3 Popular Diets to Follow—And Ones to Stay Far Away From

It seems like every day there’s a new diet that emerges onto the scene. Sometimes, they are legitimate and can really help you achieve your health goals. Most are fad diets trying to take advantage of people who are just trying to be healthier. So, here we give you an overview of popular diets to follow and those you shouldn’t.

The Best Popular Diets to Follow

1. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is less of a diet and more of a structured time approach as to when you should eat your meals. The idea behind intermittent fasting is that you have an eating window and a fasting window. This may differ depending on the type of intermittent fasting you want to do. Typically, the eating window lasts for 8-10 hours, and the fasting window is 14-16 hours.

Another type of intermittent fasting includes only eating once a day and ingesting all your calories in that one meal. It really depends on what your personal preference is.

For this post, let’s follow the 8-10 hour eating window and 14-16 fasting period. The popular times that most people go by consists of fasting from 8 pm to 12 pm the next day, and eating between noon and 8 pm. Once the clock strikes 8 pm, you fast again. This is popular because the majority of your fasting window is taken up by sleep. When you’re awake though, you can fill up on lots of water, tea and coffee (without milk or sugar).

However, change your eating/fasting windows to whenever suits you and your lifestyle.

It may take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust to fasting, but once it does, it’ll become easier.

Intermittent fasting helps people curb their appetite and control their hunger. The average person will typically eat fewer calories because they have less time to eat. However, some people may find that they use intermittent fasting as an excuse to binge and eat insanely larger meals during their eating times so be wary of this.

2. IIFYM

Macro counting is another one of those popular diets to follow. It refers to macronutrients which are your proteins, fats, and carbs. If It Fits Your Macros, or IIFYM for short, emphasizes flexible dieting. It allows you to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as it fits within your personal macro count.

Every person has a different macro count, (a certain number of grams of protein, fats, and carbs), that they can eat each day according to their activity level, exercise levels and intensity, and more. This is why it is important to find your own personal macros instead of copying someone else’s. There are too many variables that come into play here.

This means that if you feel like eating ice cream, as long as it fits your macros, you can eat it without feeling guilty! You can adjust the portion sizes of your other meals to accommodate your cravings.

Does this mean that you’ll be able to lose weight (or gain weight if that’s your goal) following IIFYM? The answer is yes. Does this mean that you’ll be healthy? Not necessarily. Even though foods like chocolate, ice cream, and other junk food are accessible on IIFYM, try to focus on unprocessed foods to still be healthy and provide your body with the proper nutrients and minerals.

3. Mediterranean Diet

There is a reason why the Mediterranean Diet has been listed as one of the best and healthiest diets. It focuses on all the good stuff such as eating more vegetables and fruits, legumes, seafood, olive oil, and whole grains. It even allows the occasional glass of red wine as well.

Because the diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, you’ll be eating plenty of fiber. It’s also full of anti-inflammatory foods and stays away from processed ones.

The Mediterranean diet will reduce the risk of heart disease as well as obesity, type-2 diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it is sustainable long-term, which is crucial for any diet that you may follow.

Fad Diets

Unfortunately, there is a myriad of fad diets out there. Stay away from these diets as they are usually very, very restrictive and provide no long-term benefits. They will also be very difficult to maintain in the long run.

Meal Replacement Shakes

While it is popular to drink a protein shake as a snack when you’re hungry, it becomes a problem when you only drink meal replacement shakes instead of eating actual meals. This is based on the belief that these shakes have fewer calories in them than actual food, therefore you will be consuming fewer calories in a day, leading to weight loss!

Meal replacement shakes are not as satiating as proper meals. You’ll most likely feel a lot hungrier on this fad diet. Also, it won’t provide you with the proper nutrients and minerals that your body needs.

1,200 calorie diet

This fad diet is founded on the belief that you can only ingest 1,200 calories per day to lose weight. While it’s true you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, the actual number of calories greatly varies from person to person. Some people may eat up to 1,500, while others can eat well over 2,000 calories and still lose weight. It depends on your body type and size, the amount of activity you do, and other lifestyle factors.

Following the 1,200-calorie rule does not take these individual factors into account, and it is also an extremely low number. If you’re someone who needs to eat 2,000 calories to be in a deficit, eating significantly lower at 1,200 can cause problems such as moodiness, headaches, and nutrient deficiencies. It can also increase the risk of bingeing, which can be psychologically damaging as well.

Diets like meal replacement shakes are all fads because they are not sustainable long-term, and people tend to quickly put back on any weight that you may lose in the beginning. So be careful about staying away from quick fixes and too-good-to-be-true promises. Look at the other popular diets to follow instead, like macro counting. Remember that this is a slow and steady journey and that it will take time—but it will be worth it.

Get Healthy with Jefit

The best way to become healthy is to make sure that you eat a nutritious diet and workout regularly. If you’re looking for a way to connect with others to learn what other popular diets to follow there are, as well as food and workout tips, then join our Jefit community. We have a members-only Facebook page where you can talk to others and motivate each other to keep up the great work!

What other popular diets to follow do you suggest? What works for you? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!

How to Avoid Weight Gain with HIT

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The human body is at its peak, physiologically speaking, between the ages of about 18-29 years old. Bodily changes occur thereafter, like losses in strength and aerobic capacity coupled with changes in bodyweight and body composition. There is a significant, yet preventable, downward shift with each of those variables after the third decade of life. How to avoid weight gain becomes a central focus for the majority of our population after about the third decade.

5 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain: Focus on Lifestyle Changes

The following suggestions need to be done consistently each week in order to change the way you look and feel. It’s not some type of quick fix!

Physical Activity Related

  • Never Stop Strength Training. This one is a must for each one of us, especially as we age. The key is building a strong base during the early years (teenage through 20’s) and then maintain that strength with a few weekly strength training sessions. Yes, for the rest of your life. Look at all the older people you know who don’t exercise and lead an un-active lifestyle. How are they doing with that?
  • Increase Activity. I’m not talking about long, slow, aerobic exercise here. The goal is to turn off and put down all screens each day. Then, work a little harder and find creative ways to increase your activity level each day. A good definition of physical activity is “all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity.” For me, its about making sure I walk and move enough to move 5-7 miles a day (about 10-14,000/steps) on top of exercise.
  • HIT It Hard. HIT refers to high-intensity interval training. It can have a positive effect on fat-loss, prevent weight gain, and improve VO2 max. There is also a great deal of research on the benefits on cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol level). Try a minimum of 1-2 HIT sessions a week with multiple days of rest between bouts to take advantage of these benefits. This could be the key to how you avoid weight gain.

Nutrition Related

  • Watch What You Put into Your Mouth. It can all come down to being that simple. Begin to think of food as fuel for your body. Don’t eat it unless it’s high octane fuel that can help your body. We all know fad diets don’t work, long-term. Eating real, unprocessed food, like in the Mediterranean Diet, is the goal.
  • AVOID Added Sugar. We know it’s in everything. So a little is not a big deal. But try to eat less than 38 grams/added sugar/day/men and 25 grams/add sugar/day/women. Doing this will add years to your life and keep unwanted weight off, especially around the abdominal and hip area.

How HIT Improves Overall Health

One of the leading researchers on the benefits of HIT is Martin Gibala, PhD from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. One of his many research studies (2014) looked at the effects of short-term interval training using a 10-minute protocol with only 1-minute of hard exercise. The results were various health improvements in overweight adults. In summary, the study showed 3-minutes of all out exercise performed within a 30-minute routine (includes warm-up & cool-down), 3x/week, improved cardiometabolic health factors. This study included 18 supervised training sessions over a 6-week period. As a result, improvements in the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, blood pressure and VO2 max were some of the outcomes.

How HIT Improves Body Composition

A second study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019), compared the effects moderate-intensity (MOD) exercise with HIT. The research groups looked at 786 studies before choosing 36 that met their meta-analysis study criteria. Interval training and MOD both reduce body fat percentage. Interval training, however, provided a 28.5% greater reduction in total absolute fat mass compared to MOD. Other research has shown that HIT is superior to MOD in many other areas. HIT promotes greater increases in VO2max, ventricular function, improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lower ratings of perceived exertion, higher levels of enjoyment and higher adherence than MOD.

Jefit Compliments HIT

Adding weekly HIT sessions with Jefit strength training is suggested if weight-loss and other cardiometabolic health benefits are the goal. Many of the Jefit home circuit-based training programs pair nicely with HIT sessions. The first is Advanced Bodyweight Circuit and a second option is a program I’m doing right now, Total Body Circuit. Enjoy and Stay Strong!

Suggested Reading

The One-Minute Workout, Martin Gibala, PhD, 2017.

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