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Diets explained – The pros and cons of common diets

There are more diets and styles of eating out there than is imaginable. Year after year new diets sweep into the market place. I have written this article to give you a better understanding of how, why and when diets will or will not work for your body.

Definition of a diet ‘working’

Many people say that a diet worked for them. What this means varies for each person. It may be they lost a few pounds or felt more energetic.

My definition of a diet working is a long term and maintained improvement in health symptoms with accompanying weight loss (or gain) if needed.

My viewpoint is losing half a stone to find you have put it on again 6 months later is not a sign of a diet working. Neither is losing 4 pounds but still suffering many negative health traits such as frequent illness, rashes, digestive pains, low energy etc.

Types of diets

I have tried to classify the major diets here but there are endless variations both within the main ones and the main types of diets. So some of the information may vary but it should suffice to give you an idea of what is happening nutritionally.

Atkins                              Metabolic typing     Healthy eating           Following food cravings       Junk food diet        Average Western diet Juicing diet                       Blood type diet       Blood analysis diet Glycemic index                   Glycemic load diet   Food combination Zone diet                         Mediterranean diet   South beach diet   Low fat diets                    Weight watchers     Vegetarian diet

Metabolic typing diet

Uses physical, dietary and psychological traits to classify the body along fundamental systems. This allows the specific foods and nutrients to be discovered for that individual person.

Pros – Accurately determines nutritional requirement and is specific to your own body chemistry. It allows for individuals to change nutritional requirements during their lifetime as seen in the real world. Encompasses a large variation in recommendations for different people which parallels what is seen in the reality. Head and shoulders above any other nutrition system and its scientific basis and results cannot be argued against.

Cons – Can be complicated and difficult to understand if following on your own and you need to use a trained advisor to get a level of analysis powerful enough to create long lasting changes

Read more

Atkins diet

Requires the person to eat greater amounts of protein through meats and to use fat liberally. Suggests obtaining carbohydrate intake from vegetables, seeds, nuts and berries. The overall effect is a high protein, high fat and low carob diet.

Pros – Suggests removing grains from the diet which can benefit most people. It ensures you obtain adequate amounts of fat soluble vitamins and promotes consuming organic foods and vegetables. Will work for certain people short term but very few on a long term basis.

Cons – It does not account for the fact that people vary greatly and a low carbohydrate intake, especially to this extent, can be disastrous. It does not separate different forms of meat and vegetables. It does not allow people to change nutritional needs over their lifetime

Low fat diet / Calories restriction

Many combinations of diet follow this theme, with the main emphasis on low fat, higher carbohydrates and controlled calories. Founded from ms-interpreted fat studies in the 1950’s. Forms the basis of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and many more diets.

Pros – Can work for some extreme metabolic types. Any recommendation to reduce trans-fats is beneficial.

Cons – Disastrous for the vast majority of the population as depletes fat soluble nutrients and increases hunger. It does not allow for individual variance between people or for changes in nutritional needs over your lifetime.

Healthy eating diets’

As recommended by the government food pyramid and all general healthy eating guides. It is also incorporated into the popular diet schemes e.g. Weight Watchers etc

Has an emphasis on lower fat and higher carbohydrates and obtaining fruit and Vegetable in good amounts.

Pros – Any diet with emphasis on increasing vegetable intake will improve many peoples health. Eating lower fat and higher carbohydrate will work for some people’s body chemistry.

Cons – Does not separate out individual differences in food requirements, meaning such recommendations can be disastrous for many people. The advice does not cater for changes in nutritional requirements during your lifetime. Grain consumption is also linked to the majority of present day health issues and thus would not be good advice, except for certain people’s body chemistry.

Following your food cravings

Many people say their body knows best and thus it is only right to follow what it wants.

Pros – Works well if you are very in tune with your body and accurately following a metabolic typing diet and so would know that you are obtaining your exact nutritional needs.

Cons – Food is addictive chemically and emotionally and in 99% of cases food cravings are confused and nothing to do with nutritional needs. For example your body will crave a cigarette if you have a few, but that does not mean it is needed. The more sugar or bread you eat the more you crave them also. Food cravings also drop back to your dominant gland and thus can lead to exhaustion if the stimulating foods are over consumed.

Junk food diet

Eating whatever food comes your way and not caring what it is.

Pros – None

Cons – Decreased health across the board

Average western diet

The average Western diet is somewhere between a healthy eating diet, a junk food diet and following your foods cravings.

Pros – Very few benefits

Cons – Any possible benefits of a ‘healthy eating’ diet are usually off set by the Junk food or reliance on food cravings. This eating style is much worse for certain body chemistries than others.

Juicing diet.

Using a juicer to make any number of juices and smoothies.

Pros – Can obtain significant amounts of nutrients if done correctly

Cons – Normally lacks fat and protein amounts for good health. Reliance on fruit juice can be troublesome for many people. Does not account for the different nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables, grouping them all together as good. Whether a food is ‘good’ is dependent on your body chemistry.

South Beach diet

The book recommends very little in reality but for removal of heavily processed foods and avoiding certain carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production. It is a mix of the Atkins diet and the Mediterranean diet with far less restrictions

Pros – Recommends reducing processed foods which is of benefit to anyone as is controlling certain insulin raising foods

Cons – Doesn't account for individual differences and allows people too many foods that will be wrong for certain body chemistries. Sold 5 million copies but also holds the title as the having the most money spent on the marketing of any diet book.

Blood type diet

This bases food recommendations on your blood type which is said to indicate your genetic needs from our ancestors.

Pros – Acknowledges the fact we all have different nutritionally needs and focuses on whole foods.

Cons – Recommendations have no bearing on the person’s nutritional needs with the majority of his evidence criticized. Does not account for actual differences seen in the real world or changes during your life.

Blood analysis and diet recommendations

Food recommendations are based on results from your blood test.

Pros – Acknowledges the fact we all have different nutritional needs, and uses analysis to make recommendations.

Cons – Only uses a blood test to give recommendations. Blood is just one systemic level within the body. Put simply because you have high or low levels in the blood does not indicate whether you have high or low levels in the cells where it is needed.

Food combination / variation diets

Based on the fact that different foods secrete different enzymes which can upset digestion. Advises not combining certain food groups

Pros – Can help people's digestion if it is already severely weakened.

Cons – Can be dreadful nutritionally as the body needs protein, carbs and fat at each meal. Does not address the cause of poor digestion or identify different nutritional needs between individuals

Zone diet

Advocates a diet of 40% protein and 30% carbs and 30% fat.

Pros – Excellent for a proportion of the population

Cons – Does not work for the majority of people who's nutritional requirement varies from the recommendations.

Mediterranean diet

Based on what is commonly consumed in the south of Europe. The emphasis is on consuming unsaturated fats and carbohydrates.

Pros – Can work well for certain people.

Cons – Does not account for the variability between different people’s body chemistry.

Glycemic index (GI) / glycemic load (GL) diets

Makes nutritional recommendations based on the ability of the food to raise or lower insulin within the body (glycemic index/load).

Pros – Aims to reduce the high glycemic foods which will benefit almost everyone.

Cons – GI is only one minor factor amongst other variables and thus should not be used to determine what to eat. Does not account for individual differences in food requirements or the other contributions and factors in nutrition.

Vegetarian Diet.

Often touted as healthy and very popular for both ethical and lifestyle reasons. It advises elimination of some or all animals produce.

Pros – Can work well for people suited to a low protein diet.

Cons – The diet can be disaster for people with normal or high protein requirements. Also, many vegetarians fail to adequately replace the meat proteins through using complementary proteins, e.g. legumes and grains.

The most effective diet you can do is a metabolic typing diet. Click here to learn more about how to get started.

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