The 11 Most popular Diets

Prompted by Health Concerns, Vanity, Eating Disorders

by Kelly R. Smith

Healthy food for weight loss
Healthy food for weight loss
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This article was updated on 12/29/20.

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It’s interesting to note that out of all book genres, cook books and diet books rank so high. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Yet it makes sense that people want to eat well and stay in shape and be healthy all at the same time. Fair enough.

When following a diet, it is important to keep track of how you are doing. Keeping a log is a good idea. If you use a Garmin GPS sports watch, you already know that the Garmin web app (Garmin Connect) keeps a graph of your weight. But the weight you get from your simple digital bathroom scale isn’t enough; it doesn’t give you the whole picture. You need to also track your BMI (Body Mass Index). You can use a weight/BMI scale or do the math calculation yourself.

Most diets are associated with weight loss but some are more lifestyle, part of a religious faith, or as part of a periodical detox program. Let’s look at 11 of the most popular diets (as of this writing; fad diets pop up all the time).

  • Atkins Diet. This is one of the big ones. In fact, it was the number one diet of 2017. Oddly, when it was first developed it wasn’t even meant to be a weight loss program; it was designed to benefit folks with cardiovascular risk. This diet relies on restricting carbs. The result is controlled insulin levels so that fat is burned for energy rather than carbs.
  • Gluten Free. Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in grain plants such as wheat. Anyone who bakes homemade bread for example knows that gluten is the “glue” that holds bread together. Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to it. Many others adhere to this diet because they just believe it to be healthier. Some do it because they think they sound like a hipster when they mention it. It can result in weight loss because, like Atkins, it restricts some carbs. It can be expensive though. Marketing likes trendiness.
  • Ketogenic. This is another one that was developed for other purposes. For example, it has been used for decades as a treatment for epilepsy. It’s basically the same at Atkins in that it reduces carbohydrate intake (less than 10% of daily calories) and raising fat intake. Many researchers are looking at using this diet for  diabetes management and general metabolic health.
  • The Volumetrics Diet. This one puts the focus on the energy density in various foods. This is the number of calories in a certain amount of food. Foods that rate a high-energy density have lots of calories per a little amount of food, and low-energy density foods have fewer calories for more food.
  • Whole 30 Diet. This program relies on abstaining from most processed foods (there is a list of permitted items) along with grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes and sweeteners for 30 days. It has been described as a “nutritional reset program that emphasizes whole foods.” Meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables are allowed as part of the diet. Dairy products, grains, legumes, alcohol, and sugar are not allowed.
  • Intermittent Fasting. Fasting has been used for centuries for different reasons. In the past it was mostly for religious and ceremonial reasons. Today, weight loss and an improvement of the body’s functionality are the focus here in the west. There are several intermittent fasting plans or methods.
  • Vegetarian Diet. This diet comes in many flavors: living food diet, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, fruitarian vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian just to name more than a few. Whew. Studies have demonstrated that vegetarians suffer less from diseases, enjoy a lower body weight,  and may have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat.
  • Vegan Diet. Veganism is considered more of a way of life and a philosophical outlook than a diet per se. Vegans will not consume anything that is animal-based, which can be very hard. This includes eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans don’t always get into veganism simply for health reasons, but in addition for environmental, ethical, and compassionate reasons.
  • Mediterranean Diet. This diet has been around for quite a while and as might be guessed it is modeled after, well, the Mediterranean style of eating. In a nutshell, the fare is high in monounsaturated fats from nuts and oils, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. It also includes token amounts of fruit, dairy, eggs, and a bit of red meat every now and then. It is thought by many to be one of the most beneficially ways to eat for overall health, especially for the cardiovascular system.
  • The Raw Food Diet. Sometimes referred to as raw foodism, it is defined by consuming food and drink that has not been processed. This diet is completely plant-based, and organic whenever possible. The four basic categories of raw foodists are raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores. This last one scares me.
  • The DASH diet. This diet was was developed with the idea of lowering high blood pressure. Its hallmark is consumption of a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. In addition, it is important to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy, and some oils, and as might be guessed, less salt overall.

There’s certainly a lot of options to choose from, which is a good thing. Certain lifestyles are palatable to one person and not to another. In many cases it is possible to mix and match. The important thing when taking on one of these popular diets is dedication.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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