One of the most important factors in weight-loss is diet. While exercise builds muscle and burns a ton of calories, you can’t outtrain a bad diet. This is especially important when you are trying to lose weight. You need to eat the right ratio of calories and nutrients for your body to burn fat. Going on a diet that is specifically designed for weight-loss can help you stay on track with your fat-loss goals. While there are plenty of crash diets that promote easy weight-loss (don’t do these), they are not realistic long term. Much of the weight you lose on these diets will come back once you start eating normally. There are however diets that take a healthier and more realistic approach to weight-loss. Below are 9 of the most popular diets according to experts.
1. The South Beach Diet
In the 1990’s, low-fat, high carb diets were backed by the American Heart Association as being the most healthy. It was decided that fat (even the good kinds of fat) were bad for you, specifically because of their high calorie content. Thus the creation of hundreds of low-fat food items emerged that, while lower fat content, typically had more amounts of sugar. The South Beach diet was created by a cardiologist and nutritionist that disagreed with a low-fat diet. The diet focuses on controlling insulin levels with high-protein rich foods, healthy fats, and unrefined slow carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes.
2. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic, or keto diet, has gained tons of popularity in recent years. The high fat, high protein, and virtually little to none carbohydrate diet touts fast and easy fat-loss. The idea of the keto diet is to put your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a process that occurs when your body no longer has enough carbs to burn as energy. Instead, it burns ketones (a chemical byproduct of ketosis) and fat for fuel. Proponents of the keto diet say it’s easier to follow due to the variety of food choices allowed. These foods are typically considered off limits, like cheese and fatty meats. Critics of the keto diet say it doesn’t allow for enough food groups, thus not being realistic or healthy long term.
3. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet mimics the nutritional habits of people living in the Mediterranean region, like Greece, Crete, and Southern Italy. People in the Mediterranean are known for having lower rates of obesity and disease. Their diet consists mostly of plant foods, beans, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, and fresh fruits. Cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, and eggs are also included and in small amounts, red meat and wine. The Mediterranean diet is popular for its wide variety of delicious foods. It’s also been studied for its numerous health benefits in preventing numerous diseases.
4. The Zone Diet
The Zone diet focuses on tracking macronutrients as opposed to calories or specific foods. The perfect ratio according to the Zone diet is 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent protein for every meal. Its focus is to control insulin levels, which may promote more successful weight-loss. The Zone diet creators believe that with this ratio of nutrients, your body goes into “the Zone” which is the optimal state for your body to perform and thrive.
5. Vegetarian Diet
Most of us are familiar with the vegetarian diet, in fact we all most likely know someone who follows it. Vegetarians don’t eat meat or any type of animal flesh. They instead opt for plant based foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. Some vegetarians choose this way of eating for ethical reasons while others may do it for health concerns. While there are multiple ways to be vegetarian (some healthy, some not so healthy), studies show that overall vegetarians have lower body weight, suffer from less disease, and have a longer life expectancy.
6. Vegan Diet
Veganism is similar to being vegetarian in that it doesn’t allow for any animal flesh. But while vegetarians will eat animal byproducts (like milk or eggs) vegans don’t consume any animal products of any kind. Like vegetarianism, most vegans choose this way of life for ethical reasons. They believe it’s wrong to harm animals for consumption. Vegan diets have been linked to less risk of disease and some cancers.
7. Weight Watchers Diet
Weight Watchers has been a popular diet since the 1960’s when a stay at home mom created a network of friends to help her stay on track with her weight-loss. Weight Watchers is less of a specific diet and more of a way to hold oneself accountable by being part of a network of other people who are also trying to lose weight. Weight Watchers requires weekly meetings and joining support groups to keep one another on track.
8. Raw Food Diet
Raw foodies believe in eating only unprocessed, completely plant-based, and ideally organic foods and beverages. They believe that cooking food depletes their nutrients, so they eat only raw fruits, veggies, and nuts. Most raw foodies don’t consume anything animal based, but a small amount consider themselves raw omnivores and raw carnivores.
9. The Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is similar to both the South Beach and Ketogenic diets in that it focuses on low carb, high protein rich foods. It aims to control insulin, which can trigger the body to store fat if you produce too much. Consuming carbohydrates spikes insulin levels, thus they are not permitted on this diet.
Which Diet Is For You?
If you are looking to follow one of these diet programs, pick the one that is most realistic for you. This will vary from person to person based on preferences and behavior patterns. If you know that you have a hard time sticking to only certain food groups, the keto, Atkins, or South Beach diet might not be for you. Instead opt for one that allows for more variety like the Mediterranean diet or Weight Watchers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different diets as learning what works best for your body takes a lot of trial and error. When it comes to dieting, there is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are doing it in a healthy way. Any diet you choose will work as long as you are being consistent. Likewise, no diet will work if you give up on it after only a short time. Find what’s best for you and stick with it until you get the results you desire.