Dieting is hard.
First, you need to find one that suits your lifestyle and goals, then you have to learn what the do's and don'ts are. Diet culture can result in having to resist temptation as you swear off all of your favorite guilty-pleasure foods (which one accommodates 1:00 am pizza 🤤)?
One of the hardest parts of dieting is being persistent, even if your progress seems like it's stalling. Staying motivated is one of the most common reasons for diet failure. The key to cementing a new healthy habit is routine. However, forming a new habit is no easy feat. In fact, it can take nearly a month to fully cement a new routine.
If you’re stuck on step one, keep reading to learn what the three most popular diets are all about—and who they work best for.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT DIET
Have you heard of the keto diet? We know, dumb question. This trendy practice has been dominating headlines since celebrities started touting its benefits back in 2018, but it was actually invented in the 1920s as a way to treat epilepsy.
Perhaps one of the most challenging diets to attempt, the ketogenic diet is also frequently cited as the most rewarding. Essentially, it involves "hacking" your body so that it switches from burning carbohydrates and sugars for energy to burning fat cells instead. When this happens, it's called "entering ketosis."
How do you enter ketosis? By almost entirely eliminating carbohydrates from your diet. On the keto diet, most individuals will consume less than 30g of carbs in a given day. Just for your reference, one banana has roughly 30g of carbs. Instead, keto die-hards rely on a diet that's mostly made up of healthy fats and lean proteins. If bacon and eggs are your favorite breakfast foods, this one is for you. Just skip the toast.
PROS: Rapid weight loss, improved tone and muscle definition, you'll fit in with celebrity personal trainers.
CONS: Expensive, difficult to maintain, undesirable side effects
Keto is for people who:
- Have VERY strong willpower
- Exercise very often
- Don't mind eating lots of meat and dairy
The paleo diet, aka "the caveman diet," is exactly what it sounds like. This diet restricts the food you consume to reflect only what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would find while they were, you know, hunting and gathering. The paleo diet was created as a response to the heavily processed foods found in the modern North American diet.
It's no secret that refined carbs are less healthy than the whole, unprocessed variety. Mostly, it's because food manufacturers are prone to adding sugar to their products before boxing them up and shipping them to your local grocery store. But it's also because our bodies thrive when they're given more work to do. Complex, unprocessed carbs stimulate our metabolism because they're more difficult to break down.
Almost anything that can be consumed whole, raw, or only slightly prepared is given the green light under the paleo diet. Think lots of fresh fish, game meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables (especially antioxidant-rich berries), and nuts and seeds. If your idea of a good time is an arugula salad, topped with grilled chicken, pine nuts, and a homemade raspberry vinaigrette, this might be the one for you. You'll have to say so long to your favorite cheeses, as paleo-purists cut dairy out of their diets completely.
PROS: Easy and simple recipes, improved gut biome, higher energy.
CONS: Have to follow seasonal availability, meals can get repetitive and boring, holiday dinners can get awkward.
Paleo is for people who:
- Can kick sugar out of their diets easily.
- Have access to high-quality proteins.
- Enjoy whole, raw fruits and vegetables.
The Mediterranean diet is similar to the paleo diet, except it allows for more processed foods like olive oil and moderate amounts of certain dairy products. Tightly connected to the region it’s named for, the diet places a heavy emphasis on seafood and healthy fats from olive oil. The Mediterranean diet also encourages as many plant-based meals as possible and discourages consuming red meat more than a few times each month.
Recently this diet was hailed by the U.S. News & World Report as the overall best diet of 2019, cited for its many health benefits including a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular illness, and diabetes. Mediterranean dieters also report improved overall mental wellbeing.
The diet succeeds by reducing added sugar content, similar to the paleo and keto diets, but also by reducing salt intake. Instead of using salt, most Mediterranean recipes call for natural herbs and spices for flavoring. This can lead to more antioxidants and less inflammation.
PROS: LOTS of different recipes, very flavorful, you can have the occasional glass of red wine (guilt-free!).
CONS: More expensive than a traditional North American diet, you might have to brush up on some new culinary techniques.
The Mediterranean is for people who:
- Can live without a lot of red meat
- Enjoy low-sodium recipes
- Like being adventurous in the kitchen
OR... DON'T CHOOSE
What if you didn't have to follow a strict diet plan at all?
What if, instead of heeding a set of rules that tell you what you can or can't eat, you simply listen to your body and follow your own rules instead? What if you could create a tailored nutrition plan, unique to you and your lifestyle, to help you reach your personal health and wellness goals?
At FitTrack we believe in empowering people with the knowledge they can use to make more informed decisions about their diet and their health. The FitTrack Dara reports on seventeen key health indicators, including subcutaneous and visceral body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, and more. With these reports, FitTrack users can closely monitor the specific ways that their nutrition and exercise affect their body composition.
Want to build muscle and strength? Use FitTrack's base metabolic rate report to plan how many calories your body needs at rest, and slowly increase your intake according to your activity levels. Track your muscle mass report to see if you're making progress.
Looking for more tone and definition? Monitor your subcutaneous fat while reducing your caloric intake (and carefully tracking where your calories are coming from). You don't have to deprive yourself, make small changes that lead your body in the direction you want it to go.
What about improving your overall health? Monitor key health indicators like your metabolic age, protein mass, hydration, and BMI. Try excluding or including different foods, changing your exercise routine, or even changing what times of day you eat and watch how your reports change over time.
Life is about variety and experimentation. So is nutrition.
With the data FitTrack provides, you can make smart decisions while you learn to listen to your body. And you'll never have to try a new diet again.