Revealed: The Key Pros and Cons of 3 Popular Diets
Every few months or so, there’s always a brand new diet craze which sweeps into the mainstream media. A lot of these rigid, eat-this-not-that plans appeal to millions of people around the world who are looking to drop a couple of pounds.
However, what usually gets missed is the actual science and health implications behind these “amazing” diets. Here, we list the pros and cons of five current popular diets:
What is it?
Also known as the Caveman Diet, the Paleo Diet involves eating like your ancestors, which means consuming a lot of “natural” carbohydrates (essentially fruits and vegetables), animal protein and some nuts. The Paleo Diet is high in protein and fat, with the emphasis on getting health-sustaining omega-3s into your diet from oily fish, free-range chicken and grass-fed beef.
What makes it completely different to most diets is its three phases, which work the opposite way to the usual format. For example, at the first phase you’re allowed three “open” or “cheat” meals a week, plus a “transitional item” such as condiments.
However when you move on to level two, you only get two “open” meals a week and no “transitional item”. This type of phasing system helps sticking to the diet a lot easier than others.
A major missing food group from the Paleo Diet is dairy, which is how we get most of our vitamin D and calcium. There’s also very little carbohydrates in the diet, with research showing that a lack of carbs has an impact on memory and mood.
What is it?
Dubbed “the French Atkins”, this diet allows you to only eat lean protein, along with a small amount of oat bran each day, and drink six to eight glasses of water a day during the first or “attack” phase. In phase two (the “cruise” phase) non-starchy vegetables are introduced back into your diet. It’s not until phase three (“consolidation”) that you’re allowed to eat fruit, grains or dairy again.
Alongside the diet you are required to walk at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, which obviously helps to burn fat. Also eating a lot of lean protein helps suppress hunger and doesn’t contain unhealthy fats or sugars.
Not being allowed to eat grains, dairy or fruit until the third phase questions whether this diet is nutritionally sound. Plus there is no mention of portion sizes, only that you are allowed to eat as much protein as you like. Of course the major issue with this is that ultimately to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than what you burn.
What is it?
Unlike what the name implies, the whole diet does not last 17 days. In fact, each phrase is 17 days long.
It has no limit on the amount of “cleansing” vegetables you can eat, whilst it also incorporates low-sugar fruits, yoghurts and a tiny amount of healthy fats such as flaxseed and olive oils.
Basically, the 17-Day Diet is so strict that it would be difficult to know what you could eat without carrying the book around with you all day. Also, the total daily calorie allotment from the meal plans suggested are way too low for people who are particularly active. The lack of grains is a concern too, with studies showing that eating more grains can actually lengthen life expectancy.
About Matt Lawson Matt Lawson is a UK based sports journalist who covers all the latest football (soccer) news and matches for the Press Association. A keen Newcastle United fan, Matt is usually found either watching or playing the beautiful game.