Popularized by the documentary Forks Over Knives, the Ornish diet is a low-fat, plant-based diet plan based on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It's based on a lacto-ovo style of vegetarianism, allowing only egg whites and nonfat dairy products. It's packed with vitamins, fiber, and lots of filling plants to keep you satiated. Some studies have shown it can reverse heart disease and have beneficial effects on other chronic health conditions. (BTW, there is a difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet.)
The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, consisting initially of less than 20 carbohydrates per day. Not per meal, yes, you heard me correctly, per day. It is not for the faint of heart and yes I am writing from experience. Of course I have tried it! Hasn’t everybody in America at some point who has wanted to lose weight? Does it work you ask? Of course it does! The problem is how long can you keep it up?
U.S. News & World Report ranked the keto diet at the very bottom of their list of the best and worst diets of 2018. A panel of 25 nationally recognized experts, including Registered Dietitians, Professors, and Clinicians, looked at 40 diets and evaluated their nutritional completeness, ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, how easy it is to follow, its safety and potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease. While keto ranked the worst, the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet ranked the best. Keep reading for more info on these diets.
It appears that a ketogenic diet is generally safe when implemented correctly. One must be careful to obtain all the necessary nutrients by eating a variety of foods, such as non-starchy vegetables, seeds, and nuts, and also consume adequate protein and essential fatty acids. Provided that the need for vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids is met, there is no reason to suspect that the ketogenic diet is unsafe.
The Mediterranean Diet is a great way for people who are used to doughnuts in the morning to start feeling the difference that eating real food makes. After a while though, you may hit a plateau with weight or maybe you know you’re capable of having more energy or a clearer mind. That’s where these extra little tweaks come in. With a few minor changes, you can adjust the Mediterranean Diet to help you perform at max power.
Essentially, the Nordic Diet is based on 10 core concepts: eating more fruits and vegetables every day; eating more whole grains; eating more seafood; choosing high-quality meat, but less meat overall; seeking out food from wild landscapes; using organic produce whenever possible; avoiding food additives; basing more meals on seasonal produce; consuming more home-cooked food; and producing less waste.
What the diet advocate says: ‘It essentially means scaling your carbohydrate intake up and down in accordance with your activity levels,’ explains performance nutritionist Liam Holmes (phnutrition.co.uk). He uses the principles of nutrient timing to get elite athletes and CrossFit enthusiasts to their leanest before competitions. ‘The body works harder when it doesn’t have carbs as fuel, so it learns to become a more efficient burner of the fuel once it is there.’
But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy (you know, in case it needs it). But when you’re not having much in the carb department, you lose this water weight, says Warren. Also, it's easy to go overboard on carbohydrates—but if you're loading up on fat, it may help curb cravings since it keeps you satisfied.
As I wrote in op-eds for the Wall Street Journal61 and Medscape,62 the Lancet Public Health study is based on very thin data. The questionnaire underlying the report left out questions regarding popular foods, such as pizza and energy bars, and did not consider alcohol consumption. Moreover, the “low-carb” diet group in this study included people eating up to 37% of calories as carbohydrates—not low-carb according to the latest science. Ultimately, this is the kind of data that can show association but not establish causation, which means it is the kind of data one can use to generate hypotheses but not prove them. This kind of data would never be considered sufficient to approve a drug, for instance. The same standards should be applied to diet. Quite a few researchers, including myself, had our critiques published in Lancet Public Health.63 The authors replied but did not respond to most of the criticisms.
Because people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, there’s a specific concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the odds of heart problems. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting a ketogenic diet. They may recommend a different weight-loss diet for you, like a reduced-calorie diet, to manage diabetes. Those with epilepsy should also consult their doctor before using this as part of their treatment plan.