Women-only small group training studio in Lee's Summit

Trainer Justin Cantwell weighs in on popular diets — what’s hot, what’s not

Trainer Justin Cantwell weighs in on popular diets — what’s hot, what’s not

POSTED BY: T2C on December 27, 2018, 9:32 a.m.


Diets and dieting are popular topics at our women’s workout studio. No surprise there, really. But lately there are newer diet types that our members like to talk about. And when they have questions about a diet, they often turn to our lead trainer Justin Cantwell.

With the new year just around the corner (a time when many vow to start a diet), we thought it would be enlightening to put Justin in the hot seat and get his thoughts on some popular diets. But first, let us brag on him a bit: Along with his personal trainer certifications and decades in the industry, Justin has real-world experience coaching women who are part of Time 2 Change Fitness for Women’s nutrition support program. It’s available to both T2C members and nonmembers, and you can read more about it here.

Here’s what Justin has to say about today’s most-talked-about diets.

Keto and Low Carb

Trainer Justin Cantwell weighs in on today's popular diet

Photo credit: Jamie Matociños

Justin says that the ketogenic or keto diet is one of the hottest around. If you’ve not heard of it, the keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carbohydrate way of eating. Specifically, a keto dieter cuts her carb consumption to 30 or fewer grams a day. (This is a drastic reduction, as Justin says the typical American eats 150–200 or more carbs a day!) With this reduction in carbs, the body moves into a state of ketosis where it burns stored fat instead of glucose.

Justin favors a higher-protein version of keto, especially if a person is doing weight-training, like what’s included in Time 2 Change Fitness’ 45-minute sessions. “The body needs adequate protein to fuel these workouts,” Justin says.

A less-stringent version is a regular low-carb diet, where the carb threshold is about 50 grams per day.

With both of these diets, Justin cautions that it can be easy to re-gain weight. He says, “When they hit their goal after being on keto or low-carb, people tend to go carb-crazy and start eating a high volume of carbs again. This brings the weight back on and, with it, cravings for more carbs.”

Whole30 and Paleo

“These two diets are fairly similar,” Justin says, “as they focus on whole foods.” Justin considers Whole30 and Paleo to be much more restrictive than most eating plans. He says the diets are fine if you’re extremely disciplined or if you want to test out any suspected food-related allergies, but that they don’t allow wiggle room for the occasional non-whole food treat.

If you’d like to learn more about Whole30, check out our owner Teresa Yockey’s blog post, My Whole30 experience.

Weight Watchers

Being in the fitness industry for so long, Justin’s spoken with dozens of women who follow the Weight Watchers diet. He’s watched the program morph over the years, including the big changes Weight Watchers made this year.

“Overall, I think it’s a better program today. I like that it’s more macro-nutrient-based and focused on a healthy mix of carbs, protein and fat, as well as points.” In particular, Justin likes the new version of WW because it skews higher protein. “Again, protein is great when you’re lifting weights,” he says.

I joined Time 2 Change to lose weight. I felt that lack of exercise was my only problem since I had a great diet. I expected that once I started working out, the weight would immediately fall off. I quickly learned that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t until I met with Justin about nutrition that I realized how many nutritional mistakes I was making! Justin made recommendations, taught me about macros, and instructed me to keep a food journal (which he also monitors to keep me on track). It made such a difference! As soon as I began following his nutritional advice, the weight started to come off. In addition, I had more energy, gained more confidence and enjoyed working out even more. – Catie M., Blue Springs

Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Eating

Intermittent fasting (IF) is another diet that’s frequently in the news. Justin says there are several versions of IF, including time-restricted eating where you only eat between a set number of hours each day. A typical example is the 16:8 version, where a person fasts 16 hours a day (including time asleep) and only eats during an eight-hour window, such as between noon and 8 p.m.

“I’m not a huge fan of any type of fasting,” Justin says. “If you’re using it to kick-start a weight loss or to attempt to break through a plateau, that might be okay. But to regularly do this, as many try to do — it can really mess with your blood sugars and metabolism.”

Justin Can Help You Find What Works!

When Justin works with a woman who signs up for Time 2 Change’s nutritional support program, he doesn’t immediately pick one of the aforementioned diets for her to use. “It depends on the individual and what the member feels she can be most successful with,” he says.

Justin’s worked with T2C members who are on Whole30, keto, Weight Watchers and vegetarian diets, as well as women who are more calorie and macro-focused — i.e., following a recommended number of calories and carb, protein and fat grams each day, based on the individual’s goals.

If you’d like to read more of our nutrition program testimonials, you can find them here. If you’re interested in having Justin be your diet coach as we go into the new year, email us to learn more about our nutrition support program. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2019 for you!