The Lowdown on Fad Diets


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. I hope this 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 Lowdown on Fad Diets | Culinary Craftiness


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. Snack bars and meal replacement shakes available from Atkins when you are on the go.

Cons: Counting net carbs can be tedious. Once you start eating carbs again, weight regain is likely. Decreased energy.

Ro's Fabulous Keto Donuts | Culinary Craftiness


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: 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.

Healthier Italian "Fried" Chicken #Whole30 #Paleo #LowCarb | Culinary Craftiness

Ketogenic (“Keto”)

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. May have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits.

Cons: Can cause a drastic reduction in energy and can cause sleeplessness. Is considered unsustainable by many.

Cheesy 3-Meat Keto Quiche | Culinary Craftiness

Weight Watchers

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. 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. Counting points can be tedious.

South Beach

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. The diet itself is uncomplicated.

Cons: Maybe not enough structure to the diet itself. 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. Learn how to best smoke meat and cook hard boiled eggs.

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.

How to Smoke Meat on a Stove Top | Culinary Craftiness

So there you have it – the lowdown on major trending diets. 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.


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