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The List Of Best And Worst Diet Plans To Follow In 2020

| Reviewed By Karthika Thirugnanam

From Vegan to DASH, the list of healthy diets is (almost) never-ending. Studies claim that the last decade witnessed one of the major awakening of health-obsession, where people switched to adopt healthy lifestyles and habits. Health experts attribute it to the equally rising number of health problems which have resulted in the exponentially high number of deaths from lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and stroke; obesity and type 2 diabetes; and diseases associated with smoking, alcohol and drug abuse [1][2].

Healthy eating has become a significant part of an active lifestyle, with youths to adults engaging in a healthy lifestyle which help optimise one's overall performance [3]. However, you have to understand that healthy eating is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. It is all about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood -without feeling slump.

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Benefits Of Healthy Eating

Healthy eating does not have to be complicated [4]. The primary and also the central element in the habit of healthy eating is to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Because consuming food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it is the best means to consume it.

A healthful diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables of many colours, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins [5]. Eating healthfully also means avoiding foods with high amounts of added salt and sugar and has various benefits such as the following:

  • Promotes healthy weight loss [6]
  • Reduces cancer risk
  • Manages diabetes
  • Improves heart health and prevents stroke risk
  • Promotes bone and teeth health
  • Improves memory and overall mood
  • Improves gut health
  • Promotes sleep quality

Poor eating behaviour is major risk factor for several chronic diseases, such as dyslipidemia and hypertension, diabetes, hepetosteatosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and many more. While there are many diets with proposed benefits, the key is finding one you like and one that helps you achieve your unique goal. Not all popular diets are as healthy as advertised or sustainable in the long run [7].

With thousands of diet plans out there, it can get a bit confusing to choose the right one. While some diets focus on weight loss, others can be for weight gain, heart health, diabetes management and so on.

Studies have pointed out that many of the popular diets out there are unhealthy and do not do any good for your health [8]. These diets, also known as fad diets make far-fetched claims and are based on highly restrictive or unusual food choices [9].

In a recent study, dieticians have created a list of healthy diets you can follow and the unhealthy ones that you should avoid. Let's take a look.

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1. The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on the pattern and proportion of the food being consumed. It is an extremely nutritive diet that encouraged the inclusion of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, poultry and fish while limiting red meat and red wine in moderation [8][9].

It is regarded as one of the best diet plans and is generally followed by the people of the Mediterranean regions. The Mediterranean diet has been associated with reduced levels of inflammation, a low-risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer's disease [10][11].

One of the other major benefits of following the Mediterranean diet is that it also requires you to sit down and savour the meal with your friends and family. This is in contrast to the habit followed by most of us such as gobbling the food down while mindlessly watching the television [12][13].

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2. The Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic diet an eating pattern that focuses on food choice and exercise. It is primarily fruits, vegetables, and physical activity, which includes carbohydrates, protein, fats, and finally sweets [14]. The sustainable plan promotes the consumption of at least four servings of vegetables and fruits, small amount of whole grains such as brown rice and barley, moderate amount of healthy fats such as olive oil, limited consumption of saturated fats and avoidance of trans fats [15].

The diet also requires one to walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. The main principles of the Mayo Clinic diet are to promote one's health, such as encouraging consumption of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and portion control [16].

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3. The DASH Diet

One clinically studied diet, the DASH diet is designed to combat blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. This diet is especially relevant today, considering the rampant hike in the number of individuals suffering from heart disease, kidney failure and stroke [17].

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was developed to prevent or treat hypertension and focuses on the incorporation of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meat into one's daily diet [18][19].

By reducing the consumption of processed foods and added salt, the diet is also rich in potassium and calcium and contains a moderate amount of sodium. The DASH diet has very low dietary acid load than typical diets, which is linked with reduced risk of kidney diseases [20]. The diet is also said to have a positive impact on weight loss, reducing cancer risk, lowering metabolic syndrome risk, reducing the risk of diabetes as well as heart disease risks [21].

Some of the other best diets you can consider following are the Weight Watchers (WW) diet, Low-carb diets, the Vegan died, the Flexitarian diet and the MIND diet [22].

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1. The Werewolf Diet

Below is the list of diets that are cancelled in the year 2020. The new decade is no place for any diet that is not backed by science and facts.

The werewolf diet, also known as the lunar diet and the moon diet, is a fad diet that works according to the lunar phases. An individual following the diet have to consume food according to the cycles of the moon. You have only juice for 24 hours during a full moon and not eat anything after 6 pm during other moon phases. The lack of scientific proof and any plausible benefits of the diet makes it one of the unhealthy diets [23].

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2. The Keto Diet

Deemed to be one of the most effective diets to follow, the Keto diet is restrictive and unsustainable. The low-carb, high-fat diet is adopted by people to lose weight in a short span. The diet requires you to give up grains and starches, fruits, root vegetables and tubers and so on. Although it is beneficial to some extent, there may be some initial side effects while your body adapts [24].

The diet causes something called a keto flu that usually subsides with some days' time. Keto flu causes poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance - all of which can affect your overall health negatively [25].

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3. Juice Cleanses

The year 2019 saw a surge in juice cleanses. A juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming only juices from vegetables and fruits in an attempt to lose weight and detoxify the body. The diet is highly restrictive in terms of food groups and calories and has been linked with various health risks [26].

According to study findings, an individual regularly undergoing juice cleanses are prone to illnesses. Drinking large quantities of juice may be harmful to those with kidney disorders and can cause temporary weight loss, which is never long-lasting. Consuming an insufficient number of calories can cause a person to experience symptoms relating to low blood sugar such as fainting, weakness, headaches and extreme hunger [27].

Some of the other diets to be avoided are Dukan diet, Raw food diet, Atkins diet, Paleo diet etc.

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Why Most Diets Fail

According to Chandra Gopalan, Fitness Expert and Director at Contours India, these are the reasons why most diets fail.

Diets have a short sighted approach: They expect that you change your behavior overnight. They expect you to cut out many things from your meal, all at once. This fails. It's a slow steady approach that leads to success.

Diets make you hungry: Diets create fat loss through calorie deficit only. The truth is that you need to be physically active too. When you create the calorie deficit with a healthy eating plan and a good workout program, you create the deficit and boost metabolism at the same time. This keeps you from being hungry.

Diets make you tired: A chronic problem with diets is that many of them are too low in calories. Because they don't provide enough energy for you to do your workouts and accomplish everything else you need to do in a day, you are tired. This leads to stress which eventually leads to overeating.

Diets break down muscle: When the food consumed does not produce enough energy, the body starts breaking down fat. This is good in a short term. But in the absence of fuel, the Basal Metabolic rate (BMR), drops leading to weight gain in the long run.

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On A Final Note…

On analysing and comparing the different types of diet plans, the Mediterranean diet was agreed upon to be the best diet overall and the WW diet was the best suitable for weight loss. If you are looking for a new diet for this new decade, you at least have some basics to make an informed decision.

Karthika ThirugnanamClinical Nutritionist and Dietitian
MS, RDN (USA)
Karthika Thirugnanam