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Below, we have explained the current popular diets, how to follow them and the pros and cons.  I prefer Clean Eating for health, rather than any specific diet.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet) continues to be the top diet prescribed by medical providers.  It was originally created to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure), but was also noted to help people lose weight as well.  It is a sound, nutritionally complete diet that is often recommended for those with Metabolic Syndrome as it is not only heart healthy, but reduces blood sugar as well.  It emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, low fat dairy and restrictions on salt.


The Mayo Clinic Diet is not truely a weightloss diet.  It is, however,  a safe, healthy diet and is used by diabetics to control their blood sugar.  If you have been eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), and begin the Mayo Clinic Diet, you will likely lose weight as well as control your blood sugars.


The Mediterranean Diet continues to lead the pack as a nutritionally sound, safe diet.  It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains.  It allows for olive oil and healthy fats, and lean proteins like fish and chicken.  A small amount of red wine is also noted to be beneficial.  The Mediterranean Diet is known to lower bad cholesterol and dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease .


Weight Watchers has stood the test of time because the diet adapts to ever changing nutrition knowledge.  It emphasizes fruits and vegetables and allows for occasional treats.  It is easy to follow and provides group support.  It uses a points based system to identify the quality and quantity of foods you eat.  Healthier food have less points, so you can eat more of them.


Jenny Craig is easy to follow and, because it is mostly prepackaged, is good for those who don't want to cook.  It is nutritionally complete and safe and provides portion control.  The program provides one on one support and they have recently made changes which make it more affordable.  It is a diet for weight loss rather than heart health or diabetes.


The Ornish Diet has been around for a long time.  It gets high marks for being heart healthy, but its restrictions make it a difficult diet to follow.  You can eat all the legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables you want.  Dairy is consumed in moderation and only 10% of the diet can come from fat.  There is no meat on this diet.  The Ornish Diet also has exercise and stress reduction requirements.

The Ornish Diet

Vegetarians eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains,  Some will eat fish, eggs and dairy, some will not.  Vegetarianism is an extremely healthy diet and is good for heart heath, diabetes and weight loss.  Some vegetarians rely heavily on processed foods, which can cause inflammation in the body.  Lacto-vegetarians will consume dairy, ovo-vegetarians will eat eggs, lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both eggs and dairy, pescatarians eat fish, pollotarians eat chicken and flexitarian is primarily plant based but allows a variety of the above mentioned proteins in small quantities.


Nutrisystem is a prepackaged food delivery system.  It is relatively nutritionally sound, but scores low in actual health benefits.   As such, it is more of a weight loss tool than a diet for "health".   It is easy to follow and not too expensive.  In the past, it has been associated with gallstones in certain individuals.


South Beach Diet can provide rapid weight loss.  It starts out very restrictive, then begins adding foods back in.  It is safe to do, but is not particularly heart healthy or diabetes friendly.  It starts out as an extremely low carb diet, then begins adding in carbohydrates.  You add carbs until you stop losing weight, then you dial the carbs back to the previous level.


Veganism is the most restrictive form of vegetarianism.  It's restrictiveness makes it somewhat difficult to follow.  It is heart healthy and diabetes friendly, but lacks key nutrients.  Vegans do not consume the flesh of animals, nor do they consume any part of the animal, so no eggs, dairy, butter or gelatin.


The Zone Diet goes by the premise of combining certain percentages of macronutrients to effect body changes.  It is not particularly heart healthy or diabetic friendly.  It can be tedious "counting your macros" all the time, which makes adherence difficult. The Zone Diet is a balance of,carbohydrates, protein and fat in a 40-30-30 combination.


The premise of the Paleo diet is to eat like our hunter gatherer predecessors did, meaning eat animal protein, plants and nuts.  Say goodbye to sugar, dairy, legumes and grains.   This is a popular diet with the Crossfit community.  It is certainly better than the Standard American Diet, and you will likely lose some weight.


The Whole 30 diet is very similar to the Elimination diet.  The creators call it a "nutritional reset".  It is designed to heal your gut, balance your immune system and restore your metabolism.  You take 30 days to eliminate known "toxins" and then slowly introduce them back, paying attention to how you feel as you add food groups back in.  The problem?  It is very restrictive.  You must eliminate sugar, dairy, alcohol, legumes and grains.   Studies have shown nutritional deficits in those who eliminate whole food groups.


Atkins is a low carb, high protein diet.  The new Atkins promotes fresh fruit and vegetables as well.  High protein diets loaded with saturated fats are not generally considered to be heart healthy.  Low carb diets do tend to be better for diabetics though.  The problem with low carb diets is that our bodies need carbohydrates for fuel.  We prefer a diet that promotes healthy carbs, in moderation if you are trying to lose weight.


Shake diets include SlimFast, Shakeology, Isagenix, Advocare and any other diet that relies on shakes to lose weight.  Many of these are multi level marketing (MLM) schemes which are more interested in getting people to join than they are in your actual health.  The "health coaches" generally have no background in health and are there to coach you to continue buying the products.  That said, I do like a good shake in the morning.  I just prefer it to be made from whole foods.


Medically supervised diets like HMR Weight Management and Medifast are severely calorie restricted diets.  Because of the calorie restriction, sometimes down to 500 calories a day, you must be supervised by a doctor.  These are extreme weight loss diets that are not meant to be sustainable long term.  The problem is that they slow your metabolism, which makes it nearly impossible to sustain the weight loss.


The AutoImmune Protocol was created to heal the immune system and gut.  Autoimmunity is a state of inflammation and hypersensitivity.  AIP works to first calm inflammation in the gut, then in the body.  It is a restricitive diet that is nutrient dense.  It eliminates eggs, grains, gluten, nightshades, coffee, nuts, seeds, alcohol and sugars.  It also eliminates emulsifiers and gums, which are in a lot of processed foods.  It is difficult to follow, but pretty effective.

AutoImmune Protocol (AIP)

Dr Terry Wahl's is a medical doctor who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  As her health declined, she began to do research.  She found that she needed a diet that supports brain cells and mitochondria.  Wahl's Protocol is a take on the Paleo diet, tweaked for brain function.  It includes 9 cups of vegetables a day, fermented foods, organ meat, bone broth and Omega 3 rich foods.  She eliminates grains, white potatoes, dairy and legumes.  She also advises some supplements.  

The Wahl's Protocol

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet  was created to help heal inflammatory bowel issues, leaky gut as well as ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety and autoimmune disease.  It is based on the premise that there is a brain-gut connection, and healing one will heal the other.  GAPS is considered an elimination diet.  It eliminates processed foods, grains, sugar, artificial chemicals and preservatives, starchy foods, meat and dairy.  It is extremely restrictive, but, anecdotally, has been effective.

The GAPS Diet

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, was created for people with Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and chronic diarrhea.  It is based on the chemical structure of foods, specifically carbohydrates.  The SCD premise, is that single molecule foods can be easily absorped by the intestinal wall.  Complex carbs are not easily digested and feed harmful bacteria in the gut.  The diet starves bad bacteria and promotes good bacteria in the gut.  It is a diet of predominantly meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, nuts and low sugar fruit.

The SCD Diet

The low FODMAP diet helps people with gastrointestinal issues.  It is essentially a diet of easily digestable foods that won't ferment in your gut.  FODMAPS stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are all foods that act as sugar, are not easily broken down and ferment in the gut and gives you belly pain, bloating and distention.  This is a very restrictive diet and it is meant to be temporary.

The low FODMAP diet

Leaky Gut is the term for increased intestinal permeability.  Bad bacteria, gluten, undigested food particles,  and protein leak through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream causing inflammation and immune response in the body.  To heal the gut, it is recommended that you consume bone broth, raw cultured dairy, like kefir, fermented vegetables, like saurkraut or kimchi, steamed vegetables, fruit and healthy fat.  This diet also recommends some supplements to assist in the healing process.

The Leaky Gut Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate, medium protein diet used to help people with epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.  It is also an effective weight loss tool.  It forces the body to burn fat, rather than carbs as fuel, lowering glucose in the body and brain.  It lowers blood sugar and blood pressure.  While cholesterol may go up, Keto followers postulate that the cholesterol is actually fluffy, not dense.  Dense cholesterol is the cholesterol that causes heart disease.

The Ketogenic Diet