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The 9 Most Popular Diets: What Are They And Do They Work?

There probably isn’t an industry that’s more robustly competitive than the diet industry; everywhere you look, you see products being sold by numerous companies that have gotten into the mix in the past 20 years or so. There are advertisements for gaining muscle, an uncertain diet, on needing large portions of special food to lose weight, there are diets which purport to boost focus, and others that all but eliminate bloating. The simple days of grandma and grandpa are long gone – no longer you have to eat wheat bread with no condiments in an effort to lose weight.

Highly-regarded research outfit, Grand View Research, has published reports claiming that over 45 million Americans take to dining every single year, leading to a weight-loss and weight-management sector valued just under an incredible $300 billion! In fact, because of the sheer wealth involved, it can be taxing to navigate the many sources to settle on the diet which is right for you. It’s a difficult cache of options to navigate; after all, you have to decide whether you want to simply be healthier, you want to slim down or perhaps even bulk up – a la a bodybuilder.

With all that said, we put some serious effort into making this a one-stop source for the most popular and effective types of diets out there. We will however include an editor’s note that the information here is not medical advice of any sort – it simply meant to be educational. As with any workout plan or significant change in diet, it’s best to consult your primary physician first.

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet

Few of the modern diets are surrounded by as much controversy as the ketogenic diet; neither are there any more discussed than this one. You’ve likely heard it spoken about on popular medical-centered talk shows such as The Doctors and maybe even Dr. Oz. In fact, the ketogenic diet is so popular that many companies have jumped at the chance to make products consisting of keto snacks and stocked supermarket shelves with them all around the country.

In this subsection, you will learn exactly what the ketogenic diet entails. You will usually find it denoted as “keto” for short. Specifically, ketogenic can be applied to any diet that has the following primary properties:

  • Between 65-75% of the calories you take in daily must subscribe to a ketogenic diet
  • About 20-30% of the above fraction must come from protein
  • Fewer than 5% of the keto fraction should be carbohydrates
  • *Variations of the Ketogenic Diet forbid carbohydrates altogether

You will find that the bulk of your calories each day comes from foods such as cheeseburgers (just the meat patty – minus the bread), eggs, chicken, and avocados etc. The remaining 25-35% of calories that you take in daily can be used on pre-much anything you want. Some people will combine a couple of popular diets together with the remaining allotment.

So what’s the point of the Ketogenic Diet, you may ask? First, we have to understand what ketosis is: it’s a particular state in which the human body fashions ketones from your fat stores and burns them for energy and metabolic activity. Usually, the human body strongly prefers to use up your carbohydrate stores for this. But since the Keto diet minimizes the consumption of cards, it forces the body to use fat instead.

Some of the more questionable claims made by proponents of the ketogenic diet are that it can help cure respiratory illnesses and provide natural treatment for cancer. Whether this is true or not, there have been medical research studies which show that Keto does not appear to be more effective in helping you lose weight than some of the other diets in this review.

The So-Called Carnivore Diet

You’re probably familiar with the old saying “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. It turns out that this isn’t relegated only to the realm of science – diet and nutrition and managed to coin this with the introduction of the so-called Carnivore Diet. Another name for it is the Zero Carbohydrate Diet, and it is the opposite reaction to veganism.

The basics of the Carnivore Diet is to avoid vegetables, fruits and grains in favor of a diet rich in red meat, fish, poultry, eggs and animal-based products like milk, cheese and fats derived from a number of animals. As a result, you are only imbibing proteins and fat.

Although some may consider the Zero Carbohydrate Diet to be extreme, its adherents consistently claimed that it shows up the nutrient deficiencies that are common with other types of diets. Additionally, there is some research suggesting that the Carnivore Diet is capable of managing information in the muscles and joints. There is unquestionable evidence that this diet promotes weight loss due to the fact that protein requires the most energy to digest – basically, your body burns fat/calories in order to digest the protein you eat.

It is important however to know that there is some scientific evidence that the Carnivore Diet may increase your risk of cancer and heart disease due to the lack of vegetables and fruit.

The Paleo Diet – AKA Caveman Diet

Another prominent ketogenic diet is the so-called Paleo Diet. It is very similar in many ways with the Carnivore Diet – particularly because in order to qualify as the former, your nutrients have to stem primarily from meat. Aside from red meats and poultry, the Paleo Diet also entails the consumption of fish, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Just like its cousin the Carnivore Diet, the Paleo excludes the consumption of any processed foods, grains, beans, sugars and legumes. There’s one point of departure, however, between the Carnivore and the Paleo diets: in the latter, you also have to avoid dairy products.

Insofar as the physical benefits are concerned, there have been some research studies showing that the Paleo Diet is effective in helping people improve a range of blood markers, reduce their blood pressure, and flat-out lose weight. Despite the existing studies, experts still tout the need for further studies to fully ascertain how the Paleo Diet affects your health in other ways – not including the benefits. One current point of contention is the generally-accepted utility of enslaving off diabetes and heart disease. The Paleo Diet, of course, excludes whole grains.

The Mediterranean Diet Plan

This particular diet is clearly named for residents in that eponymous part of the world – specifically, the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Spain (there are a few more, but you get the point). Now the real question is why would the Mediterranean Diet be of greater note then the diets which are endemic to other parts of the world?

To put it bluntly, the people who live in that part of the world tend to have extraordinarily long life expectancies. In fact, a landmark study in a highly- regarded medical research journal but the average life expectancy of a Spanish citizen at 85.8 years. Compare this to the average life expectancy of a resident of North America: right around 79.15 years. The Mediterranean Diet is credited with being the deciding factor in this over seven year difference.

One of the hallmarks of the Mediterranean Diet is that it minimizes red meat and moderates dairy products (in particular, milk). The dairy products that are favored tend to be from the higher-quality sources like goat cheese and protein-rich Greek yogurt. Some other very important nutrients contained in the Mediterranean Diet are olive oil, various types of nuts, healthy fish with fins and scales, and leafy green vegetables.

In yet another, different highly-regarded medical Journal, the Mediterranean Diet led to significant weight loss and also was subjectively tasteful to the applicants – this means that basically, the diet was easy to stick to. This is obviously a very important attribute, as most diets fall by the wayside due to the monotony or the lack of taste. Specifically, the Paleo Diet and Intermittent Fasting fell short when compared to the Mediterranean Diet. The latter has even been shown to significantly attenuate or reverse the symptoms associated with certain cardiovascular diseases and with diabetes.

It is, however, important to note that the residents in those Mediterranean countries are also more active than Americans on average. It’s a lot less of a breakneck society in terms of pace, they move around more, smoke and drink less and sleep more regularly and for longer. Basically, these superior lifestyle habits certainly contribute to the journal results.

The Vegan Diet (Veganism)

You would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of vegetarian or veganism. It is quite possibly the fastest growing diet of them all, and is gaining more applicants and promoters every single year. The name more or less tells you what veganism is all about: the consumption of plant life as an alternative to animal meat.

One of the main differences between veganism and other diets such as the Mediterranean diet or the ketogenic diet, is that veganism is comprehensive – it is more akin to a lifestyle than a mere diet. Oftentimes, people who adhere to the vegan lifestyle won’t even use animal products such as for clothing, or leather in boots. Indeed, you can often find them protesting against such things as manufacturing and sales establishments.

As for what entails a vegan diet? It used to be quite restrictive, and consisted of eating solely legumes, fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and pasta made without eggs. However, due to the incredible and rising demand, which is seen self-identified vegans rising a number from 1% in 2014 to more than 6% by 2017, manufacturers have been able to conjure up many new types of food that is here to the strict guidelines of vegan food. One example is that you can even find vegan burgers where it looks and tastes like meat – but is entirely vegan.

As far as the health benefits of this diet, a huge study involving 1/4 million people show that vegans in general had a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular issues and an 8% lower risk of cancer issues than consumers of animal products. This is obviously a gigantic health advantage in most cases. On the flipside, however, vegans often miss out on many of the essential amino acids, proteins and vitamins that would otherwise be provided by balanced diet: this includes calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and zinc. Several studies show that vegans are consistently deficient in the above.

Intermittent Fasting – a.k.a. The IF Diet

First things first – intermittent fasting is not really a diet as much as it is a lifestyle (someone like veganism is also a lifestyle). The gist of it is very basic: you pick a time during the day when you have a single meal; thereafter, you engage in a fast for the remainder of the day and don’t eat again until the next day at the same or similar time.

The primary advantage of intermittent fasting is that few people can eat the 2500 cal suggested for men, or the 1800 cal suggested for women in one sitting. As a result, even if you eat a lot, you are consuming fewer calories in that single sitting per day. After you’ve eaten, you’re still allowed to imbibe beverages that lack calories – including water (even the sparkling variety), black coffee without sugar, herbal teas and zero-calorie energy drinks.

There are several possible kind of “splits” possible with intermittent fasting. The most common one entails you consuming all of your food within an eight hour window before fasting intermittently for the remaining 16 (eight of the 16 hours will of course be spent sleeping). This is called a 8:16 split. You can go to the extremes and eat everything you’re going to eat within a single hour and fast for the rest of the day, as well. More popular are the various splits with a longer amount of time to eat. Consider the following common splits displayed in this form:

Eating:Fasting Split

  • 10:16 – you eat all of your food within a 10 hour window, and fast for the remaining 16
  • 16:10 – you eat all of your food within a 16 hour window, and fast for the remaining 10; with this one, basically you wake up and wait two hours before breakfast
  • 6:20 – you consume all of your calories within a six hour window, and then fast for 20 hours
  • 8:16 – you eat everything you’re going to eat within an eight hour window, and then fast for 16 hours

There have actually been medical research studies on intermittent fasting (IF). They had promising results: moderated lot sugar levels, beneficial effects to insulin resistance, a reduction in free radicals flowing around yourselves, and lastly intermittent fasting studies have shown a reduction in the risks associated with getting a stroke.

The Dessert with Breakfast Diet

You’re in for a real shocker with the following diet, if you saw the ones before this that restrict sugar intake. The Dessert with Breakfast Diet entails that after your usual morning breakfast of simple carbs and protein (such as some scrambled eggs and cereal or oatmeal), you complete the meal with some cookies or sugary soda. Don’t look so shocked-there’s actually some evidence that the Dessert with Breakfast Diet is effective!

It turns out that, according to a 2012 study, a group of participants showed greater weight loss over a period of eight months when they tried the Dessert with Breakfast Diet. The comparison group had people who ate a high-protein breakfast without much carbs; apparently, the latter were unable to lose quite as much weight – neither were they able to keep off the weight that they lost as well as the Dessert with Breakfast Diet crowd. It turns out that a high-protein and high carb meal with a dessert is able to keep you satiated better.

Common sense also dictates the extent to which the Dessert with Breakfast Diet can work for you. Remember that the study participants did not exactly binge on desserts with their breakfast; they ate the sugary sweet with moderation. There are other studies which show that certain sweets – such as Pepsi/Coke, Snickers and Cheetos – were highly addictive and participants ate more than a serving. When they did this, their desire for more jumped up nearly 40%. The Dessert with Breakfast Diet will not yield positive results if you choose desserts that are too addictive.

The IIFYM Diet (If It Fits Your Macros)

This may be the most unique diet of them all, and can sometimes feel like it’s not actually a diet at all. However, it does work when done correctly. The IIFYM Diet is tailored to human nature, and intended for the applicant to stick to it. As you might’ve guessed, most people fall off a diet if it’s too regimented – you can only eat the same meal of white rice, broccoli and chicken every single day for so long. Usually, you’ll only find that serious bodybuilding competitors are able to maintain something like this for more than a few months.

The IIFYM Diet is predicated on flexibility and discipline. Simply calculate how much of each macronutrient is required to sustain your fitness goals. The following is a good guideline for those that might wonder how much of each macronutrient is needed or suggested:

  • Carbohydrates: 45 to 65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates
  • Protein: 10 to 35% of your daily caloric intake should come from protein
  • Fat: 20 to 35% of your daily calories should derive from healthy fats

The above is just a suggestion; obviously if you’re a bodybuilder, then you would increase the protein and decrease carbohydrates. Additionally, if you’re trying to lose weight you may want to increase the protein because of the thermic effect it has on the human body (it takes more energy to digest protein than any other food).

Once you’ve got your macronutrient consumption percentages down pat, you can pretty much eat anything you want as long as they satisfy those numbers. That means you can tank the rice, chicken and broccoli in favor of Domino’s Pizza or a hostess cake – just make sure you do not exceed the caloric limits mandated by your macros. Basically, it means that although you can pretty much eat what you want, you certainly can’t eat as much of it as you want in order to stay within the prescribed limits. If you have to hostess cakes for breakfast, for example, then that might mean you have to eat a nearly 100% protein meal of scrambled eggs and steak at lunch as well as at dinner.

The Sirtfood Diet

The name of this particular diet may be unfamiliar – but that’s because it comes from an element in the body that has to do with metabolism. As such, it can actually be considered a medical or anatomy term. Specifically, the name of the group of proteins responsible for managing your body’s metabolic rate are sirtuins or sirts. Wait until you get a load of the foods which are high in these proteins: dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, coffee, walnuts, capers, arugula and of course the red wine. There’s a reason, after all, why the Sirtfood Diet has skyrocketed in popularity recently on the recommendation of celebrities such as Pippa Middleton and Adele. In fact, several acclaimed nutritionists (Glen Matten and Aidan Goggins) are the ones responsible for naming this diet.

Now obviously you can’t just binge on the above foods expect to lose or maintain weight. The nutritionists compiled the now standard, widely-accepted Sirtfood Diet guidelines: you have to restrict your caloric intake to 1000 cal for three days straight. During those three days, you can have a single big meal inundated with sirtfoods, as well as green juices composed of the metabolic proteins.

The above was just for the first three days and comprises one half of a 2-phase diet regimen. In the next phase, you can bump up your caloric intake to 1500 cal. In doing so, you can double the amount of meals rich in sirt foods while keeping the drink content the same (three drinks comprised of green juices with sirtuins). What next, you ask? Well you simply rinse and repeat this 2-phase approach.

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