Most of us have tried to diet in one way or another at some point in our lives. Whether it’s counting calories, changing the foods we eat, or cutting down portion sizes, dieting is often an effective way to lose weight when combined with exercise. While some people try to create their own diet plans, there are many different established diets with distinct guidelines that have helped countless people lose weight effectively over the years. Today we’re going to talk about three of these diets in particular, as well as the reported pros and cons of each one.
To discuss our first diet we have to go back to the Stone Age, before the advent of modern agriculture. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we’re talking about the Paleo diet. The focus of this diet plan is to try and eat foods such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that were once obtainable through hunting and gathering. This diet is based on the “Discordance Hypothesis”, or the idea that humans are not well suited to digest the products of modern agriculture such as dairy products and grains. Multiple short-term studies have linked this diet with improved weight loss, increased tolerance of glucose, and better overall management of hunger. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Paleo diet has no flaws. The Mayo Clinic states that this diet plan limits consumption of foods like whole grains and legumes, which are both great sources of vitamins and nutrients. On top of this, they also state that the wild game, grass-fed animals, and wild nuts that make up this diet are typically quite expensive, which can be a roadblock for many people looking to lose weight, but not money.
Our next diet plan is one that many people have heard of, but may not know exactly what it entails: the Keto diet. This diet gets its name from an abbreviation of “ketogenic”, which is the process your body undergoes while burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The general idea behind this diet is that by limiting the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, your body will
resort to burning excess fat for energy instead, helping you to lose weight and lower your body fat. This diet plan focuses on the consumption of high-fat, low-carb foods like nuts, oils, meats, and fish, while avoiding carbohydrate-dense foods such as bread and certain vegetables. Many people will see great results from this diet after a few weeks, but the Mayo Clinic recommends that the Ketogenic diet is not followed for a period longer than 3-6 months. This is because many participants experience the “Keto-Flu”, with symptoms including bad breath, headaches, nausea, constipation, and muscle cramps, due to the multiple nutrient deficiencies that can be caused by the Keto diet.
The last diet plan we’ll discuss is one with proven health benefits outside of weight loss. In the 1950’s, scientists noticed that people living in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea had significantly lower chances of developing heart disease compared to those living in the United States. There was some speculation about the reasoning behind this anomaly, until multiple studies confirmed that it was the foods these people ate that contributed to their resistance to heart disease and stroke. The Mediterranean diet consists of mostly plant-based foods, moderate amounts of fish and other seafood, with very limited amounts of red meat and added fat. These foods are loaded with healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. These fats help to lower cholesterol and to reduce blood clotting, which both in turn increase overall heart health. The Mediterranean diet is great for your heart, but might not be the best diet for those hoping to lose weight. Similarly to the Paleo diet, following the Mediterranean diet may also be time consuming and expensive.
The most important part of picking a diet plan is to determine what your goals are. No matter if you’re trying to lose weight, burn fat, or lower your cholesterol, there’s a diet out there for you. If you need help determining what diet is right for you, feel free to set up an
appointment with one of our registered dieticians here at Forte Wellbeing! Our experienced staff is happy to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.