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Dietary Conundrum

by | 12th Oct 2021

‘EAT YOURSELF YOUNG’ is the cry we hear from every nutritionist or Instagram-inspired diet trend-setter.  Each time claiming that their diet will help you shift your unwanted kilos and reveal the a svelte-like leaner looking body of a cat-walk model.

But with so many diets to choose from, how do you keep track of what is best? It seems they all have science on their side, so who do you believe? Let alone whether they live up to their promise.

Based on current trends, here are the predicted top diet trends of 2021 so far:

KETO

The Ketogenic diet shares many similarities with Atkins – a low-carb, high-fat diet. The concept of reducing carbohydrate intake means you put your body into a metabolic state called ‘ketosis’ which turns your body into an efficient fat-burning machine as it starts to use the body’s fat as the primary fuel for energy rather than sugar, so reduces blood sugar and insulin levels.

Low-carb diets can switch the body from burning carbs to burning fat for energy, causing an increase in ketones – that helps reduce hunger. There are side effects that include low energy levels, bad breath and sleep problems. It’s an effective method for short-term weight loss, but it isn’t easy to sustain long-term. You also cut out nutritious food groups in the process, and it’s hard to get enough fibre on this diet. A lack of fibre can cause constipation and imbalanced gut microflora, increasing the risk of long-term dietary problems.

The Plant-Based Flexitarian Diet

Move over “Veganism”; there’s a new kid in town. The “plant-powered” trend is all about eating a majority (90% or more) of plant-based foods, but not excluding the grass-fed meatball or free-range chicken leg. The importance to the plant-based followers is the consumption of proteins derived from plant-based sources – think hemp, pea, almond and pumpkin seed.  Adaptogens -foods that will help improve their bodies’ natural defences – are also hugely popular for the plant-based crowd. This diet is great for Planet Earth because plants have a lower carbon footprint than animals.

PALEO

Also known as the “Caveman Diet”, the paleo diet encourages you only to eat foods that can be fished or hunted and gathered. Eggs, seeds, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, spices and herbs. Theoretically re-living primitive eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the palaeolithic period, before agriculture. Paleo followers eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, fish and good-quality animal meats. You can also eat bone broth and fermented foods. Processed foods such as grains, salt, cereals, dairy and refined sugars are ‘banned’.  By cutting out essential food groups – this diet can be low in calcium, and deficiency can lead to bone problems such as osteoporosis. According to the British Dietic Associations, this diet is a “sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies”.

Intermittent Fasting

This diet involves not eating for the majority of the day.  Followers say it helps them break the snacking cycle of modern life. The most popular version is the 16/8 method (I’ve been doing it for three years). You restrict your daily eating period to a strict 8-hour block, ie 12 pm to 8 pm, and “fast” (don’t eat) for the other 16 hours, so 8 pm till 12 pm the following day. It means skipping breakfast and not eating any food post-dinner. Some Intermittent Fasters eat just a single meal a day.

The Mediterranean Diet

Several scientific studies have shown that people in the Mediterranean typically have much lower instances of “lifestyle diseases”, like diabetes and heart attacks, than people in the US. It hails from their dietary norms and the theory is that if you eat like them, you’ll be healthier too.

The cornerstones of this dietary strategy include veggies, tomatoes, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. At the same time, the Mediterranean diet avoids processed foods, sugars, processed meat, refined grains, and trans fats. Dieticians place The Mediterranean at the top of the list for healthy eating because it’s consistently linked to long term good health.

Regardless of whether we choose to follow any of these diets, or take a principal from each one, any diet relies on the basic premise of: “Calories in equals calories out” in order to maintain or begin to lose weight.  In addition, evidence over many years continues to support the fact that a weight loss diet will be more successful if you significantly increase your activity levels.

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