There are dozens, if not hundreds, of popular diets out there. These dietary plans come in many forms, and many claim to have a plethora of health benefits. However, not all of them stand up to scrutinization. That’s why it is important to do your research when choosing a diet plan that works for you.
Here at Haven Athletic, we are dedicated to providing you with reliable information to help you make informed decisions about how to maximize your overall health and fitness.
In this article, we will give some basic information on the different types of diets and discuss which diet may fit your lifestyle and help you be healthier overall.
The Most Popular Diets, Explained
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Vegans and vegetarians eliminate meat and animal products from their diets, which is why they’re often called plant-based diets. Vegetarians just abstain from meat and meat products, while vegans steer clear of any animal-based foods, including dairy and eggs.
There’s also a subset of vegan and vegetarian diets that focuses on eating whole, plant-based foods like veggies and grains. This diet is not meant to be restrictive, but more so to get away from processed foods.
The primary effect of these diets is to reduce the intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. Vegan diets can minimize the overall risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. However, with these diets, it is imperative that you incorporate more sources of plant-based protein and vitamin B-12 since you won’t get those nutrients from meat.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet revolves around whole foods that can be hunted, fished, or gathered. The reasoning behind the theory claims that certain diseases stem from the addition of grains, legumes, and dairy products to our meals and that returning to the “original” diet of humans might help solve these issues.
There are not a lot of long-term studies to tell us how this lifestyle affects an individual’s health, but many people report success. Supplements are often needed with the paleo diet.
The Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet is just what it sounds like. This high-protein diet requires that you eat only meat, eggs, fish, and a few other animal products. You will not consume vegetables, grains, or fruits.
Low-Carbohydrate and Ketogenic Diets
The ketogenic diet revolves around high-fat intake. Low-carb diets are more focused on strictly decreasing carbohydrates in your diet. Both are based on the idea that too many carbs can cause weight gain.
When you restrict carbs, your body can’t rely on them for fuel, instead using the fat in your body as a fuel source. When practicing the keto diet, you want to ensure you are in ketosis to see results by making sure you don’t consume more than a certain amount of carbs each day.
Low-carb diets are very popular but can come with increases in LDL cholesterol levels, which is not encouraged. It is also a hard diet to stick to in the long run due to the high restrictions on what you can intake.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional lifestyle of people that live near the Mediterranean. This vegetable-heavy diet features less meat than many others. However, this diet does not restrict meats or fish altogether. It also focuses on eating types of foods like leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruit, and potatoes. You also eat high protein a few times a week while staying away from red meats.
Since the majority of this diet is based on leafy greens and fruits, and it is lower in fat, it is good for cardiovascular health. It also encourages balance without many restrictions more of the emphasis is on portion control.
The Mediterranean diet may help manage depression and blood sugar levels while aiding in weight loss by limiting sugars and processed foods. This diet also recommends using oils, such as olive oil, as an alternative to butter, salad dressings, or marinades.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet was first introduced in 2003 and was created to promote a more balanced diet and help sustain healthy eating habits. Many believe this diet is sustainable for long-term wellness.
The idea of this diet is to eat complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. On the South Beach diet, you’ll eat healthy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes while eliminating simple sugars and refined white flour. Healthy fats are promoted as well as lean protein meats.
Long-term data as far as health impact are unknown at this time, but the South Beach diet appears to have great effects in the short term. This weight loss diet may help decrease the risk of heart disease.
The Zone Diet
The zone diet is based on a specific ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fats.
While utilizing this diet, choose carbs with a low glycemic index. This means they will provide a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream to help you feel fuller for longer.
Protein should be lean and fat should be mostly monounsaturated.
The general rule for low-fat diets is that, for every 100 calories, no more than three grams of them should come from fat. These diets revolve around fat intake. A lot of the fat that would be eaten is replaced with lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Over the years, low-fat diets have been endorsed by Weight Watchers and other similar organizations.
The hardest part about this diet is watching what sauces and dressings you use with your meals — many get most of their calories from fat. Fat is necessary for our body to function, but portion control is the basis of this diet.
How Do You Pick the Right Diet for You?
Calculate Your Calorie Needs
You can calculate your calorie needs based on your weight, your activity level, and your desired goals. If you are looking to lose weight, then you would want to decrease your calorie intake. If you're looking to build muscle, you might increase your calorie intake and focus on increasing your protein intake.
Calculate Your Macro Needs
Calculate your macro needs based on your goals. Macros are generated based on your height, weight, sex, and age and then what your goals are. If you can organize how much protein, fats, and carbs you need daily, you can create a meal plan to follow.
Think About Your Lifestyle
Diets can be fads, but a healthy lifestyle is necessary for long-term success and happiness. What may work for one person may not work for many others. Again, when creating your plan, start with your goal and how you would be able to maintain it once you reached your goal.
Think About What You Like To Eat
As much as people want to tell you what is good for you and what is not, there is not one diet that fixes all. Your goal should be to have a healthier lifestyle that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
Eliminating foods you love to eat can put you at a disadvantage from the start. Find a plan that works toward your goal while also allowing you to enjoy the life you're living.
Bottom Line: There’s No “Best Diet” Out There
It is important to remember that there’s no “best diet” out there! Diets should be based on lifestyle changes. We must break some old habits and develop new ones that we believe are worth having.
A lot of fad diets are superficially based, acting as a short-term fix. However, your diet should be looked at as a longer-term healthy eating habit that you’re trying to form in order to be successful.
Find what form of diet works best for you and start your healthy eating journey. Remember, if you ever need any guidance when it comes to food and different food groups, you can always reach out to a registered dietitian or a nutritionist for help.