Dieting is as old as time, which has given it lots of time to evolve. Today, there are hundreds of different kinds of diets, each with different goals and rules. However, there is no single diet that is going to work for everybody. Different people have different needs that the diet must address, so what works for your friend might not work for you. Below, are several different types of diet to help you get started choosing a diet.
You are probably already familiar with vegetarian diets. Vegetarian diets contain no meat products and rely mostly on plants for protein. A popular source of protein for vegetarians is soy products, including edamame and tofu. For the most part, as long as an animal did not die to make it, you can eat it while on a vegetarian diet. However, this is not always true, some vegetarians do not eat eggs but they eat dairy, and others eat eggs but don’t eat dairy.
There is a wide variety of different kinds of vegetarian diets, including the fruitarian diet, which consists mainly of raw fruit. The most extreme vegetarian diet is the vegan diet, which eliminates all animal products, including milk, cheese, and eggs, not just meats. Many times people partake in a vegan diet because they are animal activists, morally opposed to the farming practices of today.
Semi-vegetarian diets are diets that still consist mostly of plant products but do allow some animal meat. Some semi-vegetarian diets only allow one or two specific meats. For example, pescetarian diets allow fish and seafood to be eaten, but not other meats. Regardless of what meat you do and do not eat while dieting, semi-vegetarian diets tend to be less strict than vegetarian diets because there are less foods that are off limits.
A broad term that encompasses all the different semi-vegetarian diets is “plant based diets”. This refers to a diet in which most nutrients are received from plants, but meat is occasionally eaten as well. Some people find semi-vegetarian diets to be easier to follow than vegetarian diets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is better.
Weight Control Diets
Weight control diets are designed to help promote weight loss. Weight loss is an extremely common dieting goal. Unfortunately, this also means people are willing to go pretty far to lose weight. This has lead to several diets being developed that are more focused on weight loss than actual health, which makes some of them risky, or even dangerous. Not every weight loss diet is unsafe, some of them are actually healthy and effective, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes dedication, which turns many people off. But the ones promising a quick fix are usually the unsafe ones.
Weight control diets usually cut out or restrict a source of food energy, such as calories, carbs, or fat. The idea is to deplete the body of a certain energy source, i.e. carbs, thus forcing the body to draw upon fat reserves in the body for energy, causing you to lose weight.
Low Calorie Diets
Some weight loss diets restrict the number of calories you can eat each day, these are known as low calorie diets. A low calorie diet that you are probably familiar with is weight watchers. With the weight watchers diet, foods are given a certain number of points based on their calorie count, and you must stay below your daily “point limit”. Other popular low calorie diets with large followings include the Nutrisystem Diet and the Hacker’s Diet. Some people choose to reject the big, commercial diets and instead do it on their own. Sometimes this means intermittently fasting as a way to restrict the number of calories you consume.
Intermittent fasting may look like not eating for an entire day, or it may just be fasting for the majority of the day and only eating during certain times. Intermittent fasting is not safe for children, the elderly, or underweight people.
Very Low Calorie Diets
A more extreme variation of weight loss diets are very low calorie diets, which restrict the number of calories you can eat per day to 800 or even lower like the 13 day diet. These can be very dangerous and should only be followed under the supervision of a doctor. Unfortunately, very low calorie diets are usually used by people who are desperate to lose weight and do not consult a doctor. Considering the recommended daily calorie intake is around 2,000, it is not hard to see why very low calorie diets are used for weight loss.
The main concern with low calorie diets is becoming malnourished. While on a very low calorie diet, it is important to still get all of the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that you would usually get. Neglecting to get all the right nutrients while on a very low calorie diet can have negative side effects and negative health implications.
Low Carbohydrate Diets
Low carbohydrate diets are another type of diet designed to lose weight. Low carb diets are pretty much exactly what they sound like, diets that restrict the number of carbohydrates you eat daily. Foods like fries, bagels, pasta, quinoa, candy and several fruits are packed with carbs, making them no nos while on a low carb diet. Some big commercial diets that are low carb include the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet.
The Atkins Diet is much more restrictive than South Beach and it must be completed in phases. However, while on the Atkins Diet, your carbohydrate intake is so low it can actually become dangerous. The South Beach diet, on the other hand, does not restrict carbohydrates as severely, it just puts an emphasis and only eating the right types of carbohydrates. Either way, cutting carbs can be a lot harder than you might imagine.
Low Fat Diets
The last type of weight loss diets are low fat diets. Low-fat diets restrict the amount of fat you eat each day. Low fat diets are designed for weight loss, but also for reducing certain diseases, such as heart disease. Low fat diets are not necessarily hard to do since most of the fat you want to avoid is in processed food anyway. And instead of fat making up most of your calories for the day, a low fat diet with lots of protein actually lets you eat more food than you would before restricting. A popular low fat diet that people follow is McDougall’s diet.
This diet eliminates animal products and vegetable oils and focuses on starchy foods, like potatoes. McDougall got the idea for a starch-based diet after observing how civilizations throughout history thrived on starches.
Crash diets are trendy diets that promise quick results but have extreme requirements. Crash diets are also known as fad diets and are not usually backed up with any studies or facts. Crash diets are known to be very risky and do nothing to help you keep off the weight you lose. One such crash diet is the cabbage soup diet.
This diet consists only of cabbage soup, which already has very little calories. Another crash diet is the 8 day long Israeli Army Diet, which severely limits the food you are allowed to eat, only letting you eat one type of food for 2 days at a time. New crash diets are always being created, there’s always going to be a diet that’s “in”, but you shouldn’t assume that means it is safe for you to do. It’s best to always consult your doctor before starting a new diet.
Detox diets are different than weight loss diets because the main goal of them is to detoxify your body, not lose weight. Detox diets are meant to cleanse your body of toxins, which is usually done by flushing out your system. It’s important not to put more toxins in your body as you are detoxing though, which is why detox diets usually consist of eating or drinking only one or a couple things and avoiding all preservatives.
A very popular detox diet is juice fasting. Juice fasting is when you only get nutrients from fruits and vegetable juices. Although you get plenty of fruits and veggies, you don’t get any nutrients from the other food groups, which is one reason these diets’ safety has been called into question. If you are doing a one or two day cleanse, it isn’t as risky, but once you start going a few days with nothing but juice, you may actually be putting yourself at risk.
Some religions limit what practitioners can and cannot eat. Different religions have different reasons for deeming certain foods no nos, but if you are a real follower of that religion, you may choose to eliminate that food from your diet. Following belief based diets can sometimes make you feel better aligned with your beliefs and more at peace, this is because you will no longer feel guilty about eating the food they told you not to.
For example, in Islam, you are not supposed to eat pork products or consume alcohol. If you were to follow those rules, you would be considered following a faith based diet. Other religions that restrict what food you may eat include Judaism, seventh day adventists, and Hinduism. Most faith based diets will not claim to make you healthier or lose lots of weight; they are mainly just concerned with eating “right” in accordance to their faith.
Diets Followed for Medical Reasons
Certain health conditions may make someone alter their lifestyle or diet; these are considered diets followed for medical reasons. Often times, a health condition will limit what you can eat. For example, if you have diabetes you should not eat lots of sweets, although there isn’t a specific diet you must follow. Other times, food may be eliminated from your diet due to an allergy or intolerance. In this case, you can what you’d like for the most part, you just have to avoid whatever it is that you’re allergic to.
Unlike the juice fasting I talked about earlier, sometimes a liquid only diet is necessary, like after gastric bypass, and should be done under the supervision of a doctor. People will unhealthy or failing kidneys may choose to follow the healthy kidney diet as a way to help with kidney pains they may be having. This diet limits the amount of protein you consume because it can be difficult on the kidneys. There are quite a few other health conditions that may dictate what you can or cannot eat, although they can vary greatly.
Lastly, the term “other diets” broadly encompasses all diets which do not fit into any of the previous categories. Some of the diets may seem totally random, like the blood type diet, which limits what you can eat based on your blood type. And others make a lot of sense, like the paleo diet or high protein diets, which can be useful while you are trying to build muscle and mass. It is important to keep in mind what your end goal is and find a diet with the same one.
Different diets have different end goals, so you can’t expect every diet to give you the results you want. While all weight loss diets aim to help you lose weight, diets in this category all aim to do different things. For example, the high protein diet aims to help build muscle, but the Graham diet does not, and frankly will not. The Graham diet is a vegetarian diet which promotes whole wheat flour and eliminates alcohol and stimulants.
In conclusion, as you have seen, there are several different types of diets and tons of different specific diets. If any of these diets caught your eye, or you feel like it may be right for you, I recommend you do some more research and figure out how to go about starting your diet. It’s never a good idea to start a diet before you completely understand how it works. Also, remember that it’s okay if you don’t succeed on your first try, diets are hard, just stick to it.