Food regimens are all the rage. It seems that every week a celebrity, physician or other expert is promoting a new dietary concept that ensures weight loss, weight gain, lower cholesterol or tailored to meet other specific needs. Even so, there are some diets that have had ‘staying power’. In other words, they have stood the test of time and have shown themselves to be a successful approach to reaching a desired weight. In this article we will examine six popular diets.
The Atkins diet was first introduced in the 1960s by Dr. Robert Atkins. The core principle of this program is to reduce the intake of carbohydrates and refined sources of sugar and replace these foods with natural proteins and fats. According to Atkins, when a person limits the number of ‘carbs’ the body will not need to burn ‘glucose’ and can focus on burning body fat. When followed properly, the diet is phased in over time. The dieter starts with the Induction phase and eats mostly leafy greens and other raw vegetables. Phase two calls for the introduction of ‘fiber-rich’ and ‘nutrient-dense’ foods such as fruits and nuts. After two-three weeks, phase three calls for the addition of starchy items such as beans and lentils, and whole grains.
When a person reaches his or her ideal weight, they can then usher in Phase four. This is Lifetime maintenance or continual monitoring of food intake to sustain weight loss. This is a common-sense diet that may have its detractors but has been successful for millions of Americans over the past five decades.
The Ketogenic – keto for short – diet is similar to the Atkins diet. The name is derived from the term ‘ketosis’ which is the bodily process that occurs when following this diet. Ketosis is the metabolic state of using fats to fuel the human body. It promotes the intake of high fats, a moderate amount of protein and limited carbohydrates. Too, it is important to eat a wide range of whole, unprocessed foods. Grains and carbohydrates form the basis of every meal.
This diet is based on the understanding that ‘fats’ are good for people. Those who have embraced this style of eating consider it a ‘lifestyle’ and not a diet at all. It has been recommended for children with epilepsy and those who suffer from diabetes.
The Paleolithic – paleo for short – diet is also known as the ‘caveman’ or ‘stone-age’ diet because it calls for food intake similar to what primitive people ate. It is similar to other diets that call for the banishment of processed foods. But if goes further by prohibiting dairy, sugar, salt, coffee and alcohol. Instead, recommended foods include meat and fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits, and roots. The concept of the Paleo diet originated from Walter Voeglin in the 1970s. Despite the fact that research on this diet’s benefits is limited, many promote this is a healthy, sensible food regimen.
Veganism is a lifestyle that requires followers to abstain from the use of any animal products. Veganism extends to items that incorporate animal components such as clothing, soap and more. The vegan diet excludes anything animal-based. Those who adhere to the vegan diet not only avoid meat but also foods such as dairy, honey and eggs. The diet is plant-based and those who adopt a vegan diet often do so for reasons other than health. Vegans often promote this diet as an ethical and environmental choice.
Foods that are grown naturally and not as a result of large-scale corporate farming include fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans and nuts. They often shop at farmer’s markets or other areas with organically grown foods. The vegan diet can be beneficial for long-term health.
This diet has been adopted from the eating habits of people who live in Mediterranean parts of the world such as Spain, Greece and Italy. Like other diets, it calls for inclusion of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, fats and whole grains, olive oil and legumes, fish, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. It also allows wine and other meats in moderation. This diet is unique in allowing for olive oil. Other low-carb diets have excluded oils of any kind. Research does show there are some health benefits to olive oil.
16/8 diet or intermittent fasting
This dietary concept is simple and gaining in popularity in the United States. People who follow the 16/8 diet will fast for 16 hours a day and limit their consumption of calories to 8 hours. They will avoid eating in the evenings, overnight and into the morning. They eat during the midday hours which allows for calories to burn off prior to sleeping. Eight-hour time frames can be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or noon to 8 p.m. It is important to remember that regular meals and snacks during this time will keep your blood sugar evened out and prevent unnecessary hunger.
It is recommended that anyone who wants to diet should start by visiting their family physician for a complete check-up. There may be medical reasons that a person is gaining weight. It is also a good idea to investigate each of the diets more thoroughly to determine which is likely to be one you can stick with! For example, if you like to eat meat then you probably wouldn’t want to try a vegan diet. Conversely, if you are a fan of fish and meat this would be a diet you would avoid.
Finally, all of these diets promote the exclusion of processed foods and can be adopted as an ongoing, life-long lifestyle.
Ultimately, it calls for sensible eating without indulging. Equally as important is the incorporation of natural, organic, unprocessed food items. You can’t go wrong by eating fresh fruits and vegetables…and don’t forget to drink lots of water daily!