Gone are the days of basic diets and eating without giving your morsel a second thought. With every third person becoming an Instagram influencer and inventing some new trend or the other, it’s easy to get swept away by the wave of new diets and food fads around us. Some of which are grounded in fact, while others seem plain absurd.
You’re probably in a similar pickle if you’re considering dieting, overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices that Google threw at you. From a diet that calls on our Paleolithic ancestors to a pro-protein diet to a more ethical choice, we’ve explored keto, paleo and vegan diets, and discussed how to choose what is the best diet for you.
The Keto Diet
The Keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet that is designed to send your body into a state of ketosis, hence the name. Our bodies convert carbs into glucose and use the glucose to generate energy, instead of the fat reserves in our body. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state, where the body starts to burn fat to create energy when its carbohydrate supply is reduced.
Keto aims to train your body to be in a state of ketosis, making it efficient at burning fat, while using protein to fuel body growth and functioning.
Dietary Perspective: Eliminate carbs, either completely or reduce it to 5 to 10% of your daily calorie intake. Less than 50 grams of carbs per day, which can get lower depending on the person’s needs. 70% of calories must be derived from fat, while 20 to 25% of your daily diet must include protein – just enough to build muscle and complete functions.
What Is Allowed: High fat and protein content. Animal fats (butter, mayonnaise, ghee), natural fats (coconut oil, olive oil), red meats, poultry, seafood, low sugar vegetables, nuts and seeds, natural sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit sugar).
What Is Forbidden: High protein and carb foods. Sugar (honey, agave, molasses, maple syrup etc), grains, cereal, rice, wheat, vegetables with high starch and sugar content (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes), lentils and legumes (including peanuts), almost all fruits due to their sugar content.
Who Can Attempt It: People seeking weight loss, as the keto diet is said to aid weight loss and helps reduce sugar cravings. Additionally, people with diabetes can benefit from it, specifically type-2 diabetes, as it promotes weight loss and increases insulin sensitivity. Many people like the keto diet as it allows for the consumption of fats and meat, so bacon and butter can remain on the menu.
Who Should Think Twice: Anyone with a chaotic schedule. The keto diet is rigid in terms of what has to be avoided, and requires pre-planned meals if you’re running around all day. Additionally, anyone who can’t stick to a rigid diet for long should rethink the keto diet. Whether it’s because you’re balancing a family or you turn to packaged food to make up for a missed supermarket run, keep in mind that this is a long-term diet that requires dedication. Your body will go through changes and constantly altering your intake of food will make you ill. It is also advised that people with a history of eating disorders, children and teens, and pregnant women avoid this diet.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo, or Paleolithic diet, requires you to dine hunter-gatherer style. Thankfully, it’s only the food that needs the change, and not the wardrobe. As the name suggests, adopting this diet means only eating those foods that would have been available to our ancestors. This means waving goodbye to all things processed; if they didn’t eat it, we don’t. According to Loren Cordain, known advocate of the diet and author of The Paleo Diet, claims that it helps us stay lean, and lowers the risk of health problems like cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc.
Dietary Perspective: To help our bodies function well by avoiding processed, non-organic and genetically modified foods. It promotes consumption of foods that are high in nutrients and protein, and most importantly, would be available to the cavemen to eat.
What Is Allowed: Meat and poultry that has been grass fed and pasture raised, wild caught seafood, cage free/organic free range eggs, organic vegetables, few low-sugar organic fruits (berries, melons), natural plant fats (coconut oil, olive oil), nuts and seeds.
What Is Forbidden: Dairy (though some people make exceptions for grass fed butter or ghee), refined sugar, potatoes, refined vegetable oil, processed meats (salami, pepperoni, hot dogs), grains, cereals, rice, lentils, beans, legumes (including peanuts).
Who Can Attempt It: The Paleo diet is certainly beneficial for anyone looking to completely cut processed, non-organic foods from their diet without going completely vegan. Additionally, people looking to diet to lose weight can go on the Paleo diet.
Who Should Think Twice: The Paleo diet is expensive – after all, organic, unprocessed and completely natural foods don’t come cheap. Additionally, it requires dedicated time to prep all your meals since it is so restrictive. Lastly, if you already face certain nutrient or protein deficiencies, you should definitely consult a dietitian before getting on the Paleo diet. An unbalanced Paleo diet can lead to troubles, and it is definitely important to pay attention to that since it doesn’t involve any form of calorie counting.
Veganism is a level up above vegetarianism, and is most often followed by people looking to make an ethical or environmental change. But it also comes with its own list of health benefits, and the increasing number of people adopting vegan lifestyles must mean there’s some proof in the pudding. Veganism means completely stopping the use of all animal products, and this reflects in the vegan diet.
Dietary Perspective: There’s not so much a focus on the quantity of carbs or proteins as much as a focus on avoiding all animal and animal derived products. In keeping the food intake all natural and organic, you give your body freedom from chemically sprayed, genetically modified and processed food.
What Is Allowed: Fruits and vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and nut butters, seeds, plant-based fats (coconut oil, olive oil), beans, legumes, mushrooms and fungi, vegan meat, dairy substitutes.
What Is Forbidden: All kinds of meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, bee products, animal-based ingredients (lactose, whey, gelatin, fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, shellac etc).
Who Can Attempt It: Anyone looking to lead a healthier, more ethical and environmentally-conscious lifestyle can adopt the vegan diet. Since it is also linked to weight loss, those seeking to lose weight can change to veganism.
Who Should Think Twice: The vegan diet is not the easiest to follow. Those who travel often to places that aren’t likely to have vegan options or substitutes will have a hard time following it. Plus, it can also be heavy on the pocket. Lastly, vegan diets can easily throw your body off if you’re not giving it enough nutrient and vitamin intake. You must ensure to meet basic nutritional requirements. Anyone with a lifestyle that can’t afford to dedicate themselves to these nitty-gritties may want to rethink vegan diets.
See also: Dairy Alternatives – Complete Guide to Dairy Substitutes| Vegan Alternatives to Traditional Baking Ingredients | Try These Quick And Easy Vegan Meals| How to Make Vegan Ice Cream – Quick And Easy
Whatever your eventual choice, you want to make sure that your body remains healthy and fit at the end of the day. You’re better off approaching any diet by researching it well and consulting the experts if needed.