3 popular diet types and how they work
Paleo. Ketogenic. Mediterranean. You’ve probably heard of these and other diets that claim to be the best approach for healthy eating, but how do you know which one is the best for you? And how can they all make such unequivocal health claims when they’re all so different?
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all-diet that works for everyone. Depending on your individual health goals, the following diet types may help you reach them and improve your overall health, but much is dependent upon your individual genetic makeup and how your body responds to different foods.
What is a paleo diet?
The paleo diet, founded by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., is based on the idea that we should eat the foods our bodies were designed to eat, resulting in a diet that resembles what our paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. For this reason, paleo-inspired diets are often referred to as caveman diets, Stone Age diets, or primal diets. The paleo diet is based on the theory that with the onset of the agricultural age, humans started eating refined and processed foods that were less healthy than the hunter-gatherer diets of their predecessors. The paleo diet excludes grains, dairy products, refined sugar, added salt, and other processed foods, while emphasizing grass-fed meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Research shows that it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, and also help with weight loss.
What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet, the goal of which is to force the body into a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat stores for energy. In order for this to happen, carbohydrate consumption has to be extremely low — around 20-30 grams per day — which is difficult for most people to do. A ketogenic plan calls for about 20% of your calories to come from protein and 80% from healthy sources of fat. While your body is switching from using carbohydrates as its main source of energy to using fats, some side effects are common — such as headaches, fatigue, and lethargy, but proponents of the diet say after that, you’ll feel great. Research indicates that a ketogenic diet can help treat obesity, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease, but the diet can be challenging to follow long-term, and because of potential adverse effects, it’s best to do it under the supervision of a doctor or dietician.
What is a Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is exactly what it sounds like — a diet based on foods eaten by adults in regions bordering the Mediterranean sea, where people typically have lower rates of chronic disease and longer life expectancies than the rest of the world. Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet can help lower cholesterol, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and various forms of cancer. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, and nuts, with fish included twice a week, as well as moderate portions of low-fat cheese, yogurt, poultry, and eggs. Limit or omit any red meat, high-fat dairy, butter, and refined grains.
Which one is best for you?
Different diets work best for different people. The ideal diet for you depends not only on your health and wellness goals, but also on genetic factors that influence how your body responds to different types of food. A personalized genetic blueprint can help you determine which type of diet will help you meet your goals, whether you want to lose weight, feel younger, gain more energy, or prevent disease.
Want to learn more about how your genetics influence your body’s response to different diets? Request a free consultation with a Vivaliti DNA health coach to learn how your individual genetic blueprint can help you meet your health and wellness goals!