There are a lot of popular diets that turn into ‘fad diets.’ Some diets are truly based on scientific evidence and some are based on pseudo-science. With that being said, some fad diets can still help you achieve better overall health and wellness. After all, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of unhealthy foods that basic alterations in diet can have a significant impact on one’s health. In fact, the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar and sweeteners annually.1 Largely because of this and other poor food choices making up the SAD, more than 100 million Americans either have diabetes or pre-diabetes.2
The average American also happens to consume far too many processed foods, making up 63% of their total caloric intake each day.3 As can be seen, there are major problems with the SAD that need to be addressed. This is one of the reasons many are at a tipping point for attempting to achieve better health through popular diets. Luckily, there are effective diets that have hit the mainstream that shouldn’t be considered ‘fad’ diets.
The Paleo Diet: More Than a Fad
With the Paleo diet, dieters are told to eat as their Paleolithic ancestors did prior to the age of the Agricultural revolution. Thus, they are meant to avoid certain foods such as grains, processed foods, legumes, and even dairy. The Paleo diet itself has an increasing amount of research backing it up as an effective diet. For one, studies have shown that it can effectively reduce cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.4 Along with this, it has been shown through studies to be much more effective at improving waist circumference and glycemic control compared to a Mediterranean-like diet, which encourages the consumption of grains.5
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Because of this, the Paleo diet is naturally low in carbohydrates, which is the primary aspect that makes up the Keto diet.
The Keto Diet
One diet that it tends to get mentioned alongside the Paleo diet is the Keto diet. The Keto diet is essentially a severe low-carbohydrate diet that encourages high-fat intake. This is one of the more restrictive low-carbohydrate diets. The idea is to restrict carbohydrate consumption until you reach a metabolic state known as ketosis.6 When your body achieves this state, it transitions to utilizing its own fat stores for energy production. Along with this, it begins to transform fat in your liver to supply more energy to your brain.7 The Keto diet, like the Paleo diet, has a lot of studies proving its effectiveness. In fact, it has proven to be effective at helping one achieve healthy weight loss.8 Even within the Keto diet field, there are multiple variations of the diet itself. There is the Standard Keto Diet, the Targeted Keto Diet, the High Protein Keto Diet, and the Cyclical Keto Diet. Each comes with its own unique take on the diet with minor alterations.
The Atkins Diet
Another common diet that is typically compared to the Paleo diet is the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet is another diet that promotes the consumption of primarily whole foods. The biggest difference between the diets is the fact that the Paleo diet is much more restrictive. With the Atkins diet, you are simply avoiding foods that are high in sugary carbohydrates and foods that are low in nutrients.9 You are allowed and encouraged to reintroduce whole grains in the later stages of the diet. Whereas, with the Paleo diet, you are expected to avoid grains completely.
Which Diet is Best?
There are a lot of diets available to choose from. The truth is, you would be better off choosing any of them and sticking with it. Consistency is typically the biggest key to achieving success with your diet of choice. However, studies continue to show that low-carbohydrate diets like the Paleo diet are very effective and healthy. The biggest thing that puts the Paleo diet even above the Keto diet is the fact that it encourages a complete lifestyle change. Thus, you are encouraged to not only eat like your ancestors in the Paleolithic age but also to exercise and be as active as them as well. Even though many may criticize the introduction of a few more diets, the ones mentioned above are designed to keep you healthy, rather than deprive your body of needed nutrients. That being said, find what diet works for you. Your diet for you – don’t let someone else tell you how it’s done.
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