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Popular Diets: Which is Right for You?

The idea that there is a "one-size-fits-all" food plan out there couldn't be further from the truth. Fad diets will come and go, but true dietary food plan, with scientific evidence, have many benefits and choosing the best one for you will depend on several things including:

  • Your food preferences

  • Your health goals

  • Your current health conditions

Here is a quick overview of the many food plans available. If you are not sure which one is best for you, contact Kim for an appointment and she will provide a recommendation that fits your individual needs.

Calorie Restriction

Calorie Restriction is based on the idea of consuming a diet that is low in calories but that also maintains proper nutrition. It is used as a non-pharmacologic intervention for decreasing the biological rate of aging, warding off age-related diseases, and increasing lifespan. Research has varied on the amount of calorie restriction to use ranging from 10-25%. At a 25% calorie reduction over a 6-month period, it has been found to result in approximately a 10% body weight reduction.1


The DASH Diet is designed to help lower blood pressure. This diet is based on eating a 2,000 calories per day focused on limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg of sodium/day. There is an even lower sodium DASH Diet that limits sodium intake to 1,500mg of sodium/day. This diet is focused on eating: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, fat-free/low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, and vegetable oils. It limits the intake of foods that are high in saturated fats (fatty meals, full-fat dairy, coconut/palm kernel/palm oils). Weekly servings of nuts, seeds, peas, and dry beans is limited to 4-5 servings. Weekly servings of sweets and sugar sweetened beverages is limited to 5 or less servings. The goal of the DASH Diet is to have a diet that is lower in sodium, low in saturated and trans fats, and is rich in protein, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in order to improve blood pressure.2

The Feingold Diet

The Feingold Diet eliminates artificial food coloring (petrochemical dyes), artificial flavors, artificial fragrances, artificial sweeteners, and foods that naturally contain salicylates. It is typically used in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).3


The FODMaP Diet is the restriction of Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide, and Polyols in the diet. It is typically used in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There are several short chain carbohydrates that may be poor absorbed in the small intestine. This malabsorption allows those foods to ferment in the large intestine causing gastrointestinal distress. Foods to avoid on the FODMaPDiet include:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat, barley, rye, onion, garlic, artichoke, leeks, beetroot, savoy cabbage, watermelon, peaches, persimmon, prunes, nectarines, dried fruits, read kidney beans, baked beans, soy beans, and peas

  • Disaccharides: lactose, dairy products, cow/goat milk, yogurt

  • Monosaccharides: fructose, apples, pears, watermelon, mango, cherries, boysenberries, fruit juice from high-fructose foods, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, asparagus, and snap peas

  • Polyols: sorbitol, apples, pears, and avocado4

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet (GFCF Diet)

The GFCF Diet was originally used to treat schizophrenia. However, it has also been found to help with reducing the symptoms seen in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to help treat leaky gut, but scientific studies backing this up are limited. It is thought that the leaky gut is caused by an overload of gluten from wheat and casein from dairy. That overload causes high peptide levels that may produce an opioid type effect. This is thought to be what causes the behavioral symptoms seen in ASD.5

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is typically an 8-hour eating window and a 16-hour fasting window during a 24-hour day. This method of eating and fasting combined with resistance training has been found to decrease fat mass while retaining lean body mass therefore enhancing body composition. It may be done every day or done on a 2:5 system of intermittent fasting on two consecutive days of the week and then normal eating patterns the other five days per week.6

Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet was originally used as a way to treat epilepsy. Recent research has shown that the Ketogenic Diet may be beneficial in the treatment of acne, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, neurological diseases, and respiratory diseases. The main objective of the Ketogenic Diet is to limit daily carbohydrate into to less than 50g/day (optimal level is 20g/day) and increase intake of protein and healthy fats. By doing this, the body will begin to use ketones for energy (as opposed to its preferential energy source glucose) and this will result in weight reduction.7

Low Oxalate Diet (LOD)

The Low Oxalate Diet is typically used for people with calcium oxalate kidney stones. Oxalates are derived from the diet and are an unneeded byproduct of metabolism within the body. The amount of dietary calcium has a significant effect on urinary oxalate excretion. High levels of Vitamin C also increase risk of developing kidney stones. This diet focuses on:

  • Avoid oxalate-rich foods like nuts, rhubarb, spinach, chocolate, and beets

  • Increase dietary calcium intake with each meal (total of 1000-1200mg/day of calcium)

  • Avoid calcium supplements due to interference with oxalate absorption

  • Drink more fluids - especially water

  • Monitor sodium intake

  • Avoid high protein diets

  • Avoid excessive intake of Vitamin C foods or supplements8,9

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is used in the treatment of cardio vascular disease and dementia. This diet is known for its: high consumption of - extra virgin olive oil, fruit, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, cereals; moderate consumption of - poultry, fish, dairy, and red wine; and low consumption of - processed foods and processed meats. This diet is high in monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It has been found to improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, lipid profiles, oxidative stress, and c-reactive protein (CRP) levels and decreasing overall inflammation in the body.10

Mediterranean Diet - Cardiometabolic Food Plan

The Cardiometabolic Food Plan is a modified Mediterranean Diet. The goal of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan is to eat a Mediterranean Diet that is focused on low-glycemic index foods (scoring 55 or less on the glycemic index). This allows for only small changes in blood glucose and insulin levels. In addition, this diet provides targeted calories for a person to consume based on their basal metabolic rate (BMR) and exercise levels.11

Mito Food Plan

The Mito Food Plan is a diet that focuses on supporting healthy mitochondria function in the body through the use of therapeutic foods that help to improve cellular energy production and reduce inflammation and pain. This diet is an approach to eating that is anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, low-grain, gluten-free, and high-quality fats. It can also be used in conjunction with a reduced carbohydrate/ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, or calorie restriction diet. The Mito Food Plan focuses on the consumption therapeutic foods including: high quality proteins; legumes (one serving per day); dairy alternatives; nuts and seeds; fats and oils; non-starchy vegetables; fruits; gluten-free grains; water; tea; and avoiding sweeteners.12

Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet

The Paleolithic Diet (also known as the Paleo Diet, Caveman Diet, Stone Age Diet, and Hunger-Gatherer Diet) focuses on eating a diet similar to what people consumed prior to the establishment of agriculture. This diet has been used for the treatment of many diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The main focus of this diet is to consume wild animal meat sources and uncultivated-plant source foods. These foods include grass-fed lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, roots, and nuts. It excludes dairy, legumes, grains, salt, processed oils, and refined sugar.13

Paleo Auto Immune Protocol (AIP)

The AIP Diet is an extension of the Paleolithic Diet. It focuses on an initial elimination phase that removes certain food groups from the diet. The foods to avoid include: grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nightshades, nuts/seeds, alcohol, coffee, refined/processed sugars, oils, and food additives. These foods are all known to be involved in intestinal inflammation and dysbiosis. By eliminating these foods, the diet focuses on eating fresh nutrient dense foods, fermented foods, and bone broths. It also encourages exercise and sleep hygiene. After the elimination phase, there is a maintenance phase which should followed until there is measurable improvement in symptoms. Then, there is a reintroduction phase where foods groups are gradually introduced into the diet. If the patient reacts or experiences symptoms, then those foods are eliminated from the diet.14

Plant Based Diet

Plant Based Diet has been found to support sustainable weight loss, lowering risk for most chronic disease, and even possibly reversing type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. The diet focuses on eating plant foods and avoiding animal foods. Plants contain phytochemicals and fiber which help to support the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, and the immune system. By avoiding animal-based foods in the diet it reduces: saturated fats; dietary cholesterol; exposure to antibiotics; exposure to carcinogenic compounds produced during the process of cooking meats; and exposure to insulin-like growth factor-1 which can promote cancer proliferation. A well-balanced plant-based diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, spices, herbs, and a small quantity of nuts and seeds. Supplementation of vitamin B12 is necessary as it is not directly available from plants. It is important to monitor Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc levels to avoid deficiency.15

ReNew Food Plan

The ReNew Food Plan is a short-term therapeutic diet. It is focused on removing processed foods, sugars, grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and processed chemicals from the diet in order to reduce exposure to potential food triggers or food allergens. this diet is used for people with gastrointestinal, neurological, or chronic diseases.16

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is focused on the consumption of monosaccharides, fats, solid proteins, nuts, and fruits and vegetables that have high ratio of amylose to amylopectin. It is used in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This diet includes: homemade fermented yogurt, all fruits and vegetables that contain more amylose than amylopectin, nuts, nut-derived flours, meats, eggs, dry-curd cottage cheese, butter, and oils. The following foods are excluded: maltose, isomaltose, sucrose, lactose, grain-derived flours, pseud- grains, potatoes, okra, corn, soy, fluid milk, high-lactose cheese, preservatives, and food additives.17

Vegan Diet

A Vegan Diet is a complete way of living as opposed to just a diet. Vegans live in a way that seeks to exclude (as much as practical) all forms of cruelty to and exploitation of animals for clothing, food, or any other purpose. It is similar to a plant-based diet in that it avoids all animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey. However, it also excludes using products made from leather or animal skins or any products that were tested on animals.18 Supplementation of vitamin B12 is necessary as it is not directly available from plants. It is important to monitor Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc levels to avoid deficiency.15

Vegetarian Diet

A Vegetarian Diet does not include any poultry, meat, or seafood or animal proteins. It is very similar to a Plant-Based Diet. It includes: vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Vegetarians also exclude products containing gelatin and rennin. There are several variations of the vegetarian diet:

  • Vegan diet includes only plant foods. (It does not include animal proteins or animal by-products)

  • Lacto-vegetarian diet includes plant foods and dairy products

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet include plant foods, dairy products, and eggs

  • Semi-vegetarian or partial-vegetarian diet includes plant foods and may also include fish, chicken, diary products, and eggs. (It does not include red meat)

  • Pescatarian diet includes plant foods and seafood20

Supplementation of vitamin B12 is necessary as it is not directly available from plants. It is important to monitor Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc levels to avoid deficiency.15

About the Author: Sam Tucker is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College with a Master's in Applied Clinical Nutrition. She has recently completed the required supervised hours to earn her CNS credential and is anxiously awaiting to hear the score from her CNS Exam. In addition to building her clinical practice, Sam lives in Kentucky with her husband and her children.


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  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. DASH Eating Plan. ND. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  3. Nigg J, Holton K. Restriction and Elimination Diets in ADHD Treatment. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N. Am. 2014 Oct;23(4):937-953. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  4. Nanayakkara W, Skidmore P, O’Brien L, et al. Efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for treating irritable bowel syndrome: the evidence to date. Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2016; 9: 131-142. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  5. Elder J, Kreider C, Schaefer N, and de Laosa M. A review of gluten- and casein-free diets for treatment of autism: 2005-2015. Nutr Diet Suppl. 2015; 7: 87-101. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  6. Hayward S, Outlaw J, Urbina S, et al. Effects of intermittent fasting on markers of body composition and mood state. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(suppl 1):25. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  7. Keto - Paoli A, Rubin A, Volek J, and Grimaldi K. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;67(8):789-796. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  8. Holmes R, Knight J, Assimos D. Lowering urinary oxalate excretion to decrease calcium oxalate stone disease. Urolithiasis. 2016 Feb;44(1):27-32. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  9. Harvard Medical School. Avoiding kidney stones. Harvard Health Letter. September 2011. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  10. Wade A, Davis C, Dyer K, et al. A Mediterranean Diet to Improve Cardiovascular and Cognitive Health: Protocol for Randomised Controlled Intervention Study. Nutrients. 2017 Feb; 9(2):145. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  11. The Institute for Functional Medicine. Cardiometabolic Food Plan Comprehensive Guide. C2016. P4-6.

  12. The Institute for Functional Medicine. Mito Food Plan Comprehensive Guide. C2016. P 4-15.

  13. Klonoff D. The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and Other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2009 Nov;3(6):1229-1232. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  14. Konijeti G, Kim N, Lewis J, et al. Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Nov;23(1):2054-2060. Accessed on June 21, 2018. Available from:

  15. Hever J. Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guid. Perm J. 2016 Summer;20(3):93-101. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  16. The Institute of Functional Medicine. ReNew Food Plan Comprehensive Guide. C2016. P3-4.

  17. Kakodkar S, Faroogui A, Mikolatis S, Mutlu E. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case Series. J Am Diet Assoc. Volume 115; Issue 8: 1226 - 1232. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  18. The Vegan Society. Definition of Veganism. C1944-2018. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

  19. US National Library of Medicine. MedLine Plus: Vegetarian Diet. Last updated June 04, 2018. Accessed on June 22, 2018. Available from:

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