Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips

A Simple Guide to the 7 Most Popular Diets

24


Confused about keto? Thinking of going meatless? In our Diets Decoded column, we regularly break down the basic principles of popular diets.

Because while many popular healthy diets—from Paleo to Mediterranean and vegetarian—share many of the same basic principles, it’s helpful to get into the nitty gritty if you’re really going to dive into one in particular.

RELATED: 8 Celeb Diet Secrets That Are Actually Healthy

To help you compare some of the most common diets, we’ve compiled the basics on the top seven, here, for side-by-side evaluation. Get the fast facts and then click through for more details if one way of eating sounds like it might be right for you.

(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)

7 Popular Diets Explained

  • The Ketogenic Diet

    The One Liner

    Atkins amplified. Instead of just low-carb, it’s “almost no carb” and lots of fat.

    The Bottom Line

    Research points to the fact that it could provide real benefits for certain people. The key is to ask yourself: Am I one of those people? If you have health reasons that make you want to try it and eating bacon and eggs and steak salads every day sounds amazing, maybe you could swing it. If nothing makes you happier than a fresh piece of sourdough or beans are one of the protein sources you rely on, there’s no point in trying a diet that’s not going to work. Just focus on minimizing bad carbs like pasta and cereals and focusing on whole grains, veggies, fruit, and legumes to meet your body’s carbohydrate needs. And by all means, eat fat!

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • The Mediterranean Diet

    The One Liner

    Inspired by the traditional diets of people who live around the Mediterranean sea, it emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, plenty of extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh fish.

    The Bottom Line

    The basics of this diet mirror the basic principles of good nutrition: whole foods, tons of veggies, and healthy fats. Its health benefits are also the most well-documented (of ALL diets, seriously ) by research studies. Bonus: the Mediterranean Diet recognizes the importance of enjoying meals (and a really nice bottle of red) with family and friends, which comes with additional mental health benefits.

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • The Paleo Diet

    The One Liner

    It focuses on mimicking how our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors ate as closely as possible, using foods available now. Followers say it will help minimize your risk of chronic disease (based on the premise that those ancestors didn’t suffer from the ones we now face) and lead to weight loss.

    The Bottom Line

    Eating high-quality meats and fish with tons of veggies and no processed foods is basically a great formula for weight-loss and long-term health. However, too much of anything is…too much…and with all grains, beans, and dairy off the table, Paleo eaters often end up leaning way too heavily on meat.

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • The Whole30 Diet

    The One Liner

    Originally developed as a 30-day clean eating reset—think Paleo meets the Elimination Diet—the basic premise is that many people are sensitive to certain foods often considered “healthy,” like grains and beans. You cut those food groups out for a while and then take stock of how you feel. When the 30 days are up, you can continue eating this way or gradually add some of the foods back in one by one to see which may have been causing your issues

    The Bottom Line

    If you’re looking for a major diet overhaul and the idea of engaging with a passionate online community while you reset appeals for you, Whole30 may be worth trying. Just know that you can also do a food cleanse that’s shorter or not quite as restrictive if your lifestyle doesn’t quite allow for this kind of month-long protocol or you find it too challenging to stick to.

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • Weight Watchers Freestyle

    The One Liner

    Weight Watchers’ basic program relies on a point counting system now called SmartPoints that gives subscribers a point budget based on their current weight and goals. Different foods clock in at different points based on their nutritional makeup, and point counting is supplemented by weigh-ins and meetings. Freestyle is a new version designed to give subscribers more flexibility and freedom by offering over 200 zero SmartPoint foods, along with a rollover option.

    The Bottom Line

    When it comes to weight-loss diets, Weight Watchers Freestyle is easy to follow, affordable, and offers community support that other programs may not. It’s a great plan for those looking to eat better without making super drastic changes to their lifestyle. Just remember: While your budget may have room for a slice of pizza every single day, you’ll need to use a bit of common sense if you want to see results. And spending your precious time counting up points could turn into a drag.

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • The Vegan Diet

    The One Liner

    All foods that come from animals are off limits, including meat, cheese, and honey.

    The Bottom Line

    In a nutshell, it can be as healthy as you make it. Your main food groups should be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and quality protein sources like legumes and seeds. Not Diet Coke and pretzels (or pasta and french fries!). Think about the same nutritional principles that apply to all diets—protein, carbs, and healthy fat—and work on meeting them via lots of varied, nutrient-dense whole foods. Then, consider supplementing in areas that you may be struggling with, like vitamin B12 and D. One last piece of advice: as a vegan, you have to eat more to fill yourself up. (Hey, a diet that encourages you to eat more…not bad!)

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

  • The Raw Food Diet

    The One Liner

    Raw food devotees are generally vegans who believe that plant foods should be consumed in their most natural form—uncooked and unprocessed—because natural enzymes in “living” food make it best for the body. Nothing you eat is cooked over about 115 degrees.

    The Bottom Line

    A healthy diet you can’t follow isn’t a healthy diet at all, so for most people, sticking to raw food one hundred percent of the time is unnecessary and will just make eating well harder. However, if you happen to try raw veganism and feel amazing and find that you LOVE dehydrating kale and blending almonds into butter, by all means, go for it. Just be extra careful about getting in a wide variety of foods in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

    Get the full rundown of what it is, what you eat, what you don’t eat, and the pros and cons, here.

24