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Keto, Vegan, Gluten Free. Which Diet is for You?

In the age of dieting and looking fit, there have been many types of diets that people have tried. Diets are all about losing weight and having a healthier physique. They also come with a lot of trial and error. Every diet is not for everyone and it is important to do your research before figuring out which diet you want to embark on. The three most popular diets at the moment are the Keto diet, vegan diet, and the gluten free diet. Confused on which diet you should partake in? Find out which one fits your needs and can change your lifestyle for the better.

What is the Keto diet?

Keto, which is short for ketosis, is a natural process that the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. When your body is in this state, you produce ketones. Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. The only way for your body to enter this state of ketosis is by eating less carbohydrates. Once you start replacing carbohydrates with healthy fats, your body will enter this metabolic state while beginning to burn ketones as its primary energy source.

The benefits of the Keto diet

It may be very difficult for some people to take out all the carbohydrates out of their diet, but the Keto diet has been proven to have several different benefits. Mostly anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. The first main benefit of partaking in the Keto diet is weight loss. This diet essentially uses your body fat as an energy source, which in the long term will cause you to lose weight very quickly without having to go to the gym. When you’re on Keto, your insulin (the fat storing hormone) levels drop greatly which turns your body into a fat burning machine. The second benefit is that the keto diet controls blood sugar by naturally lowering blood sugar levels due to the type of foods you eat. If you are pre-diabetic or have diabetes, you should greatly consider a ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that people with diabetes who have gone on the keto diet have greater success with managing their diabetes compares to low-calories diets. A third benefit is that you will have increased energy and normalized hunger. Consuming more fats are much more beneficial than consuming carbohydrates because it is a much more reliable energy source. Fats will also keep you full much longer and you won’t be craving so many foods during the day. Other benefits also include increased mental performance, improved cholesterol levels, and a decrease in acne breakouts.

Foods to eat and foods to avoid while on the Keto diet

To begin a keto diet, it is crucial to plan out your meals for every single day. One mess up and your body can go out of the state of ketosis. It is important to stay below a certain amount of carbohydrates every day. What you eat also depends on how quickly you want to enter the ketogenic state. The more restrictive you are on carbs, the faster you will be in ketosis.

“YES” Foods:

  • Meats - beef, poultry, lamb, fish
  • Vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers
  • High fat dairy - butter, high fat cream, hard cheeses
  • Leafy greens - spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard
  • Nuts and seeds - walnuts, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts
  • Fruits - avocado, raspberries, blackberries
  • Other fats - coconut oil, high fat salad dressing, saturated fats

“NO” Foods:

  • Grains - wheat, corn, rice, cereal, bread, pasta
  • Sugar - honey, agave, maple syrup
  • Fruits high in sugar - apples, bananas, oranges
  • Tubers - potatoes, yams

Always remember that while on the keto diet, you should intake high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs. Your nutrient intake should be something around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.

What is a vegan diet?

The vegan diet has become very popular after many people have chosen to go vegan for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Veganism is defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or any other purpose. The vegan diet eliminates all animal products which includes meat, dairy, and eggs.

The different variations of the vegan diet

When talking about a vegan diet, there is not only one way to eat vegan. Even though there are many different variations of the vegan diet, most scientific research rarely differentiates from these different types of vegan diets. Because of this, the benefits of a vegan diet, even in the different variations, will be the same. These are the most common vegan diets today:

  • Whole-food vegan diet
  • Raw-food vegan diet
  • 80/10/10
  • The starch solution
  • Raw till 4
  • The thrive diet
  • Junk-food vegan diet

The benefits of the vegan diet

Like the keto diet, there are also many benefits of the vegan diet if it is done correctly. The main benefit of a vegan diet is that it will help you lose weight. Vegans tend to be thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegans. Researchers have found that participants on vegan diets lose more weight than participants on calorie restricting diets. Another benefit is that a vegan diet may help keep your blood sugar in check. Many studies show that vegans benefit from lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. A third benefit is that a vegan diet may keep your heart healthy. Several studies have reported that vegans may have up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. The other health benefits include lower risk of cancer, reduced symptoms of arthritis, reduced risk of poor kidney function, and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Foods to eat and foods to avoid while on a vegan diet

Overall, vegans avoid all animal foods as well as any ingredients that have come from animals. The health-conscious vegans substitute these animal products with plant based-replacements. It is important to pay attention to ingredients to your food because there are some foods which contain animal products that may surprise you.

“YES” Foods:

  • Tofu, tempeh, & seitan - a versatile protein-rich alternative to meats
  • Legumes - beans, lentils, peas
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds - hemp, chia, flax seeds
  • Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sprouted and fermented plant foods - ezekiel bread, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha
  • Fruits and vegetables - bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress

“NO” Foods:

  • Meat and poultry - beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, turkey, veal, etc.
  • Fish and seafood - all types of fish, anchovies, shrimp, squid, crab, lobster, etc.
  • Dairy - milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc.
  • Eggs - from chickens, quails, ostriches, fish, etc.
  • Bee products - honey, bee pollen, etc.
  • Animal-based ingredients - whey, lactose, gelatin, shellac, L-cysteine, animal-derived vitamin D3, fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, etc.

The risks associated with being on a vegan diet

When starting a vegan diet, it is crucial to plan it out properly. If not done correctly, you will be at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies. Several studies show that vegans are at a much higher risk of having inadequate blood levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, long-chain omega 3s, iodine, iron, calcium and zinc. If you plan out your diet correctly with nutrient-rich whole and fortified foods, it can help provide adequate nutrient levels.

What is a gluten free diet?

A gluten free diet is a diet that is free of all gluten. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat and it is typically found in grains, bread, pasta, and more. This diet is essential for people who have celiac disease because it manages the signs and symptoms of this disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Recently, people who do not have celiac disease have jumped on the bandwagon of this gluten free diet to lose weight and improve overall health.

The benefits of being on a gluten free diet

For people with celiac disease, it is absolutely crucial to eat foods that are gluten free. When following this diet and eliminating gluten, there will be less symptoms and complications with the disease. For people who are non-celiac, there may be benefits if you are not consuming gluten. There is not yet enough clinical evidence to prove these benefits to be true but many people have said that they benefited from weight loss, overall improved health, improved gastrointestinal health, and improved athletic performance.

Foods to eat and foods to avoid

When you follow a gluten free diet, it is very important to pay attention to nutritional labels and the ingredients of foods.

“YES” Foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, seeds, and nuts in their natural forms
  • Eggs
  • Lean, non-processed meats, fish, and poultry
  • Most low-fat dairy products
  • Specific grains, starches, and flours - arrowroot, buckwheat, cornmeal, flax, quinoa, rice, tapioca, corn, potato, bean

“NO” Foods:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Oats

Processed foods that often contain gluten to avoid:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • French fries
  • Pastas
  • Salad dressings
  • Soups

The major risks of being on a gluten free diet

Many foods that are eliminated in a gluten free diet contain many nutrients and vitamins. For example, whole-grain breads contain nutrients like iron, fiber, calcium, thiamin, and folate. Because of this, you are at risk of not consuming as many nutrients as you are supposed to. Some gluten free breads and cereals have extremely varied nutrient levels compared to the ones they are replacing. Some gluten free foods also have higher fat and sugar contents than the foods that contain gluten. In those cases, it is important to read all the labels when going grocery shopping and ordering healthy items when eating out at restaurants.

Which diet is for you?

After all of that information, it may be difficult to figure out which diet to begin. Each diet is different and fulfills different requirements and needs for the person who wants to start that specific diet. The first thing you should do is consult with your physician before beginning any diet to get advice from a health professional. Overall, all of these diets will assist you with losing weight.

If the keto diet is for you…

This diet is for someone who wants to lose a lot of weight and will be extremely committed to the diet itself. People on the keto diet have to pay attention to every single thing they are putting into their body. You also have to prepare yourself for significantly less carbohydrates in your daily intake. You will most likely hit the “keto flu” where your body wants carbs, but once you pass that and your body starts using fat as its energy source, it is smooth sailing from there. On the keto diet, you must be very disciplined and ready to take on this challenge.

If the vegan diet is for you…

This diet is for someone who wants to help the environment and eliminate all animal products from their diet. This diet will assist you in losing weight. Vegans tend to have a lower BMI compared to non-vegans. Someone who wants to embark on the vegan diet needs to be able to plan out their meals very well. It is important to plan everything out to ensure you get all the correct nutrients.

If the gluten free diet is for you…

This diet is typically for people who have celiac disease. This diet manages the signs, symptoms, and complications of celiac disease. It is absolutely crucial for people who have celiac disease to follow this diet. People who are non-celiac may also follow a gluten free diet as well. You will be able to benefit from weight loss and overall improved health if the diet is done correctly. People on the gluten free diet need to be able to read labels very meticulously to ensure nothing they are consuming has any gluten in it. They also need to make sure the gluten free foods have enough daily nutrients.