Which Diet Is Right for You?

How do you know which one to choose with so many different diets out there?

Or to not choose?

Should you choose a high carb or low carb diet?

High protein or low protein?

What are the specific benefits you’re looking for and goals you’d like to achieve from your diet? 

It’s easy to feel panicked and usually results in two things. We either feel crippled and don’t do anything because there are too many choices. Or we get sucked In to those fad diets and magic pills. 

We’ll explore some of the most common diets, and by the end of this post, I hope you have a better understanding of the different types of diets and what you want out of yours.

Before We Dive In

If you haven’t read this post yet, check it out before continuing. It’ll be a nice refresher on nutrition and how to eat right for you which help give you a more solid foundation to understand what these diets are promoting.

First, we need to change the way we think about diet. We hear that word, and most of us associate it with counting calories, restricting the types of foods we can eat, or losing weight. A diet or dietary pattern is your food choices over the long term. Whereas dieting may involve some form of food or calorie restriction. Everyone has a diet, but not everyone is dieting. See the difference?

Most diets tend to be generalized, assuming we all need the same things. We know that’s not the case. We all have different dietary needs based on biology, culture, and lifestyle factors. Some of the diets listed below are meant to be long-term lifestyle changes, and some are short-term weight loss or cleansing programs. This is something to keep in mind.

If it’s been a while since high school, or since you’ve looked at nutrition guidelines, you should refresh yourself with this post.

Ayurveda

Also means the science of life. This type of diet looks to maintain balance, and their outlook is that food is medicine. They recommend eating with the seasons and according to your constitution. Meat is typically not recommended but more acceptable during cold times of the year. Check out this post if you’d like to learn more.

Vegan

Vegans do not eat any products from animals. This includes dairy, meat, and even honey. You can get all of your needed nutrition from a vegan diet except for vitamin B12, only found in animal meat. This is why most vegan recipes call for nutritional yeast, or you can supplement by taking a vitamin.

There’s a misconception that vegans are health nuts and their diet is expensive. A vegan diet gets costly when you start buying substitutes for cheese, meat, mayonnaise, etc. If you stick with whole foods: vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, it’ll be a lot less expensive. You can also be vegan and unhealthy. You could eat Oreos, fries and drink Coca-Cola every day.

Whole Food, Plant-Based

This diet is stricter than a vegan diet. This diet highlights the benefits of weight management or losing weight, preventing diseases, and lessening the environmental impact. On top of avoiding meat, seafood, and dairy products, you’ll also be avoiding oils and highly processed foods.

Mediterranean

Emphasizes an increase in legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. It allows the consumption of fish and poultry in moderation and very little red meat, processed foods, and salt. It is considered a heart-healthy diet that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiac events.

Keto

A Low carb, high fat diet. It promises fast weight loss by bringing your body into ketosis, which mimics starvation. Your body breaks down fat stores and converts them into ketones instead of using glucose as your body’s primary form of energy. In other words, being in ketosis forces your body to burn fats rather than carbs. You might experience the “keto flu,” including fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and other symptoms when this shift happens. 

The main focus of this diet is to limit carbohydrates to 5-10% of your total calories, protein to 20-35%, and fat as 60-75% of your total calories. Some experts say you should only stay on this diet for 3-6 months maximum. Some people cycle in and out throughout the year. Critics say there may be short-term benefits, but might not be sustained in the long term.

Paleo

Is a diet based on foods that could be hunted or gathered during the paleolithic era, such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It limits the foods available through farming, including dairy, legumes, and grains. This diet also avoids refined foods like sugar, salt, and highly processed foods in general. This is based on the discordance hypothesis that states the human body is genetically mismatched to our modern diet, which is the contributing factor in the rise in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Atkins Diet

Developed by Dr. Robert Atkins. This diet is a high protein diet. Weight loss happens because of depriving the body of carbohydrates. This also puts your body into ketosis. The first few days being on a high protein diet will result in you losing lots of water which is most of the initial weight loss. High protein diets also reduce hunger. This kind of diet is not sustainable long term. Depending on which types of proteins you’re eating (animal meat is full of saturated fat), it could spike blood cholesterol. There is also minimal to no fiber to help with digestion, and this diet is low in many essential plant-based nutrients.

The Zone Diet

Developed by Barry Sears, researcher of bio nutrition. This is also a high protein diet but less extreme than Atkins. This diet gives you a meal plan based on your gender, activity level, and amount of body fat. This is a 40-30-30 diet. 40% of total calories come from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. The acceptable nutritional standard is 65-15-20.

The Zone Diet looks to put your body in a specific metabolic state to lead to weight loss. They have the mindset of it not being a big deal if you fall off the diet because you’re only one meal away from getting back on track. It recommends 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Critics of this diet say weight loss comes from restricting calories.

South Beach

Developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist. This is another high protein, low carb diet. It focuses more on the type and quality of carb by useing the glycemic index. The glycemic index indicates how quickly a particular food makes your blood sugar rise. It’s used in the nutritional management of diabetes.

The diet claims that when you eat good carbs and fats, you feel less hungry, which makes you eat less and reduces weight gain than eating bad carbs and fat. It also recommends 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Other diet authorities have challenged his medical claims.

Eat Right for Your Type

The blood type diet. The book was written by Dr. Peter D’Adamo but the work was pioneered by his father, Dr. James D’Adamo. It’s based on a theory that each blood type represents the genetic traits of our ancestors during each major stage in human social evolution. Each new environmental condition impacting their diet is associated with a different blood type.

Type O blood were hunter-gatherers who ate meat, wild plants, and roots, and D’Adamo maintains that modern people with this O blood type function best on a meat-centered diet. When humans started farming, our diet changed and produced blood type A. These people function best on plant-based diets and are most suited for vegetarianism. Nomadic people consumed a diet of plants and animals, which was blood type B. Blood type B’s are better able to consume dairy compared to O and A types. Type AB has combined attributes and can usually tolerate a mixed diet in moderation.

Some people say most Americans already eat more protein than their bodies need, so encouraging O types to eat more can lead to health problems.

Raw Food

This diet focuses on not cooked or heated food. This theory says cooking food destroys its natural enzymes. In the raw state, food is composed of living cells. Cooked or heated food is seen as dead and lifeless and changes the molecular structure making it toxic. According to the theory, the liver, heart, and kidneys work overtime to eliminate toxins ingested by cooked food, leading to disease. Raw food theory states after giving up cooked food, you’ll experience clarity of mind, body, and spirit.

It’s very cleansing and can feel like fasting as it helps to remove toxins quickly and effectively and can lead to weight loss. Yet, it can feel too cleansing for some. It helps people stop eating processed food. Getting adequate protein from the diet can be a challenge and maintaining the diet in the winter can also be challenging as raw food is cooling.

Calorie Restriction Diet or Longevity Diet

Developed by Dr. Roy Walford, who was studying anti-aging diets. This diet looks to obtain all of the recommended nutrients, with limited caloric intake by carefully planning meals or menus with nutrient-dense food combinations. The program calls for gradual weight loss until you reach an ideal weight point. It claims to slow down aging, preserve mental and physical function, and substantially reduce the risk of degenerative diseases.

Nutrigenomics or Nutritional Genomics

This is a science studying the relationship between the human genome, nutrition, and health. Scientists in this field are working toward understanding how the whole body responds to food. Do it yourself kits are out there that look at 19 genes to determine your future health with a DNA sample, a lifestyle questionnaire, and asking about eating habits and family history. It then gives you a report giving details about these 19 genes.

Critics say it’s generic advice and analyzing 19 genes out of 25,000 cant provide enough information and can’t provide specific foods you should eat.

Which One Do You Choose?

I’m sure you’re a little overwhelmed by now with all the different kinds of diets out there. And yes, there’s more.

You generally want to shy away from diets that advertise quick weight loss, a scientific breakthrough, or that claim to have the secret to success. Look at a diet and see if it has sound nutritional advice and looks well balanced.

What is your goal?

Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to change your energy levels? Improve mental clarity? Lose weight?

You don’t have to choose just one diet. If parts of one diet make sense to you, but the others don’t, then Mix and match. You don’t have to fit neatly in a label or a box. You can eat vegan 3 days a week and then consume meat or dairy the other 4.

Listen to your body and what it needs.

If you’re looking to maintain your weight and have a healthy diet, look at your eating habits. See if you’re eating varied, nutrient-dense food (foods that contain a high amount of nutrients per calorie), look at your portion sizes. Add more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Drink more water. Limit sugar, salt, solid fats, highly processed food, and red meat. Limit going out to eat by eating more food than you prepare yourself.

Look to adopt a diet that’s sustainable for you and your lifestyle long-term.

We’re all familiar with the typical American diet. If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based diets and another perspective on how diet impacts our health, and our food system, you can check out these popular documentaries: Forks over Knives, What the Health, Cowspiracy.

All content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider in the area of your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any health, medical, or other related lifestyle, changes, or decisions.

Affiliate Disclosure

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *