There are tens of highly popular diets for weight loss. Unfortunately, people often choose a weight-loss diet based on its popularity rather than safety and efficacy. Most online information sources do write about the positive sides of each diet form but rarely talk about their downsides.
Here we look at just some of the well-known weight-loss diets to give readers an idea of what is good and bad about these diets. This would help people choose the right kind of diet for weight loss.
Most of these diets work as they try to restrict certain foods, calories, and more. Although, it may not be necessary to limit food intake for weight loss.
Very Low-Calorie Diets (VLCDs)
It is the most common and recommended way of weight loss. So naturally, limiting calorie intake helps lose body weight. Significantly lowering calorie intake may cause a sharp decline in body weight.
But the question arises, is it a safe diet? And is weight loss the only aim of any diet form? Perhaps the reply to both these questions would be “No.”
VLCDs may be suitable for fast weight loss or even diabetes reversal when done under medical supervision. And even doctors will never recommend such a diet for more than three months.
Prolonged practice of this diet causes malnutrition and significant metabolic and mental stress. Thus, practicing this diet for long is not an option, as the risks outweigh the benefits. Moreover, continually feeling exhausted, low in energy, and struggling with body aches is not the best way to diet.
Keto diet/ Low carb diet/ Atkins’ diet
These are three different diet forms, but they essentially have the same underlying principle: significantly reducing carbs intake and increasing fats intake instead.
Low carb and high-fat diet works for weight loss and diabetes and is good for brain health. These diets work as the body starts utilizing fats more efficiently for its energy needs.
However, there are some issues with these dietary approaches. Switching to any of these diets is challenging as it means giving up many foods. This may not be easy in the beginning, as it also means learning new ways to cook food.
Additionally, there are some concerns regarding its long-term safety as foods like grains are rich in minerals, water-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, and, more importantly, dietary fiber. Thus, there are concerns about the long time safety of such diets. But, of course, one may supplement some of these nutrients to overcome the shortfalls of such diets.
It is another example of a popular, restrictive, and revolutionary diet form. It recommends returning to the hunters and gatherers’ diet, a diet that was practiced before cultivation began some 10,000 years ago.
It means no grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, sugar, processed foods, and so on. Even meat should be from grass-fed animals and not farmed animals. Similarly, fish should be wild-caught.
The Paleo diet can be healthy and well-balanced. However, it is difficult to practice due to so many limitations. Furthermore, since the paleo diet means giving up innumerable food items, thus, staying healthy on this diet form for long without supplementation may be challenging.
A vegan diet is another diet that may help lose body weight and improve metabolic health, and it is also an eco-friendly diet with a low carbon footprint. However, it means giving up all the foods of animal origin and consuming plant-based foods only.
However, it is worth understanding that vegan and vegetarian diets differ. Some countries like India have a long history of practicing a vegetarian diet, which allows the consumption of milk and dairy products, and some may even eat eggs.
Thus, a vegan diet is highly restrictive, unlike a vegetarian diet. Consequently, getting sufficient dietary protein and certain micronutrients in a vegan diet is quite challenging.
DASH diet & Mediterranean diet
These are the other two popular diet forms. Though different diet forms, they are pretty similar. DASH is a Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, and the Mediterranean diet is a traditional diet of the region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. These diets are especially good for cardiovascular health and prevent certain types of cancers.
In these diet forms, the focus is on increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, etc. It is also about reducing salt intake.
These diet forms are more or less balanced and less challenging to practice. Nevertheless, switching to any new diet form increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Choose a Diet According to Your Body Needs
People are often perplexed by so many diet forms, and thus choosing any diet form is quite challenging. Therefore, they often ask which diet form may be suitable for them? However, there is no right or utterly wrong diet form, and each is good for specific health conditions. Moreover, each diet form has its downsides.
Thus, let’s say if the concern is cardiovascular health, then perhaps DASH or a Mediterranean diet may be good, though such a diet may not work well for quick weight loss.
However, if the concern is diabetes, weight loss, brain health issues like epilepsy, or dementia prevention, then perhaps the keto diet or Atkins diet may work better.
If the cause of obesity is animal fats or meat products, then a vegan diet may be the right option.
Hence, the choice of any diet would depend on the pre-existing health conditions and the health targets or concerns.
How to Find Which Diet is safe and effective?
This is a valid question as safety comes first. There are many reports of untimely deaths by switching to some fad diet. One can easily find such reports on the internet.
Here it is vital to understand that most popular diets are safe. However, they might cause health issues if practiced in the wrong way.
For example, VLCDs should not be practiced for long. In the case of the keto diet, take care of consuming enough micronutrients, dietary fiber, and healthy fats. Similarly, if you have decided to become vegan, pay special attention to protein intake, vitamin B12 status, etc.
Weight-loss Success Mantra
As one can see that most popular diets are good for weight loss; however, all of them also have certain issues that might pose specific health threats. So, what could be a simple weight-loss mantra that is easy to practice?
Weight loss need not be that complex. However, most people need a simple way to prevent nutritional deficiencies and stay energized and healthy. Moreover, people do not have enough time to study heaps of books on nutrition. Besides, even reading a lot does not guarantee that things will work.
Thus, the most straightforward way is to practice any popular weight loss diet, but add meal replacement shake to your daily regime. Just a single portion of a meal replacement shake can prevent the deficiency of all vital macro and micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and more.
A good meal replacement shake must fit well into any dietary intervention. Thus, it needs to be low in carbs, high in proteins, and have adequate healthy fats. In addition, such a meal replacement shake would not interfere with keto, Mediterranean, or DASH diets.
A meal replacement shake may be a minor compromise for vegans (it contains milk protein) or those practicing a paleo diet (it has cultivated foods). But then, a single portion of it a day will ensure perfect health and good results.
There are many popular diet forms, and each is good for specific health conditions. However, all have some downsides, and they also pose the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, one should switch to any diet cautiously by keeping safety in mind. It is not essential to practice any diet form religiously. Replacing a single meal a day with a meal replacement shake could be an excellent way to stay healthy and energized and still achieve weight loss targets over the long run.