Diet Programs

Diet Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many of us here, I feel like I've tried the great majority of diets that we see magazines and celebrities and so-called "experts" talking about all the time. Some of them worked for me while some did not, and I just thought it'd be interesting to compile a list of all the different types of weight-loss diets that I know of with a quick explanation of each. Maybe it will help you figure out how to best proceed with your own journey.

I'll try to order these from what I consider "most extreme" to "least extreme" as far as how they differ from my own typical way of eating.

 

 

The Vegan/Vegetarian/Fruitarian Diet

I think most people these days are now familiar with the vegan diet. When vegan, a person has to avoid all animal-derived products, which would include milk, eggs, and even honey. I think it is highly restrictive and I have never even tried to pursue it because I believe that some animal products are very beneficial to a healthy lifestyle (especially honey!). However, I have tried the slightly less restrictive vegetarian diet, which only requires you to avoid animal meat. Some even continue to eat fish and chicken, which doesn't quite fit the definition of vegetarian.

In my research, I also discovered an even stricter version of a diet that works to avoid animal products known as a fruitarian. This one actually sounds way tastier than a vegetarian as their primary diet consists of fruits, nuts, and seeds. Most fruitarians are also raw fruitarians, which means they never cook anything, they eat it exactly as nature gave it to them. In any of these cases, of course, you could still be unhealthy. That's what I found when I was vegetarian many years ago because many processed foods these days are vegetarian (or even vegan), yet they aren't good for you. Think Oreo cookies.With no meat intake, these people also tend to lack B-12 and protein, so they must get creative and be diligent about incorporating these things into their diet.

 

 

 

The Raw Food Diet

Tired of cooking? Maybe the raw food diet is for you. As the name implies, raw foodies eat all sorts of stuff, but they never, ever cook it. While I don't think they eat meat, simply because of the bacterial concerns of eating uncooked meat, there is no rule saying you can't enjoy raw fish (i.e., certain types of sushi) or other animal products. The prime focus of a raw food diet is simply eating food the way it falls from the tree or otherwise comes from nature.

As you can imagine, the raw food diet rules out all processed foods, making it generally healthier than lazy vegan or vegetarian diets. You can't eat Oreos or any other processed food, for that matter, because these foods alter the natural state of the ingredients. So, a raw food diet will mainly consist of unique dishes created with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs.

My first thought when I was learning about the raw lifestyle was that these people mainly lived on salads, but the picture is now much different. All sorts of recipe books now exist, creatively producing everything from collard wraps to chili, pad thai, and brownies, and even tacos.

Those who eat a raw diet tend to experience a surge in energy. You'll also experience far less inflammation and far fewer carcinogens in the food you eat. Extremely healthy if you have time to prepare your food, which I don't always have.

 

 

 

The Paleo Diet

I consider the Paleo diet to be a step up from the other two simply because (first) you can eat meat and (second) you can cook your food. However, the Paleo diet is still highly restrictive.

If you're following the Paleo diet, the whole point is to get back to our ancestor's way of eating. That means no processed foods or grains. You also can't consume sugar, except in the form of fruit. As a result, this diet will greatly reduce your carbohydrate intake and you'll begin to switch to fat as a fuel source instead, which can promote rapid fat loss.

Paleo diets also eliminate dairy. So, your main dishes will consist of fish, fowl, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, oils, and grass-fed (not grain-fed) meats. Many people consider the Paleo diet to be more difficult to follow than a Ketogenic diet (which also greatly reduces carb intake), but the Paleo diet is also more healthy compared to "lazy Keto."

 

 

 

The Ketogenic Diet

I think the "Keto" diet is one of the most popular as of right now and I've tried this one, too. If you're not familiar with it, the Keto diet is primarily defined by your macronutrient intake. In other words, your goal is to get less than 5-10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Up to 80% of your daily calories should come from healthy sources of fat and the remainder should come from protein. The goal is to try and eliminate carbs entirely.

Like with the Paleo diet, your lowered intake of carbs means your body will switch from glucose to fat as its primary fuel source, which can promote rapid weight loss. Of course, this switch will definitely prove to be a tough transition, hence the "Keto flu" that everyone describes during their first few weeks of transitioning to the Keto diet. Let's put it this way, I never before understood the definition of "bone tired" until I tried Keto!

As with other diets, if you just look at numbers, it's easy to get off track. There are plenty of less-than-healthy foods that you can consume on Keto and still technically be properly following the diet. People call this "lazy Keto" and for good reason. It may lead to some weight loss, but you definitely won't be as healthy as a person who is putting the work into getting those fruits and veggies. So, just like with any diet, you need to focus on eating better overall.

I personally found that the biggest hurdle when doing Keto was getting enough protein and also making sure that I was eating enough fat from *healthy* sources. "Fat bombs" are very popular staples for this reason.

 

 

 

Intermittent Fasting

By far, I consider intermittent fasting (or "IF") to be one of the easiest and most effective types of diets I have ever tried, to the point that I'm still following it religiously.

This diet actually has nothing to do with what you eat or even how much you eat. Rather, intermittent fasting is an approach that controls when you eat. For instance, some people do 16/8, which means they fast (don't eat) for 16 hours each day and then they consume all foods for the day during an 8-hour window. The time you spend sleeping counts as fasting.

I personally do 20/4, which means I fast for 20 hours a day and then eat all the foods I'm going to consume between 12 and 4. This works extremely well for my lifestyle and you can obviously customize the eating window to whenever works best for you. You can also lengthen or shorten the eating window based on your needs.

I find that a smaller eating window has automatically ruled out nighttime snacking and mindless eating throughout the day, but I still am able to eat what I want within the window, so I have stuck to this method for quite some time.

With all of this said, you still need to be mindful of what you're eating. I have made the conscious decision to try and eat better, which is something I've been working on since before I started IF. Obviously, if you're only eating candy and processed junk during your eating window, you're going to feel like crap. However, restricting your eating window in itself has many health benefits that are being researched.

Behind the concept of IF is the mindset that humans shouldn't be constantly consuming food. We already do IF naturally just by not eating between our last meal (typically dinner) and our first meal the next day (when we "break-fast").

By more consciously extending your fasting window, even just to 16 hours, which is the equivalent of having your last meal at 5 PM and eating breakfast the next day at 9 AM, you are able to experience the many benefits of IF, which includes lower insulin levels, an increase in HGH, heightened cellular repair, reduced inflammation, and reduced risks of many diseases.

 

Other Types of Diets:

Ignoring all the "fad" and crash diets that aren't going to get anyone anywhere, here's a short list of some other popular diets that you may want to learn more about. I have not tried any personally, but they are well documented online:

 

  • The Mediterranen dieat:  Use oil a lot, especially to substitute butter, marinades, and salad dressings. Eat mostly vegetables and avoid lots of meat, but you can still eat meat. It can potentially help with blood sugar regulation, weight loss, and even depression. You'll need to prefer fish over chicken and consume nuts, herbs, and whole grains in bigger amounts.

 

  • The South Beach diet: This one has been around since 2003 and has some similarities to Keto in that it focuses on avoiding certain carbs completely. It works to develop a healthier way of eating by telling you what not to eat and many people have found the method to be sustainable with lots of lean protein, good carbs, and healthy fats.

 

  • The Blood Type diet: Some experts are offering information about what you should eat based on your blood type. The premise is that people have different dietary needs depending on their blood type and other genetics and you should eat accordingly. For instance, Type O individuals should consume lots of protein-rich foods while avoiding dairy. Type A individuals should avoid meat and instead consume lots of fruit, turkey, and tofu.

 

  • The HCG Diet: Designed for women, the HCG diet is an extreme diet, but one that has been around for a long time and proven to work if you can stick to it. However, it's a diet for weight loss, not a diet you'd want to make a lifestyle. It basically tricks a woman's body into thinking it's pregnant through the supplementation of HCG followed by a very low-calorie phase that lasts up to 6 weeks at a time. The final phase ends HCG supplementation and gradually increases food intake. The entire ordeal can lead to weight loss of up to 2 pounds per day.

 

  • The Zone Diet: This diet is all about balancing macronutrients and food intake. Each meal should consist of ⅓ protein, ⅔ colorful fruits/veggies, and a little bit of fat (like monounsaturated oil consisting of almonds, avocados, or olive oil). You also focus on eating carbs with a low GI. The zone diet was initially constructed to fight inflammation and promote weight loss. It can greatly reduce your risk of chronic disease as well.