Lifestyle Diet Comparison: How to Choose the Best One for You

lifestyle diet

With so many lifestyle diet trends out there nowadays, it’s hard to keep track of which is which and what exactly the rules of each one are. Even if we can manage to identify them, there is so much information (most of it untrue or unbacked by scientific evidence) on the internet that it can be nearly impossible to understand the actual health benefits, let alone choose one that fits well with our lifestyle.

We’ve consolidated the basics of six of the more well-known and/or practiced diets, including the logistical difficulty (such as whether or not you will have to shop at a specialty grocery store, how limited you will be when you eat out, or how long and complicated the food preparation process is), background information, basic food group do’s and dont’s, and cautions.

This way, you will gain a basic grasp of each lifestyle diet so you can make an educated decision about what works best for you. Enjoy!

Note: green circles mean you can eat without restrictions, red circles mean you cannot eat, and yellow circles mean you can eat, but with restrictions (whether only prepared a certain way or only certain foods in the food group). The food groups are as follows: grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, meat, fish/shellfish, dairy, eggs.


Vegetarian

Difficulty: ★

This is the most common dietary choice, with about 10 percent of Americans identifying themselves as vegetarians. Meat-free meals are gaining popularity even in carnivore-filled homes. It can be both an ethical and a health-related lifestyle.

Research has shown that eliminating meat can reduce the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish shellfish or any animal flesh. Eggs, dairy and other animal products are generally allowed.

Watch out for: lack of Vitamin B12, calcium, iron and zinc – look for natural or pill supplements

lifestyle diet

 


Vegan

Difficulty: ★★

Popular in India and Southeast Asia for thousands of years as a religious practice before spreading to the West, about 2.5 percent of Americans identify themselves as vegans. It is also an ethical and environmental movement.

The low-fat low-cholesterol nature of this diet has been proven to lower the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and heart disease.

Vegans do not eat any kind of animal product, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey. Often they will not use animal products or animal-tested products for clothing, cosmetics or anything else.

Watch out for: lack of Vitamin B12, calcium, iron and zinc – look for natural or pill supplements

lifestyle diet

 


Gluten-Free

Difficulty: ★★

Recent studies have shown that about 30 percent of Americans would like to cut back on their gluten consumption, but only about 1 percent has celiac disease (intolerance to gluten).

There are a lot of claims about the negative effects of gluten, but most of them lack serious evidence. The main benefit of gluten-free food is that usually it is less processed and has fewer preservatives, but unless you have celiac disease it doesn’t have any proven benefits.

Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Other grains such as corn, flax, rice, soy and tapioca are generally considered acceptable.

Watch out for: gluten in everyday foods; don’t forget to read labels!

lifestyle diet

 


Paleo/Caveman

Difficulty: ★★

This high-protein, high-fiber diet is based on the foods that our early ancestors most likely ate. It’s a relatively new diet that has recently gained popularity, especially in 2013 when it was the most-searched diet on Google.

Research has shown that a diet rich in lean protein and fiber can make you feel fuller, control blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and promote healthy weight loss.

Since our ancestors were hunter-gathers and not farmers, wheat/grains, dairy, legumes and salt are not allowed. The diet mainly focuses on lean meats and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and nuts/seeds.

Watch out for: higher grocery bills due to costs of larger quantities of meat

lifestyle diet

 


Raw Foods

Difficulty: ★★★

You won’t need an oven for this diet; the idea is that cooking food destroys its nutrients and enzymes, so most everything is eaten raw. Most followers consume about 80% raw foods, with very few people eating 100% raw. Blenders, food processors and blenders are used for preparation.

Several studies have shown that due to the high fiber and low calorie and fat density, this diet promotes weight loss and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

The diet consists of uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic foods; primarily raw fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and sprouted grains and legumes. Some people also eat unpasteurized dairy products and raw eggs, meat and fish.

Watch out for: bacteria in raw animal products that can cause food-poisoning

lifestyle diet

 


Macrobiotic

Difficulty: ★★★

Popularized in the 1960’s hippie movement, this is the original counterculture diet. Using a Yin/Yang approach, it emphasizes balance in your diet as well as you life. Followers are encouraged to chew thoroughly, listen to their bodies, stay active and stay positive.

Although claiming to cure cancer, research has shown connections between this diet and a decreased risk of heart disease, as well as lower risk of some kinds of cancer.

The staples of the diet are organic whole grains, most vegetables and bean products (soy included), but fresh fish/shellfish, organic fruit, nuts/seeds and sea vegetables (seaweed, agar) are also allowed. Meat, dairy, eggs and processed/refined/chemically-preserved foods are discouraged.

Watch out for: specific vegetables and fruits that aren’t allowed (tomatoes, asparagus etc)

lifestyle diet

 


Sources:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636.php
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530?pg=1
http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/raw-food-diet
http://www.webmd.com/diet/raw-foods-diet
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vegetarian-and-vegan-diet
http://www.webmd.com/diet/paleo-diet
http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/truth-about-gluten
http://www.webmd.com/diet/macrobiotic-diet

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