There are a whole array of diets and ways of eating out there at the moment. With science and the nutrition and diet world constantly evolving, it can be hard to keep up. So, we are here to break down a few of the most prominent, trending diets at the moment to help you make a little more sense of them all.
It is crucial to keep in mind that everyone is different, requiring varied nutritional requirements and particular food needs. Make sure you are dieting for the right reasons, and if you have any specific medical questions or queries to check in with a health care professional!
What is the Keto diet?
The Ketogenic (or Keto) diet focuses on consuming low carbohydrate levels, moderate protein levels and high fat levels in all food choices. When your body is low in carbs, this is what places the body into a state of Ketosis, being when your body has too little glucose. The primary source to burn energy is glucose. The body then instead taps into stored fat for energy. Generally, the Keto diet requires carbohydrates to be about 5—10% of total calories for the day, protein to be 20—35% and the fat to be 65—75%.
The Ketogenic diet has been used as a treatment for epilepsy and continues to be researched in terms of assisting with brain disorders, also. Some of the benefits for the general population include weight loss, improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Generally, as it involves cutting out almost a whole food group, long-term it can be unsustainable and also means that important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are cut out.
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What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has been around for quite a long time and continues to be one of the most widely recommended, due to it being so wholefood based and non-restrictive for the wide population. It originates from the eating patterns seen in many countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Moderation and balance are the central components of this diet, with the primary consumption being around wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, beans, seeds, eggs, fish as well as dairy and meat eaten in small portions. This makes the diet lower in refined sugars. This way of eating offers an abundant range of all food groups, meaning access to all necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is extremely adjustable and allows for plenty of freedom to cater for intolerances and sensitivities, meaning it can be used by almost everyone.
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What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is exactly as it sounds. This way of eating involves changing (or cycling) your carbohydrate intake either daily, or week-to-week. Generally, this method is used to reach certain body composition goals, to help overcome a weight loss plateau or when training for a particular athletic goal, with the carbs consumed cycled depending on training or non-training days! With this method protein intake doesn’t necessarily change too much, but the fat intake will generally be reduced depending on the levels of carbs consumed.
Carb cycling is best for the high-level athlete: marathon runners, triathletes, and others doing intense exercise or training done multiple days throughout a week/month. The idea here is to help the body utilise carbohydrates as fuel and to assist in fighting fatigue and acting as a recovery tool on days of intense training.
What is macro tracking?
Macro tracking is somewhat similar to calorie counting, but goes deeper into tracking carbohydrates, fat and protein. The main aim here is to meet a certain number of macronutrients consumed. There is an approximated amount of each macronutrient required for the average person to live a healthy life. Many individuals who do track their macros often do so based on a specific goal in mind to do with a certain training goal or for weight loss. It is important to remember that your gender, height, weight and more will go into the specific amounts for your personal circumstance. An app tracker is the most convenient way to do this.
Individuals who have struggled with disordered eating are not recommended to take part in counting of macros or calories. It is also important to highlight that the way we eat is not intended to become only about the numbers. It is very easy to get caught up in the counting and obsessing over numbers or goals and lose sight of the importance of food actually being fuel before anything else.
It is also worth noting that counting macros does not consider everything that is taking place within your body, which can include inflammation, hormonal imbalance, immune responses, and so on.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is undoubtedly one of the most popular methods of eating we are seeing right now. Intermittent fasting is more so based on periods of fasting rather than a more prescribed diet. There is also not just one way to achieve this way of eating. Two of the most common types are the 5:2 method and the 16:8 method. The 5:2 method is when you eat for 5 days of the week as normal, averaging at 1800—2000 calories per day and then just 500 calories for the remaining 2 days.
The 16:8 method is based on time restrictive eating, fasting for a certain amount of time each day. This is where you fast for 16 hours, and eat within an 8-hour time period, usually between 12pm and 8pm, fasting between 8pm and 12pm the following day. The length of fasting and eating can be altered.
Studies have shown that fasting can be beneficial for weight loss, improving insulin sensitivity, and heart health. On top of these benefits, an extended overnight break from eating, pausing between meals, can allow our bodies to rest and digest. The restriction is more in terms of when to eat and when to fast, not having to make huge changes to your diet, which makes it appealing to many as it’s easy to follow and non-restrictive. If you have struggled with disordered eating, have type 1 diabetes or are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, intermittent fasting is not recommended.
Ultimately, all these diets have varying benefits, and are better suited to some more than others. Consuming a wide range of whole foods allows for your body to absorb the right vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. To live a healthy life is the key!
Disclaimer: Before starting any diet, it is recommended that you check with your health practitioner to see if it is right for you.