Are you on the diet train? Perhaps you’ve given keto or paleo a try but have ended up with mixed results. Maybe you’re a Weight-Watcher or a previous Atkin’s diet follower and you’ve given up due to lifestyle difficulties or health issues.
Try scrolling through Facebook or health magazines and not seeing something about the diet trends. Odds are, that’s going to be difficult. We’re bombarded on the daily with information about dieting, losing weight, becoming healthier, and just improving our bodies in general.
But the most popular diets don’t work for everyone, and which one do you choose? Different bodies have specific dieting needs, and diverse lifestyles require different food habits.
There is no one catch-all diet that can improve the health and lower the weight of every person who tries it.
Most diets emphasize the eating of just one or a few food groups, and studies have found that the decrease of different food groups such as protein, fats and carbohydrates all lead to similar weight loss results, despite which nutrient has been cut out of the diet.
Popular Diets Today
Today’s trending diets include the ketogenic diet, which limits carbs and emphasizes healthy fats, and the paleo diet, which aims to mimic the eating habits of our hunter-gather ancestors (think meat, veggies and unprocessed grains) while limiting processed foods.
You’ve probably heard of veganism, which eliminates any products produced by animals, and the raw foods diet, in which people eat only uncooked and unpasteurized foods.
Many of these popular diets follow the main dietary guidelines laid out by the Harvard School of Public Health: an emphasis on “high-quality foods,” such as unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains to maintain a healthy weight. “Low-quality foods” that are processed and contain additives should be avoided in most diets.
Non-Traditional Diets to the Rescue
But if you’ve had trouble getting on board with the popular eating trends because they sound unappealing or they don’t fit with your lifestyle, rest assured. There are many more diets out there that can help you lose weight and get healthy. Everyone can find a diet that meets their lifestyle and bodily needs.
While each diet may have its own pros and cons, as long as you speak with your doctor and determine the pros and cons for your own body, you can be proactive in choosing a healthy diet. See the infographic published by Kaiser Permanente below for guidelines on “Good, Fad & Ugly” diets, and then read on to hear about some lesser-advertised diets that might be a good fit for you.
6 Non-Traditional Diets You Haven’t Heard Of (Yet)
This list is not meant to give dietary recommendations, but rather to give you an idea of the world of diets out there. Perhaps you’ll find an idea on this list that piques your interest and fits your lifestyle.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any major dietary changes.
1. Mono Meals Diet
This diet became popular in 2016 and consists of eating only one food per meal. Mono meal dieters have been known to eat up to 30 bananas per day, and some celebrities have been known to eat only one food, such as chicken, to lose weight and gain muscle. This is the extreme end of the diet.
It’s thought that the restriction of digestion to just one food will allow the process to be more efficient by increasing metabolism and helping you lose weight. However, some who try this diet may end up with majorly changed body chemistries due to vitamin and mineral imbalances.
So, while this diet may help you lose weight in the short-term, it’s not recommended for long-term dieting, because you will miss out on the important variety of nutrients that your body requires. When you choose just one food per meal, make sure vary food groups in your diet as possible throughout the day.
2. Pegan Diet
This cleverly named diet is a combination of Paleo and vegan diets. Created by Dr. Mark Hyman, it supposedly reduces inflammation and balances blood sugar levels. The diet focuses on eating nutrient dense, whole foods. Its biggest component is fruit and vegetables, which make up about 75% of the diet.
Low glycemic fruits and vegetables are the focus, but small to moderate amounts of meat, seafood, legumes, seeds and nuts are also encouraged. Sugars, oils and grains are not ideal in this diet. While grains are usually highly processed, some whole grains are ok.
The Pegan diet contains much less meat and protein than the Paleo diet, but more than a vegan diet contains. Pegans avoid farm-raised meat products by instead emphasizing free-range, grass-fed, naturally raised meats.
3. Flexitarian Diet
The aim of the flexitarian diet is to help people gain the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, while still allowing them to eat small amounts of animal proteins. It’s not a very specific diet, which is where the flexibility part comes in.
The general guidelines of this diet advise its followers to:
- Consume fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes as their main food sources
- Prefer plant proteins over animal proteins
- Incorporate small amounts of meat once in a while
- Try to eat unprocessed foods and those without additives.
If you’re looking for a diet that’s flexible and gives you the best of both worlds, the flexitarian diet may be what you need.
4. Fruitarian Diet
As the name implies, followers of this diet focus on consuming a majority of fruits in their diet. Generally, the diet recommends that daily food intake should be no higher than 75% fruit, but Dietician Laura Jeffers at Cleveland Clinic recommends that fruitarians eat at least 50 percent of other food types to maintain health.
According to Jeffers, the fruitarian diet is high in sugars and may be lacking in other important nutrients. So, even though traditional followers of this diet may lose weight, they may be losing it in an unhealthy way and gain it right back if they stop the diet.
The benefits of eating lots of fruits is that they carry anti-oxidants and are believed to prevent cancer. But it’s probably better to stick to fruits as part of your diet, not your entire diet.
5. Intermittent Fasting
With many different forms in practice, this diet emphasizes daily fasting with eating breaks in between. The idea is to not consume food for a set period each day, and then to eat an unrestricted diet within a shorter time frame.
There are some variations in the way this diet is approached:
- 16/8 Method. Each day, the dieter fasts for 14 to 16 hours and then eats an unrestricted diet of healthy foods during an 8 to 10 designated time frame. Dieters can eat two to three meals during the “eating” portion of the diet. Because of the long time-frames, the diet can be achieved by ensuring you don’t eat anything after dinner and simply skipping breakfast in the morning.
- 5:2 Diet. This approach has dieters eat normally for five days of the week, and then eating only 500 to 600 calories on two “fasting” days.
Studies show that this diet could be beneficial in the regulation of blood lipid levels, and it may help overweight or obese people develop a stricter meal plan to encourage healthy calorie intake.
Another study on males who lift weights showed that the intermittent fasting diet could be beneficial at lowering fat levels and maintaining muscle mass in training males.
6. MIND Diet
As the name implies, this diet aims for not only bodily health, but mental health as well. Studies show that those who follow the MIND diet may lessen their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of these studies have found that those who follow the diet decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s by 54 percent.
It’s a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, which aims to improve mental health by including foods known to aid brain health.
The 10 food groups which should be eaten include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil and red wine.
Foods to avoid include red meat, butter, cheese and junk foods.
Choosing the Best Diet for YOU
Don’t be afraid to draw from different diets in order to find something that works for you. Because diets are not designed to suit the individual, but rather the group, there may be bits and pieces of several diets that call to you.
Speak with your doctor to come up with a weight loss or health benefit diet that will work for your lifestyle and body.
And remember, not all the diet fads out there are healthy. Diets that cut out too much of the important food groups or calorie intake can leave your body feeling weak, despite helping you lose weight.
The best way to approach dieting is with a mindset of total body health, not with the sole goal of losing weight.