Yes, diet is a four-letter word, but then so is food. So, what’s hot right now and what’s working? Here’s a brief overview of the top-tier diets.
Here’s a way of eating that has gained so much popularity, it’s known among its followers as simply “keto.” Here are the basic tenants:
- Eat mostly healthy fats—up to 75 percent of your calories.
- Consume high-quality protein in moderation.
- Restrict carbohydrates to no more than 10 percent.
Keto allows the body to burn fat without hunger, weakness, or fatigue while inducing a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. The body no longer relies on glucose as its primary energy source, but instead converts dietary fat into ketones in the liver. These ketones are then burned for energy. Favorite keto foods include avocados, grass-fed butter, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seed, non-starchy leafy vegetables, and lean protein like grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught fish.
Ever wonder what Mr. and Mrs. Wool E. Mammoth ate sitting around the cave? Eating the paleo way is based on the foods likely consumed during the Paleolithic era. Sometimes called the Caveman or Stone Age Diet, this includes wild-caught fish, ethically raised meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—all things consumed before the agricultural era. What’s out? Refined sugar, grains, beans and legumes, dairy, potatoes, and processed foods. Sorry Flintstones, but Fruity Pebbles don’t make the paleo cut.
Much newer on the scene, Whole30 is a strict elimination diet that adds a time element to help support a breakup with unhealthy eating habits. For 30 days straight, you will eliminate all grains, dairy, soy, beans and legumes, seed oils, alcohol, added sugars (even healthy ones), and anything made with carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. Absolutely no variations are allowed. At the end of 30 days, previously restricted foods are slowly added back during a reintroduction phase to see if the body reacts negatively. The combination of feeling good and finding out what foods you’re reactive to encourages a long-term change in your food choices.
Promoted as a way to improve health, becoming a vegan can also be a statement toward environmental or ethical choices (think animal welfare). Not to be confused with vegetarians who don’t eat animals, but do eat animal products such as dairy or eggs, a vegan’s primary source of nutrition includes fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh. Multiple variations within the vegan lifestyle can exclude or include how vegan food is eaten, as in raw versus cooked. To avoid any nutrient deficiencies, vegans are encouraged to use supplements to make up for nutrients they may be missing. For example, vitamin B-12—a nutrient found in animal products—is necessary for healthy blood and nerve cells making it an excellent addition to a vegan regimen. A vast array of vegan primers exist to guide a newbie to the lifestyle.
The Ultimate Diet
With the multitude of choices for weight loss and healthy eating, it pays to be a student of any new diet path you pursue to make sure it dovetails with your health goals. That’s why most plans advise you to check with your health care practitioner before making a change. Ultimately, the best healthy-eating plan is one that you can stick with over time and delivers the results you seek.