Food

Which Diet is Right for You? Headstart’s Doctor Weighs In

“New day, new you.” Those words are everywhere you look around the year. And though we’re not against using all seasons to get motivated and focused on health, we at Headstart believe that it’s more about taking steps to find the best-possible version of who you already are.

Many of us take this time of year — no surprise here — to work on diet and nutrition. But with so many diet trends out there, how do you know what’s right for you? The reality is that your body will respond best to a diet that’s optimized for your unique makeup. Enlisting the help of a trained physician can give you the opportunity to understand your body and make a plan to help you achieve your goals. At Headstart, our doctors will also provide you with the support you’ll need along the way.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular diets out there and what our doctors say about who they might be best suited for:

Ketogenic Diet

Limiting total daily value of carbohydrates ingested to under 20g (about two slices of bread), this diet results in an average intake of roughly 75% fats, 20% proteins and 5% carbs.

So how does it work? The low intake of carbohydrates (your body’s preferred source of energy) forces the body to induce a change in metabolism called ketosis, therefore decreasing the availability of sugar (the simplest form of a carbohydrate) in the bloodstream. As a result, the body is forced to seek out other sources of energy, namely fat.

Who does it work best for? Headstart Medical Lead Dr. Hiba Siddiqui says a ketogenic diet can be a great option for those looking to jump start their weight loss but you should take things like your cholesterol levels and genetics into account. People with high LDL cholesterol or elevated risk of heart disease may want to emphasize healthy fats from fish and nuts over saturated fats from red meat and butter. If you choose to increase your saturated fat intake, it’s worth discussing with your doctor how long to stay on that regimen.

Paleo Diet

Built to model the foods eaten during humankind’s hunter-gatherer phase — think: meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds (as well as healthy fats and oils) — the paleo diet is based on the notion that the human body simply wasn’t able to adapt to the rapid and relatively late change in diet that came with the emergence of farming practices. This approach therefore suggests that highly processed foods, refined sugars, cereals and grains, starchy tubers, legumes and dairy should be avoided. According to proponents of the paleo diet, the body’s inability to adapt to such foods is a contributing factor in the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease today.

Who might be a good candidate? Because it restricts the intake of grains and sugars — and therefore significantly reduces one’s carbohydrate load — Dr. Nate says the paleo diet can be a good option for diabetics and pre-diabetics. That said, it’s important that individuals on this diet are mindful of red meat consumption, as those with Type 2 Diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Mediterranean Diet

Perhaps as romantic as it is reasonable, the Mediterranean diet is modeled after the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (and really, the basics of healthy eating). On the menu: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, extra virgin olive oil and yes, maybe even a nice glass of red wine. Best in moderation: poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

According to Dr. Hiba, going Mediterranean might be for you if you’re looking for a heart-healthy diet. Research suggests that sticking to this diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. You’ve probably heard about “good fats” and “bad fats”. This diet focuses on foods rich in the good ones (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), which contain the beneficial linolenic acid — a type of omega-3 fatty acid believed to lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, improve the health of your blood vessels and help moderate blood pressure.

So, now you have an overview of some of the most popular diets out there, as well as an understanding of who they might be best-suited for. But why tackle what can be the daunting task of proactively changing your health alone? That’s why we’re here. Headstart is your partner in prevention, arming you with the tools and information needed for success. And, we can help you identify — and maintain — a program that’s best for you.

Included in our proactive and holistic approach: genetic testing that allows us to better understand your unique makeup, and real-time blood testing that allow us to understand the complete state of your current health — including cholesterol (HDL, LDL, VLDL), fasting glucose (diabetes markers), liver health and kidney health. With it, our best-in-class physicians are able to provide a robust wellness plan and ongoing nutrition counseling customized specifically for you.

The end result: the overall health and happiness that allows you to be the best-possible version of who you already are.

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