Choosing a diet shouldn’t be just about losing weight, though that’s one of the main reasons people choose to cut calories. But there are a long list of diets that are geared toward overall health and wellbeing versus simply losing weight. We’ll call these meal plans instead of diet and examine which ones are most popular and what you’ll achieve when adopting them.
The Keto diet is growing in popularity due to its many health benefits. The basic concept behind this meal plan is eliminating carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy fats. This is said to keep you fuller longer and help you lose weight over time.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. But when these supplies are depleted, the body looks to burn other resources for energy. This process is called ketogenesis, giving the diet its name. As your body searches for other energy stores, it uses ketones in the body to burn stored fat for energy, resulting in weight loss.
Another impressive feature of this diet is that those missing carbs are replaced by lots of fats and lean meat. So not only are you getting to eat some pretty tasty foods to replace the carbs and losing weight simultaneously, but the keto diet provides a long list of other awesome health benefits. Here are just a few.
- Reduced hunger
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lower risk of disease
- Increased memory
- Extended lifespan
- Increased energy
- Increased “good” cholesterol
The main foods you’ll need to avoid on the keto diet are grains, starches, sugars, and fruit. As your body adjusts to eliminating these foods, it will go through what some call, the “keto flu”. This means you’ll be slightly irritable and weak as your body adjusts to being in a state of ketosis. Energy levels are said to increase and you’ll begin seeing the positive effects of this diet after the first two weeks. Be sure to consult your physician before starting the keto food plan.
If you’re fascinated by the way things “used to be” then this diet is for you. The Paleo diet is based on eating only the things you could have hunted or gathered in the wild. That means meat, fish, nuts, leafy greens, some vegetables, berries, and seeds. The Paleo diet eliminates any foods that weren’t available when the cavemen lived. It’s a primitive diet that brings you back to a more natural way of eating, eliminating processed and refined foods with additives and preservatives.
This diet is also perfect for anyone sick of counting calories, points, or containers. The Paleo diet focuses on eating the right, healthy foods, and places less emphasis on calories or even portion sizes. Followers of the Paleo diet believe that grains are the main cause of weight gain and that the human body still hasn’t mastered breaking down these complex grains properly. We already know that carbohydrates not used for energy are stored as sugar in the body, which then produces fat. When following the Paleo diet, you’ll need to eliminate all sugars, processed foods and grains, which is similar to the keto diet.
Eliminating dairy during the Paleo diet is optional. Your body will go through the same process of weaning off of carbohydrates as it would in the keto diet. Once you push past this “lull”, you’ll start seeing the benefits. Sticking with the Paleo diet isn’t easy, especially when we’re constantly surrounded by grains, processed foods, and sugars. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives if you can stick with it. Consider it a lifestyle change more than a diet.
Your main sources of food and energy during this meal plan are as follows:
- Grass fed meats
- Wild fish
- Fruit (in moderation)
- Tubers (sweet potatoes and yams)
Other health benefits of the Paleo diet include increased iron levels (due to the red meat), and anti-inflammatory benefits found in fruits, veggies, and nuts.
Another diet plan based on the eating habits of a certain group of people, the Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating habits of Spain, Greece, and Southern Italy in the 40’s and 50’s. This is another meal plan that places great emphasis on consuming specific foods, but unlike the two previous diets, you are allowed whole-grains on the Mediterranean diet. Along with fish, produce, and healthy fats, this meal plan prides itself on decreased risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and weight loss, just to name a few.
It’s no surprise that olives and olive oil are two of the preferred healthy fats on the Mediterranean diet, considering how popular these ingredients are in Greek culture and cuisine. A lot of emphasis is placed on eating nuts, seeds, and legumes as well, for as a source of healthy fats and antioxidants. When following the Mediterranean diet, most of your protein will come from fish and eggs. Lean meats and poultry are allowed, but in moderation. Dairy from cultured milk is also allowed. The one big difference in the Mediterranean diet is that whole-grains are allowed. You should focus on grains containing healthy fats and protein.
The DASH diet was actually designed specifically for health reasons, but has proven to offer weight loss benefits as well. The diet aims at lowering high blood pressure and addressing hypertension. Some of the main focuses include:
- Eliminating foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol
- Eating more whole-grains, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and nuts
- Eliminating sugar, sweets, salt, and red-meat
The DASH diet is based on consuming a certain number of daily servings from a variety of food groups. Your servings will vary depending on your goals. Transitioning from your normal eating routine into the DASH diet plan is also done gradually, by limiting certain foods and making adjustments over an extended period of time. Here is a sample of what the DASH diet might look like.
- 6-8 daily servings of grains
- 4-5 daily servings of vegetables and fruit
- 2-3 daily servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products
Weight loss is generally a positive side effect of the DASH diet but not the motivation for adopting it.
Set Realistic Goals
The best advice for sticking to any meal plan is to choose the plan that best fits your current lifestyle and goals. Assess the meal plan before starting. Does it sound like something you can realistically stick to? If it will be too limiting or not serve you, than perhaps consider an alternate diet. By setting realistic goals and choosing something that you’re capable of adhering to, you’re more likely to succeed.
Article Submitted By Community Writer