It’s hard to scroll through your social media feed without seeing the latest diet trends, and while we all know yo-yo dieting is a big health no, no – how do we distinguish the fad diets from the health hero diets? We’ve asked our nutritional experts to list the diets that can benefit both your lifestyle and your health goals.
KETO low carb, high fat
The latest health trend, the Ketogenic ‘Keto’ low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet has proved popular thanks to its weight loss and toning effects. Unlike most diets, keto promotes eating more healthy fats over any other food groups. “The ketogenic dietis a high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet proven to be effective and with long lasting effect for weight loss and general wellbeing. When you supply your body with a high amount of healthy fats and keep the amount of carbs to a minimum, your body turns to this to fat, in the form of ketones, as its primary source of fuel,” explains Michela Vagnini, Nutritionist at Natures Plus (www.naturesplus.co.uk).
“The benefit of ketonesare that they protect your muscle mass and make the amino acid Leucine more readily available. Leucine is especially important for the maintenance of healthy muscles and helps with muscle building. This is why some people are able to fast up to 72 hours without losing muscle mass, thanks to the presence of ketones in their blood” explains Michela.
Natures plus have just released the brand-new KetoLiving LCHF Vanilla Shake (£44.95, naturesplus.co.uk), which is specifically designed for those following the ketogenic diet. They help reduce cravings, while helping to keep the body in ketosis and promote optimal blood sugar control. They also contain digestive enzymes to make the powder easier on the tummy, as well as providing prebiotics and probiotics to support good gut health.
The Vegan diet
Veganism has come a long way in the past 10 years. Research has found that there are over half a million vegans in the U.K, which has quadrupled since 2006.[i]The vegan diet cuts out all animal products from meat to dairy and eggs and focuses on having a rainbow of vegetables and fruit as well as focusing on beans, lentils and grains. This means it is packed-full of many essential nutrients, but since there is an absence of meat, it is important to gain protein from other plant-based sources. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns suggests, “If you’re following a vegan diet, it’s particularly important to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Protein is not only important for muscles. It has many fundamental roles including for our immune system, for making hormones, and for making haemoglobin that carries oxygen around our body. As well as incorporating protein-rich foods like lentils, black beans, tofu, spinach and chickpeas to your diet; introducing a plant-based protein powder is beneficial to help you get your daily dose of protein.”
Cassandra adds, “Vitamin B12 is one of the many nutrients we need for energy and deficiency in this can be relatively common for vegans, mainly because it’s only found in animal foods. For vegans, taking a B12 supplement can be beneficial, if not essential, to keep their energy levels up.” Cassandra recommends Natures Plus Source of Life Garden Vitamin B12 (£19.95, www.planetorganic.com
The Paleo diet
The Paleo diet, also known as the hunter-gatherer diet or the caveman diet, turns back the clocks to what our ancestors chowed down on thousands of years ago. Cassandra explains, “A Paleo diet eliminates processed and refined foods and focuses on real foods. These include plenty of vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts and seeds, fish and good-quality animal meats and organ meats, as well as traditional ingredients such as bone broth and fermented foods. These foods are all naturally nutrient-rich and are also low in factors that can impair our digestion and absorption of nutrients, such as phytic acid and gluten found in grains.”
Martina Della Vedova, Nutritionist at Natures Plus suggests, “Support your digestion and detoxification to help the transition from a conventional diet to paleo. You need to prepare your body to receive more proteins and fats, which are associated with the paleo diet and support your liver during gluconeogenesis (the process of producing glucose from non-carbs sources).” To prepare your body you need to increase the good gut flora in your gut. “Add herbs like dandelion, burdock, and ginger to herbal teas (or find some ready-made blends in stores). Also, increase your intake of sulphur-rich foods, like asparagus and onions, fermented food like kefir (dairy free), sauerkraut and kimchi, which all help to promote good gut flora,” suggests Martina.
“On a paleo diet, many ‘convenience’ foods such as breads, cereals and ready meals are out. So, to avoid spending hours in the kitchen every day – and to make it much easier to stick to your paleo diet – take some time on a day off to cook up batches of meals that will make several servings per person. Great examples include; stews, casseroles, bolognese or chilli sauces, soups of any kind, shepherd’s pie, fish pie, homemade burgers, frittata, or roasted chicken thighs,” adds Cassandra.
The 5:2 diet
Cassandra explains, “The 5-2 diet is a type of intermittent fasting that involves limiting calorie intake to around 600 to 800 calories on two days a week and eating a normal but healthy diet for the remaining five days. Weight loss can be the number one benefit, as research has found that this approach can be a more effective way of dropping the pounds than a full-time weight loss diet. But there are other benefits too. When practised long term, intermittent fasting may have anti-ageing effects and actually increase our lifespan, as fasting can switch on ‘repair’ genes and encourage the body to break down old cells and create new ones. It may even help keep our brain healthy!”
“If you’re ‘going it alone’, the best way to approach this diet is to get hold of a good book that explains the concept, what to eat on your fasting and non-fasting days and gives quick and easy recipes. One of the original books is The Fast Dietby Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer,” adds Cassandra.