There are literally hundreds of thousands of diets. Some are for losing weight, others for gaining weight, lowering cholesterol, living a long and healthy life, etc. The Mediterranean Diet, for example, reflects the culinary habits of southern European people.The word diet comes from Old French diete and Medieval Latin dieta meaning "a daily food allowance". The Latin word diaeta and Greek word diaita mean "a way of life, a regimen".
A diet can be described as a set course of eating and drinking in which the kind and amount of food one should eat is been planned out in order to achieve weight loss or follow a certain lifestyle.
This Medical News Today information article provides details on the most popular diets according to three criteria: how many articles there are around about these diets/lifestyles, how popular they seem to be generally, and how often we receive feedback on them.
Contents of this article:
Below you can see a list of the eight diets, a summary on each one, and links to specific articles about those diets:
A typical Atkins meal. Photo by A. Montillado
If we consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates our insulin levels will rise rapidly, and then fall rapidly. Rising insulin levels will trigger our bodies to store as much of the energy we eat as possible - it will also make it less likely that our bodies use stored fat as a source of energy.
Most people on the Atkins Diet will consume a higher proportion of proteins than they normally do.
The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet aims for a nutritional balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 30% protein each time we eat. The focus is also on controlling insulin levels, which result in more successful weight loss and body weight control.2
The Zone Diet encourages the consumption of good quality carbohydrates - unrefined carbohydrates, and fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
There are various types of vegetarian: Lacto vegetarian, Fruitarian vegetarian, Lacto-ovo-vegetarian, Living food diet vegetarian, Ovo-vegetarian, Pescovegetarian, and Semi-vegetarian.3
The majority of vegetarians are lacto-ovovegetarians, in other words, they do not eat animal-based foods, except for eggs, dairy, and honey.
Studies over the last few years have shown that vegetarians have a lower body weight, suffer less from diseases, and generally have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat.
Veganism is more of a way of life and a philosophy than a diet. A vegan does not eat anything that is animal based, including eggs, dairy, and honey.4
Vegans do not generally adopt veganism just for health reasons, but also for environmental and ethical/compassionate reasons.
Vegans believe that modern intensive farming methods are bad for our environment and unsustainable in the long term. If all our food were plant based our environment would benefit, animals would suffer less, more food would be produced, and people would generally enjoy better physical and mental health, vegans say.
Weight Watchers Diet
Weight Watchers focuses on losing weight through diet, exercise, and a support network.5
Weight Watchers Inc. was born in the 1960s when a homemaker (housewife) who had lost some weight and was concerned she might put it back on. So, she created a network of friends. Weight Watchers is a huge company, with branches all over the world.
Dieters can join either physically, and attend regular meetings, or online. In both cases there is a great deal of support and education available for the dieter.
South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet was started by a cardiologist, Dr. Agatston, and a nutritionist, Marie Almon.6
It focuses on the control of insulin levels, and the benefits of unrefined slow carbohydrates versus fast carbs. Dr. Agatston devised the South Beach Diet during the 1990s because he was disappointed with the low-fat, high-carb diet backed by the American Heart Association. He believed and found that low-fat regimes were not effective over the long term.
Raw Food Diet
The Raw Food Diet, or Raw Foodism, involves consuming foods and drinks which are not processed, are completely plant-based, and ideally organic.7
Raw foodists generally say that at least three-quarters of your food intake should consist of uncooked food. A significant number of raw foodists are also vegans - they do not eat or drink anything which is animal based.
There are four main types of raw foodists: raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores.
The Mediterranean Diet is Southern European, and more specifically focuses on the nutritional habits of the people of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy. Nowadays, Spain, southern France, and Portugal are also included; even though Portugal does not touch the Mediterranean Sea.
The emphasis is on lots of plant foods, fresh fruits as dessert, beans, nuts, cereals, seeds, olive oil as the main source of dietary fats, cheese and yogurts are the main dairy foods, moderate amounts of fish and poultry, up to about four eggs per week, small amounts of red meat, and low/moderate amounts of wine.8
Up to one third of the Mediterranean diet consists of fat, with saturated fats not exceeding 8% of calorie intake.
Western diet can shorten your life
Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France, and team carried out a study that found that the "Western Diet", which is high in sweet and fried foods, raises a person's risk of dying early. They published their findings in the American Journal of Medicine.9
Dr. Akbaraly said "The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages. We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up."
The team found that study participants who strayed from the "Alternative Healthy Eating Index" had a considerably higher risk of cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular death.
The advantages of plant-based diets
The well known journal, Food Technology in October 2012 published a report explaining that plant-based diets either minimize or completely eliminate people's genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.10
If you enjoyed reading about the most popular diets today, take a look at our article about the top 10 healthy foods for your daily diet.