Before trying any new diet, please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider.
It seems like every few months; there is some new way of eating that is all the craze. Some of these diets have become so popular and celebrity-praised, that you may be curious to try them. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you information about the most popular diets out there, tips for trying them out, and what cautionary side effects to look out for.
A few things to consider before starting any new diet…
Consider Your Personal Needs
Make sure you take your lifestyle, goals, and individual needs into consideration when looking over new diet options. It’s time to be honest with yourself: what diets have you tried in the past? What did you like or dislike about them? Were you able to stick to the guidelines? What worked or didn’t work for you? How did it make you feel physically and emotionally? Keeping these factors in mind, will help you when determining if a diet is right for you.
Are You Ready To Commit With Time And Money?
Dieting takes work; it takes commitment. Most diets mean taking the time to plan out meals and spending a little extra time planning out that week’s grocery list. Some of these diets require very specific foods and supplements. Are you ready to take on the added expenses? Some of these diets exclude entire food groups. You’ll have to keep these exclusions in mind as you meal prep, or whenever you go out to eat.
Research, Research, Research!
The first step to starting any diet is to do your homework! No matter what eating style you choose, before you begin you’ll want to know as much as possible. Go on google and do some further research. Read blogs and books. Check out some cookbooks to see if the kinds of food allowed, are things that agree with you. Do your research! The more you know, the more success you’ll have, and the better you will be able to gauge if this eating style is for you.
Give Your Body Some Time To Adjust
Whenever you try something new, you have to give your body a chance to adjust. With each eating style, you want to give yourself at least 30 days before evaluating if eating this way is working and right for you.
Consult With Your Doctor
It’s highly recommended that you have blood work drawn before beginning a new diet. By having these numbers, after 30 days, you’ll be able to gauge any improvements and see how your new eating style is contributing to your health.
Think you’re ready to ‘meet’ some possible diets? Let’s do this!
Paleo: The Paleo Diet is primarily a “lifestyle choice” of eating certain foods based on the notion that for optimal health, we should go back to eating real, whole, unprocessed foods the way our ancestors did. In a nutshell: Cut out processed foods, legumes, dairy and grains. Load up on veggies, meat, fish, eggs, fruits and nuts. This diet can be traced back to the 1970’s where a gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, first started gathering his research. The diet was later developed further by Stanley-Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner and was popularized by Loren Cordain in his 2002 book, The Paleo Diet.
A Typical Paleo Day
Breakfast: omelet with avocado
Lunch: big salad with your favorite protein (chicken, steak, etc.)
Snack: apple slices with almond butter
Dinner: slow cooker pulled pork
Why Go Paleo: According to Dr. Loren Cordain Founder of the Paleo movement, when you cut out wheat, dairy, gluten, grains and sugar, you significantly reduce inflammation and improve your focus, memory, and energy levels.
When To Stop: It’s common to experience some digestive issues when you change up the way you eat…to a certain extent. If you experience painful gastrointestinal discomfort, constipation, or diarrhea, you may not be tolerating some of the Paleo foods. Other things to look out for: extreme loss of energy, anxiety, and depression.
Low Carb Diet: A low carb diet means increasing your fat intake, and having a moderate protein intake. Specifically, a low-carb diet restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. It tends to be high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. A 2014 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, found that low-carb diets were more effective for weight loss, and, as demonstrated by 148 participants, also reduced their risk for cardiovascular diseases. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most low-carb diets limit carbohydrate intake to between 50 to 150 grams per day, depending on the diet.
Replacing your carb-heavy foods with low starch vegetables, and your sugary foods with healthy fats is a great first step for beginning a low carb diet. On a low-carb diet, you’ll want to emphasize meats, healthy fats, and low starch vegetables…and cut out your typical sugary foods, pasta, and bread. There are many different types of low-carb diets out there, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve your health.
A Typical Low Carb Day
Breakfast: two scrambled eggs with 1/2 red bell pepper
Lunch: 3 ounces grilled chicken with 1 cup asparagus
Snack: 1/3 cup oatmeal with ten almonds
Dinner: 3 ounces steak with 2 cups steamed broccoli and cauliflower
Why Go Low Carb: According to researchers from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension at SUNY University of Brooklyn, and a 2014 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, going low carb helps manage blood sugar levels effectively, improve blood lipid profile – increase good cholesterol, decrease harmful and lower triglycerides, and reduce inflammation in arteries and veins which are a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and dementia.
When To Stop: If you experience any systems of hypothyroidism, such as thinning hair, muscle weakness, dry skin, puffy face, impaired memory, pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, to name a few, you may want to get your thyroid tested and experiment with upping your carbs. If you live a stressful life, low carb may not be for you. In a study in Life Sciences, those who live a stressful life, end up overproducing cortisol and potentially taxing out their adrenal glands. We get adrenal fatigue when our adrenals burn out due to chronically elevated stress levels. Combine low carb dieting, with a stressful job, inadequate sleep, relationship problems, money issues, and over exercising, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for adrenal burnout.
Vegan: A Vegan diet is one that consists of only plant-derived foods. Vegans don’t use or consume any animals or animal products including land or sea animals, milk, eggs, or honey. According to a recent study conducted by experts at the prestigious Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School, “well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fiber and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
According to an American Dietetic Association, depending on your lifestyle, on a Vegan diet you want to aim for generally, six servings of grains, five servings of legumes, nuts and other types of protein, such as peanut butter, chickpeas, tofu, potatoes and soy milk; and four daily servings of veggies, two servings of fruit and two servings of fats, such as sesame oil, avocado and coconut.
A Typical Vegan Day
Breakfast: green smoothie
Lunch: tofu, spinach and avocado sandwich
Snack: celery and peanut butter
Dinner: quinoa with veggies, tempeh, and an avocado salad
When To Stop: Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods. A B12 deficiency can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite), nerve problems, and depression. If you try this diet, you’ll want to make sure you eat plenty of b12 fortified foods and a high quality B12 supplement.
The same goes with iron. According to nutritionist Christian Henderson, RD. “ Iron comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme, which makes up about 40% of the iron in animal foods, is quickly absorbed by the body. Vegan diets contain only non-heme, which is less readily absorbed, so you may need to ingest more iron if you want to get the same benefit.” Good vegan iron sources include legumes, sunflower seeds, dried raisins, and dark, leafy greens.
Mediterranean: The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in the year 1960. According to a 2013 study in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many killer diseases. On a Mediterranean diet, you eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. You keep in moderation poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, and you rarely eat any red meat. On a Mediterranean diet, you don’t eat sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
A Typical Mediterranean Day
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with strawberries and oats.
Lunch: whole grain sandwich with vegetables.
Snack: chickpeas roasted with olive oil, salt, and paprika
Dinner: a tuna salad, dressed in olive oil. A piece of fruit for dessert.
Why Go Mediterranean: Research suggests that the benefits of following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern may be many: improved weight loss, better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels and reduced risk of depression, to name a few. According to 2007 JAMA Internal Medicine, eating like a Mediterranean has also been associated with reduced levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
When To Stop: The Mediterranean diet allows for dairy. Many people have problems processing the proteins and sugars in dairy. You will want to stop if you experience bloating, diarrhea, fat in stool, indigestion, flatulence, or stomach cramps. This diet also contains large amounts of seafood. Today, fish is one of the most toxic foods, containing high levels of mercury and other contaminants. When eating the Mediterranean diet, you’ll want to choose as low mercury, and wild caught seafood’s as often as possible.