First of all, let's get our terms correct.
Webster Dictionary defines "diet" as what is regularly or habitually consumed. What's interesting is that the 3rd definition down describes what one might consume when trying to lose weight because let's face it, when we go on a diet, we're trying to lose weight.
My first point I would like to make is to first re-frame your thinking. You are already on "a diet"- it's how you regularly eat. What you're about to do is go on a cleanse, a fast, or program to achieve the goal of losing weight, having more energy, or just simply to feel better overall.
So- what program, fast, or cleanse should you choose? That's a more difficult question because not all "diets" are going to work for you.
You must choose a cleanse that best fits YOU! It's like a Cinderella shoe. One shoe doesn't not fit all feet.
I've provided a summary of some popular diets and why I might choose one over the other. My best advice is that with whatever you decide:
1. Stick with if for at least 1 month before saying that it's not working for you.
2. If you didn't get the results you were looking for, and maybe you've even gone in the wrong direction, discontinue this eating plan and re-assess. This is where you might want to see a Naturopathic doctor for guidance on which diet plan is best for your body.
A Summary of popular diets, cleanses, and programs
1. Whole 30
I commonly recommend this diet for those who haven't done anything like this before, there are a ton of resources, you eliminate the big offenders, most of patients feel so much better on this diet, and it's very doable.
Cons: They don't teach you how to get out of the Whole 30 very well. Those with autoimmune diseases, inflamed guts, or other serious health problems may need to remove egg. The Whole 30 does not do this.
2. Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo
Paleo diets, like whole 30, focuses on whole foods as well but there are some differences. You will eat meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, all the herbs and spices, and healthy oils.
Eliminate: grains (NOT CARBS), processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, alcohol, legumes (beans and peas), articifical sweetners, vegetable oils, and trans fats.
In the autoimmune paleo you will also be removing night shades and eggs. These are a class of vegetables and spices that tend to create more inflammation in the body.
My advice: If you have an autoimmune disease, check out the Autoimmune Paleo and do that for a month. You might find significant improvement in your symptoms.
If you want to lose weight FAST this is the diet for you BUT if you do not do it properly, you will gain the weight back and more.
This way of eating is not for the faint at heart. It takes dedication, tracking, and can be really time consuming. That said, its really great for those with epilepsy, diabetes type 2, and a whole slew of other health concerns. My biggest issue with this diet is that it's really meant to be SHORT TERM and not a lifestyle.
Should you decide to go "keto", please research it thoroughly before simply jumping in and consider not doing alone.
4. IgG Food Elimination
I commonly prescribe this to patients and we run an IgG Food Sensitivity panel so that we can identify what foods YOU need to eliminate. I'm partial to this diet because it will be tailored to your results on the test, you do it for 30 days (sometimes longer if certain foods come up high), and most of the time patients feel so much better. This is great if you don't know what to eliminate or you just want to eliminate one or two foods.
5. Juice Fast
Juice fasts are commonly done for 1-3 days and can be great after Thanksgiving or other celebrations where you've totally over indulged and want to press the re-set button. Juice Fasts are also nice seasonally if you simply want to detox your body for a few days.
Cons: Do not do this if you have diabetes. This will spike your sugar.
6. Intermittent fasting
You basically will fast from eating anything for either 16 hour increments or 2 24 hour period during a given week.
16/8: You restrict eating for 16 hours and eat anything you want in the 8 hours.
Eat-Stop-Eat: this is where you fast for 24 hours 1-2x/week
5:2 - You eat normally on 5 days in a week. On 2 non-consecutive days, you will only consume 500-800 calories.
Some people do really well with intermittent fasting while others do not. This has to do with blood sugar regulation. If you get "hangry", this might not be the most ideal diet plan because your body doesn't adjust well to not eating. Another con for intermittent fasting is that you continue to eat the inflammatory foods that are preventing you from feeling your best. Lastly, if you find your sleep patterns worsening with the 16/8, you're most likely have blood sugar drops that are stressing your body out.
Not all diets, fasts, or programs are the right choice. Pick the ONE that makes most since to you, commit to it for 30 days, and if you find it works, AWESOME! But remember, if it's not working, change it.