Diets often come and go; they change according to the weather and what’s scientifically in fashion each year. While some diets have stood the test of time due to their evidence-based results, others are still in their infancy. Below are the pros and cons of the most popular diet trends in 2021.
Based on the eating habits of people in Greece, Spain, France, and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has been touted as one of the healthiest for many years. The reason? It combines the best of healthy proteins like fish, legumes, and nuts (and less meat), as well as lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and olive oils. Not only is the Mediterranean diet considered anti-inflammatory and good for heart health, but it’s also ideal for maintaining a healthy weight. The other beauty of this diet is that all foods are allowed but in moderation. This includes pasta, pizza, eggs, cheese, and more.
Pros:It is less restrictive and encompasses lots of food choices.
Cons: Some foods can be costly, and meal prep can take longer.
On the other end of the spectrum is the keto diet. Similar to the paleo diet, keto is all about cutting out carbs. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, which consists of a relative balance between proteins, fats, and carbs, keto is very fat and protein-heavy. In general, this diet prioritizes 75% fats from oils, nuts, and avocadoes, 20% protein from meat, fish, and dairy, and only 5% from carbohydrates including bread and starchy vegetables. The aim of this diet is to put the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns calories from fat instead of carbohydrates. This massive reduction in carb intake is said to help with rapid weight loss.
Pros:It can be effective at weight loss and reducing hunger.
Cons:Cutting out healthy foods such as starchy vegetables can be less nutritious overall. It can also be difficult to sustain.
Established in the 1990s, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it is promoted by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This diet borrows from the Mediterranean diet; however, it adheres to a very strict eating pattern. Research has shown that this diet can manage blood pressure, improve heart health, and lower the risk of diabetes and some cancers.
DASH aims to maintain health by reducing red meat, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fats. On top of that, alcohol is discouraged, and dieters are encouraged to exercise at least 2.5 hours each week. While DASH is great for overall health, it is not considered the best for weight loss. Individuals looking for more specific guidance may want to consult with the Atlanta Medical Institute for meal plans and nutritional counseling.
Pros: It’s nutritionally balanced backed by evidence-based research. It’s also flexible and easy to access.
Cons:It requires extensive food tracking and doesn’t allow certain or convenience foods.
A more recent entry into the dieting world is the flexitarian diet. This regime is primarily vegetarian but with the occasional allowance of meat or fish. Many people are adopting this diet not only to be healthier but also for environmental reasons. The benefits are that it is well-rounded, as it incorporates plenty of vegetables and fruits while also encouraging healthy protein intake (but with less red meat). A flexitarian could share similarities with the Mediterranean diet, depending on what kinds of fats and vegetables are consumed.
Pros:Plenty of flexibility and room to eat healthily. It’s also more environmentally friendly.
Cons:It has potential for B12 and iron deficiency depending on how much meat (and what type) is consumed.