Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.
Rich Scherr is a seasoned journalist who has covered technology, finance, sports, and lifestyle.
Diet is a catch-all term that refers to a person’s pattern of eating. Example diets can include vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, gluten-free, low-calorie, low-FODMAP, and Mediterranean diets. Each diet has its own set of guidelines that describe what is and isn’t compliant. For example, vegan diets don’t include animal products of any kind and instead are made up of all plant-based foods.
There is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to diets and nutrition plans. Learn more about specific eating patterns to find what is best for you. You can also adjust any type of diet to make it fit better with your lifestyle, goals, and needs.
Originally used for the treatment of epilepsy, the keto diet involves a meal plan that is very low in carbs and high in fat. It touts significant weight loss by putting the body into a state of ketosis (the state when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to use for energy, so it burns fat instead). It's important to note that there is no research to date to assess the safety of the keto diet long-term.
The Mediterranean diet is a highly regarded way of eating that is inspired by the eating and lifestyle habits of people who live in the Mediterranean, such as Greek populations. The long-term, lifestyle approach promotes flavor, community, movement, and abundance or nutrients and food choices. Staples of the Mediterranean diet include whole grains; vegetables; lean protein sources like fish, legumes, and nuts; and healthy fats like olive oil. Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It is often named the best overall diet by "U.S. News and World Report."
Those with chronic inflammation or inflammatory diseases may be interested in following an anti-inflammatory diet. It focuses on foods that reduce inflammation in the body, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and more. It recommends against foods that increase inflammation, such as processed foods and alcohol.
There is no universal definition of a low-carb diet. The number of carbohydrates permitted on a low-carb diet depends on the specific meal plan. The keto diet, for example, is a variation of a very low-carb diet that typically recommends 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Some evidence suggests that a low carbohydrate diet may be defined as less than 130 grams per day, or 26% of total energy intake.
The BRAT diet is a highly restrictive diet recommended for people with gastrointestinal issues or upset stomachs. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. It’s not recommended as much anymore, but it used to be highly recommended by pediatricians for children with stomach problems.
Many diets claim to help with weight loss. Weight loss involves lowering your body weight to prevent health complications such as heart disease and diabetes. Healthy weight loss can be achieved with the help of a registered dietitian or qualified health care provider.
Those who are underweight or want to increase their muscle mass may list weight gain as one of their goals. This can usually be achieved by increasing the number of calories and adjusting the balance of macronutrients in your diet. Depending on your individual needs, you will likely need to increase your intake of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates. To gain weight healthfully, consider speaking to a registered dietitian.
The DASH diet aims to prevent and control hypertension (aka high blood pressure). It’s recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and involves avoiding foods high in sugar, fat, and salt. Instead, the DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish and poultry, and low-fat dairy products.
Intermittent fasting is a form of fasting that restricts eating during certain times of the day. There are many different variations of intermittent fasting, such as 5:2, alternative-day fasting, and time-restricted eating. All forms share a common thread: those who practice intermittent fasting eat all of their meals during a specific time period.
Nutrition, or the process of meeting your nutritional needs through diet, is important for overall health. Inadequate nutrition can be associated with poor health outcomes, including increased risk for certain diseases, and growth and development issues. Adequate nutrition means consuming enough macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) through food to help you meet nutritional needs throughout your lifespan.
Obesity is a medical condition that involves having excess fat on the body, which is associated with an increased risk of certain diseases. It’s usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. At Verywell Fit, we acknowledge the bias and limitations of BMI and recommend speaking with a health care provider to assess your risk of obesity.
When you look at a nutrition facts label on a food item, you will see the number of calories. This refers to a unit of energy. It describes how much energy your body could gain by eating it. Some people track their intake of calories to help with their weight loss or weight gain goals.
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