Which Diet is Best for You?
Among the thousands of diets out there, it can be daunting to choose the best one for your body. I can indeed say there is nothing like one-diet-fits-all. Some people thrive on a specialized diet like keto or vegan; others are required to change their diet due to a chronic illness like autoimmune disease or diabetes.
Regardless of your fitness goals or dietary restrictions, here’s a guide to some popular diets that will help you make the best choice for your health.
So, let’s get started!
Standard American Diet (SAD)
The Standard American Diet, appropriately abbreviated SAD, is sadly one of the least healthy diets. Unfortunately, many Americans incorporate SAD into their daily lives without realizing its harmful effects on their bodies.
SAD is full of processed and inflammatory foods high in sodium, refined sugars, trans fats, and lacking in necessary nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that you require every day. Such a diet has the potential to make you overweight and malnourished before you even realize what’s happening to your body.
Remember, the more processed the food, the more likely it will be high in calories, salt, and lacking necessary nutrients. If your diet consists of mainly potatoes, meat, pasta and sugar, you can also expect to have countless health problems including heart and autoimmune disease.
Gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. In some people it can create havoc in the gut leading to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which can eventually result in autoimmune disease. However, many people fail to understand that opting for a gluten-free diet isn’t enough to guarantee optimal health.
Due to the rise in gluten intolerance, many manufacturers have begun to shift towards terms like “gluten-friendly”, however these labels may still lead you to the same processed foods in the Standard American diet. Removing gluten often means adding extra sugars and binders to improve the taste and texture of your food.
Eliminating wheat is one of the best ways to reduce excess gluten intake; adding plenty of fruits, vegetables, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats will help ensure a healthy diet.
The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet or “keto” diet is one of the most popular diets among celebrities nowadays. However, the concept of keto isn’t new. It began many years ago to help children cope with epilepsy. It offers excellent benefits to combat type 2 diabetes and improve your overall health.
People on keto diets say they are able to enjoy their favorite foods without feeling hungry all the time! This is likely due to the high fat content (which keeps you feeling 'full').
What is the Keto Diet?
Although you see the term 'keto' everywhere, do you know why it is touted as one of the best diets for weight loss? The keto diet is designed to put your body into the state of ketosis. Your body normally uses carbohydrates for fuel; you will now be using fats to generate energy for your body.
This helps to improve insulin resistance, elevate cholesterol, and reduce high blood pressure.
When you deprive your body of carbohydrates from grains and sugars, your liver will look for alternatives and create a fuel called ketones. Instead of storing your excess fat underneath your skin, causing you to gain weight, your liver will now use this fat to produce energy.
However, a very low carbohydrate diet can lead to ketoacidosis over a long time, a state where excessive ketones dangerously impact your body with toxic acids in the blood. This may increase the risk of fatty liver disease. Thus, I’d highly urge you to support your liver while on the keto diet, and consider alternating periods of eating ketogenically with other healthy types of diets.
The Paleo Diet
If you are unsure which diet to opt for, you might want to consider following our caveman ancestors. The Paleo diet is based on foods that we believe used to be eaten during the Paleolithic era.
Similar to the Keto diet, it consists of low carb, whole, unprocessed foods, and avoids refined sugars, grains, and legumes. However, it is easier to follow as you are not constantly monitoring your level of ketosis.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet includes:
- Meat & Fish
This nutrient-dense option helps you eliminate the craving for processed food and naturally shifts you towards healthier choices.
How is the Paleo Diet Different From the Keto Diet?
The difference between the Paleo and Keto Diet is subtle. They both aim to eliminate processed foods, and encourage weight loss. The Paleo diet does not allow dairy products whereas the Keto diet allows high fat dairy. Paleo allows more carbohydrates in the form of fruit, starchy vegetables and natural sweeteners. Keto diets avoid most fruit and root vegetables, and only allow sugar -free sweeteners, as any form of sugar will defeat the state of ketosis.
The Vegan Diet or Vegetarian Diet
The vegan and vegetarian diets are similar. However, they have one significant difference that makes some people opt for one over the other. A vegan diet, in general terms, refers to the complete elimination of food from animals like honey, eggs, and dairy products; you may also find vegans choosing not to wear clothing made from animal skin. Simultaneously, people on a vegetarian diet follow a more vegetable-dense diet and will typically still eat dairy products and sometimes even fish.
A vegan diet may deprive you of necessary nutrients like vitamin B, protein, and iron. Sometimes incorporating too many beans and grains can lead to a leaky gut and increased inflammation.
Are Vegan Diets and Vegetarian Diets Healthy?
There is documented evidence that switching to a plant based diet can reverse symptoms of Type 2 diabetes in a very short period of time. Although following a vegan or vegetarian diet can provide a very quick boost to your general health and is a far better option than the Standard American Diet, some say they are not ideal diets to keep your bones and muscles strong and your body well-nourished.
This is because animal based foods contain minerals and other essential nutrients like vitamin B12 that your body requires but doesn’t produce itself. Therefore, if you are choosing a plant-based diet, make sure you also incorporate these important supplements to provide you with all the essential nutrients.
The Ameo Way
Before you choose the best way of eating for YOU, please understand that although switching your diet can be effective for a specific period of time to reach your fitness goals, it is far better to adopt a healthier way of eating as a permanent lifestyle. The Ameo Way adopts this whole life approach to eating clean, organic foods grown as close as possible to nature, to support your life-long health!
The autoimmune protocol, better known as the AIP diet, is specifically designed to help reduce the pain and inflammation that comes with the autoimmune spectrum.
Many people have specific food sensitivities which make certain foods unsuitable for them. In this case, an elimination diet can prove to be a great way to help identify the best foods that will and will not work for you.
What Is an Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet is an eating plan that helps pinpoint the foods that are causing uncomfortable or painful symptoms that result from food sensitivity. This involves you removing specific foods for 30 days and reintroducing them one by one to see how those foods are affecting your body. If you begin to have symptoms after incorporating that food into your diet, you will know what to start avoiding.
FAQ About Diets
How do I choose the proper diet for me?
I recommend switching to nutrient-rich organic foods, fruits and vegetables, and grass-fed proteins to be on the safer side.
What is the healthiest diet?
There is no “healthiest diet” since our bodies are unique and may react differently to each type of diet. This is especially true if you are suffering from a disease or have strong views about animal-based foods. Thus, I’d highly urge you to try an elimination diet to determine which diet works best for you.
What are the basics I should eat every day?
The best eating plan is the one you can stick to and is feasible enough to keep your taste buds happy. Remember, the point of changing your diet is to make it a lifestyle - and to succeed, you need to opt for something that you genuinely enjoy. Therefore, go for a diet that includes your favorite healthy foods. I do not recommend calorie counting, as it has been proven ineffective. Instead, listen to your body and then support it by making healthier choices!