Do you want to be able to eat steak, butter, and bacon, while dropping fat? Then you’ll want to pay attention to today’s diet du jour, as it’s all about eating more fats, proteins, and veggies, and less about those dastardly “carbs.”
No doubt you’ve heard taglines or seen diets like this before, i.e. Paleo, but today’s diet isn’t your caveman’s Paleo diet, it’s a unique spin on the traditional Paleo way of eating called the Wild Diet.
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Following the Wild Diet, you’ll be able to eat to your heart’s content, without gaining fat. You will lose some in the process; all while improving your health and quality of life - or those are its lofty claims at least.
We’re here to give you the straight-talk on the Wild Diet and help you sort through the hype to see if it’s really something you should attempt or not.
Get ready to take a walk on the wild side!
What is the Wild Diet?
The Wild Diet can be summed up pretty easily as:
Eat fresh, whole foods from healthy plants and animals, while avoiding processed foods.
Developed by blogger and podcaster Abel James (“The Fat Burning Man”), the Wild Diet gained popularity after appearing on the television series My Diet Is Better Than Yours. This is a weight-loss reality TV competition where “celebrity” trainers give their own unique diet and exercise plans to individuals looking to lose weight and get into shape.
Though the Wild Diet wasn’t the winning diet on the show, the contestant following the Wild Diet did come in 2nd place, which further catapulted the diet into the media spotlight.
So, how does one follow the Wild Diet?
Well, it’s rather simple - eat whole foods while ditching the processed carbohydrates, refined grains, and added sugars. Wild Diet creator James terms these cheap carbs as carbage, and lays the blame for fat gain, ill health, and poor eating habits on this carbage.
By prioritizing foods found in nature, James states that you’ll transform your body into a fat-burning machine instead of a sugar-burning one.rich in fiber and nutrients, your body will burn fat instead of sugar for energy. Once you reduce your consumption of processed grains, simple carbs and refined sugars, and begin eating more plant and animal-based foods, you’ll “reverse the damage of decades of poor eating.” 
On the Wild Diet, there’s no set times to eat or certain number of meals you have to consume each day. James says that when eating foods of the “natural world” you don’t have to count calories, eat at a certain time, or a set amount of times per day.
If you wake up not hungry, don’t worry about eating breakfast. Eating the Wild way, your body will tell you when it’s hungry, and you just need to listen to your body’s signals for when it’s time to chow down.
A typical meal on the Wild Diet would include:
- Filling half of your plate with vegetables (as many green and colorful ones as you like).
- Palm-sized portion of protein (from pasture-raised meats or wild seafood).
- Small portion of high-quality fats like nuts, avocado, hard cheese, or grass-fed butter to round out the meal.
Here’s a graphic from the Wild Diet Website showcasing what your plate should look like:
When you’re on the go, James recommends preparing for your journey. Should you get hungry, James advises to pack some “emergency chocolate,” meals, or snacks to beat hunger and avoid any “carbage” binges.
Though the Wild Diet eschews just about all carbohydrates, if you’re physically active, the diet does allow for moderate amounts of starch in the form of sweet potatoes or rice (a processed grain) post-workout.
Speaking of physical activity, the Wild Diet differs from most other fad diets in that it does recommend daily vigorous exercise in the form of interval training. More specifically, James has created the “Wild 7 Workout” which consists of performing 20 seconds of high-intensity cardio followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 10 times. You’ll also perform 60 seconds of warmup and 60 seconds cool down before and after your workout.
Wild Diet vs Paleo
After reading the rules of the Wild Diet, you’re probably thinking to yourself that it sounds an awful lot like a traditional Paleo approach to eating (i.e. no grains, refined sugars, etc). Where the two diets diverge is that the Wild Diet does allow for dairy; Paleo typically advocates against its inclusion in your diet.
Additionally, the Wild Diet allows for occasional consumption of beer, non-gluten grains, natural sugars (coconut sugar, maple syrup, etc.), and sourdough bread, which Paleo and other low carb, high fat diets forbid. Plus, the Wild Diet puts a heavy focus on consuming vegetables (and lots of them) which isn’t always the case with other low carb diets.
Analysis of the Wild Diet
On the surface, the Wild Diet has a lot going for it. It’s advocating a sustainable and healthy approach to eating, one focused on whole foods that are nutrient dense and minimally processed. However, the Wild Diet falls short in two big areas by entirely eliminating whole grains and legumes.
We’ve seen these two food groups shunned before in other low carb, fad diets, and frankly, this is getting a bit tiresome. There’s nothing inherently “bad” or wrong with whole grains and legumes, and, in fact, they’re actually quite healthy. Beans and whole grains are packed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and fiber which supply essential nutrient your body needs on a daily basis.
Additionally, James blames carbohydrates as the reason for people being overweight, and then when you’re focused on eating protein, healthy fats, and vegetables you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight. This is completely false.
Overconsumption of calories, no matter which food group they come from, will lead to weight gain, regardless if those calories are from protein, fat, or carbohydrates. Eating more than your body needs on a daily basis will result in weight gain.
James does employ some fear-mongering tactics in his diet write ups as well, stating how GMO (genetically-modified organisms) “creepy, artificial flavors are horrifying, and selective breeding has unleashed some freakish foodstuffs upon the general public.” The reality is, GMO crops can help produce higher crop yields, stay fresher longer, and withstand extreme weather conditions.
This enhances the food supply around the world and can help feed more people in developing countries. Much like carbs, GMO foods get a lot of bad press these days, and most of it is bad information passed off by uninformed “experts.”
Overall, the Wild Diet does a lot of things right. Getting individuals to focus on eating more vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins is a great thing, as well as its directive to get people to exercise in some form each day.
Where it starts to go south is in its demonization of starchy carbs. There’s nothing wrong with potatoes, beans, quinoa, wild rice, or even pasta, and in fact, can be used daily in any muscle building, fat shredding diet.
No food should be off limits, and any diet that tries to convince you any single food is “bad” is missing the bigger picture - calculate your macros, count your macros, exercise intensely, and you will get the body you’ve always wanted.