“Diets” Demystified and Behavior Change

Studies show that, when it comes to eating plans, the most successful one is the one that you can stick with for the long-term. There is no magic diet that will solve all of your current health issues. With that said, below I have described several of the more popular “diets” just in case you are curious about what they entail.

If you are considering changing your current style of eating, I highly recommend talking to your doctor first if you are on medication and working with a coach who understands nutrition, metabolism, goals and behavior change.

1. The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet claims that you should eat the same foods our ancestors ate before agriculture developed. The theory is that most modern diseases are linked to the Western diet, including grains, dairy, and processed foods.

How it works: The paleo diet emphasizes whole foods, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, while discouraging processed foods, sugar, dairy, and grains. More flexible versions of the paleo diet allow for dairy, like cheese and butter, as well as tubers such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The downside: The paleo diet eliminates whole grains, legumes, and dairy, which are healthy and nutritious.


The paleo diet emphasizes whole foods but bans grains and dairy. Health benefits include weight loss.

2. The Vegan Diet

The vegan diet restricts all animal products for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Veganism is also associated with resistance to animal exploitation and cruelty.

How it works: Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism. It eliminates meat, in addition to dairy, eggs, and animal-derived products, such as gelatin, honey, albumin, whey, casein, and some forms of vitamin D3.

The downside: Because vegan diets eliminate animal foods completely, people who follow it might be low in several nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.


Vegan diets exclude all animal products. It may cause weight loss due to lower calorie intake while reducing the risk of several diseases.

3. Low-Carb Diet

Low-carb diets have been popular for decades. There are several types of low-carb diets, and all involve limiting carb intake to 20–150 grams per day. The primary aim of the diet is to force your body to more efficiently use fat for fuel instead of primarily using carbs as a main source of energy.

How it works: Low-carb diets emphasize unlimited amounts of protein and fat while limiting carb intake.

The downside: Low-carb diets do not suit everyone. Some feel great on them, and yet others feel miserable. Some people may experience an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol. In rare cases, very low-carb diets can cause a serious condition called nondiabetic ketoacidosis.


Low-carb diets limit carb intake and push your body to use fat for fuel. They aid weight loss and are linked to many other health benefits.

4. The Ultra-Low-Fat Diet

An ultra-low-fat diet restricts your consumption of fat to under 10% of daily calories.

Generally, a low-fat diet provides around 30% of its calories as fat.

Studies reveal that this diet is ineffective for weight loss in the long term.

Proponents of the ultra-low-fat diet claim that traditional low-fat diets are not low enough in fat and that fat intake needs to stay under 10% of total calories to produce health benefits and weight loss.

How it works: An ultra-low-fat diet contains 10% or fewer calories from fat. The diet is mostly plant-based and has a limited intake of animal products. Therefore, it’s generally very high in carbs — around 80% of calories — and low in protein — at 10% of calories.

The downside: Fat restriction may cause long-term problems, as fat plays many important roles in your body, including building cell membranes and hormones, as well as helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. An ultra-low-fat diet limits intake of many healthy foods, lacks variety, and is extremely hard to maintain.


An ultra-low-fat diet contains less than 10% of its calories from fat. It can cause significant weight loss and may also have impressive benefits for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

5. The Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet is a restrictive diet that only includes meat, fish, and other animal foods like eggs and certain dairy products. It excludes all other foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.

How it works: Carnivore is heavy on protein from meat, fish and organ meats, its proponents also recommend eliminating or limiting dairy intake to foods that are low in lactose — a sugar found in milk and dairy products — such as butter and hard cheeses.

The downside: The Carnivore Diet is high in protein, fat (including saturated fats) and sodium, which may not be suitable for everyone. It is low in fiber and may lack many micro-nutrients found in plant foods.


The Carnivore Diet excludes all foods except meat, eggs, and small amounts of low-lactose dairy products. Testimonials from those who follow the diet claim that it can help treat several health issues, but no research supports these claims.

6. The Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which causes the body to become incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy.

Ketogenic diets can cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has some health benefits.

How it works: To Follow, base the majority of your diet on meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados, and plenty of low carb veggies. Vegetables are a key part of this style of eating.

Downside: When transitioning to this type of eating, it can cause low energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, digestive discomfort, decreased exercise performance, among other things. Additionally, it can cause increased LDL cholesterol, low protein in the blood, extra fat in the liver, kidney stones, micronutrient deficiencies.


The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and toward fat and ketones.

Key Takeaway? There is no one eating style that works for everyone. The best eating style, if you are trying to modify your current one, is the one you feel you can stick to for the long-term.

The best way to shift into a new pattern of eating is by making some small changes at first. Once you have mastered those shifts, introduce a few more. The goal is to slowly change the way you eat for sustained change over time and that you feel good about.

As a Certified Tiny Habits Coach, I can help with this crucial step towards your goal.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on “diets” and what is and is NOT working for you. Hit “reply” and send me an email, ok?


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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