Whether it's for weight loss, to ease digestive woes, or because your doctor told you to cut back on the fried food—it's time to give your eating habits a makeover. But when it comes to the world of diets (gluten-free, Mediterranean, keto, paleo, Whole30the list goes on), how are you supposed to know the difference? More importantly, how are you supposed to choose the one that's right for you?
While it's always best to speak with a doctor or nutritionist about which diet plan best fits your needs, it's important to know your options. Here's an in-depth look at four popular eating trends, including the pros and cons of each:
1.Mediterranean diet. U.S. News & World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet as the "Best Overall and Easiest to Follow in 2019." This diet includes eating similarly to those in the Mediterranean region, incorporating lots of plant-based foods (such as fruits and vegetables), whole grains, legumes, nuts, healthy fats (like olive oil), fish, poultry, and red wine.
Pros: The Mediterranean diet not only boasts weight loss as one of its benefits but is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's diseases. Another added bonus? Drinking red wine is encouraged!
Cons: If you're looking to track calories or follow this diet for weight loss, there's no one plan to utilize. But, Harvard School of Public Health partnered with Oldways, a nonprofit in Boston, to develop Mediterranean diet guidelines.
2.Whole30. The Whole30 is an elimination diet (stripping certain food groups from your diet) for 30 days to see if these common triggers are harming your health. According to the Whole30 website, you "eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing." This means no added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, processed or baked goods for 30 days. Real food only!
Pros: While weight loss isn't the number one reason people try this eating plan, more than 95 percent of participants lose weight and improve their body composition (without counting or restricting calories). Many people also report having more energy, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and an improvement in numerous conditions (like digestive ailments, allergies, and skin issues).
Cons: You have to stick to the program 100 percent to see results. The website says, "The only way this works is if you give it the full 30 days: no cheats, slips, or 'special occasions.' Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and (most important) firing up the immune system. One slip-up, and you go back to day one.
3.Flexitarian diet. If you've considered going vegetarian or vegan, but hated the idea of giving up meat, maybe the Flexitarian Diet is for you. This eating plan guides you to eat more veggies while still enjoying your favorite meats. There are no clear-cut rules, but people who follow this eating plan consume mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains—focusing on protein from plants instead of animals.
Pros: Decreasing meat consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, help you lose weight, and prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
Cons: People who don't eat much meat are at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies, like vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
4.Weight Watchers. This program is known for its point-based system to keep members on track (earning the backing of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey). Weight Watchers assigns different point values to different foods based on factors like calories, fat, protein, and sugar contents. Every dieter who signs up is given a number of daily points based on personal data and goals. If you stay under your daily points, you'll lose weight!
Pros: The program encourages sustainable weight loss, leading to lasting results and a healthier lifestyle (no gimmicks). The app is easy to use, you have the support of other people following the plan, and chances to win rewards when you meet your goals.
Cons: You have to be willing to track your food and points every single time you eat, which can be time-consuming. And, no foods are off-limits. So, if you struggle with self-control, you may benefit from a stricter plan.
All in all, the healthiest diet is the one that you'll stick to. Talk to your physician about the best eating plan for your lifestyle and needs.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. March is "National Nutrition Month."