In a world where people are increasingly concerned about what they put into their bodies and the health risks and benefits their foods provide, new types of diets appear every day. Diets sometimes get a bad rap, particularly when they are associated with starvation or severe weight loss.
Really, dieting is merely eating and drinking planned types and amounts of foods to bring about a particular result. There are many popular lifestyle diets out there that have been studied by nutritional experts. Doctors will sometimes even prescribe a particular diet to people suffering from certain conditions such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Choosing the right diet is just about knowing your body and identifying your goals.
If you are considering changing up the way you eat, check out these six lifestyle diets and see if any of them are right for your personal health goals.
1. Vegetarian Diet
Perhaps one of the most well-known diets is the vegetarian diet, in which most people only eat plant-based foods with the exception of eggs, dairy and honey. Meat and fish are largely excluded from vegetarian diets, although there are some different types that follow other rules.
Many people select the vegetarian diet due to personal preference, because of animal rights views, religion or sustainability, while others do it for the health benefits. These benefits can include reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Additionally, vegetarians often experience healthier cholesterol levels and a lower body mass index (BMI).
One of the major risks of a vegetarian diet is a lack of necessary nutrients, so dieters must make sure to eat balanced meals to get adequate levels of protein, zinc, iron, calcium and other nutrients. Supplements for some nutrients like vitamin B12 might be necessary, since humans cannot digest plant-based forms.
2. Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is largely similar to vegetarian diets but restricts food intake to not eating anything animal-based, including dairy, eggs and honey. Vegans only eat plant-based foods.
Veganism is often adopted for both health benefits and philosophical views. The diet results in meals rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats. By ingesting zero animal fats, the risk of diseases such as heart disease are greatly reduced.
Vegans generally enjoy a healthy lifestyle; however, food selection is critical to maintain optimum health, since many nutrients may be lacking through the exclusion of meats and animal products.
3. Zone Diet
The zone diet is named for a status of health called “the zone,” in which insulin levels are adequately maintained by eating the right combination of foods. The diet does not restrict calorie count, but rather focuses on the type of food eaten.
To reach the zone, diets aim for meals consisting of 1/3 protein, 2/3 high-quality carbohydrates and a dash of fat. Lean proteins such as egg whites and fish, carbs like fruits and veggies that are low in sugar and monosaturated fat from avocados and nuts are major foods.
The goal of the diet is to ultimately reduce inflammation, a bodily phenomenon that disrupts hormonal communication in our bodies and is a major underlying cause of digestive issues as well as diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. People using the zone diet have also experience weight loss benefits.
4. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is essentially a low-carb diet designed to increase fat intake and nearly eliminate carbohydrates. While your body normally burns glucose from foods like pasta, bread and fruits, it also has an alternative strategy to get the energy it needs: ketosis.
By reducing carb availability in the body, you force your body through ketosis, where it breaks down fats for energy and turns them into ketones, or acid by-products. People in keto eat lots of sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and nut butters, olive oil and oily fish, as well as proteins, leafy greens and cheeses.
Keto is often used as a treatment for epilepsy and for people with type 2 diabetes, since they lack adequate insulin to process glucose in the body. Weight loss is also a typical benefit, since the body breaks down stored fat.
5. Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet consists of plant-based, organic and non-processed foods. At least ¾ of the food intake in the diet should be uncooked food. However, there are different types of raw food diets, some of which are restricted to vegetarian or vegan food choices, while others eat animal-based products or meat.
Choices for raw foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, fermented foods, raw coconut milk, as well as eggs, fish and meat for some diet types. The diet requires you to avoid any cooked or processed foods, pasta, refined oils and sugars.
People on the raw food diet claim it leads to weight loss and a better supply of nutrients like vitamin C that are lost by cooking, but these claims have not been wholly backed by science. Additionally, there are some health risks associated with some raw foods like meat and eggs, meaning dieters should ingest these foods with caution.
6. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on the diets of traditional southern European cultures, including Crete, Greece and Southern Italy, as well as France and Spain.
People in these areas eat diets largely consisting of plant foods, fresh fruits, beans, whole grains, cheese and yogurts, fish and poultry and olive oil as the major source of dietary fat. The diet requires very limited red meats and sweets.
The Mediterranean diet is low in trans fats and highly-processed meats, which is why it is believed to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It is very good for healthy hearts because it focuses on a diet that is high in fiber, high in monosaturated fats, high in vitamins and minerals, and low in added sugar.
No matter which diet you think is right for you, it is recommended you speak with a doctor before altering your food intake. Also, make sure you are meeting your recommended caloric intake and getting an adequate mix of nutrients, aided by daily supplements if necessary.