So you’re thinking of changing things a little, your current nutrition habits seem to be a cause of many health problems. Perhaps you’re eating too much, It could also be that you’re eating too little. It’s probably more likely that you’re just eating the wrong foods.The problem might not even be with the food itself, but simply how you’re eating it. Timing and frequency of meals can also play a role in how your body processes and uses nutrition.
So what are your solutions?
Well, today, you have access to a plethora of well-documented options. Diets and nutrition plans designed by experts and nutrition enthusiasts made to satisfy the need for healthy eating.
But which one is the best? And is there a best. Let’s take a look at some of these diet trends and break down their effectiveness.
Top 6 Diet Trends And How Good They Are For You
Atkins, like many of the diets you’ll learn about on this list, finds its origins and appeal in the call for healthy weight loss.
It was developed in 1972 by Dr. Robert C Atkins and quickly gained popularity through the award-winning book in which the diet was introduced.
So what exactly is the Atkins Diet?
Like a few of the entries in this list, the Atkins Diet is a low carb, high-fat diet.
These types of diets came into popularity due to the scientific understanding that one of the major causes of obesity and metabolic disease was the consumption of excess, refined carbohydrates.
Because the American diet largely consists of sugary processed foods, the exposure to obesity causing eating options is almost inescapable without knowledge and foresight.
This is what we understand now, but back in the day, when Atkins first came out, the diet was bashed in the mainstream nutrition culture.
That’s because, at that time, fat was seen as the reason behind the obesity crisis and rising average body fat levels in the general population.
It made sense to assume that the more fat you ate, the more fat you got.
But science doesn’t care about your assumptions, and as more and more research was done, it was discovered that high levels of processed carbs were, in fact, more of a problem when it came to weight gain than high levels of fat.
The reduction in carbs also leaves the door open for an increase in protein intake, which is ideal for weight loss.
That’s because protein is the most satiating macronutrient. That means it makes you feel fuller with less of it consumed than fat or carbs.
Implementing the Atkins diet is easier said than done, and perhaps that’s where the drawbacks come in.
You see, Atkins requires a four-phase approach in order to effectively benefit from what the diet promises.
In the first phase, you will need to drastically cut your carb intake down to a minimum of 20g each day.
From phase two, going up to four, you will gradually reintroduce healthy carbs to a certain level, where you will then maintain the diet.
In order to avoid the pitfalls of unhealthy carbs, the diet advises you to take a pass on these.
“Fat-free” and “low-fat” foods
Grains (wheat, rice, rye, barley
High-carb fruits (Bananas, Persimmons, grapes, apples)
High-carb vegetables (Carrots, onions, tomatoes)
Legumes (cashews, beans, peas, peanuts)
Starches (bread, pasta, pastries)
Sugar (candy, desserts, soda, fruit juice)
Trans fats (margarine, fast food, snack foods)
So that’s Atkins in a nutshell, in my opinion, it’s a bit extreme from a micro-management perspective.
Having to plan and remember all the figures and measurements for each phase is a bit of a headache, but if healthy weight loss is what you’re after, the proof is in the pudding, just as long as you don’t eat it.
Banting is another high fat, low carb diet that found it’s origins some time before the obesity pandemic was gaining notoriety in the US.
And by some time before, we mean over a century. So you see, low carb living is absolutely nothing new.
This diet, however, was founded by a humble postman named William Banting.
William banting had a serious weight problem. So he went to a doctor and the doctor told him to cut down on the carbs.
By limiting the intake of starch and sugar, Banting managed to treat his obesity and regain a healthy body composition.
Through this experience, he went on to write a book called “Letter on Corpulence”.
This little book would go on to be one of the world’s first diet revolutions, and the name “Banting” would become ubiquitous with dieting for weight loss for some time to come.
Today, Banting has seen a resurgence. It is even included as a sub-menu by many restaurants and eateries in the US and globally.
So how does it work?
Well, banting is a little more intuitive than Atkins in that it doesn’t require a strict protocol in order for you to follow the plan.
It was developed during a time where we didn’t have as in-depth of an idea of nutritional science as we do today, so following Banting simply required that you eliminate certain foods and add more of others.
Foods to exclude in Banting include:
Starchy foods like bread and pasta
Starchy vegetables like turnips and potatoes
Beer and other forms of alcohol
Sugar and sweets (candy)
Butter and milk
The Banting concept was expanded on by world-renowned nutrition expert Dr. Tim Noakes in his book “Real Meal Revolution”.
In it, he lays out banting into four distinct steps, which incidentally bear similarities to the Atkins system.
These steps are
Banting is also the first mainstream example of a gluten-free diet and is popular amongst people who chose to follow a gluten-free lifestyle.
Keto has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent times. One could say it is the ultimate low carb high-fat diet out there, and with good reason.
That’s because keto, or ketosis, unlike the other LCHF diets I’ve mentioned, wasn’t thought up by a doctor or weight-loss hero.
It wasn’t developed by the intellect and educated design of another person. Keto is a built-in function of human biology.
Going keto simply means tapping into this fundamental system for the benefit of your health.
Keto’s popularity is also entrenched in the quest for healthy weight loss, and here’s how it works.
Your body uses macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein) for growth, repair, recovery, and energy.
Primarily, your body, especially your brain, will turn to carbs for this.
However, your body is designed to adapt to discrepancies in food source availability. When such a discrepancy results in a lack of carbs, your body switches to using fat as its preferred source.
It does this by converting fat into ketone bodies in the liver, which can then be used as fuel for metabolic activity.
This use of fat instead of carbs means your body will more eagerly tap into your body fat stores, resulting in accelerated body fat loss.
The key to keto is limiting carb intake and doing so by a wide margin. It also means ramping up fat intake by a lot too.
The general rule is 75%-80% fat and 5%-10% carbs, with the rest being protein.
Keto does have its drawbacks, such as the dreaded keto flu. A temporary condition where one experiences flu-like symptoms due to the adjustment required to settle into ketosis.
Keto was once treated as the silver bullet in healthy fat loss, but as with most diets, you will soon learn that one size never fits all.
Keto is a very sensitive mechanism and to gain real benefits, you need to approach it with enough knowledge and research.
Paleo is a system of eating more than a specific diet, although there are certain preferred and restricted foods.
It’s a more intuitive approach that simply deals with the quality of food rather than quantity and frequency.
Paleo is short for paleolithic. This represents a time in human history before settled agriculture took hold in our lives.
In paleo terms, humans ate from their habitat as they found it. We hunted and gathered our food.
That means our diets were very seasonal and with a mixed variety.
In a modern context, a paleo-like diet would include lean meats, fruits, and nuts. Basically anything that could as easily be caught or harvested in the wild as it could be thrown into your supermarket shopping cart.
That means processed foods are a no-no, and anything that would require agriculture to the source is also out of the question. That takes all dairy products and cereal grains off the menu.
The goal of paleo is to feed the body the way it was meant to be fed, like a caveman so-to-speak.
But what is a caveman, and was there only one style of paleolithic living?
That’s where the whole argument of paleo as the best and ultimate method of dieting starts to unravel a bit.
The world is a big place, and across the vast expanse of geography, different ways of living, and naturally, eating have existed.
To decide that one prehistoric method of nutrition is the one everyone should follow is just as faulty as any of the more modern “fad diets” claims.
5. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is another nutritional hot topic.
This time we’re dealing with methods of eating rather than the food itself.
With intermittent fasting, you basically limit the window period in which you can eat each day.
The common trend is to allow for just 8 hours of food intake per day, starting from what would normally be close to lunchtime, and ending a couple of hours before bedtime.
That means an average of 16 hours each day of no eating, yikes!
The benefits of intermittent fasting are linked to an increase in growth hormone levels, which promotes cellular genesis and tissue recovery, leading to some reported anti-aging effects.
The research on these points everywhere, but one this is certain, having a restriction on caloric intake certainly helps with weight loss.
An extreme form of intermittent fasting is the One Meal A Day protocol or OMAD.
This has you eating just once a day, anything you like.
I have to disagree with this one personally, as eating anything you want just because it fits your calorie requirements is a foolish approach.
You need a variety of nutrients in order to function healthily, and with one meal a day, even if it’s good, healthy food, you develop a higher risk of dietary deficiencies.
A varied diet spread across multiple meals throughout the day is the best way to ensure you’re getting all the stuff you need.
Veganism is pretty well documented throughout human history.
The idea of a purely plant-based, or animal-free diet is nothing new.
However, the motivating factors and culture surrounding it today are totally new.
Because of this, veganism is more than a diet, it’s a culture, an ideology.
Most people turn to a plant-based, animal-free lifestyle for one or several ethical reasons.
The most prominent being the animal rights movement.
It is true that the consumer demands for meat and animal products have to lead to a crazy industrial up-scaling of livestock raising and slaughtering methods.
The result is factory farming, a method of mass livestock farming most would consider inhumane.
Cramped conditions and limited access to natural life functions all of which culminate in a cruel death can sway even the hardest heart.
Another popular reason for plant-based living is the damage raising animals for food has on the environment.
In order for a successful meat-producing venture to take place, vast tracts of land are required, leading to deforestation and habitat destruction.
Added to that, the resources required such as food and water can take away from immediate human needs.
Cattle farming has also been linked to atmospheric pollution due to the large volumes of methane produced.
A vegan lifestyle can also be adopted for purely health reasons, whether it’s to lose weight or avoid allergies and inflammation.
The single drawback with the complete exclusion of animal products from the diet is that certain nutrients are not abundant or available from a purely plant-based diet. Because of this, a vegan diet requires some minor tweaks in the way of supplementation in order to work effectively.
Conclusion: So Which Is The Best?
Well if you’ve been paying attention, the answer to that is all of them and none of them.
That’s because all of these practices have something useful to offer, and none of them works for everyone.
Your food, your nutrition, and your diet is YOUR story. It is as individual as the strands of DNA in your cells and the prints on the tips of your fingers.
So many things need to be considered. Your genetics, current state of health, allergies, and sensitivities. Even your finances, what food you have access to and just your general preference all play a role.
Your goals also need to be taken into account. A diet aimed at weight loss isn’t ideal if you’re trying to pack on muscle.
Learn who you are nutritionally by visiting a registered dietician or doctor and take it from there.
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