, should read: It Starts With Food and although not a must have but also very good is their cookbook Well Fed.

Trim Healthy Mama: Is a bit different than Atkins, Paleo, and Whole30. Basically you don’t want to mix your fats with your carbs otherwise they collide and that is what makes people gain weight. Food combining is what some people call it. You have what you call S meals. The satisfying meal. Protein is the center of the meal, low carbs, higher fat. E meals are energizing meals. Protein with low-fat but more carbs. You can eat up to 45 net carbs (but it's not about counting and numbers). Fuel Pull meals you have protein while eating low fat and low carbs. So by eating this way you keep your metabolism guessing.

From what I’ve read (from other blogs who are THM) it’s very similar to The Cure Diet (which I haven’t read but it’s on my ‘wishlist’)

You must read Trim Healthy Mama to understand and implement the diet (healthy way of eating).
I love the way Serene and Pearl are so down to earth. I don’t agree with everything in this books as they say Paleo is unbiblical and Atkins is not healthy but there is still a lot of good in this book. Enough for me to keep it and add this to my mix.

Drawbacks: For some (like me) there is a learning curve. You have to understand the S, E, FP, Crossover, etc. because you don’t want to combine the meals. Although the books say you don't have to count carbs, you do and also fat. You are only allowed so many carbs and fat for each meal. For some, this becomes second nature though after a while.

What I have found by doing my own research, reading all the books above, and pulling what works for me is, in the end, it comes down to; getting rid of processed foods from your diet, eat low glycemic food that doesn't spike your blood sugar levels and enjoy healthy fats.

When I say eat low glycemic, this is what happens naturally when you stop eating processed foods. With each of the above program to eating healthier for life, I’m sure most people are staying under 100 net carbs (give or take) just because they are eating REAL food.

I don’t think one program is superior over the other. They are all healthy ways to lose weight and to maintain the weight loss in a healthy way. You won’t go hungry on any of the programs.

I don’t see anything wrong with tweaking, combining, or pulling what works. Some may not agree and that’s fine. Here is what I pull from each of them:
  • Atkins is what got me started with understanding about good and bad carbs/fats. It educated me about my body and food. I learned to keep away (at least in the beginning) from the more starchy veggies, grains, legumes, and fruit until I am close or at my goal weight.
  • Paleo, when eating this way, I’m eating so clean I don’t feel the need to count carbs as long as I don’t add honey, maple syrup, sugary fruits, and high starch veggies.
  • Whole30 brings me back to the basics. One can live a perfectly healthy life by living Whole30 or like many do the W30 a few times a year.
  • Trim Healthy Mama has a little more variety with food choices from the start, I really enjoyed doing the Fuel Cycle and I enjoy the recipes. I do love that the THM sisters are always promoting healing the body, it's not all about weight loss. 
I started my healthy way of living with Atkins. Paleo/Whole30 seem to blend in so wonderfully with Atkins it just seems a natural way to make Atkins even healthier.

I didn’t want to try THM sooner because I was very happy with Atkins and its Paleo twist. It was easier for me to implement. I am just now (after rereading THM many times) understanding THM with enough confidence to give it a go. I’m also getting pretty close to my goal weight and feel I can experiment a bit, sort of shake things up some =)

Atkins gave me a list of foods that I didn’t have to mix or match if you will and that made sense to me. It didn’t confuse me and I was able to start right away.

Trim Healthy Mama didn’t click from the beginning. It was an enjoyable read but I didn’t ‘get’ it at first. Now that I have jumped right into a Fuel Cycle I had some ‘light’ bulb moments and am really understanding the program.

I continue to read books on diet as in a healthy way of living and food books because I want to keep learning and improving my health. There are still a few more books I have on my wish list.


  1. I have been on a "learning about diet and nutrition" thing for awhile too. So much information to know and learn and read. Like you said, many are pretty similar but with a different twist. I too am looking for a life change and not just a diet. Good luck with your continued search.

  2. Hi, Dawn, thank you. Yes, there are so much information it can all make ones head spin :D

    I find just getting rid of processed food is huge.

    God bless on your health journey =)

  3. I mix and match too. Sometimes it just makes more sense.

  4. Excited to start this with you! You are doing a great job and your research is awesome!

  5. Thanks Michele, I am looking forward to our next FC too.

    I agree Meg, I'm having fun too =)

  6. I have read and participated in almost every diet imaginable. I have to say that I truly struggle with many of the diets that tell you to refrain from certain foods. I do not believe that God placed amazing foods on this earth just to tell us that we cannot have them (fruit, for example). I do, however, believe in moderation and making wise choices. I totally agree with doing away with as much processed foods as possible and getting back to a cleaner way of eating using whole foods, etc. I get so frustrated with all the diets. I have finally resolved myself to trusting God and being wise. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Appreciated.

  7. Ive done whole30 multiple times and moved into Paleo from there as a lifestyle. At times Ive had alot going on and just eatin what I wanted but my body always tells me when I need to get it cleaned up. Thank you for comparing these. I found the information very helpful in narrowing down my eating lifestyle, rather than saying what "diet" Im on. I eat real, clean food 95% of the time and once a week treat myself to some crappy thing I love like ice cream, pizza or cookies! Im down to my last 10lbs and that is going to take some cardio and working out to loose. Be Blessed!