There are a variety of diets to choose from today to suit our dietary requirements. Thanks to the 360Wellness Nutrition tracker, you can now check the progress of your nutrition. You can also add, based on what you eat, portions of foods daily. This translates into points contributing to your overall Wellness Score.
Instead of selecting the "trendiest" diet, you should consider its advantages as well as its risks. Changing your food choices and how this affects your body is an important decision. Thus, it should be based on your preferences as well as suggestions from a medical expert.
When downloading the 360Wellness app, among the diet choices you can choose from a variety of diets. This includes dietary requirements without dairy, meat, or nuts.
I chose to explore three of these diets: keto, paleo high-carb, and low-fat. I've combined an overview of each diet for you, along with both the benefits and risks supported by medical studies.
1. The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet, also called the keto diet, consists of eating small amounts of carbs while prioritizing foods containing high percentages of fat. The diet has this particular name as its purpose is to put your body in a ketosis state. This affects what source of energy your body chooses.
Normally your body would choose glucose, which is basically sugar in your blood taken from the foods you eat. But, the keto diet aims to switch this use of energy. Thus, making your body use your supplies of fat instead.
To induce your body into the process of ketosis, you need to limit your amount of carbs per day. This figure varies as per each individual’s needs. Thus, you must reduce the number of foods that contain high percentages of carbs. While limiting these foods, insulin levels decrease and fatty acids transform into ketones. This then becomes our main source of energy.
So why are people taking up this new diet? Well, one major reason is that a keto diet seems to make people lose weight faster than other diets. For example, a study conducted by American professors from sectors of health behavior, medicine, and nutrition sciences in 2020 found that these types of diets are more effective than others for older obese individuals.
However, the keto diet also has some counter effects. For example, some may suffer from nausea, fatigue, and vitamin/mineral faults, as shown in a study conducted by American academics. There are some arguments against the keto diet:
- Limited evidence around its long-term effects on weight loss and,
- Not many individuals can integrate this diet into their lifestyle in the long run.
- Risk of putting too much pressure on your renal system when eating high portions of protein in your diet, which can lead to kidney stones and other complications.
Despite the risks, further research shows that the keto diet is particularly effective for losing weight. A 2013 study from the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that those on a high-fat diet, compared to those on a low-fat one, lost more weight in the long term and decreased the risk of cardiovascular complications.
2. Paleo Diet
This particular diet is inspired by what humans ate during the Paleolithic era thanks to primal activities such as hunting. The main objective of this lifestyle is to return to its origins and imitate what humans ate years ago. Paleo focuses on the foods that were consumed by cavemen before farming became a popularised activity.
One major reason, besides the regime of this diet, is that farming introduced non-essential items into humans’ diets.
This hypothesis says that humans lived a long time without farming. And foods, such as dairy, legumes, and grains, came late in the evolution of human beings. This didn’t leave them enough time to adapt to these new products. Hence, the new foods are still not seen as beneficial today. Apparently, they are one of the causes of excessive weight and blood and organ diseases.
The paleo diet may sound pretty straightforward. But, it doesn’t have a rigid set of rules on what to eat and what to avoid.
Some people point out that what cavemen ate in prehistoric times depended on availability and place of living. For example, some might have consumed more animal-based products and small amounts of carbs while others did the opposite. As a general guideline, people on a paleo diet focus on eating things like animal protein, vegetables, fruits, oils, while avoiding processed items such as dairy and sugary foods.
However, this diet isn’t easy to incorporate into our everyday lifestyle, as the School of Public Health from Harvard warns. The school outlines how its demand for fresh foods will lead consumers to spend more money on groceries. Also, it makes meal preparation very time-consuming. And not everyone has the willingness or capabilities to do this in the long term. Also, the exclusion of some foods, like dairy and grains, can result in deficiencies of calcium and certain vitamins.
Despite the downsides, it’s worth pointing out that the paleo diet is believed to be effective against long-term diseases. This specific diet showed to be useful in minimizing the risks of cardiovascular diseases thanks to a 2009 Swedish study from professors in the food and health departments.
3. High-carb and Low-fat diet
As the name suggests, the high-carb low-fat diet takes the opposite approach to the keto diet. This approach is also quite different compared to the paleo diet as it limits animal fat and integrates high-fiber foods.
Those supporting this diet say that excluding carbs and then suddenly eating them can lead to weight gain. Whereas the high-carb lifestyle lets you include healthy foods and limit animal-based foods.
A book about eating when diagnosed with diabetes was published by C. Khambatta and R. Barbaro who believe that a plant-based diet combined with higher amounts of carbs than fat can help you keep those pounds off in the long term while ensuring your blood sugar levels are steady. When interviewed, the two authors also claim that high-fat diets can clog up your cells and be a contributing factor to heart diseases. They also say that including carbs into your diet is not an issue, as long as their intake is lower than the fat one. The ratio should be 70% carbs, 15% protein, and 15% fat.
Whatever diet suits you best, you can keep track of your daily intake of calories and portions of different food categories on your iOS or Android devices with the 360Wellness Nutrition Tracker.