While watching your portion sizes, following a healthy, balanced diet can help you reach your weight, physique and other health goals. Some diets eliminate certain food groups from your diet, while others focus on eating controlled portions with more liberal food choices.
What you eat is of paramount importance for the proper functioning of your body. So it becomes all the more important to be aware of your food choices.
Recent research identifies poor diet and unhealthy eating habits as the main reasons for the obesity epidemic in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the obesity prevalence rate was 39.8%, affecting nearly 93.3 million American adults between 2015 and 2016. It is a alarming because obesity carries the risk of noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, blood pressure problems, diabetes and cancer.
With so many dietary alternatives available, the question of which one is best for an individual is still unclear to many. A diet can generally be considered overall healthy if it focuses on a variety of food choices, benefits your overall health, is easy to stick to for years to come, and can help you maintain your health goals for life. .
Low-carb or low-carb diets, the DASH diet, the Atkins diet, the keto diet, the pagan diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the vegan diet are just a few examples of popular diets to follow. However, the three most popular nutritional intervention diets, namely keto, paleo and the Mediterranean, are all the rage these days.
Let’s dive into these three regimes and dissect their various pros and cons to understand what sets them apart from each other.
The Keto diet
The keto diet involves getting most of your calories from fat. Usually, a standard diet consists of about 50 percent carbohydrates, which are broken down into glucose that cells use for energy.
Your body is intrinsically used to using glucose as fuel, but when you start taking generous amounts of fat and limiting your carbohydrate intake, your liver uses stored fat for energy production. Fats are broken down into ketone bodies, which act as fuel for the brain.
A typical keto diet reduces carbohydrates to a minimum (50 grams or less per day), proteins in moderation (about 20 percent of calories) and fats with unlimited consumption.
The restriction on carbohydrates causes the body to use fat for energy expenditure and prevents increased insulin levels, which helps curb hunger. Stored carbohydrates and water are also used in the process. It also depletes glucose deposits and the excess weight of water.
Certain forms of ketogenic diets mainly adopted by athletes and sports professionals allow the consumption of proteins and / or carbohydrates in larger quantities. The goal in following a modified keto plan is to keep ketosis for extended periods of time and keep lean muscles intact.
It can take a minimum of 3 months of dedicated effort to adapt your body to the keto diet. A regular Western diet can interfere with the body which remains in ketosis; therefore, a period of 3 months helps your body acclimatize to the new fuel source.
What is a keto diet?
A keto diet is basically a diet high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. When it comes to a keto diet, it’s all about nutritional value, especially the amount of each macronutrient you eat. The recommended intake in a keto diet is:
- Almost 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrates
- Generous consumption of fat sources such as coconut oil, lard, butter, cocoa butter, nuts, seeds, tofu and olive oil
- Oily fish such as tuna and salmon
- Starchy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli
- No fruit except avocados
- Fat dairy products such as cream, plain Greek yogurt and cheeses
- Limited carbohydrate-rich dairy products like milk and ice cream
Health benefits it offers
The keto diet has been linked to the following health benefits:
1. Helps control neurodegenerative disorders
The keto diet can be considered for patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Studies have shown that supplementing a keto diet in children helps control seizures for a short to medium period of time. The effects of the keto diet have been shown to be calm similar to those of conventional antiepileptic drugs.
The possible mechanism behind the considerable reduction in seizures is due to the decrease in glucose levels and the increase in the metabolism of ketone bodies as well as the reduction of glycolysis. Studies have shown that the resulting decrease in glycolysis when consuming a keto diet can help reduce seizures.
It has also been observed that the considerable increase in the concentration of ketones and the concomitant decrease in blood sugar during a ketone diet can suppress various pathways that can potentially help various disorders affecting the brain.
2. Helps in weight loss
Ketogenic diets have carved out a place in the list of potential ways to lose weight. Going on a keto diet can help you lose weight by limiting your hunger and appetite and keeping you full for a long time.
3. Reduces inflammation
Induction of ketosis is known to pump the mitochondria of body cells so that they provide energy and fight oxidative stress and inflammation at a faster rate.
4. May help regulate type 2 diabetes
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, almost 55% of patients with diabetes are obese and 85% of them are overweight. Restricted carbohydrate consumption in a keto diet can play a key role in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
A 2012 study concluded that low carbohydrate levels in a keto diet significantly lowered blood sugar, total cholesterol, urea, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight and body mass index in obese subjects after 24 weeks. In addition, the keto diet group experienced a significant drop in waist measurement and better glycemic control for type 2 diabetes.
5. May help cancer patients
The state of ketosis caused by a keto diet is reported to have improved the response of experimental preclinical models to chemotherapy, while attenuating the normal side effects of the tissues of therapy. In addition, the keto diet is associated with a reduction in tumor size in experimental animal models of malignant cancers of the colon, stomach and prostate.
Disadvantages of the Keto Diet
The keto diet deserves caution in some regions.
- Ketogenic influenza is an adverse effect of the ketogenic diet that lasts a few weeks after the start of the ketogenic diet. This is mainly due to changes in your diet that cause symptoms such as bad breath, changes in bowel habits, lack of energy and muscle cramps. Therefore, monitoring your blood sugar and ketone levels is essential in people on a keto diet.
- The keto diet can deplete the triglyceride and sugar levels in your blood. People with low blood sugar levels should be careful before following the keto diet. If you have diabetes or prediabetes or have taken blood sugar medication, talk to your doctor before starting a keto diet.
- Eliminating carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables can lead to nutritional deficiencies like that of fiber and key vitamins and minerals.
- It is strongly recommended that people suffering from pancreatitis, kidney stones, liver problems, fat metabolism disorders, carnitine deficiency and porphyria not to try the keto diet.
The paleo diet
The paleo diet adopts the primitive food model of our ancestors in the Paleolithic.
The paradigm shift in human eating habits has resulted in modern methods of food preparation. The agricultural revolution led to the evolution of the hunter-gatherer man to that of the consumption of processed cereals. Thus, the paleo diet eliminates most of the processed foods based on highly refined ingredients.
Although it is impossible to live like the first men, the paleo diet idolizes the eating habits of their time by eliminating the use of foods that have undergone any modern transformation. This diet comes to the fore considering the various diseases deemed to result from the consumption of processed and refined foods.
What is a paleo diet?
The paleo approach focuses on eating local grass-fed meats and sustainable organic vegetables while avoiding processed foods. In addition, paleo is a diet composed mainly of protein, fiber, antioxidants and potassium while being low in carbohydrates, sodium and sugar.
The paleo diet includes foods that can be grown, raised, hunted and picked.
- These include poultry, grass-fed meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, roots and fruit.
- The diet limits the consumption of dairy products, cereals, legumes, processed fats, refined sugars and salt.
- People on a paleo diet can have green tea and lots of water.
- Consumption of food containing additives and preservatives should be completely avoided.
The abundance of protein in the paleo diet makes it very popular among fitness enthusiasts looking to increase their muscle mass.
The paleo diet is often called “clean eating” and for many it can be followed for a considerably long period of time. It does not require any control over the amount of food eaten or counting calories. This makes it easier for individuals to follow and achieve their desired goal.
Health benefits it offers
Adopting a paleo lifestyle has been linked to the following potential health benefits:
1. Helps in weight loss
The paleo diet can be a way to help some people lose weight.
In theory, the paleo diet significantly improves waist circumference, weight measurements and BMI because it helps to eliminate extra calories from the diet. However, more well-designed studies are needed to determine the health effects and weight loss of the paleo diet.
2. May help improve diabetes
Paleo eating style can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and help treat it.
A 2015 study included people with type 2 diabetes who went on a paleo or low-fat diet for 2 weeks. Both groups showed better results, but the paleo group had greater benefits on glucose control.
3. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Following the paleo lifestyle can contribute to a healthy heart.
Eating foods recommended in the paleo diet can help decrease the various parameters of cardiovascular disease such as body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, HDL and glucose tolerance.
Greater benefits in lipid profiles were seen in type 2 people on a paleo diet compared to those consuming a standard low-fat diet.
Disadvantages of the paleo diet
Following the paleo diet can have its own complications and drawbacks. Some cases that warrant caution are:
- Despite the significant effects on weight management and other diseases, the elimination of whole grains, legumes and certain fruits and vegetables can deplete the nutritional needs of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential for good health.
- The emphasis on eating grass-fed meat, organic vegetables or wild seafood makes the diet an expensive dietary approach. This can limit the inclination of low-income groups to this form of plan.
- Since the Paleo diet eliminates a wide range of food sources, eating at social gatherings can be a delicate situation.
- Reduced calcium consumption is one of the drawbacks of the paleo diet. This can lead to a risk of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis in the near future.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet dates back centuries as a food style rooted in the lives of people in and around the Mediterranean Sea. This dietary approach has by far garnered maximum support from individuals around the world due to its superlative abundance of nutrition.
The Mediterranean diet involves eating more plant-based foods and monounsaturated fats (often called good fats) and limiting the consumption of meats and carbohydrates, compared to the usual American diet. The carbohydrate content of a Mediterranean meal is limited to unrefined fiber sources such as vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.
The Mediterranean diet also has a socio-cultural aspect which adds to the traditional facet of the diet focused on strengthening the social fabric. This includes a lot of physical activity, regular meals, eating in a social circle, drinking wine and resting after meals.
It has been reported that people living in the Mediterranean basin have lower rates of heart disease than expected. The diet has also been touted as “good for the heart” because of its role in stabilizing various blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride parameters and, in turn, in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other diseases.
What is a Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet includes a range of nutritionally dense foods rich in fiber, good fats and other essential nutrients. The balanced mix of nutrient-rich foods means that the Mediterranean diet deserves all the fame it has gained.
The adequate intake of micro and macronutrients in this diet reduces the occurrence of nutritional deficiencies occurring in individuals compared to those who follow any other diet.
This diet includes:
- Rich portions of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and olives
- High amounts of seafood and fish
- Limited consumption of eggs, poultry and dairy products such as cheese
- Reduced consumption of red meat
- Moderate wine consumption during meals
- The use of olive oil as the main source of added fat for cooking purposes is permitted. In addition to being a source of good fats, olive oil has added benefits for human health.
- Meal without preparations rich in sauce and sauce
These foods are more nutritious and more economical than the commonly used processed and packaged foods. These are easily accessible, making the Mediterranean diet a flexible diet that can be adopted as a lifestyle.
Health benefits it offers
The Mediterranean diet has a plethora of associated potential benefits for human health:
1. Promotes a healthy heart
The Mediterranean way of life emphasizes the consumption of good fats, which helps to reduce the concentration of bad cholesterol in the blood and thus confers protection against several cardiovascular diseases.
A 2013 study with more than 7,000 people observed that a Mediterranean diet without energy restrictions, supplemented with nuts or extra virgin olive oil, completely reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Promotes brain health
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nature of the Mediterranean lifestyle is associated with the promotion of cognitive health and brain power. This is due to the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in the foods included in the Mediterranean diet.
There is evidence that the Mediterranean diet can help reduce degeneration and deterioration of cognitive power, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and mortality in Alzheimer’s patients due to its power to fight inflammation and oxidation.
3. Reduces blood sugar and risk of diabetes
Low consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates in a Mediterranean diet can help stabilize blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Studies in southern Europe have suggested that adopting the Mediterranean diet in newly diagnosed diabetics but previously healthy individuals allows better glycemic control and reduced dependence on diabetes medications.
4. Help obese people
The oxidative stress, inflammation and associated mechanisms that occur inside the body of an obese individual can be curbed by taking a Mediterranean diet.
A 2012 study concluded that the acquisition of the Mediterranean lifestyle can reduce the frequency of obesity, in particular the accumulation of fat in the abdominal and visceral tissues.
5. May reduce risk of cancer
The nutritional richness of the Mediterranean diet comes from the fruits, vegetables, good fats, whole grains and various fibers it contains.
A fibrous diet can help prevent cancers of the digestive tract, including colorectal cancer. It has been suggested through various case-control studies that the use of good fats such as olive oils to replace butter or other sources of harmful fats may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Physical activity: an addition to the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is supplemented by a regular physical effort of at least 30 minutes throughout the day. Moderate physical activity helps balance energy intake and body weight and allows the body to enjoy the health benefits of eating.
Choose exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate, such as aerobic exercises. Besides brisk walking, walking, biking, jogging, running, or swimming, you can also participate in sports such as soccer, dance, gardening, or work from home. He is encouraged to engage in recreational sports and physical activities with others to promote a sense of camaraderie.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is naturally an active lifestyle which also includes the additional health benefits of physical exercise.
Disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet
Although superior to various other diets in terms of nutrition and benefits, the limitations and unlimited use of certain foods can lead to certain problems.
- The uncontrolled consumption of good fats such as nuts and olive oil should be controlled to avoid storing excess energy in the form of fat. Portion control is of utmost importance here.
- Consuming limited amounts of dairy products can lower your calcium levels, which could increase the risk of osteoporosis in some people later in life.
- Wine is an element well integrated into the Mediterranean food model. However, the consumption of wine is authorized in moderate quantities ONLY to avoid any health problem. Drinking more than moderate intake can have negative health consequences.
- Some people should strictly avoid wine. These include those who are addicted to alcoholic beverages or who have a history of alcohol abuse, pregnant women, groups at risk for breast cancer or those who currently have a health condition that may worsen with alcohol consumption.
Summary of the comparative analysis
|Settings||Ketogenic diet||Paleo diet||Mediterranean diet|
|Key objective||Changing the fuel source from carbohydrates to fats||Eat in a similar way to our ancestors, limiting the consumption of processed and packaged foods||Nutrient-rich food approach|
|Nutritional content||High amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates||Diet eliminating processed foods||Plenty of fiber, protein, good fats and vitamins and low in refined carbohydrates|
|Nature and adhesion||Very restrictive and difficult to adopt for a long time||Quite restrictive, not flexible enough to adhere for long periods||Generally inclusive and easier to remember in your lifestyle|
|Alcohol consumption||Allowed with limitation||Not allowed||Allows the use of wine but in moderate quantities|
|Food to eat||Unprocessed foods such as grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and limited vegetables and fruits|
|Foods to avoid|
|Who may want to try|
|Not recommended for||The keto diet is contraindicated in patients with liver problems, pancreatitis, porphyria, carnitine deficiency and kidney stones. Those taking diabetes medication should consult their doctor before trying.||Vegans or vegetarians due to its addiction to meat.|
Paleo diet is also expensive
|People with low iron levels may need to make sure they get enough iron from plant sources.|
|Advantages||Can help:||Can help:||East:|
Depending on your health goals, choose the best diet for you. Making health and physical activity-conscious food choices are smart ways to reach your goals behind the diet.
With regard to these three diets, weigh your needs so that you can adopt a particular eating pattern to support your health and maintain it throughout your life.
Note: Always consult a registered dietitian-nutritionist for advice on a combination of diet and exercise regimen that you can follow based on your personal health goals and lifestyle.
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