Nowadays there are various popular diets with some emphasizing more protein, while others emphasize very little carbohydrates. Then there are others specifying when foods can be introduced into the diet. So the question becomes, which diet is the right one for you?
No matter what diet you follow, a healthy diet includes exercise, allows a variety of foods and recommends a weight loss of no more than one or two pounds a week. Any faster and you are losing both fat and muscle. The key to a successful diet is one that works for you.
In order to help clear out the confusion, today I briefly review the most popular diets to show what they entail. In this manner you can choose the one that you feel will work best for you.
The South Beach Diet focuses on replacing bad carbohydrates and fats with good ones. It encourages three meals and two snacks a day including an exercise plan. There is no calorie counting or limits on portions and it has three phases, with each becoming progressively less restrictive. It is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and healthy fats than the typical American diet.
Paleo is based on the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and it consists of foods that can be hunted, fished and gathered, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and herbs. It minimizes processed foods and emphasizes plant food and lean meats.
The Zone diet allows 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, each with a mix of low-fat protein, carbohydrates (mostly fruits and veggies) and a small amount of good fat from olive oil, almonds, and avocado. Every meal consists of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 30% protein. No food is banned but calories do count, women are allowed 1,200 calories a day and men 1,500.
Vegetarians can be Lacto (no meat, fish or eggs but consume dairy products), Ovo (no meat, fish or dairy but consume eggs), Pesco (no meat besides fish and seafood), or Lacto-Ovo (no meat or fish but consume dairy and egg products), the most common type of vegetarian. Studies show that vegetarians have a lower body weight, suffer less from diseases, and generally have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat.
A vegan does not eat anything that is animal based, including eggs, dairy, and honey. They chose veganism for health reasons but also for environmental and ethical reasons. A Raw Vegans goes a step further and exclude all animal food as well as food cooked above temperature of 118 °F (48 °C).
Weight Watchers focuses on losing weight through diet, exercise, and a support network. Foods are given points based on their content and a user has a certain total allotted per meal to help them figure out portions and calories, but there is no limit to eating fruits and vegetables. It has branches all over the world and dieters can join the weekly meetings and confidential weigh-in either physically or online.
The Mediterranean Diet focuses on the nutritional habits of the people of Greece, southern Italy, Spain, southern France and Portugal. It emphasises plant foods, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, poultry and moderate amount of wine. Olive oil is the main source of fat and cheese is the main source of dairy foods.
The Atkins diet follows a low-carbohydrate, high-protein meal and includes four phases. The first phase is designed for rapid weight loss and consists of protein, fat and very little carbohydrates. Each phase introduces various carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. People on the Atkins diet consume little fruit and vegetables and a high amount of protein and saturated fat.
Dash stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. It includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils, while limiting sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats.
The Best Diet to Follow
With so many diets, which one is the best one then? A review from Yale University looked at popular diets and found that none is superior to another in terms of weight loss. Thus, no matter what diet you follow, results come from a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein and fats and from eating fewer calories than we burn. Eat everything but in moderation.
About the Author
Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following: