Before anything, we should clarify that the word “diet” does not necessarily translate to a nutritional weight loss plan. The dictionary definition is “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” That means eating fast food every day is actually a kind of diet.
From there, we can now isolate the ones that benefit from a health and wellness perspective, particularly the ones most people are familiar with.
First is Vegetarianism, which means abstaining from meat. Vegetarianism has been practiced for thousands of years. It has been documented everywhere from Asia to Europe, with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Pythagoreanism being the most prominent religions/philosophies that make it a tenet. There are various interpretations that allow practitioners to continue consuming eggs, fish, or dairy products. Traditionally, this was a very nutritious and healthy diet, so long as protein in the form of eggs, beans, nuts, or milk was provided. However, considering many fast food items like pizza are vegetarian, one cannot assure that the sole absence of meat could ever lead to weight loss. A balanced diet must be followed with natural and non-processed foods.
Veganism is a much more extreme version of vegetarianism that is fairly modern. Vegans will not consume, wear, or use any material or food that came from an animal in any way, shape, or form. This is usually done for reasons of not wanting to bring pain to any living creatures. Like vegetarianism, the absence of animal products does not automatically make it a healthy diet if processed foods are the main staple. This diet can lead to weight loss considering grains and vegetables do not have the same number of calories. Though many vegans are forced to take supplements due to deficiencies in iron and protein, which can be a major drawback.
Paleo is another recent diet that tries to connect its practitioners back to human neolithic roots. Instead of avoiding meat, the Paleo diet encourages eating lean protein-packed animals like salmon or bison. Oils made from seeds or fruit like olives are primarily used to cook, with processed foods like grains or sugars are strictly prohibited. This diet is clearly not lacking in protein, but the drawbacks due come from its resistance to healthy carbs like the one sin whole grains or legumes.
Keto is the final and potentially most radical diet. Like Paleo, it avoids processed food, but tries to eliminate carbs altogether. Healthy fatty foods like avocado, oils, and fish are used in their stead. This is meant to put the body in a ketogenic state where your metabolism more easily burns fat. Though again, whole grains and healthy carb are part of a balanced diet, which the diet ignores.
All in all, all these diets can lead to a healthy lifestyle if done right, Though if the goal is weight loss, all these diets have the common factor of the practitioner simply eating fewer calories than before through the elimination of food groups. Simply eating fewer calories than you’re capable of burning is enough.