Also known as the Caveman Diet, the Paleo Diet features food our Neanderthal cousins ate, but which we can find at Costco, Publix, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. First on the list are foods high in saturated fats, such as coconuts, avocadoes, nuts and ghee. Trans fats are a no-fly zone, so trade the Girl Scout cookies for apples, vegetables, sweet potatoes and mushrooms. You can stuff yourself with all of these as they are filling but not high in calories. This is a great diet for folks who love to eat; in addition to all the rabbit food mentioned above, you can also chow down on endless portions of red meats, pork, chicken, lobster, fish and if you like irony, rabbits. After a few weeks on the Paleo Diet, you’ll start thinking of Metro Zoo as a buffet, wondering if they’d notice if you stuffed a few koalas in Little Igor’s stroller.
This diet is basically Food Boot Camp. Designed to change your life and rectify bad eating habits, it requires an ironclad 30-day commitment that makes kicking a bad habit look easy. For an entire month, you avoid all sugar, fruit juices, alcohol, mixers, grains, dairy products and legumes. That sounds simple until you realize how many foods are forbidden — no more Cheerios for breakfast or Oreos and milk for dessert. Foods are either “compliant” or “non-compliant.” Happily, what you can eat is not quite the menu in a third-world prison, including grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, whole eggs, organic chicken, juicy pork and all the sweet potatoes, fresh fruits and veggies you want. Whole 30 cookbooks and online forums help you get creative, while tasty Lara Bars and their more expensive cousins RxBars will satiate your sweet tooth. In addition to dropping weight, by going cold turkey on processed foods, hormones are re-balanced, digestive disorders vanish, migraines are a thing of the past and you’ll have more energy than a 5-year-old in a bag of gummy bears…but you won’t be having any of those on this diet!
At first glance, this sounds like a great diet: Basically, you can eat as much as you want from a list of 100 foods, all low in fat, high in carbohydrates and complemented by a steady flow of oat bran. However, Dukan’s method, not unlike fraternity hazing rituals, requires 100% adherence to a strict set of rules. Step one: The Attack Mode. For 4 to 7 days, you only eat high-protein foods. Next is the Cruise Phase, adding as many as you’d like of the 32 approved vegetables on the plan to your protein portions. But can you maintain this for 3 days for every pound of weight lost? The Consolidation Phase eases things up a bit by allowing one or two “normal” meals per week. The final stage is aptly called Stabilization, and it literally lasts forever. In addition to 3 tablespoons of oat bran daily, you need to walk 20 minutes a day, avoid processed foods and set aside a day per week to feast on a pure protein menu.
A diet high in carbohydrates causes the body to produce glucose, an easy-to-burn source of energy. With glucose as the main source of energy, the body produces ketones that break down fats and thus increase the metabolic rate to burn fat at an increased rate. The list of what you can eat makes this particular diet an easy one to maintain: fish, poultry, pork, red meats, hard cheeses, broccoli, walnuts, butter, avocadoes, raspberries and any high-fat or saturated fats you can get your hands on. You can even use low-carb sweeteners such as stevia. Here’s what you can’t eat: grains, sugar, fruit and potatoes. Skip those to get back into skinny jeans? Oh yeah, we’re in! As a bonus, ketones are like 103 octane fuel for the brain, improving concentration and focus. The Keto Diet has also been used to treat epilepsy, reduce blood pressure, decrease the potential for diabetes and even clear up acne.
One reason Hercules looked so buff was his diet: seafood, olive oil, hummus, fruit, yogurt, veggies and whole-grain pasta. He drank green tea, too, to aid with digestion, not realizing it is packed with antioxidants. While this menu can absolutely help shed excess weight, recent studies indicate it also leads to a 30% decrease in cardiovascular disease among high-risk individuals who are overweight, smoke or have diabetes. Eating like a Greek to avoid a heart attack is an appealing proposition. High in fats from olives, fish and shellfish, this plant-based lifestyle doesn’t allow trans fats or saturated fats, so while you can enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, there won’t be any red meat on the menu. If you can’t live without a porterhouse or a cheeseburger, this isn’t the menu for you, but worth a taste anyway.