At the beginning of each new year or the start of a new season many of us are thinking about our health and diet. Everyone make resolutions and plans to get fit for the summer or that particular special event. With so many different diet plans out there, how do we know which one it the "right" one?
According to Medical News Today, the most popular diets today are the Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet, Vegetarian, Vegan diets, Weight Watchers, South beach, Raw food and the Mediterranean diet and new studies have put Keto diet on map.
The Atkins diet was first described by Dr. Robert Atkins with his first book; Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution written in 1972. This diet focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake and insulin control. By reducing the carbohydrate load, the body focuses on burning stored fat, which is known as ketosis. This diet consists have four phases, induction, OWL (ongoing weight loss), pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance. In the first phase carbohydrates are reduced to 20 grams per day, phase two adds additional carbohydrates and nutrient-dense foods, this continues in phase three and four to manage weight loss.
The Zone diet was created by Dr. Barry Spears, which focuses on foods to eat based on genetics. The body consumes foods based on the genetic needs of the “hunter-gatherer” such as lean protein and natural carbohydrates. This diet reduces the consumption of eating processed carbohydrates and foods and eating fruits and vegetables.
The Vegetarian diet and Vegan diets are when a person does not consume animal protein at all including eggs, dairy or honey. There are four types of vegetarians: Lacto-vegetarians - they consume dairy products, but no eggs. Ovo-vegetarians - they consume eggs, but no dairy. Lacto-ovovegetarians - they consume eggs and dairy. Most do consume honey. Vegans - only consume plant-based foods (no dairy, eggs or honey). The vegetarian and vegan diets help with reducing cholesterol and lower body weight.
Weight watchers focuses on losing weight by a point system, exercise and a support network. A cardiologist, Dr. Agatston, created the South beach diet. This diet focuses on choosing the right types of carbohydrates, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on the nutritional habits of southern Europeans. This diet consists of eating plant foods, fresh fruit and vegetables., beans, nuts, cereal, seeds, olive oil, cheese and yogurts. Approximately one-third of the diet consists of fat. There is little consumption of red meat, moderate amounts of poultry and fish.
Each of these diets described have similarities in choosing natural plant based foods, fruits and vegetables. The main difference is choosing unprocessed foods with the exception of weight watcher, which allows these foods on a point system. Eating a well balanced diet with natural complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, adequate protein will provide the essential nutrients. Reducing or eliminating processed foods is the best option. All of these diet are designed to provide nutrients and help reduce risk of diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Choosing a diet can be confusing, however the best approach is to think lifestyle changes instead of dieting. Which way of eating are you more comfortable with? What particular health issues or risk factors should you focus on based on your current health status? What do you actually like to eat that is healthy and not processed? What is the best way to cook healthy? Answering these questions and getting the proper nutritional education are key for making the best choice for you.
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