There are so many diet plans on the internet today as compared to a few years ago when most of them didn’t even exist! The sudden popularity is a social media fad or something to do with its fast and effective results? That’s an oxymoron statement if you ask me because when it is about health it has to be something slow and steady. Fast and effective cannot go hand in hand without creating side effects. I for one propagate simple home made food and 1 hour of walk/yoga/swimming everyday. This is the most sustainable way of living and maintaining a good balanced life.

But for the sake of curiosity, lets demystify some of the popular diet plans which we keep hearing about these days from our social media feeds or office floor conversations.

1. Paleo Diet

Paleo is short for “Paleolithic’ referring to paleolithic man. The idea is to eat as much raw and unprocessed foods as possible to replicate the diet of humans from 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. In that age humans had not yet started cultivating land therefore most of the diet comprised of meat or fruits and vegetables which grew on trees then. By and large it included foods like lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. 

But Paleo diet is not suitable in today’s environment.

Simply because we no more endure like the erstwhile cavemen. We do not run for miles to hunt an animal or bird or spend our day chopping tree branches to make bows and arrows or making clothes from leaves or gathering woods for fire. We just sit or find ways to do minimal physical labour. The entire diet has to be therefore replaced into something which is light on the digestive system and can be digested easily.

Too much of raw food puts extra pressure on our digestive system and that reduces the overall life span of the digestive organs unless you are someone who is an athlete with heightened metabolism!

2. GM Diet

General Motors diet is a bit sane as compared to all the other diet plans that we get to hear about these days. While this diet is not recommended for people who have pre existing health conditions but its okay to get into this mode once in a while if the plan is to detoxify.

GM diet was started by the nutritionist of General Motors for its employees in 1985 but there are no actual sources confirming it. It is a seven day diet plan with permitted foods for each day. Most of the components in the diet are fruits and vegetables and so they promote better digestion. GM diet is good if you want to get rid of water retention because you do not lose anything else in this 7 day gimmick.

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Here’s the daywise diet plan:

Day One

  • Eat only fruit — any kind except bananas.
  • No maximum amount of fruit is specified.
  • The diet especially encourages followers to eat melons to increase weight loss.

Day Two

  • Eat only vegetables in raw or cooked form.
  • The diet does not specify a maximum amount of vegetables.
  • Limit potatoes to breakfast only.

Day Three

  • Eat only fruits and vegetables of any kind except bananas and potatoes.
  • The diet doesn’t specify a maximum amount.

Day Four

  • Consume only bananas and milk.
  • You can eat up to 6 large or 8 small bananas.
  • Drink 3 glasses of milk, preferably skim.

Day Five

  • Eat two 10-ounce (284-gram) portions of beef, chicken or fish.
  • In addition to the meat, you may only eat 6 whole tomatoes.
  • Vegetarians may replace meat with either brown rice or cottage cheese.
  • Increase your water intake by two glasses to flush out extra uric acid. This is a chemical product of the breakdown of purines, which are found in meat.

Day Six

  • Eat only two 10-ounce (284-gram) portions of beef, chicken or fish.
  • Today’s meals may include an unlimited amount of vegetables, but no potatoes.
  • Vegetarians may replace meat with either brown rice or cottage cheese.
  • Increase your water intake by two glasses to flush out extra uric acid.

Day Seven

  • Eat only brown rice, fruits, fruit juice and vegetables.
  • No maximum amount is specified for any of these foods.

3. Keto Diet

Keto is the short form for ketosis. This diet plan takes a huge lead in popularity as compared to all the other diet plans that we hear about these days. Coffee with coconut oil early in the morning.. yuck! But that’s keto for you! Anyways, lets know more about Keto diet. The premise of this diet is that if you stop having high carb food completely then your body goes into ketosis, which leads to it burning existing fat for energy, as you no longer have carbs as a fuel for the body. 

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The pros of this diet are that it is great for non-veg lovers and gives faster results but the cons are it gives headaches and other health symptoms by cutting out carbs. Mood swings and weakness can also occur. Further, leaving the diet is rather tricky.

Some experts say that it is not advisable to be off carbs forever, when you start adding carbs back again, it’s a delicate process as the likelihood to put on weight is very high.

4. Atkins Diet Plan

The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet given by Dr. Robert Atkins. The diet suggests eating good fats and proteins and eating low carb foods for your carb needs. Initially it was demonised for its suggestions to have fats, but it was later proved that the good fats recommended here do not really lead to an increase in cholesterol levels. There are four phases of the diet, the first one where you stick to proteins and fats only (similar to keto diet), the second one is where you add fruits, the third is where you add some grains and the fourth is where you add a bit more carbs, as long as you do not gain weight. The permitted food items are:

  • Meats: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bacon and others.
  • Fatty fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, sardines, etc.
  • Eggs: The healthiest eggs are omega-3 enriched or pastured.
  • Low-carb vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and others.
  • Full-fat dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, full-fat yogurt.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil.

Once again, carb cutting here is pretty drastic and hunger pangs and mood swings are common due to this. Another aspect is that you may not realistically be able to keep up with the carb cutting and that can send confused messages to your body.

5. Dixit Diet

If this name sounds very Indian to you, you’re right. Dr. J V Dixit is an active propagator of this diet. He suggests that insulin production is at the highest twice in a day when you feel the most hungry. This is when you should have your two big meals. These meals too, should be more protein dense and have less of carbohydrates. For example, one roti with 3 – 4 pieces of chicken or fish or lots of sprouts.

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In between these two meals, you should have coconut water, green tea, tomatoes and a few other low carb vegetables and fruits – nothing that is too high in carb or sugar content. The idea is to give the body most of the food when the insulin secretion is high and will be able to absorb the sugars that the food breaks down into. This diet helps not only to lose weight but is great for preventing diabetes according to Dr. Dixit. While his studies show people benefiting from the diet, this diet may be tough to follow for people who can only eat little at a time and need to eat more frequently. Further, some mood changes and weakness is likely. This diet is not recommended for someone who already has a diabetes diagnosis.

Summary:

Research suggests that most people gain weight after following these fad diets or any other crash diet. The reason is that if there is an imbalance in your energy consumption and energy use, the imbalance will creep in again after the diet and so will the kilos. The idea is to eat in such a way that you can sustain the changes over time. For example, small changes like switching to multigrain attas and lighter dinners might help. Adding fruits and salads slowly to your diet can bring changes over time. The changes that you see yourself maintaining over the years are the ones which will help you.

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