Forget about cookie diets and promising pills — doctors have recently narrowed the market down to four main types of diets. The low-fat, Mediterranean, low-carb and paleo diets are proven to result in improved health and weight loss.
So, which one’s right for you? We’re here to help you find out.
A typical low-fat diet derives 30% of its calories from fat, 15% from protein, and 55% from complex carbohydrates. Most low-fat diets also limit cholesterol to 300 mgs and salt to no more than one teaspoon per day. To lose weight eating this way, you have to eat fewer than your recommended daily maximum calories.
This diet is perfect for people who need to lower their cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet is what many people think of as a “healthy diet.” It emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish, and oils such as olive and canola. It allows some red meat, poultry, and dairy. The diet isn’t low in fat or carbohydrates, but it includes mainly unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and beans. To shed the pounds on this diet, you have to eat fewer calories than your recommended daily maximum.
This diet is perfect for people who have a taste for fruits and veggies.
These diets — a.k.a. South Beach, Atkins, and Zone—strictly limit the amount of carbohydrates you can eat while allowing lots of protein. Low-carb dieters avoid sugar and refined carbs, such as white bread and white rice. They get their energy from high-protein, high-fat foods such as meat, eggs, and cheese. Eating very few carbs lowers insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy. Even though these diets are often high in fat, people who eat this way usually lose as much weight and improve their overall health as much as people who eat low-fat diets — an outcome that challenges the idea that dietary fat makes you fat.
This diet is perfect for people who love meat!
The paleo diet is based on eating unprocessed foods that were likely found in the Paleolithic era, including all kinds of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Modern foods that require more processing are considered off limits. The diet also encourages people to avoid refined carbs, seed oils, hydrogenated fats, sugar, and any food that has more than three or four ingredients. People who eat this way usually don’t count calories to lose weight. Like low-carb diets, the paleo diet may change the way the body breaks down food and cause it to burn stored fat for energy.
This diet is perfect for people who don’t like counting calories.
You can’t really make a bad decision when choosing one of these diets; they can all help if you’re trying to lose weight and improve your health. Research suggests that all of them are safe and they can all work.