If you’re looking for the best diet plan to achieve your goals, take a look at our overview of six philosophies and guidelines. Then choose what’s best for you!
Some people want a diet plan solely to lose weight, while others are focusing more on the health benefits of changing their diets. The reality is that no two people have exactly the same goals or philosophies. Plus, the diet that meshes perfectly with your best friend’s personality and lifestyle may not work well for you at all.
To help, we’ve provided information about the following diets:
- Keto Diet
- Paleo Diet
- Vegan Diet
- Pegan Diet
- Weight Watchers Diet
- Whole30 Diet
It typically makes sense to talk to your doctor when beginning a new way of eating. Diets usually work best alongside a regular exercise plan—and, if you’re new to exercising or haven’t exercised in a while, it definitely makes sense to let your doctor know about the healthy changes you’re making.
This diet focuses on ketogenic cooking, with an eating plan that boosts your fats while minimizing your carbs. The idea is to train your body to use the fat as energy. This diet typically involves the following calorie breakdown:
- 60-75 percent from fat
- 15-30 percent from protein
- 5-10 percent from carbs
After you’ve been on this diet for a few days, your body enters into a state of ketosis, which happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbs to burn. When this happens, your body starts to create organic compounds called ketones; for energy, these ketones are burned, along with more of the fat.
As an article in WomensHealthMag.com shares, this diet was not originally created for people who wanted to lose weight. Rather, it was designed to help people with seizures. That’s because another chemical that’s created when you follow this type of diet, called decanoic acid, can play a role in reducing seizures. As people with seizures began trying this diet, though, they also lost weight, often dramatically so.
One negative of the Keto Diet is that, as your body goes into ketosis, you’ll likely have side effects from carb withdrawal. These can include “lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, and headaches, in addition to the diarrhea and tiredness,” and they usually last about a week.
In ExperienceLife.com, a doctor weighs in about this diet, sharing the following concerns:
- This diet is hard to maintain for an extended period of time.
- Safety questions are being discussed, including potential harm to the kidneys.
- If you exercise intensely, you may need to boost your percentage of carbs.
Recommendations given by the doctor include going on this diet while under the supervision of an experienced medical provider and to try it for four to six weeks while having biomarkers medically monitored.
The premise of the Paleo Diet is that it makes sense for modern humans to follow the diet of ancient hunter-gatherer societies. For that reason, you might hear people call it the “caveman diet.” Some people who follow this diet appreciate its sustainability philosophy.
The creator of this diet has created an infographic to help make it clear what fits into this diet and what doesn’t. Foods on the Paleo Diet include meat from grass-fed animals, plus fish and seafood. It also includes eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils. Foods to avoid include processed ones, along with grains, legumes (which include peanuts), dairy, potatoes, refined sugar, refined vegetable oils and salt. The plan allows you to have three meals per week that do not adhere to the diet.
Health.com shares the pros and cons. As a summary, this is what they call “fantastic”: “The diet discourages processed foods and added sugars, and it’s all about fresh whole foods.”
Cons include that some excluded foods could be added back, according to this article, such as “whole grains and pulses, or beans, lentils, and peas.” Plus, “it could encourage leaner proteins.”
An article in the DailyMail.co.uk also shares pros and cons, with positives including its strong emphasis on vegetables and avoidance of processed foods. Plus, even though food quantity isn’t limited, people tend to eat fewer calories on the Paleo Diet. Negatives include its significant emphasis on animal proteins and omission of grains and legumes. Plus, this diet can lead to calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies; and, because it’s more restrictive, it may be harder to stick to this diet.
Understanding a vegetarian diet is fairly straightforward, with vegetarians eliminating meat, poultry and fish from their diets. Becoming a vegan (people typically talk about “becoming” such a person rather than saying they’re going on a vegan diet) also involves the elimination of all animal products, including eggs and dairy.
Fruits and vegetables are at the core of this kind of eating (which is why it’s also called a plant-based diet). Vegans also eat whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. For dessert, they might eat a piece of cake made without eggs or butter.
Note that, many years ago, it might have been difficult to find vegan recipes and resources, but now the internet is overflowing with them—and so are bookstores.
Reasons why people switch to veganism vary. Some do so for health and weight loss reasons. If you can include yourself in that group, you may find it easier to steadily reduce the amount of meat, poultry and seafood in your diet, and then reduce the amount of animal products until all are eliminated. Other people choose a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, believing that it isn’t moral to include animals and their byproducts in the human diet. If that’s your belief, you’re more likely to go immediately to the vegan diet.
Self.com lists pros and cons of veganism, with pros being how it promotes weight loss and reduces the risk of many diseases. Nowadays, it’s easier to buy plant-based ingredients than it used to be, and this diet is environmentally sustainable. If you go on this diet, watch that you get all your nutrients and that you don’t lose too much weight.
This diet may not be as well-known as some of the others. Fortunately, Prevention.com has provided an overview of this plan, described as a combination of the Paleo Diet and the vegan one. That may sound like an odd combo, given that the Paleo Diet is heavy on meat while vegan diets don’t even incorporate animal byproducts.
The Self.com article lists five reasons to consider this diet, including that it mostly consists of plants, yet you’ll eat protein and fats, too—avoiding carbs that are so quickly digested. Fats included in the diet are healthy ones from coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds. Plus, this plan is “ridiculously low in sugar, the nicotine of the food world” and virtually eliminates packaged foods.
Negatives include the amount of planning it would take to eat this diet every day and the number of foods that are restricted. Getting enough protein can be a challenge.
CookingLight.com believes that the Pegan Diet is in fact better than either the Paleo or vegan one. They are impressed with the research involved in making recommendations and appreciate how emphasis is placed on whole foods and an overall more plant-centric diet. This diet, the article reads, is similar to principles of the Mediterranean diet with its anti-inflammatory emphasis.
The article does list a few concerns, however, including complete absence of dairy, restrictions on beans and grains, and the nutritional needs of athletes and other high-energy people possibly not being met.
Weight Watcher Diet
This popular diet has been used for decades by people all around the country and, over time, has evolved as medical recommendations have. Today’s program is called Freestyle, with the goal being to offer greater flexibility than in the past. And, VeryWellFit.com offers a review of today’s Weight Watcher Diet.
As part of this plan, foods are still assigned a certain number of points for a certain quantity of a particular food, and you still monitor your food points (now called SmartPoints) and are encouraged to make wise nutritional choices and exercise regularly. Advantages of this plan include that no foods are forbidden; instead, you monitor quantity and should eat mostly healthy foods. The goal is slow, steady weight loss, and nutritional tips are offered. As you exercise, you earn FitPoints that allow you to adjust your food intake. Popular apps synch with Weight Watcher points and some restaurant menus and packaged grocery items list them.
There is, however, a monthly cost of a Weight Watcher membership; weekly weigh-ins are required; and some people find measuring and weighing food to be frustrating. Another drawback for some people is that the amount of freedom given to choose foods makes it too easy for them to choose less nutritious ones.
This program is a re-set, one where people eliminate certain foods from their diet for 30 days, such as sugar, dairy, grains and legumes, as a way to kickstart healthy eating. Foods you can’t eat during the 30 days may be sapping your energy or causing unexplained aches and pains, and also making it more difficult to lose weight. Or, digestive issues, seasonal allergies or skin issues may be troubling you.
So, on the Whole30 program, you eliminate the “most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.” The idea is that this program will allow your body to heal from whatever negative affects these foods are causing, with the founder of the diet promising that this program will:
- change the way you think about food
- change your tastes
- change your habits
- change your cravings
- restore a healthy emotional relationship with food
For 30 days, participants eat moderate portions of “real” food, including meat, seafood and eggs, with “lots of vegetables” and “some fruit.” It’s best to choose foods with very few ingredients, or ones that are whole and unprocessed. You should also incorporate plenty of natural fats.
During that time, you don’t eat any sugar, real or artificial, or any alcohol, grains, legumes or dairy. You’ll need to say no to MSG or sulfites, or any baked goods or junk food. Also avoid weighing or measuring yourself during this timeframe. If you want to measure progress, weigh/measure before the 30-day program starts and then after it ends.
EatingWell.com provides an overview of pros and cons of this program.
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