Many of us have reasons to watch what we eat. Whether it is for weight control, health concerns/optimization, religious or moral reasons or a combination thereof.
The CDC reports that:
- 18% of Americans said they are currently on a diet of some kind
- 42% of the population is obese
- 50% are pre-diabetic and 80% of those people are unaware of their condition.
Clearly, nutrition and diet matter a great deal to a lot of people. Reliable information is rapidly evolving with respect to science and the latest trends. Which can make choosing an approach to diet and nutrition both high-stakes and, possibly, totally overwhelming. So with an eye toward something for everyone and a dash of humor, here’s an overview of some diets to consider. Note: this is not medical advice; consult with a medical professional before embarking on a nutritional makeover—whether you prefer carbs, meat or kale all day.
Vegetarian or Plant based
- Quite simple: No meat or fish, but you loooove the cheese
- Reasons: moral, religious, health
- Common deficiencies: Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, protein (certain amino-acids)
- More radical, absolute animal-lover’s lifestyle
- No animal products
- Reasons: moral, religious, health
- Common deficiencies: Vitamin A, B12, D, calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3, protein (certain amino-acids)
- Raw food can be delicious, but it requires serious chef skills, also you’ll love it if you run hot and the idea of a warm soup makes you sweat
- Only raw plant-based foods
- For those secretly vegetarian, who don’t want to upset mom at the Thanksgiving dinner
- Primarily vegetarian with occasional animal products here and there
- Benefits of plant-based diets: Lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lower blood pressure, cholesterol, weight loss, longevity
- Healthy and balanced, if you have the access to really clean small fish. You don’t care about meat, but you want a sufficient amount of protein
- Common deficiencies: Vitamin B12, iron, certain amino acids
- Benefits: Lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes
Carnivore Eating an animal head to tail
- Only meat products, preferably a high quality meat (hormone-free, grass-fed, grass-finished), with the emphasis on organ meat (the most nutrient-dense part of the animal)
- Benefits: Lower blood sugar, lower inflammation, symptoms of autoimmune disease, decreased intestinal discomfort and digestive issues (bloating, gas), weight loss, mental clarity
- Risks: this diet is high in saturated fat, may elevate LDL, heart risk, may turn on cancer pathways, burdens kidneys and liver.
Omnivore I don’t discriminate or limit myself in any way. My stomach can process raw concrete.
- Someone who eats everything
- Benefits: great variety of nutrition
- Risks: food sensitivity, that could cause an array of metabolic symptoms and inflammation
Paleo Embracing your inner hunter gatherer
- Food eaten by early humans in the Paleolithic era, no processed or refined food, no dairy, grain or legumes
- Benefits: This diet eliminates a lot of unhealthy foods like refined oils and emphasis on eating local fruits and vegetables
- Risks: eliminating foods from your diet, may cause deficiencies. In this case, calcium
SAD (Standard American Diet) Just SAD
- This diet has been linked to the epidemic of most of the modern diseases that afflict the U.S.
- For you, if you’re great at math and keeping tables
- Looks at the composition of macronutrients in our diet (protein, carbs, fat) and the ratio
- Benefits: helps people gain control of their weight and portion control
- Risks: very restrictive, doesn’t address quality of food sources
Elimination diet (Gluten-free, dairy-free, no soy, no nuts… removing all potential allergens)
- If you wanna play a detective and figure out everything that might be causing you health issues
- First introduced by Dr. A. Rowe. This diet is used to discover food sensitivities, allergens are eliminated from the diet and after a period of time reintroduced one by one to observe if any symptoms occur
- Benefits: identifying foods that doesn’t work for the body
- Risks: this is a very restrictive diet, not intended as a lifestyle
- Similar to elimination diet, can be used as a reset or as a guided experiment on oneself.
Keto (Standard Ketogenic Diet) – low carb, high fat, moderate protein
- If you love pasta, pizza, bread, you’ll be very sad for a while, but eventually convince yourself that there are more important things in life – like balancing your blood sugar levels and losing belly fat. Just stock up on mints.
- Benefits: This diet teaches our body not to rely on carbs as a primary source of energy and to produce ketones in the liver instead; this is called ketosis. This diet is used for weight loss, while staying satiated. Improves metabolic health, beneficial for people with diabetes.
- Risks: nutrient deficiencies, fat in liver, kidney stones, bad breath, digestion issues, insomnia
Versions of Keto diet:
- Targeted Keto: adding carbs after a workout
- High protein Keto: higher ratio of protein
- Cyclical Keto: cycling days in the week of refeeding carbs
- Animal lovers can do keto too
- Vegetarian diet modifier to the Keto standards (high in plant-based fats)
- Benefits: more variety of food, including more vegetables and healthier fats, lessen the negative effect of a standard keto. More nutritious than a lazy vegetarian diet (pizza/pasta).
- Common deficiencies: Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, protein (certain amino-acids)
Blood type diet
- In some cultures, having the “right” blood type will get you a second date. It’s a bit like zodiac signs. Oh you’re Aries, you like spicy food!!
- Popularized by Dr. Peter D’Adamo. Consists of food lists for your blood type diet, based on what ancestors with the same blood type ate. 0 type thrives as a carnivore, A does better on a vegetarian diet. If your blood type is A, you should eat vegetarian foods, B tolerates dairy well and AB is a combination. Lists are specific and divided into beneficial, neutral and foods to avoid.
- Benefits: Eating whole foods and not processed foods.
- Risks: There’s no scientific research supporting this theory. It’s somewhat restrictive and selective on what a person is allowed to eat.
When we no longer can eat anything we want. This is a diet for people with serious digestive issues. No joke.
- Designed for people with IBS or SIBO. Eliminating fermentable short-chain carbohydrates, which are more difficult for people to digest. Includes a specific list of foods that are allowed and foods to avoid. Certain dairy products, sweeteners, nuts, and more.
- Benefits: improved symptoms of digestive issues
- Risks: like any restrictive diet, lack of some nutrients
Low histamine diet
- When some foods just make you itch.
- For people with histamine sensitivity, who develop symptoms like hives, skin irritation, sneezing, headache, as a response to histamine containing foods.
- Foods to avoid include: fermented foods, alcohol, cured meats..
- Benefits: help improve symptoms of histamine intolerance, help identify which foods cause their symptoms
- Risks: This is not a long-term diet. Under supervision can be helpful minimizing symptoms
Perhaps our ancestors knew better, not to eat whole grain and seed bread.
Popularized by Dr. Steven Grundy. Lectins are proteins that are not digestible. They work as a protecting mechanism for plants, to not be eaten. They can cause inflammation in the intestinal lining and cause a leaky gut. Foods high in lectin: uncooked legumes and beans, nightshade vegetables, mostly in the skin or the seeds.
- Benefits: better digestion, healing the intestinal lining
- Risks: lower fiber amount
“I only eat bread and pasta in Europe” – for those who believe the quality of grains is significantly better in Europe and therefore doesn’t cause the digestive issues that eating gluten typically does.
- Benefits: eating better quality foods, non-modified, is generally better tolarated and allows a more variety of nutrients.
- Risks: signs of food sensitivities might take up to two weeks to occur. Symptoms like headache, skin irritation. We might not remember the food we ate last week. And it might be the reason we have a headache today.
You always wanted to move to Italy and enjoy the dolce vita.
- Inspired by the eating habits of people living by the Mediterranean sea. Consists of fruits and vegetables, lean protein like fish, whole grain, olive oil and small amounts of red wine.
- Benefits: It’s considered to be a generally healthy nutritious diet, it’s not restrictive. May prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Deficiencies: Iron, calcium
DASH – (dietary approaches to stop hypertension)
What most people consider “healthy.”
- Low in salt and fats, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grain
- Pros: flexible and balanced eating plan, supported by science, can be followed long term
- Cons: gas, bloating due to high fiber content
I call this the New Year’s resolution diet. Hope it lasts.
- Addresses causes of excess belly fat (alcohol, sugar, stress, sedentary lifestyle)
- Pros: can be motivating, eliminate inflammation
- Cons: quick pricey meal plans, that are not sustainable long term
80/20 or cheat diet, when you have the discipline 80% of the time
80% time strict, 20% time free
- Pros: can be applied long term, flexible, includes an exercise plan
- Cons: doesn’t offer enough structure
So popular in the early 2000s. Celebrities sharing “what I eat in a day.”
- Focuses on eating low glycemic index foods and avoiding saturated fats. After the initial restrictive phase follows a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet.
- Pros: comes with a long list of interesting recipes, avoids junk food
- Cons: not supported by science, restriction and a rapid weight loss followed by weight gain
Organic, non-GMO, local, non-processed
Or Qualitarian Diet. Only the best for the princess.
- Pros: Pays attention to the quality and the source of your food.
- Cons: Requires cooking and can be expensive, hard to follow when eating out
- The famous lose-weight-fast diet. Grandpa of keto.
- Low-carb diet. Kept as a lifestyle, promises weight loss and maintaining low weight. Includes meat, fish, eggs, full fat dairy and leafy greens. Diet has been updated, since first introduced, with the adaptation of new research. Inspired keto diet.
- Pros: doesn’t require calorie restriction for weight loss. It’s not a starvation diet, it’s protein rich
- Cons: high in saturated fats, could cause bad breath, nausea, constipation, headaches
Weight Watchers (now called WW – Wellness that Works)
Claims you can eat all the foods without gaining weight – if you’re good at math.
If you like joining weight loss programs that offer emotional support and teaching you “healthier habits“
No foods are off limit, however you’ll run into counting points instead of calories
- Pros: very flexible, 24/7 support team available
- Cons: too much flexibility, most people fail to stay on the diet
- Membership based program, updated in 2017
- Offers general advice of “healthy eating” that pays attention to the portion size and content of the plate. Suggests including exercise.
- Pyramid guidance of lifestyle choices that values fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Pros: no processed foods, high fiber, low cal diet, that includes exercise promotes effective long term weight loss
- Cons: Won’t work if you eat out a lot, demanding, expensive, requires a lot of work, no independent studies
Just what it sounds like. Some things are just not worth it.
- 1 week plan of eating homemade soup
- Pros: nutrient rich, can be used as a fasting mimicking due to low calorie content
- Cons: very limited, might make you tired, cranky, hungry, severe calorie restriction, not a long term solution, not supported by science
If you love tests, tables and fortune tellers.
- Personalized diet from your DNA tes.
- Pros: may prevent disease that we are prone to develop in time, it’s a balanced diet offering a big variety of foods
- Cons: costly tests, hard to tell if it actually works
Besides the typical diets- as what you choose to put on your plate. There’s a whole world of how to, when and when not, that can potentially affect weight loss and our health.
Most talked about biohacking anti-aging health kick
- Restricted eating window – typically 16/8. Has great benefits supported by science, if you can progressively train the body to a bigger non-eating window.
- Pros: cell repair, antiaging, weight loss from visceral fat, reduces insulin resistance, inflammation, prevents cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, improves brain health
- Cons: women need to adjust fasting according to their cycle, can be hard in the beginning, relies on discipline, restrictive
- I don’t live to eat, I eat to live forever
- One meal a day/five meals a day- progression of intermittent fasting, when you get to eat only once a day. It’s not required to eat this way every day to get the benefits.
- Pros: When we pass that 16-hour mark of not eating, the body starts the self repair process of autophagy – the clean up of unhealthy cells.
- Cons: May take a while to get used to fasting for longer periods of time.
- Mind over matter.
- Various periods of not eating
- Pros: Boost brain function, weight loss, improves fitness, reduces inflammation, cell repair, anti-aging
- Cons: Headache, crankiness, low energy
- I want all these benefits, but I’m not starving myself.
- Get the benefits of fasting without starving yourself. Restricted calorie intake for a period of time of fasting.
If you are good on a budget (calorie budget). Common sense of eating less, exercising more.
- You’ll need an app. And plug in every thing that you bite, to know how much you are allowed to eat in a day.
- Pros: helps mindless eating. Better apps give you nutritional value to reach each day. Can be motivating to eat better
- Cons: being hungry, restrictive
Packaged meals – When you’re too busy, but wanna eat well
- Pros: convenient, usually healthy and can cater to different diet needs
- Cons: can be pricey and might be sitting in your fridge for a couple of days
Juicing – liquid diet
- Some say you should chew your juice too!!
- Pros: gives a break to the digestive system. Rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Cons: can be high in sugar and calories (if it’s not just a green juice). Might still leave you hungry.
Detox I feel toxic
- We are exposed to 700.000 toxic chemicals on average each day. Other elements are heavy metals, hormones, micro-plastic, the list is long. So it might be a good idea to attempt to lower the exposure and to support the ability of our body to filter out and remove these toxins. Detox can mean many different things. Step 1 limiting exposure, Step 2, supporting elimination (making sure we are regular), Step 3, moving, sweating, flushing, brushing, breathing, Step 4, herbs, binders, chelation.
Medical Medium Celery juice will save your soul
- Instagram sensation, that caused celery shortages. Medical Medium offers health advice, based on consultation with a Spirits of Compassion.
Vision diet – I gain weight by looking at food
There are studies exploring the the possibility of gaining weight just by looking at food. These people are experiencing a type of cognitive distortion. Being flooded by images of food on social media can have an effect on our appetite.
Apps – like Noom If you like tracking
- Reach your goals, track your progress
- A whole nutrition plan with the support of an app
Ozempic – Do it like the Kardashians
- If you’re not afraid of needles and the possibility of developing thyroid cancer. People are jumping on this new weight loss trend. Dropping pounds weekly yes, but with all miracle fixes, there’s always a day when you have to pay. And let’s not skip over the long list of side effects. According to trial studies, only 25% of people were able to keep the weight after they stopped using the drug.