Diet. The word strikes fear in the hearts of some and elation in others. It seems that there’s always a new diet in the news with sky-high promises of miraculous results. Should you count macros? Should you eat nothing but bacon? It’s hard to determine what’s hype and what’s healthy. But which diets deliver? Weight loss is the goal of most people embarking on a diet, but with age, women must think about nutritional needs, not just numbers on the scale. The Mayo Clinic says that women over 50 need to look for diets rich in calcium for bone strength, protein for lean muscle mass, and vitamin B12 for brain function. Let’s talk about how the most popular diets in 2020 are stacking up…
This very low carb, high fat diet actually shares many similarities with the Atkins diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This carb reduction puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. There are actually a few different versions of the keto diet:
The Keto diet includes a few different versions, but only the standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Note that cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.
US News and World Report’s most recent ranking of best diets told us what we already knew — the Mediterranean Diet works. It has topped the list as one of the best food ideologies for several years running. In fact, the American Heart Association endorses it as a heart-healthy diet.
So what is it? Instead of having strict rules of what not to eat, the Mediterranean diet is a loose guideline for how to fill your plate. Since there are at least 16 countries in the area considered ‘Mediterranean’ all with varying cuisines, it’s really a shared ideology, rather than a strict plan.
The basics are this. Eat plants, lots of them. Potatoes? Great. Lentils? Love them. Olive oil is encouraged for healthy fat. Dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry are all great sources of protein. What you won’t find is a lot of processed foods, refined sugars, or sugary drinks. The occasional plate of pasta is fine but top it with garden-fresh veggies and use it as a side dish, not the main course.
Although it may not have a kitschy name or bells and whistles, the Mediterranean Diet does have a basis in good nutrition and it is easy to follow. Keep balance as your goal and you’ll begin to feel healthier all around.
In a dead heat with the Mediterranean diet on the US News and World Report list, the DASH diet also carries the AHA stamp of approval. The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet shares more than top billing with the Mediterranean diet — they share a pyramid structure with a wide base of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
Where the DASH diet differs is in its long term goal — reducing high blood pressure. To that end, the Dash diet seeks to minimize sodium intake to 1500 milligrams over time. Focusing on lean protein and low-fat dairy as opposed to processed meat and full-fat dairy helps. Reading those labels for hidden sodium is another key.
The DASH diet aims to be simple and easy to follow, which is why it’s one of the most popular diets in 2020. To start, add a serving of fruits or vegetables to every meal. Lower your meat intake but going meatless at least twice a week (this has a great environmental impact as well!) Use spices and herbs rather than salt to season food. And try to incorporate moderate physical activity for at least two and a half hours per week.
The vegetarian diet has long been linked with better health — reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even potentially preventing some cancers. But for those that occasionally crave a cheeseburger or a nice piece of fish, the Flexitarian diet is worth a look. Instead of strictly swearing off of animal protein, Flexitarians follow a vegetarian lifestyle most of the time. When the craving for meat strikes, that’s okay. Indulge and move on.
This allowance for diversion from the ideology is important, especially for people that may need more or varied protein sources than soy, eggs, or legumes. Filling up on whole grains, fruits and vegetables gives your body plenty of the nutritional fuel that it needs — all your letter vitamins, folate, calcium from dark leafy greens while incorporating occasional meat dishes, eggs, and dairy delivers the B12 that your brain craves. Far from restrictive, the Flexitarian way of thinking offers plenty of variety.
All of these diets have one thing in common — a wide base of plants as their foundation. While rapid weight loss can be attained with more trendy diets like Keto or “pegan” (paleo and vegan), for long term health, a more measured approach to weight loss is recommended by medical professionals. After all, when you’re in your prime, life should be about extending your quality of life.
If you like the Mediterrean diet, you might want to try the PLATE App by Prime Women. The PLATE program follow similar recommendations in the Mediterrean diet but adjusted for needs of women over 50. Dr. Kathryn Waldrep, an OB/GYN who collaborated with Prime Women on developing PLATE, also recommends a 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule. The new PLATE app allows you to gradually adjust your mealtimes with notifications, along with a meal planner, and recording substitutions allowed on the program.
Related Article: Now that we’ve discussed the most popular diets in 2020, let’s try to incorporate more activity. If you’re looking for strength, look for these signs of a good workout.
This article is for informational purposes only, is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is not a substitute for medical advice.