A Comprehensive Look at the Pros and Cons of Today’s Most Popular Fad Diets
It seems like every day there’s a new fad diet emerging that’s the “best” new way to drop unwanted pounds in the shortest amount of time. But how do you know which ones are effective and manageable, let alone safe? We’re debunking eight of the most popular diets trending currently, plus adding our own tips to create a long-term, healthy diet that will not only help you lose weight, but will increase your overall wellbeing as well.
Paleo Diet. This caveman-inspired diet reflects the eating practices of our hunter-gatherer Neanderthal relatives. It focuses on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, lean meats, and healthy fats with the robust side effects of increased athletic performance and improved skin, all the while naturally slimming and sculpting your body into a leaner version of yourself. Sounds great, right? Before you jump on this caveman bandwagon, you need to know its pros and cons.
Pros. Focuses on healthy, lean meats and plenty of fruits and vegetables while reducing sodium intake and encouraging physical exercise.
Cons. Entire food groups, like whole grains and dairy, are eliminated, making it more difficult to obtain required essential nutrients. Also, Paleo dieters tend to get stuck on certain meals and feel somewhat limited. For people with specific health concerns, the Paleo diet is not recommended and can actually be dangerous.
Raw Food Diet. When you become a raw foodist, you commit to never cooking anything you eat or drink above 116 degrees Fahrenheit. This belief is that by keeping food raw, its many important enzymes remain fully in tact. This diet emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and miso, and excludes items like bread, beans, lentils, pastas, meats, and eggs.
Pros. Consuming a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables is no problem for the raw foodist.
Cons. Eliminating whole food groups can lead to severe nutrient deficiencies. Also, meal prep on the raw food diet is extremely tedious and difficult for most people to follow.
Lemonade Diet. This diet, also known as the Master Cleanse, focuses on detoxification as the means of shedding pounds. For ten days, you consume nothing besides a concoction of lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup with the astonishing results of dropping an upward of two pounds each day.
Pros. You will definitely lose. But that is about the only benefit to this type of dieting.
Cons. Diets that eliminate food completely encourage yo-yo weight loss and regain. While you might shed pounds over the course of the 10 days, when you reintroduce food to your system, there is certain to be weight gain. This is not a long-term solution for weight loss and could potentially be very dangerous.
Vegan. Many people opt for a vegan lifestyle based on their ethical practices. Because of its side effect of weight loss, others choose this lifestyle as a means to drop and control weight. Veganism consists of eliminating every animal product from your diet including meat, dairy, and honey.
Pros. According to the American Dietetic Association, an appropriately planned and highly nutritious vegan diet can decrease the risk of certain diseases, lower BMI, and reduce the chance of heart disease and other obesity-related conditions.
Cons. Veganism requires strict planning to ensure enough essential nutrients are consumed. A much larger percentage of vegans are b12 deficient versus meat-eaters. The vegan lifestyle requires meticulous planning that many people are unable to commit to long-term.
Gluten-free Diet. Originally, gluten-free regimens were created to cater to the dietary needs of those suffering from certain diseases, such as celiac disease. Some people have found it to be a successful means to shed unwanted pounds, making it a hot diet right now as well. Being gluten-free means you eliminate all gluten from your diet from wheat, barley, and rye sources.
Pros. Whole foods are generally promoted with the gluten-free diet, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and dairy, while processed and packaged foods are avoided.
Cons. Many gluten-free food options are loaded with more sugar, sodium, and fat than their gluten-filled counterparts and consuming these types of items leads to increased weight gain. Eliminating gluten completely can also decrease the spectrum of nutrients you get, unless you are properly supplementing.
Weston A. Price Diet. Originating from a dentist who traveled the world, studying the healthiest communities around the globe, this diet focuses on removing processed, packaged, and artificial foods from consumption and encourages getting plenty of wholesome grass-fed animal products, raw milk, butter, and a more “natural” diet.
Pros. Encourages whole foods, avoiding prepackaged and highly processed items that contribute largely to weight gain.
Cons. Some doctors and nutritionists believe this diet doesn’t promote enough living, green foods in meals. Also, consuming raw dairy products is highly controversial and not even legal in many states.
Intermittent Fasting. Also known as the 5:2 Diet, this dietary regimen is based on the belief that our bodies are programmed to operate in a “feast or famine” sort of way. Two days a week, dieters restrict their caloric intake to a meager 600 calories, and the other five days they continue to eat as usual. On fasting days, foods that are encouraged should be low-glycemic-index and low-glycemic-load since they take more time to digest and leave dieters satisfied longer.
Pros. Most research shows that people can successfully lose weight with intermittent fasting.
Cons. Can destabilize blood sugar levels, causing stress on the body and fatigue. Hunger experienced on the fasting days leads dieters to overeat on the non-fasting days to compensate.
Juicing Diet. This diet requires an expensive piece of kitchen equipment called a juicer or fresh, raw juices purchased from distributors at a high price. This diet consists of removing all liquids from fresh produce and consuming it in a juice cocktail of sorts, leaving behind the pulp.
Pros. Access to a lot of different vitamins and minerals from fresh, raw produce.
Cons. Expensive. Juicers can cost anywhere between $50 and $500, not to mention the enormous amount of produce just one juice requires. Juicing can also cause feelings of hunger, which can lead to overeating. Furthermore, vital nutrients and essential fiber is eliminated from this diet and left behind in produce’s pulp.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to each of the diets that are trending right now. The important thing to remember is education is key; knowing everything you can before committing to a particular diet regimen is crucial before hopping on the bandwagon. Here are a few elements we believe are absolutely essential for a healthy, well-balanced weight loss solution to be successful:
Portion control is key. While you shouldn’t over-obsess about calorie counting, make sure to reduce your caloric intake to slightly lower than what’s recommended (typically 2000 per day for women and 2500 per day for men).
Move more. Getting your body moving will help you burn through your calories quicker, even if it’s just a walk or a bike ride.
Minimize sugar and sodium intake. These two ingredients are in almost all prepackaged foods. Controlling the amount you are getting will have weight loss results.
Don’t fall for “quick weight loss” solutions. Losing 2 pounds every day is not a sustainable option. Most experts believe that losing two pounds a week is a safe amount of weight loss that discourages regain.
Don’t skip meals. Try eating something small and healthy every three hours to keep your blood sugar levels consistent and curb feelings of hunger that lead to overeating.
Drink plenty of water; it will actually help you feel less hungry.
Eat a well-balanced diet consisting of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cook dinner. Try to avoid pre-packaged and processed foods.
When you’re controlling calories, it’s difficult to get enough of every single nutrient. Supplementation is a great way to ensure you’re getting the right amounts of key vitamins and minerals.
Finally, and most importantly, realize that healthy weight loss and management isn’t the result of a particular diet, but a lifestyle change.
We hope this information helps when choosing which diet plan is best for you!
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