Our modern society seems to be more interested in fitness than ever. Still, that does not change the fact that we are experiencing a steep rise in obesity worldwide. That’s why dieting has become so popular, and there are hundreds of choices and opinions on the matter. However, not every diet is fitting for you and your goals, and you need to be consistent if you want to have real and long-lasting results.
In this article, we are going to discuss the most popular nutrition plans, how they work, and which one is more effective to improve your body composition (the proportion of muscle and fat in your body).
Introducing nutrition plans
It is not possible to summarize every nutrition plan, but we can certainly take the most common dietary approaches and break them down in digestible bits. After doing so, we will recommend each one of them according to your individual goals and needs.
carb diets: Low carb diets are
different than very-low-carb diets. The former moderately reduce your
carbohydrate intake while the latter tries to cut carbs as much as possible
from your daily intake. One example we could use is the Atkins diet, which
features 4 different phases. The initial phase is a very-low-carb diet with 20
grams of carbohydrates a day. Then, you would start adding more vegetables and
fruits, slowly increasing your carbohydrate intake to fit a low carb diet.
Atkins is a useful approach for weight loss, especially if you don’t like to count calories. It teaches dieters to choose healthier carbohydrates and has shown to improve cholesterol levels. However, keep in mind that low carb diets can cause fatigue sometimes, especially in strict protocols such as the Atkins diet.
diet: The ketogenic diet is
very similar to the first phase of the Atkins diet. It is a very-low-carbohydrate
diet with high-fat intake. This diet triggers a metabolic process called
ketosis, which favors burning fat instead of carbohydrates as a source of
energy. Thus, it features an accelerated fat loss once the dieters have reached
and sustained ketosis for some time. Additionally, the ketogenic diet has
various health benefits associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health.
The ketogenic diet is an excellent way to improve your body composition in a short time, but not everyone is able to sustain this diet for long. It is often applied in cycles because it is rigorous and difficult to maintain.
diet: It is often mistaken
with the keto diet because it has various things in common. However, the paleo
diet does not trigger ketosis and encourages eating certain sources of
carbohydrates such as fruits and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and
The paleo diet is a good nutritional approach, and it is usually not very difficult to sustain as the keto diet. It is useful to lose weight, but it might not be as fast as the ketogenic diet.
diet: It is another low-carb
diet that replaces carbohydrates with high proteins instead of high fats.
Similar to the Atkins diet, it has 4 different phases, and all of them have
something in common: lean protein. In the first phase, only protein-rich foods
are allowed, and in the rest of the nutrition plan, you will start adding
vegetables and some sources of carbohydrate.
High-protein diets are successful in improving body composition because they are a good way to build up muscle and avoid cravings at the same time. However, it is not recommended for patients with a renal condition, and it is often difficult to sustain in the long-term.
diet: Vegan diets are based on
increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, including nuts and seeds, and
obtaining your proteins by eating more whole grains and legumes. It is without
a doubt a helpful approach to weight loss as long as you are keeping your
starchy vegetables and some legumes under control.
If you want to improve your body composition through a vegan diet, you would have to count your calories as you do in many other diets. The downside of vegan diets is that you need to know what to eat in order to replace meat sources of vitamin B12. Otherwise, you might end up with a vitamin deficiency.
diets: Another way to reduce
your body fat is by reducing your fat intake, but as long as you keep your
carbohydrates controlled as well. In the end, low-fat diets rely on counting
calories if you really want to get results, and it is similar to the Dukan diet
and other forms of high-protein diets.
As long as you maintain tight control over your calories count, low-fat diets are useful to lose weight, but the most important thing is not how much fat are you consuming but how mindful are you becoming when it comes to choosing your meals. The downside of low-fat diets is that you may be severing the intake of healthy fats in the process, and it is not safe to increase your protein intake if you have a kidney condition.
fasting: This one is not
exactly a diet but a dietary pattern instead. Thus, intermittent fasting does
not tell you what to eat or the right proportion. Instead, it is a way to
program your meals according to a pattern that encourages weight loss. Fasting
might sound scary, but intermittent fasting is only about extending your
night’s fast for a little longer by skipping your breakfast. That would help
you reach 16 hours of fasting and then you can go ahead and eat whatever you
In many cases, intermittent fasting is combined with the ketogenic diet to accelerate and maintain ketosis, but it is not a requirement to do so. Besides weight loss, intermittent fasting is a good way to obtain extra benefits such as increasing your insulin sensitivity and control systemic inflammation. However, it might not be the right approach for some people, and it might be associated with fatigue and bad mood during fasting periods
The best nutrition plan according to your goals
Which nutrition plan is the best for you? Which one is going to give you the fastest weight loss while increasing your muscle mass? To answer this question, we should address a fundamental truth: Weight loss is often accompanied by some reduction in muscle mass. Thus, you need to have a clear goal in mind. What is more important right now? Losing weight? Building muscle mass? Maximizing your physical performance for an upcoming sporting event?
If your main goal is losing weight, the ketogenic diet is one of the best dietary approaches to do that, followed by the paleo diet if you find keto overly restrictive. Vegan diets are another helpful approach to lose weight as long as you keep counting down your calories, and you can combine all of them with intermittent fasting for faster results. However, if you want to build muscle in the process or prepare for an event, do not restrict your carbohydrates and focus on high-protein diets instead. Remember nutrition stands for around 75% of your efforts when it comes to improving your body composition, so be mindful of what you eat, and always remember your goals before choosing which nutrition plan is right for you.
As a nutrition coach I have utilized the preceding nutrition methods to help my clients reach their fitness goals and make drastic improvements in weight loss and body composition. If you feel lost and would like some direction, or just want to try a new approach then sign up today for a diet program that will allow you to succeed in reaching your health and fitness goals.