So you want to clean up your diet? Good for you. Except that now you have to pick a plan from the endless number of diet trends. Many diets claim to offer anti-inflammatory, benefits, burn fat, and give you energy, but which of the promises are true?
Here’s what to know about the most popular diet trends this year:
The Ketogenic Diet
The high-fat, low-carb keto diet is responsible for some impressive weight loss transformations, but is also notoriously difficult to follow.
The main premise is that by greatly lowering carb intake, you’ll force your body into a state of ketosis, which means it burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Only about 10 percent of your daily calories will come from carbs, while roughly 80 percent comes from fat, like avocado, nuts, and oil. Obviously, this means bread is out, many starchy vegetables, oats, and fruit are also off limits. It’s so restrictive that many dietitians generally advise against following the plan and instead finding something that’s more sustainable long-term.
The Paleo Diet
This popular diet shares similarities to keto, but the “caveman diet” is actually different in many ways. Proponents of paleo say that eliminating gluten and consuming plenty of veggies can reduce inflammation in your body. Inflammation has linked to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, and certain processed foods, like soda and refined carbohydrates, have been linked to an increase in inflammation.
Developed as an elimination diet to help people figure out how foods impact them physically and mentally, the main premise is to eat nothing but veggies, fruit, nuts and meat for 30 days. That means no quinoa, oats, yogurt, added sugar, like honey, or alcohol. At the end of the 30 days, advocates claim you’ll feel transformed. But is it doctor recommended?
This doctor-backed diet was developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure, hence its name: Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The plan is heart healthy and may help you lose weight and lower heart disease, risk too. And the best thing about it is that there are no crazy rules, according to Jennifer Koslo, R.D.
“No food groups are eliminated,” she tells Men’s Health. “It’s just a very healthy diet overall.”
This diet gets a lot of hype, and some of he praise was called into question last June when the New England Journal of Medicine retracted a major 2013 study that claimed the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s because the 2013 research did not meet the standards of a randomized, control trial, so there wasn’t enough evidence to support the study. However, that doesn’t mean this diet isn’t still worth following. Learn why it’s still one of the healthiest overall plans.
Of course, you have to figure out another hurdle after picking the best diet for you: cooking. Depending on your level of comfort in the kitchen that can add yet other frustration to those you’re already undergoing from all the changes these diets require.
Don’t sweat. We have your back. And your gut, and your biceps, and your general health and well-being too. We’ve done all the heavy lifting to decode the trendiest diets and figure out the health benefits.
By Melissa Matthews