I asked today’s guest post author to help us out with a little research on all these different diets. I’ve shared a number of recipes from several, but never sufficiently explained how each differs from the other. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to share a little information on each of the trending diets. I hope The Low-down on Popular Diets helps you as much as it’s helped me!
by Lauri Larson
A number of popular diets abound these days, but which one is right for you, if any? How do we keep them straight? Which diet makes sense for you and your lifestyle?
Here are the facts on the ketogenic diet, the Whole30, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, and Paleolithic diets so you can decide for yourself.
The Low-Down on Popular Diets
Atkins diet is a low carb diet that recommends that no more than 20% of calories eaten while on the diet come from saturated fat. Like South Beach, Atkins emphasizes the importance of low glycemic index through whole, unprocessed foods like meats and low carb vegetables. Like Keto, your body is initially triggered to burn fat instead of carbs. Try making low carb donuts.
Pros: You can eat more food than on most diets with no calorie counting. Weight loss can be more significant on this diet than others. Thanks to the widespread availability of Atkins products such as snack bars, pre-made frozen dinners, and meal replacement shakes, dieters are able to sustain the weight loss.
Cons: Counting net carbs can be tedious. Once you start eating carbs again, weight regain is likely. Possible decreased energy.
The Whole30 diet is a 30-day diet that places value on whole foods only, with the complete elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. With more restrictions than the paleo diet, even natural sweeteners are not allowed.
Whole foods are defined as meat, nuts, seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. After 30 days, you gradually work the forbidden foods back into your diet slowly and with moderation.
Pros: Subsequently, this diet helps to effectively change long-standing, unhealthy eating habits, along with long-term reduction of cravings for unhealthy foods.
Cons: The diet can be considered too extreme. In 2017, it was ranked the worst diet out of 38 by U.S. News & World Report.
The “keto” diet is a high-fat, protein-oriented, low-carb diet that forces your body to burn fats instead of carbs. Similar to Atkins, the point is for you to consume more protein and fat and avoid any carb intake, including foods like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread. See recipes for keto quiche or keto belgian waffles.
Pros: Can be used to treat epilepsy in children. Moreover, this diet may have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits.
Cons: Can cause a drastic reduction in energy and can cause sleeplessness. One carb cheat throws your body out of ketosis. As a result, this diet is considered unsustainable by many.
The Low-Down on Popular Diets
Weight Watchers has been around since 1963, but it is still a prevailing diet of choice in America. It is a diet based on portion control according to a point system. Based on your current weight, age, and weight loss goals, you can only eat up to a certain, fixed number of points a day.
What you eat is not as important as how much you eat of it; however, something fattening costs you more points than for example, fruits and vegetables, which often score zero points. Drinking water and exercise are promoted and also accounted for in the point scoring system. The more active you are each day, the more points you are allowed.
Pros: The diet makes it easy to dine out, as points are assigned to a number of meals at various restaurants. Furthermore, in-person and remote support is offered to people on the diet. Good for vegetarians. No foods are forbidden.
Cons: The diet is expensive if you enroll with Weight Watchers. Weekly progress is slow. In addition, counting points can become tedious.
This diet is a modified low-carb diet that emphasizes the consumption of protein and healthy fats, similar to keto and Atkins. However, it does not prohibit carbs or require you to measure them, but rather measures the “glycemic impact” of what you eat, which means any spike in blood glucose levels. See South Beach diet recipes.
Pros: Promotes long-term eating habits rich in healthy carbs and dietary fats that are good for your health. Reduces hunger. Most importantly, the diet itself is uncomplicated.
Cons: Maybe not enough structure to the diet itself. In addition, the first phase of the diet may be too restrictive for some people.
The paleo diet, or caveman diet, is based on a way of eating only what was available to humans during the paleolithic era. Even though there is wide interpretation of what it means to eat like a caveman, the diet largely consists of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, where food like grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils cannot be eaten. For example, smoked meat would’ve been a staple in paleolithic times.
Pros: Promotes a clean diet without additives, preservatives, or chemicals. Diet may have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cons: It is an expensive diet. Hard to follow if you are a vegetarian. Hard to eat out on this diet.
So there you have it – the low-down on major trending diets. In short, there are pros and cons of each diet, so it is up to you which diet you try, based on your own preferences, priorities, as well as which diet you think you can stick with.
Addendum: Intermittent Fasting
More and more doctors are recommending intermittent fasting. I employ it myself on occasion. In this trending diet, all of your calories are consumed in a short eating window. During the non-eating window, your body has time to digest food properly and heal your body from the inside out. Healthline.com has a great explanation – much better than I can give.
In conclusion, embracing a lifestyle change to suit any of these options is the best way to stay with it and not feel deprived. We often set ourselves up for failure by giving ourselves “cheat” days and then find it hard to control the binging. But if one of these diets in the Low-down on Popular Diets speaks to you, embrace it wholeheartedly. No matter which one you pick, it’s surely better for your health than mindlessly consuming prepackaged foods full of additives, preservatives, and loads of stuff we know aren’t good for us.