Which Diet Is Best For You?
There are literally thousands of diets to choose from, because in one-way or another, nearly everyone has struggled with weight loss, malnutrition, or unexpected changes to their body.
Within these many options, some are better for losing weight, while others are meant for gaining weight. There are some meant to help with cholesterol, and even a handful to help get rid of those last unwanted pounds when another diet plateaus.
Generally speaking, a diet works best when the dieter is well educated on the meal plan and has a scheduled routine they can follow within their lifestyle. Let’s first discuss the basics of the ketogenic diet and then we’ll compare it to other top diets.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
In what began as a treatment for epilepsy, the ketogenic diet quickly uncovered many other uses for medical professionals to explore. Essentially, it involves lowering one’s carbohydrate intake while upping fat intake. This allows for the body to burn fat as fuel, instead of relying on carbs as fuel.
The fats on the diet come from avocados, coconuts, Brazil nuts, seeds, oily fish, and virgin olive oil, but can also come in the form of grass-fed butter, such as within bulletproof coffee.
After a few days, the diet causes fat deposits in the body to breakdown for fuel, which means the body has moved into a state of ketosis where it begins to burn off ketones. Ironically, this is similar to what happens after a week of juicing.
There is promising research for those in the diet trying to manage diabetes, metabolic health, body composition change or weight loss, but a medical professional should be consulted as ketoacidosis could drastically harm those with type 1 diabetes.
Keto vs. Atkins
At first, many will think that the ketogenic diet sounds like the infamous Atkins diet. Both focus on low carbohydrates, but ketogenic also focuses on high fats, which change the way the body functions.
The Atkins diet tries to focus on controlling the insulin levels in the body through a low-carbohydrate intake. This diet also works within stages, so a first stage would involve less than 20g of carbohydrates, but some fruits can be added in a later stage.
When a person consumes refined carbohydrates, their insulin levels can change rapidly but the body mainly lives off glucose rather than ketones. But, in level one, the body will likely enter a state of ketosis after a few days on Atkins.
Lots of people have found success with Atkins, but for those who also drink artificial sweeteners like diet sodas, it’s possible to plateau. Author Dave Asprey (who coined the Bulletproof Diet) lost around 50 pounds on Atkins, but then switched to Ketogenic to remove the rest of his weight after a long plateau that he believes came from diet sodas.
Keto vs. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet began in Southern Europe, where it focuses on the nutritional habits of those in Southern Italy, Crete, and Greece. Today, Spain, Southern France, and Portugal meals have also been incorporated.
The idea behind this diet focuses on plant foods, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and grains. Cheese and yogurts are acceptable dairy products and the diet also includes fish, poultry, eggs, along with small amounts of red meats and wine.
Around 30 percent of the diet also includes fats and there’s a great deal of science to back this diet since it’s been around for such a long time. Essentially, the diet began because American scientist Dr. Ancel Keys discovered those living in this region had lower risks of heart disease than those in America.
Keto vs. Paleo Diet
Essentially, the Paleo diet eliminates processed foods to focus on the meals our ancestors ate, which include meats, plants, nuts, and seeds. Like other diets on this list, the goal is to avoid unhealthy, unnatural foods while eating healthy foods.
With the Paleo diet, you can eat grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. But, those who practice Paleo can’t eat cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars, dairy, potatoes, processed foods, salt, and refined vegetable oils.
A sample meal may include tomato and avocado slices, grilled turkey breasts, steam veggies like broccoli, carrots, and artichoke, along with a bowl of blueberries and raisins. One glass of white wine can be consumed on occasion.
The difference in the ketogenic diet, of course, would be the ratio of fats consumed and the fruits, which can’t really be eaten on the keto plan.
Keto vs. Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet is perhaps one of the more difficult diets to follow on this list. The idea is to eat foods and drinks that aren’t processed, are plant-based, and are organic. This means literally eating raw foods rather than cooked foods.
Raw foodists think that those who practice this diet should eat at least 75 percent raw, uncooked foods like fruits and vegetables. Many raw food dieters are also vegan, so they don’t drink anything that is plant-based.
Within this raw food diet, those who practice are considered raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores. There are lots of juices, soaked beans, dried fruits, raw nut butters, sun-dried fruits, and seaweed wraps on this diet.
Keto vs. Slow-Carb Diet
Similar to Atkins, the Slow Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss involves cutting out processed foods and sticking with meats and veggies, but this diet also includes beans. It’s very similar to the first stage of Atkins, but followers can also eat legumes like black beans.
Ferriss also does the ketogenic diet on occasion but often encourages his followers to stick with the slow-carb method to begin with because it’s easier to follow for beginners. The slow-carb method also involves a single cheat day once a week to get those urges out of your system and spike insulin to mix up the diet.
Another tip within this diet is to consume 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of your day to boost your metabolism upon wake-up.
Keto vs. South Beach Diet
Dr. Agatson, a cardiologist, and Marie Almon, a nutritionist, developed the South Beach Diet. The goal is to focus on controlling insulin levels, by focusing on unrefined slow carbohydrates rather than fast carbohydrates.
This diet trend began in the 1990s when the creators decided they were fed up with low-fat, high-carb diets recommended by the American Heart Association. They didn’t believe low-fat regimes were helpful over a long timeline.
The basis of this diet lives within the same mindset as ketogenic, but not in practice. South Beach begins with lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, and vegetables. It also comes in phases like Atkins. Carbs like oatmeal, beans, and milks are not ketogenic.
Keto vs. Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers may be the most similar to the Zone Diet as the main focus is diet and exercise, but the major benefit may be the support network within this diet. Most major cities have locations where followers can meet and discuss their diet / journey.
The business, Weight Watchers Inc. began in the 1960s when a homemaker decided to lose weight and invite her friends to join her. Dieters can meet in person or online to further their education and gain support to stick with the diet.
Specifically, the diet involves a point system that mimics calorie counting. Each person has a goal weight and they stick to their number of points for the day. The meals can involve proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Keto vs. Whole30
On the most simplistic level, Whole30 is a month-long reset where followers eliminate those foods from their body that has a negative effect. This includes dairy, sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, carrageenan, sulfites, and MSG.
The goal, of course, is more than just a reset. The founders, Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, came up with the plan to work on the emotional and physical relationships people have with food.
As Ariel Knutson writes, “It’s not about prescribing a right way to eat, but instead giving you structure and tools to find out what makes you feel good.” Some may use Whole30 as a reset while others will use it as a stage one phase to move on to another diet.
Both the ketogenic diet and Whole30 focus on eliminating bad foods from your diet, but ketogenic also wants to eliminate nearly all carbohydrates while upping fats.
Keto vs. Vegan Diet
Veganism has been described as a more extreme version of the vegetarian diet. It’s also more of a philosophy than a diet. Vegans do not eat anything animal-based, which includes eggs, dairy, and honey.
Those who practice vegan usually adopt the diet for reasons other than health. For example, vegans consider their diet as an effort to help with environmental or ethical reasons in addition to diet.
According to Medical News today, some vegans “believe that modern intensive farming methods are bad for our environment and unsustainable in the long-term.”
If everyone ate plant-based food, vegans believe the environment would be better, less food would be produced, and physical and mental health would improve for everyone.
Keto vs. Vegetarian Diet
Within vegetarian meal plans, there are also lacto-vegetarian, fruitarian vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, living food diet vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, pesco, vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian.
Most who practice are actually lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means they do not eat animal-based foods other than eggs, dairy, or honey. Typically speaking, vegetarians suffer from fewer diseases, carry less body weight, and live longer than meat-eaters.
That said, when comparing a vegetarian to a ketogenic dieter, neither are eating processed foods and if the vegetarian is mainly eating vegetables rather than carbohydrates, they may even have similar body types. Despite being two different styles, it’s important to consider what they’re not putting in their bodes.
Keto vs. Zone Diet
The Zone diet is perhaps the most similar to the original food pyramid, which is constantly being changed and altered by the nutritional community. Zone consists of a balance of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent proteins each meal. This is also meant to control insulin levels versus a Western diet.
This diet also encourages the consumption of high-quality carbohydrates like unrefined carbohydrates and fats, like avocado, nuts, and olive oil. There are also rules within the diet, such as interval meals scheduled every 4-6 hours, snacks or breakfasts within an hour of waking up, and snacking every 2 hours, no matter what.
For those who appreciate a mathematics approach to their meal plans, the Zone diet might be a great option. Essentially, this is what people are doing when they’re eating several small meals throughout the day.
Choosing A Diet Beyond Western
While all of these diets are different from one another, some are more different than others, but each one of them avoids the typical Western diet, which consists of high amounts of sweets and fried foods.
Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly studied the Western diet to conclude, “The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages.”
In the end, those who follow the Western diet for their entire life will most likely live a shorter life than those who follow Ketogenic, Atkins, Mediterranean, Paleo, Raw Food, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Whole30, Vegan, Vegetarian, or the Zone Diet.
The point of each of these diets is to avoid processed foods, sugary foods, and many of these diets also avoid high carbohydrates. Sometimes, the difference is simply the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, but the point is to find a diet that you can stick with. The good diet you follow is better than the perfect diet you quit.