The macrobiotic diet is an exclusive dietary regimen involving the consumption of grain as a fundamental food, augmented with other food groups such as vegetables. It entails avoiding eating excessively refined and processed foods. The use of animal products is also discouraged. This diet regimen advocates for a responsible manner of eating, in that food is supposed to be thoroughly chewed and overeating avoided. Macrobiotics has also been promoted as a way of life, this is because in addition to teaching good dietary behavior, it teaches its proponents to see the bigger picture, to view the ups and downs of life as opportunities to make them better human beings.
This diet appeals to health minded individuals inclined towards a more holistic spiritual and physical existence. It lays more emphasis on harmonizing yin and yang foods. This diet promotes foods such as organic vegetables, whole grains, fruit, nuts, a bit of fish, condiments, pickles and seeds. Whole grains such as barley, brown rice, oat, millet, rye and wheat should make up approximately 50 to 60 percent of an individual’s daily diet. Whole grains are promoted, however, bread made using refined flour can be eaten in moderation. Fresh vegetables make up 25 to 30 percent of the diet. Consumption of vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, turnips and mushrooms among others is encouraged. They can be casually steamed or alternatively sauteed with a small quantity of unrefined cooking oil. Sea vegetables (such as seaweed) and beans make up 5 to 10 percent of the diet.
Chickpeas, tofu and lentils are highly recommended. Sea vegetables like kombu, wakambe and hijiki are also encouraged. Soups and broths especially soups with soy bean paste, beans and vegetables are also recommended. A moderated servings of nuts, fresh fish and seeds are permitted. Drinking water should be purified. Yin foods like refined sugars, coffee, soda and spices and yang foods such as dairy products and eggs should be carefully balanced or avoided all together. All the food taken should be fresh and organically grown.
This diet promotes foods low in saturated fat while being high in phytoestrogens, which the diet proponents believe help to balance female hormones. In turn it is suggested this helps with the management of menopause and aids in preventing breast cancer.
Robert Atkins published his first book “Dr Atkins Diet Revolution” in 1972 after he had read an article outlining the theory.
The general idea behind the diet plan is that by cutting back on carbohydrates the body had no choice but to switch from metabolizing glucose to burn as energy to using stored body fat instead.
There are four phases to this low-carbohydrate Atkins diet plan which are:
- Induction – this is when you will lose the most weight as your carbohydrate content is reduced to just 20grams per day.
- Ongoing Weight Loss – now you have worked out which carbs are best for you to be able to still lose weight but the rate of loss has now slowed to 1-2 calories each day.
- Pre-Lifetime Maintenance – as you reach your goal the weight loss slows further.
- Lifetime Maintenance. – simply referred to as a “way of eating for life.”
Certain foods are changed throughout the different phases to ensure optimum results.
There are, as with everything, both pros and cons to the Atkins Diet. A few examples follow:
- You are finally able to return to eating steaks, creams and things you may have once thought of as a “forbidden food” when trying to diet.
- It is easy to follow and comes with a lot of informative guidelines.
- By being able to work out your own carbohydrate level and which ones are ok to eat and still lose weight.
- A popular diet there are numerous books and websites that can offer recipe ideas and moral support.
- Some of the diets ideas are considered controversial.
- It can be tedious having to count the carbohydrates in all your food and drink.
- The Induction phase can cause the dieter to have some health issues when going through what is referred to as “carb crash”.
- Some of the food restrictions can prove a little boring.
- Finding your own acceptance level of carbohydrates can take a while to perfect.
There has been heated debates regarding the Atkins Diet and possible health issues that it may cause. Debates which are still ongoing.
By increasing your consumption of protein and fats medical professionals have raised concerns regarding certain health issues. It is thought that these foods can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. There are also links to poor kidney function among their findings.
Supporters of the Atkins Diet will say in its defence that although carbohydrates are reduced they aren’t omitted from the diet entirely. By choosing “good carbs” such as green, leafy vegetables and fruit which can be eaten in abundance, they are still provided with all the nutrients the body requires.
Unfortunately research to discover the long term effects of the diet have not been done until recently so conclusive evidence is yet to be unveiled. More research is probably needed and an air of caution should be adopted until the results are in.
Dieting is a personal decision and whichever method you opt for do your research and make an informed choice. If embarking on any diet it is always advised that you discuss it with your physician first.
The South Beach Diet offers a great weight loss solution that does not starve you when followed. It is easy to follow and restrictions ease up as you progress through the stages. The diet is based around the glycaemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how fast blood sugar levels rise after consumption of a particular food.
How it works
After you have eaten carbohydrates, they are broken down into sugars that are then absorbed into the blood. The rise in sugar triggers the release insulin from the pancreas to remove the excess sugar from the blood. When carbohydrate rich foods with a high GI are consumed, the blood sugar spikes resulting in large amounts of insulin being produced. The excess insulin eliminates the sugar very quickly and consequently brings down your energy level leaving you with a craving for more carbs (hungry). The natural response will be eating more food. Constant repeat of this will lead to weight gain. Over time it will also make your body less reactive to insulin and thus more fat will be stored leading to further weight gain.
On the other hand, foods with a low glycaemic index such as pasta and porridge provide a slow, steady release of blood sugar into your system leaving you satisfied for longer. The resulting steady release of insulin helps to ensure that your body does not develop insulin resistance. The diet divides carbs into two groups, good carbs (those with low GI), and bad carbs (those with high GI).
The diet is divided into three phases:
This is the most restrictive phase. It lasts for 14 days and is designed to eliminate cravings for high sugar foods and processed starches. It prohibits high GI carbs such as potatoes and rice and encourages protein consumption.
The second phase is less restrictive and slowly reintroduces the good carbs back into your diet. Whole grain bread and rice are introduced and fruits are allowed. Weight loss usually slows in this phase but shouldn’t come to a halt.
This stage is the least restrictive and has no food list to follow. You will be able to make good food choices by this time and a once in a while overindulgence is allowed provided you get back on track afterwards.
The Master cleanse diet is a diet originally developed in the 1940s to cure stomach ulcers. It is a ten day detoxification and weight loss fast. It was named after the original book that was written to describe it. It essentially involves the use of the Cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon. A famous variation known as the Beyonce diet, named after its celebrity follower is also used. In as much as it is referred to as a fast, it isn’t really because approximately 1,300 calories are taken daily in the form of sugars coming from the ingredients used in the preparation of this diet drink.
If the correct instructions are strictly adhered to, this diet will most certainly work for weight loss. Just like any other ‘fast’, it causes you to lose weight as a result of not eating any food. Since the sugar containing beverages of this diet contain approximately 650 to 1,300 calories, the body is bound to experience a calorie deficit because a normal body requires about 1,500 to 2,500 calories daily to sustain their body weight. A person taking 2,200 calories daily who decides to follow a 700 calorie variation of this diet will experience a change of 1,500 calories. This translates to losing about 3 pounds a week. Most diets recommend a 2 pound weight loss per week, this makes master cleanse less radical than some other fasts since it substitutes the lemon based drink for regular food and also supposedly cleans your colon!
How it works
The diet plan requires the only nourishment taken to be a lemon based concoction made from maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, mixed with water. This should be taken in six to twelve glasses daily with each glass consisting of approximately 110 calories. A herbal laxative is taken every night with a quart of saline water being taken to break the fast every morning. This results into several bowel movements during the day which means that users need to have a toilet available. Transitioning from the diet entails gradually resuming the consumption of solid food. This diet discourages the use of honey as a sweetener in the beverages, it also advices against the use of supplements during the diet.
The diet has a vegetarian transition procedure where in the first day, it is recommended to drink several glasses of lemon juice slowly in case of any digestive complications. The second day entails drinking orange juice in the morning, eating uncooked fruit for lunch and taking more fruit or salad in the evening. After this, it is okay to resume eating regular food.
The duration of the diet varies across it’s proponents but extreme lengths of time are not encouraged on such a restrictive diet plan.
The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, the stone age diet and in full the paleolithic diet is a nutritional regimen based on the supposed diet of human beings in the paleolithic era. This diet is based on the idea that the genetics of humans have not changed since pre-agricultural times which was the paleolithic era. It asserts that present humans are still adapted to the diet of that era.
This diet is predominantly composed of grass-fed animal meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, fungi, nuts, fruit and roots. It discourages dairy products, processed oils, refined sugar, refined salt, legumes, potatoes and grains. People who stick to this diet are reported to be free of most lifestyle diseases. This diet seeks to copy what pre-agricultural foragers ate. It uses present day cultivated plants and reared animals as a substitute to the original wild paleolithic diet. This diet is drawn from historical studies, archeological finds and anthropological evidence. It mainly consists of foods that can be fished or hunted. These foods have to be prepared without using any food additives. Followers of this diet are only allowed to drink water, however, tea is also recommended as a healthy drink in some quarters. This diet permits cheating, especially at the beginning where users are allowed to eat whatever they want for up to three meals in a week. This diet does not help much in losing weight, it is more recommended for maintaining lost weight and general health.
For vegetarians, the paleo diet can be hard to adhere to because it lays emphasis on the consumption of meat and fish. Recommended protein sources for vegetarians like legumes which include beans among others are not permitted. This is because they are believed to have adhesive sugar binding proteins which are harmful to the gut, they also contain gluten, which causes inflammation in the brain and gut. Dairy products are believed to cause constipation, amongst other gut problems. The paleo diet may feel boring, plain and restrictive at first, but those who are converts claim the improvements it brings over the course of time make it worth the effort.