If you regularly spend time on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve likely seen hundreds of posts about diets and workouts. From meal prepping to intermittent fasting, there’s no shortage of weightloss strategies to try. But nothing is as easy as it seems online—especially diets and meal plans. Before jumping into a trending diet, you need to understand what it includes and how it works. Hopefully, this list will clarify any confusion you might have about 2020’s most popular diets.
As the name suggests, the Mediterranean diet derives from Grecian, Italian, and Spanish eating habits. In this part of the world, traditional meals tend to include foods and ingredients like fish, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, whole grains, cheese, Greek yogurt, vegetables (like tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers), fruits (like figs, dates, and grapes), legumes, and tubers.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, following this diet can reduce your risk of developing heart and blood vessel diseases by about 25 percent. Instead of focusing on cutting calories and banning foods entirely, this diet focuses on the flavorful things you can eat across food groups. Also, the Mediterranean diet is a good choice for people who experience chronic inflammation.
The DASH Diet
The “dietary approaches to stop hypertension,” or DASH diet, is similar to the Mediterranean diet. Both focus on fruits, vegetables, lean meat, poultry, and whole grains. More specifically, this diet encourages you to swap out the sodium in your diet with foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Studies show that the DASH diet can help lower blood glucose levels, triglycerides, and insulin resistance. Because the DASH diet requires you to cut out sodium, starting it typically means making bigger lifestyle changes compared to other diets.
The ketogenic diet revolves around one principle: decrease carb intake and increase fat intake to promote ketosis, which burns fat fast. During ketosis, the body converts medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) into ketones, which it uses as an alternative energy source to glucose.
While the keto diet often produces quick results, it only works if you can strictly follow the no or low-carb rule. As challenging as it is to cut carbs, many keto diet followers like that they can still have typical foods like meat, eggs, cheese, fruits, olive oil, butter, and cream. If you have trouble working more MCTs into your diet, you can also use organic MCT oil products to prompt ketosis.
The paleo diet attempts to emulate the hunter-gatherer diet of the Paleolithic Era. Basically, it restricts any foods that require advanced farming or processing. This leaves foods like fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. According to the Mayo Clinic, “the diet’s reasoning is that the human body is genetically mismatched to the modern diet that emerged with farming practices—an idea known as the discordance hypothesis.”
A clear advantage of the paleo diet is that it simplifies your eating habits. If a meal requires extensive work to prepare, it likely isn’t paleo. On this diet, it’s very straightforward what you can and can’t have, making it easy to plan meals.
This diet encourages you to eat more plant-based food and reduce your dependency on meat. It’s an excellent choice for those who don’t want to ditch animal products entirely, yet wish to transition toward a plant-focused diet.
The flexitarian guidelines are less of a diet and more of a lifestyle change. Instead of setting strict restrictions, the diet encourages you to gradually change your eating habits and ease your way toward an animal product-free life.
The Mayo Clinic Diet
Weightloss experts designed the Mayo Clinic diet to encourage life-long health and wellness habits. According to the clinic’s website, “The goal is to make simple, pleasurable changes that will result in a healthy weight that you can maintain for the rest of your life.” For example, the Mayo Clinic Diet encourages you to have more products from the base of the food pyramid and to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
Finding What Fits
Every diet has its advantages, disadvantages, and unique challenges. Although there are plenty of options out there, it’s important that you choose one that you can stick to and even enjoy. Before you put your hopes in a diet you found online, take the time to research it fully, and think through how you’d implement it.