There are a number of diet trends that have become popular in recent years.  Now that research has validated that not all calories are created equal, people are turning to these diets for guidance on what types of foods to eat to achieve weight loss and still get the nutrients they need.  I am going to be comparing a few of these by breaking down the types of foods they include, weight loss achievability, and their applicability into daily life.

Mediterranean

The name says it all.  This diet is based off the traditional eating patterns of the countries near the Mediterranean Sea.  Studies show following this diet reduces overall risk for death, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  It decreases total cholesterol and fasting glucose levels.  Studies report initial and sustained weight loss.

It is primarily higher in healthy fats (40%) and plant-based proteins.  Example foods include vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Out of all of the diets I will talk about today, this diet is the least restrictive.  You can even drink wine!  It is fairly easy to incorporate into daily life – the Mediterranean habitants are already doing it!

I will caution you, high intakes of fatty fish can lead to mercury toxicity so be aware of your fish sources.  If you choose this type of diet stick to the wild caught smaller fish such as anchovies, catfish, crab, oysters, sardines, shrimp, and tilapia.

Paleo

Following a paleo diet takes you back to a time before processed food became available.  Studies show initial and sustained weight loss, specifically in regards to weight circumference.  Other benefits include reduction in total cholesterol and fasting blood glucose.

This diet consists of eating mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, roots, healthy fats (olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, flaxseed oil), and unprocessed proteins (wild caught fish, grass-fed meats).  Dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, rice, cereal, potatoes, alcohol, and any unnatural sugar are all avoided.

There are a number of Paleo diet resources and cookbooks available that make this type of diet easy to incorporate into daily life.

Caution: This diet may lead to calcium and vitamin D deficiency.  If you are an athlete, this diet does not meet sufficient carbohydrate guidelines for high intensity athletes.

Ketogenic

This diet is much like the popular Atkins diet which restricts carbohydrate intake.  Out of all of the diets mentioned, this diet is most geared for weight loss purposes.  When carbohydrates are restricted the body burns fat for fuel leading to fat loss.  This process is called ketosis.  Some practices will have you check your urine daily for the presence of ketones. Studies report initial and sustained weight loss, an increase in good HDL cholesterols, and improvement in insulin levels in diabetic patients.

Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20-60 grams per day.  Therefore, the diet consists of all meats, low carb vegetables, and healthy fats.  Pastas, breads, white rice, white flour, most fruits, cow’s milk, yogurt, and alcohol are avoided.

Caution: The ketogenic diet is very restrictive and should be considered a short-term diet plan due to its lack of key nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.  Please talk to your healthcare provider before starting any diet. Multiple side effects have been reported such as kidney stones, fatigue, constipation, and blood pressure/kidney insufficiency.

Low Fat

Contrary to many beliefs, studies show that being on a low fat diet does not lead to weight loss. Labels that show low fat can still have the sugar content that can lead to blood sugar and cholesterol problems.  Compared to the Mediterranean diet, the low fat diet reveals a lower percentage in weight loss.

In contrast to the Ketogenic diet, fats such as oils, avocadoes, nuts, and most meats are avoided with a low fat diet.  This diet consists of more vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes, and grains.  Many report it to be easy to incorporate and a more gradual weight loss over a span of a year or more.

Caution: The low fat diet may lead to a reduction in vitamin E, vitamin B12, and zinc.

Vegan

A vegan diet excludes all dairy, meat, seafood, poultry, and egg products.  It has been linked to a reduction in risk for coronary heart disease and cancer.  Studies report initial and sustained weight loss when following this type of diet.

Yes, this diet means cutting out all animal products including eggs, dairy, and meat.

Caution: A vegan diet may lead to vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc deficiency.

Whether your goal is disease prevention or weight management there can be pros and cons based on your specific needs.  When choosing the right diet for you it is important to take a patient-centered approach, the patient being- you!

Rosi PatelRosi Patel is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner who joined CentreSpring MD in early 2017 and is excited to be part of a group of like-minded professionals. Prior to joining the CentreSpring family, she spent 8 years as an emergency room nurse and other various acute and ambulatory settings.

Email appointments@centrespringmd.com to schedule a visit with Rosi Patel.

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Categories: Diet