“Why is everyone so against sugar? Who stood by you when things went wrong and you were hurting? It wasn’t broccoli, that’s for sure” – anonymous
By Mabh Savage – a published author, professional health and wellbeing copywriter and a massive foodie with a passion for the science of flavor and nutrition
Maintaining a healthy routine (diet & exercise) really is at the forefront of the modern lifestyle. With many people in sedentary jobs, diet is a top priority when it comes to a healthy body and mind.
We’ve taken a quick look at three diets whose popularity is on the rise: The Keto Diet, The Paleo Diet, and a Plant-Based Diet. Are these passing fads or are they here to stay? More importantly, do they align with your health goals.
Paleo versus Keto Diet
How does the Keto Diet work?
Plenty of celebrities love the keto diet, including Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kim Kardashian. Keto is short for “ketogenic” and focuses on very low levels of carbohydrates to encourage the body to use up its own stores of energy.
What is it?
The Keto Diet is high fat, moderate protein, and most importantly, low carb. The average American diet is between 50 to 65% carbohydrates, while keto aims for you to switch to having carbs in just 5% of your daily diet.
This is a drastic change. Dropping all those carbs suddenly can cause your body to enter a state called ketosis. This is when the body breaks down fats into ketones, a type of energy source that replaces carbohydrates as the body’s source of fuel.
Keto dieters avoid:
· Legumes (beans and peas)
· Many fruits
· Potatoes and sweet potatoes
· Sugar including honey, agave, and corn syrup
The Keto Diet helps with weight loss. Many people report fewer cravings and needing to snack. Other benefits may include better energy levels and even clearer skin.
Many of the purported benefits of the keto diet aren’t fully proven. According to Everyday Health, doctors have been using the keto diet to help prevent epileptic seizures in children since the 1920s. The keto diet may even help adults with epilepsy. However, the journal Epilepsy Behavior notes that just 13% of participants in a study remained seizure-free on the diet. Keeping to the diet is tricky due to the restrictive nature.
The keto diet can also cause really bad breath!
How does the Paleo Diet work?
The Paleo Diet is often called the Caveman Diet. Practically unheard of before 2007, it’s now one of the most popular diet trends thanks to authors like Loren Cordain, PH. D.
What is it?
The basis of the Paleo Diet is that we try and follow a diet like that of our Stone Age ancestors. The justification for this is that human bodies aren’t built to process grains and refined sugars. For the Paleo dieter this means:
· No bread
· No sugar
· No dairy
· No rice/corn
· No beans
· No potatoes
The diet typically includes plenty of meat and fish, lots of fruit and vegetables, plus healthy sources of fats like seeds.
Because this diet is high in fruit and vegetables it can boost your body’s ability to fight illness. It may even improve kidney function and blood pressure.
The high protein content means this could be a great diet for bodybuilders.
The Paleo Diet can be very low in calcium. This can lead to loss of bone density and problems with teeth.
Cutting out all grains can drastically drop the amount of fiber consumed, which is bad for digestive health
Benefits of a Plant Based Diet
The plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like: any diet where all the food are plant-based. It’s much less restrictive than either of the above options. It allows most people to enjoy their favorite foods whilst being kinder to the environment.
What is it?
Plant-based generally means cutting out all meat and dairy, plus eggs, honey and anything else that comes from an animal. Within plant based diets, there are varying levels of strictness. Vegan diets would be considered the most restrictive when compared to Lacto/Ovo Vegetarianism (consuming eggs & dairy) A well balanced plant-based diet typically includes any fruit or veggies, beans, peas, grains, corn, rice, pasta, most breads- there are fewer restrictions when compared to other “trendy” diets.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that vegan diets offer:
· Lower cholesterol
· Reduced risk of heart disease
· Lower blood pressure
· Weight loss
On a global level, the meat and dairy industry contributes massively towards pollution. Switching to a plant-based diet could help save the planet.
Cutting out meat and dairy (Strict Vegan) can lower protein intake, so make sure you balance this by eating plenty of beans, peas, seeds, or nuts.
Die-hard carnivores may struggle to give up their favorite processed meats like bacon and salami. The great news is there are more and more meat and dairy alternatives available every day. Just check out your local grocery store to see for yourself.
The Bottom Line
A healthy diet and moderate exercise still dominate the “bottom line” when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Each of the above diets has its pros and cons. Ultimately, the best diet is the one that aligns to your overall health goals & your ability to incorporate it into your lifestyle (can you stick to it!). Over the long run, both Keto and Paleo might feel slightly more restrictive and complex to maintain. A plant-based diet might be easier to adapt to, and carries the added benefit of helping the planet! Consulting with your doctor before you begin any major diet change might also be a good idea.