By: Trisha Bautista
Gluten-free, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, Keto… when it comes to diets and eating styles, the list of diet options are endless in our health-crazed generation. There’s a whole industry that makes money off of the health-conscious society we have these days. Before you buy in on all these diet options we have these days, check out these diets and see if they’re a fit for your lifestyle and your goals.
Eat: Whole, single ingredient food like whole proteins, rice, fruits, vegetables, starchy fruits and veggies, seeds, nut, legumes, and gluten-free grains like quinoa
Don’t Eat: Any kind of wheat and wheat products, rye, barley, bread, pasta, beer, cakes, most regular sauces
What it is: According to the Mayo Clinic, a Gluten-free diet is one that “excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.” In other words, a gluten-free diet would mean you avoid anything that has a trace of gluten in it. The Gluten-free diet is actually a form of treatment for Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that makes the body react negatively to gluten.
Why it could work: For many people with average eating habits, going gluten-free means losing weight because cutting gluten out of your diet because you basically cut out a lot of food. This works because many natural, healthy, and nutritious food don’t contain gluten. We’re talking fruits and veggies, nuts, legumes, and proteins.
Why it might not be for you: If going “gluten-free” for you means eating any and every product labeled gluten-free, it might actually do you more harm than good. Many of those store-bought products are loaded with sugars, preservatives, and other ingredients. This is especially true for gluten-free pastries and cakes. Remember, gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean low-sugar, low fat, or low calorie! If you want to go down this route, then stick to natural whole foods. Also, some studies have shown that a long-term gluten-free lifestyle could lead to a fiber deficiency and dietary inadequacies.
2. Low Carb
Eat: Any kind of protein (read: meat, fish, poultry, eggs), most vegetables, fruits and plain nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, gluten-free grains
Don’t Eat: Sugar (especially in drinks), processed foods, wheat and wheat products, artificial sugars, grainy food, starchy fruits and vegetables, most dairy products
What it is: Low-carb diets have gained popularity in the past decade or so thanks to diets that follow its principle (like the South Beach diet and the Atkins diet). Low carb diets restrict your carb intake especially those found in sugary foods, avoiding or cutting out grains, wheat, and anything starchy, including the more starchy fruits and vegetables. Low-carb diets are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Why it could work: Low-carb diets work by decreasing your carbohydrate intake. Since our bodies burn carbohydrates for fuel, lowering your carb intake means lowering your insulin level. This allows your body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately leads to weight loss. Low-carb diets also include a lot of fresh veggies and fruits, promoting generally good eating habits. This kind of diet is also known to lower your risk of heart disease.
Why it might not be for you: If you can’t live without rice and bread and pasta, going low-carb might not be for you. Opt for smaller portions instead—cutting down on your carb intake can still give you the benefits of a low-carb diet!
Eat: anything that our cavemen ancestors might have eaten via hunting and gathering: lean meat, fish, seafood, poultry, fresh veggies and fruits.
Don’t Eat: Anything our ancestors didn’t have. Anything processed, grains, dairy, refined sugars, legumes
What it is: the Paleo diet is patterned after what humans used to eat before farming was invented. The theory behind it is that you try to eat the same way the early humans used to eat, which the advocates say is more natural to the body, while also keeping physically active. It’s popular among CrossFit practitioners.
Why it could work: Since the diet aims to avoid anything processed, including all sorts of food loaded with sugar, carbohydrates, chemicals, and the like, following this diet is similar to gluten-free and low-carb. Paleo diets don’t count calories, following a principle that you can eat as much as you want to if it’s whole, unprocessed ingredients. Most diets these days follow the same general principle of ditching the processed stuff (in different degrees) and going for whole foods.
Why it might not be for you: Going hardcore Paleo involves a lot of work, because they advocate making everything from scratch. This including using or making natural oils for cooking, or using meat fat as oil for cooking.
4. Keto (Ketogenic) Diet
Eat: Red meats, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, unprocessed cheese, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, and low-carb veggies
Don’t Eat: Sugary food, grains and wheat products including bread, cakes, etc; all fruits except some berries, some root crops, beans and legumes, alcohol.
What it is: A Ketogenic diet plan is a low-carb, high-fat diet that’s similar to other low-carb diets, but focuses on fat instead of protein. Studies have shown that a Ketogenic diet decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, and even Parkinsons disease.
How it works: According to the Ketogenic Diet Resource, the a ketogenic diet plan improves wellbeing through a metabolic change. It allows your body to change your primary fuel source from carbohydrate-based fuels to fat fuels and fat metabolism products called ketones. A ketogenic diet plan requires tracking the carb amounts in the foods eaten and reducing carbohydrate intake to about 20-60 grams per day. Your fat and protein intake will depend on your height, weight, and other factors.
Why it might not be for you: If you have a history of pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, impaired liver function, or are pregnant and lactating, this isn’t for you. It’s also tricky to follow this plan without the close supervision of a nutritionist, because exact numbers and portions vary per person.
5. Detox Diets
Eat: Go through a period of fasting, slowly reintroducing food back into your diet
Don’t Eat: Anything not part of your “detox”.
What it is: Detox diets came into popularity when celebrities like Beyonce and Kim Kardashian started using them, although the practice of fasting has been practiced widely by different religious groups. Detox diets are actually more of a fast than a diet, and it claims to “cleanse” your body by fasting and flushing out chemicals, then re-starting your system by re-introducing fruits and vegetables slowly. These include the 3-day cleanse, 10-day cleanse, and other variations. Some like the Lemon Cleanse only allow you to drink a concoction of water, lemon, cayenne pepper, and pure maple syrup for 10 days, and others include recommended supplements and variations of the water drink. These type of diets also require meticulous planning, because these diets have pre-detox and post-detox phases where you slowly ease into and out of the diet.
Why it could work: It’s important to note that most doctors discourage this, because your body technically goes into starvation mode. Advocates of this claim that it helps them “jump-start” a diet, helps them cleanse after a long vacation, or helps them de-bloat. If and only if your doctor allows you to go on one, detoxes should only last a few days.
Why it might not be for you: First of all, starving yourself or fasting for days isn’t ever a great idea. You deprive your body of much-needed nutrients that you need for daily activities. Take it from someone who’s tried them—you will feel de-bloated after a day of fasting, but you’ll end up bingeing sooner or later. This is especially true for moms. This of course, is a no-no for lactating moms.
6. Juice Cleanses
Eat: prescribed juices made of fresh, natural ingredients
Don’t eat: anything that’s not a prescribed juice, some or most food
Why it could work: If you really think your body needs a detox of some sort, this is a better alternative to fasting. Juice cleanses also vary per program, but the basic principle is swapping meals (either one a day or all three for a certain time period) for juices. We don’t mean OJ and the like—we mean those pressed juices that are made from the enzymes of squeezed fruits and veggies. A common combination would have a mix of apples, pears, etc; combined with beets, kale, and the like. Advocates of this say that this is a good way to get your essential nutrients in, especially if you’re not a fan of vegetables. This is also a much better alternative to fasting because you’re still getting some kind of sustenance. Some swap just one meal for a juice to lessen their calorie intake.
Why it might not be for you: Since juicing is like putting your body on a liquid, advocates of this diet also recommend that you don’t go more than a week of straight juicing. Doing so will mean you’re depriving your body of the calories it needs to function. Going on a juice diet would leave you lacking energy and lethargic, which isn’t healthy either. Juicing is a good way to supplement your regular meals—not to be used as a substitute.
At the end of the day, nothing beats a good old balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Check out the Harvard School of Public Health’s recommended “healthy plate” for how to balance your diet (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/). Remember, before you start on anything (especially an extreme shift from what you’re used to), consult your doctor and a nutritionist, first!
Source: Mayo Clinic, Authority Nutrition, Livestrong.com,Harvard School of Public Healthy
Trisha Bautista is a writer, editor, and PR practitioner with articles published in many of the country’s top magazines and lifestyle websites. She’s a mother to an eight months-old baby boy, and is constantly trying to find the time to stay fit and healthy while balancing married life, motherhood, career, and a social life. She enjoys discovering health, fitness, beauty, and shopping hacks to maximize time and money, and loves the occasional wine night.