Everybody wants to be healthy. It is a goal in life that we all share, but did you know that according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) an estimated 99 million people in the United States alone are overweight, 70 million of them being classified as clinically obese. In England, The Health Survey for England 2019 estimated that over 3.6 million adults in England are overweight, 1.6 million of them clinically obese.
Those are very large numbers. In a world where everyone wants to be healthy, but a lot of us are not, it is no surprise that there is a mass amount of viral dieting techniques out there. A lot of them are extreme diets that might make you lose weight but do not improve your overall health, and the other half simply don’t actually help you lose weight.
Here we cover the top 5 “famous” diets that will not only help you lose weight but improve your overall health as well.
A quick disclaimer before we begin, there are many different types of bodies and not everything will work for all body types. You do not want to accidentally cause your body harm, that is why self-assessment is important. Make sure you know about your specific needs before starting any of these diets.
The Mediterranean Diet
To begin, the Mediterranean diet is a very popular diet that gained popularity in the 1950s when health professionals in The United States took note of the fact that heart disease was much less common in Mediterranean countries. This diet has actually been studied scientifically and proven to be specifically effective for the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
Just as the name suggests, this diet consists of the traditional healthy eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This diet focuses on eating clean, attempting to reduce the horrible eating habits of processed and sugary foods a majority of the western world has adopted.
This dieting style enriches your diet by being high in:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Unsaturated fats such as olive oil
It typically excludes processed foods, red meat, sugar, and dairy products.
The Mediterranean diet is famous for lowering cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. This is due to how it deals with fats. The Mediterranean diet cuts out most unhealthy fats and replaces them with olive oil, fish, and nuts, all of which are known for reducing the risks of the health issues mentioned above.
One concern to keep in mind when considering trying out the Mediterranean diet is that ironically, even though it’s known for reaching the risk of heart failure, you might gain some weight due to the high-fat nature of this diet. In addition, calcium loss could also be a side effect as you are cutting out dairy.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic, or more popularly known, “keto” diet is one of the most scientifically and medically revered diets out there. It became popular in the 1920s and 30s as therapy for epilepsy and it has been an effective, medically non-invasive treatment for seizures since then. In essence, it is a low-carb, high-fat diet.
The aim of this diet is to put your body into something called “ketosis”, by drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body becomes incredibly efficient in using fat for energy instead of carbs, melting the fat right off your body. The keto diet is perhaps the most helpful with weight loss, but it is also known to cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
The ketogenic diet is very specific when it comes to the food you consume. It is very low carb and high fat, so you want to avoid:
- All sugary foods
- Fruit (small portions of berries are allowed)
- Grains and starches
- Root vegetables
- Unhealthy fats
You want to eat:
- Oils (olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil)
- Nuts and seeds
Due to the keto diet readjusting your metabolic state, you might experience “keto flu”. The effects of keto flu are similar to the actual flu, it doesn’t cause long-term harm and only lasts about a week. The main health concern with the keto diet is the risk of issues with your kidneys.
On keto, your body can be prone to being low on electrolytes, this can cause dehydration and kidney stones. In addition, electrolyte deficiencies can be quite serious and even affect the heart. Even though it sounds serious, a very simple way to avoid these issues is by drinking lots of water with electrolytes.
The Vegan Diet
Perhaps the most famous one on the list, the vegan diet, was coined by Donald and Dorothy Watson in 1944, and this lifestyle exploded in the 2010s. Most people become vegan for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.
In regards to health, the vegan diet has been known to help with weight loss, blood sugar levels, and even Type 2 diabetes. In addition, due to the previous health benefits of veganism, it also helps lower the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
The vegan diet is known for being quite extreme in what you can and cannot eat. It excludes all animal products such as beef, poultry, fish and seafood, all dairy products, eggs, honey, and all animal-based ingredients. This severity in excluding all animal or animal-based products has less to do with health and is mainly in place to help reduce any form of animal exploitation and cruelty.
Even though it seems like there is nothing left to eat after excluding so many things, that is far from the truth. The vegan diet is still very rich and there is a wide variety of options to choose from when preparing a meal.
Foods you can eat on a vegan diet consist of:
- Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts
- Nut-based milks and butters
- Whole grains and cereals
The vegan diet has been highly criticized because the potential side effects are anemia, disruptions in hormone production, and a high risk of deficiency in several nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Due to the risk of these side effects, many vegans incorporate supplements into their diets. While you can also choose to do that, many health professionals do not recommend the vegan diet as a lifelong dieting choice.