Straight Facts: Pros and Cons Of The Most Popular Bodybuilding Diets


The benefit of living in a true information era is the vast amount of variety we can access. Today, the average person is able to know so much more about nutrition, health, and diets than ever before – if they choose to. The downside, of course, is that there can be too much information. The boom of diet trends begs the question – which are legit and which are the best? In our latest episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum uses a combination of vigorous research and personal anecdotes to break down the pros and cons of today’s most popular bodybuilding diet systems. 

The common perception is that dieting is easy in theory but hard in practice. The key aspect of losing weight is to consume less calories than your resting metabolic rate. But the hard part is to actually pull it off and not lose your willpower. Even worse, this simplified mentality turns out to be not necessarily true. Modern nutrition science has shown that losing weight can become vastly complicated depending on your genetics. Many struggle to eat well and not give into cravings – but there are also those who diet correctly but seem to still struggle.

In today’s internet era, it’s easier to research and discover a wide variety of diets. Many of them work – but only when done correctly. Others are scams looking to take a dollar out of your wallet. It can be hard to decide what works and what doesn’t. That’s why we turned to Jerry Brainum to break down and rank the most popular diet trends currently in bodybuilding and fitness. Let’s jump into it.

Paleolithic Diet

The Paleolithic diet is a bit of a gimmick named diet plan. The goal is to “eat like the cavemen did.” Jerry Brainum explains that the reasoning behind this diet is that the human race, despite its many evolutionary accomplishments, are still very similar genetically to the cavemen of eras past. So if we go back to the simplicity of a caveman diet – we’ll be healthier and leaner.

Despite the gimmick of it’s name, Jerry Brainum believes that this diet is actually pretty decent in keeping you health and lean. The diet focuses on meat, nuts, and berries. Foraging foods plus hunting foods. No grain. No wheat. No diary. No processed foods.

Jerry Brianum explains that the biggest downside is getting the full spectrum of nutrition for your long term health. Calcium can be hard to come by without dairy, for example.

Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet focuses on only eating protein. No fruits or vegetables. Jerry Brainum points out that the biggest issue with this diet is the lack of dietary fiber from veggies. Fiber is a big part of our microbiome in our stomach. While this was less considered in decades past, modern science has shown that our microbiome plays a massive role in our health and our weight loss/gain.

Jerry Brainum explains that most recent studies have also drawn a direct link between a healthy microbiome and immunity to illness. Healthier stomaches have been proven to show more resiliency against disease and getting sick.

Low Carb/High Fat Diet (Keto Diet)

This diet focuses on cutting carbs from your diet and increasing dietary fat. While this might sound wrong (where do you get your energy? Isn’t fat bad?). Ultimately this is a rather powerful and successful diet.

Jerry Brainum has gone into extreme detail in a previous episode discussing keto diets. Keto diets are an extreme form of a general low card/high fat diet. The key here is that with a lack of carbs in your system, the extra fat is transformed into energy. Thus this is not stored as fat in your body and you lose weight.

Jerry Brainum believes this to be a strong diet – but only in the short term. He does not recommend this kind of diet to be year-long. It can also be a hard diet for bodybuilders looking to bulk up. Rather, this diet is best for bodybuilders in contest prep mode looking to get lean.

Jerry Brainum believes that the keto diet is likely the best diet for losing body fat percentage.

Vegan Diet

Growing extremely in popularity over the past decade, the vegan diet has many positives in terms of ethical food choices and healthy food options. The only problem, as Jerry Brainum explains, is that a vegan diet can be very unhealthy if you don’t do it right. There are many vegan friendly foods that are simply empty of nutrients. So it’s important that a person interested in veganism focuses on doing it the right way.

On top of this, many supplements are needed to further get the full spectrum of nutrients for long term health. Jerry Brainum explains that avoiding all meat with no supplements is ultimately bad for your health.

In addition to this, a vegan diet can be very challenging for bodybuilding. Jerry Brainum does not find it impossible, but it adds a new level of challenge that can put you at a disadvantage against others not on the same diet.

Mediterranean Diet

A mediterranean diet has a focus on extra virgin olive oil in meals and cooking. It also focuses on moderate drinking of red wine. In addition to this – the main food courses are usually fruit and vegetable heavy with only minimal fish and meat.

Jerry Brainum beileves that the mediterranean diet is the healthiest diet you can commit to in the long term. It’s a realistic year-long diet providing a full spectrum of nutrients to keep you health and, if done correctly, you’ll stay lean and heart healthy as well.

The mediterranean diet can also work for bodybuilding if adjusted to include more protein.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is what you likely hear a lot about in commercials. It’s the recommended diet by most doctors. Basically, it asks that you ensure you have a healthy dose of each kind of food type to accrue all the necessary nutrients without needing supplementation.

However, Jerry Brainum points out that a balanced diet is so inclusive that it can be hard to stick to. In theory, this diet is perfectly healthy, but it’s rare for a person to regularly fit the entire food pyramid into their daily diet without issue.

Meal Replacement Diet

This last one is a bit extreme, but Jerry Brainum wanted to touch upon it as he also tried this kind of diet when he was younger. A meal replacement diet is when you replace all of your meals with a meal replacement product. This is usually some sort of shake or a diet bar.

Jerry Brainum explains that there are many meal replacements out there that can be scams or crammed with sugar. So research is necessary to find a more formidable healthy option. But on top of this, replacing all of your meals (or even consistently some of your meals) with a product like this is not advised in the long term.

Jerry Brainum explains a product he tried when he was younger which lost him 40 pounds very quickly. It was effective – but to use this as a forever diet is extremely ill advised. Brainum also jokes that the version he took decades ago was likely pumped with an appetite suppressing drug that was not allowed to the larger market.

A meal replacement can be good for short term crash dieting or for moments when you are traveling and need a quick but healthy option for eating on the go. But it should not be seen as a viable diet in the long run.

Wrap Up

The key takeaway here is that no diet is perfect. But most importantly, the biggest error that happens with diets is on the user side. It’s very easy to commit to a diet and not follow it fully. Some even cheat on their diets without realizing it. Jerry Brainum’s breakdown of the biggest diets in bodybuilding today can help you stay more focused and find the right diet that works best for you.

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