Help...how do I choose the right diet for me?
With all the fad diet crazes in the world today, how do you know which diet is the best one for you? I’ve been asked this question many times and the truth is quite simple. Eating a diet of whole, nutrient-dense food works best to take off the extra pounds and most importantly, greatly improves your health. Sadly most of the fad diets out there today may help you lose weight quickly, but eventually cause you to gain more weight than you lost.
Instead of trying the latest, greatest diet craze, you must become a food detective. You must learn for yourself what foods make you feel strong, cause an increase in your energy, and improve your overall health; as well as the foods that may have a negative impact on your body. Overall, whole foods will have a positive impact on most everyone, unless you are sensitive or allergic to certain foods.
I have compiled a list below of some of the most popular modern day “diets”. It is not an all inclusive list, but contains some of the most popular ones practiced around the world today. My goal is to educate you on the popular diets of today. It is always my hope that you will choose to eat clean, whole, real food!
Eat the same foods that our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. Grass fed meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, eggs, nuts/seeds and healthy oils are all allowed on the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet avoids cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, overly salty foods, refined vegetables oils, candy, junk foods, processed foods, and convenience foods.
Eat similarly to styles of Mediterranean cultures. A Mediterranean Diet consists mostly of plant-based foods (fruits and vegetables), potatoes, whole grain bread, beans, nuts and seeds. Small portions of yogurt, cheese, poultry, and eggs are allowed. Fish and seafood are eaten twice a week. Oils are used instead of butter and many herbs/spices are used. The Mediterranean Diet limits sweets and red meat.
Vegetarians don't eat animals, but may eat products that come from them (such as dairy and eggs). Not all vegetarians are the same. There are different types of vegetarian diets listed below.
- Lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto), from the Latin words for "milk" and "egg," is the most common type of vegetarian. As the name suggests, people who follow this diet eat dairy products and eggs but avoid meat, poultry and seafood.
- Lacto vegetarians that eat dairy products but no eggs, meat, poultry or seafood.
- Ovo vegetarians that eat eggs but no dairy products, meat, poultry or seafood.
- Pesco vegetarians, or pescatarians, don't technically meet the common definition of vegetarian. People who follow this semi-vegetarian diet eat fish and other seafood but no poultry or meat.
Vegans follow all the guidelines of vegetarians, however vegans eat nothing that came from an animal (i.e. egg, milk, etc.). Vegans may also avoid wearing leather and suede because they are made from animal skins. They may avoid any fabrics that are made from animal byproducts including wool and silk. Many vegans also use beauty products free from any animal byproducts as well.
The Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate diet developed in the 1960s by Dr. Robert C. Atkins. The Atkins Diet restricts carbs while emphasizing protein and fats. In the beginning phase of this diet carbs are limited to 20 grams a day, mainly from vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green beans and peppers. Protein, such as fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs, and cheese, is eaten at every meal. Oils and fats are not restricted, but you can't have most fruits, sugary baked goods, breads, pastas, grains, nuts or alcohol.
The Zone Diet restricts grains and starches, while maximizing fruits and vegetables. The Zone Diet works by balancing the plate at each meal. One third of the plate is protein. Two thirds of the plate is filled with carbohydrates (colorful vegetables and fruits). A small bit of fat can be included such as olive oil, avocado, or almonds.
Raw Food Diet
The raw foods diet centers around the premise that for optimal health, all (or mostly all) foods should be consumed raw or below 115 degrees. Some raw food diets promote eating only plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, while others add in a few animal-based products such as unpasteurized milk and cheese, raw fish, and some raw meat. Anything cooked, or not in its "natural state" is off-limits.
The goal of this diet is to put the body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis works to increase the body’s breakdown of fat stores for energy due to a lack of glucose from carbohydrates. Meals are based around meats, poultry, fish, eggs, higher-fat dairy (like butter, cheese, and cream), healthy fats (like oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados), and vegetables that are low in carbohydrates (like green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, squash, peppers, etc.). However, carbs are extremely limited to approximately 20-25 gram per day if consuming around 2,000 calories. All starchy vegetables, grains, fruits, dairy such as milk and yogurt, natural and refined sugars and sweeteners – or anything that would increase carb intake should be avoided.
The eating plan focuses on eating alkaline-promoting foods which include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, and eliminating acid-promoting foods which include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol. Knowing which foods are acidic, neutral, or alkaline is not something listed on food labels – meaning memorizing “acidic” and “alkaline” food choices is necessary to follow the eating plan.
The program assigns every food and beverage a SmartPoints value, based on its nutrition (higher amounts of saturated fat and sugar increase the point value; higher amounts of protein bring the point value down). Prices range from $4-$12 per week.
The idea of counting calories became popular around the turn of the 20th century. A “calorie deficit” must be created in order to lose weight. What that means is, you want to eat less calories than your body burns in a day. One pound of fat is around 3,500 calories. To lose one pound of fat per week, you'd need a 500-calorie deficit each day or 1000-calorie deficit each day if you want to lose 2 pounds of fat per week. Counting calories begins by calculating how many calories you can eat daily to create a deficit. Also, calorie totals must be logged each day.
There is no perfect, prescribed “diet” for everyone. Instead of trying to find the perfect diet, why not commit to eating whole, nutrient-dense food. You will lose those extra pounds and feel great too!