“Fad diets” may come and go according to the latest weight loss trends, but there have always been a few eating plans that stand out above the rest and become long-term, trusted healthy lifestyle changes. Whether you’re looking to lose weight naturally, improve your energy levels or boost your immune system, there’s a healthy diet out there that will suit your nutritional needs. Our green team gives you the low-down on the four top diets making headlines at the moment – plus you can follow the links our favourite recipes and must-have shopping lists for each one.

1. Alkaline Diet

In a Nutshell:

The food you eat releases either an acid or alkaline base into your bloodstream after it’s been metabolised. Lately the typical western diet has become much higher in acid-producing foods (meat, poultry, grains, dairy, fish & shellfish). This imbalance of acid is thought to make you more prone to disease as it leads to the loss of essential minerals.

The principle behind the Alkaline Diet is that your food consumption pH levels should reflect your bloodstream’s natural pH level – slightly alkaline between 7.35 and 7.45. Also known as the Acid Alkaline Diet or the Alkaline Acid Diet, this eating plan focuses largely on fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, tubers and legumes – all alkaline-producing foods.

Pros:

• Includes lots of fresh produce
• High in filling, fibre-rich foods
• Affordable
• Promotes weight loss & boosts immunity
• Prevents disease & premature ageing
• Suitable for vegetarians, includes many vegan-friendly staples

Cons:

• Based on limited research
• Includes many rules to follow, which can get confusing
• Eating out at restaurants may prove difficult
• May not be suitable for those with kidney conditions or those on heart medication

Read more about the Alkaline Diet: Check out our favourite recipes and essential shopping list.

2. The 5:2 Diet (Intermittent Fasting)

In a Nutshell:

It’s not just about what you eat; it’s about when you eat it. The 5:2 Diet involves the principle of intermittent fasting. This means you eat normally (but sensibly) 5 days a week and fast on the other 2 days. Fast days require significant calorie limitation (600 a day for men, 500 for women). The principle here is that during times of fasting, your body puts all its energy towards cellular repair and maintenance.

The 5:2 Diet is designed not just to help with healthy weight loss, but also to prolong your lifespan and promote healthy brain function, protecting brain cells against the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Pros:

• Affordable
• Promotes weight loss & improved health
• Lowers blood pressure
• Allows your digestive system to rest & recover
• Lowers the risk of disease
• Promotes longevity & healthy brain function
• Encourages more consciousness about your daily diet

Cons:

• Fast days require a lot of willpower & may cause side effects (headaches, low energy) at first
• You may be tempted to overeat after fasting
• Fasting may not be safe for certain people (pregnant moms, type 1 diabetics, anyone underweight)

Dr. Michael Mosley has pioneered the 5:2 Diet and its health benefits. Learn more about his journey towards better health with the documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer.

Read more about the A5:2 Diet: Check out our top recipes and must-have shopping list.

3. The Tim Noakes Diet (aka Banting, Paleo)

In a Nutshell:

Prof. Tim Noakes has become a household name, and Paleo-friendly ingredients are just flying off our shelves here at Faithful to Nature! His book, The Real Meal Revolution, focuses on a low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF), also known as Banting or the Paleo diet. This is a weight loss eating plan that focuses on protein and fats, eliminates sugar and processed carbs, and limits most grains.

The principle behind this diet is that carbohydrates are non-essential, while protein and fat are the body’s preferred method of fuel. This reflects the eating habits of early humans, who hunted animals and gathered fruits and vegetables, before the advent of grain-farming.

Pros:

• Eliminates sugary snacks
• Eliminates processed foods
• High in iron & protein
• Promotes a greater feeling of satiety (fullness, satisfaction)
• Promotes weight loss & higher energy levels
• Helps to control blood glucose & insulin levels

Cons:

• Lots of rules; requires a high level of effort & commitment
• Buying more organic & free-range meats can be pricey
• Vegans & vegetarians may find this diet very restrictive

Read more about the Tim Noakes Diet: We’ve put together some tasty recipes and a list of shopping essentials.

4. The Raw Food Diet

In a Nutshell:

The raw food diet is based on the belief that the best food for your body is uncooked food. The process of cooking often diminishes your food’s nutritional value, as certain vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds are destroyed by the heat. Cooking also denatures the enzymes in food; these enzymes are what your body needs for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Needless to say, eating a diet high in cooked foods can really throw your system out of balance.

Raw foodists eat a whole food diet that’s high in completely uncooked meals. However, it is still acceptable to heat some foods provided the cooking process doesn’t exceed a certain temperature (this varies throughout the raw food community, from approx. 104-118°F).

Pros:

• Focuses on fresh whole foods
• Easy for vegans & vegetarians to follow
• Easy for those with Celiac or gluten-intolerance to follow
• This healthy diet plan promotes natural slimming, disease resistance & more energy

Cons:

• May require additional expenses, ie. investing in equipment like blenders, juicers or dehydrators
• You might miss out on the benefits of foods that actually become more nutritious when cooked – for example, tomatoes contain triple the amount of lycopene after cooking
• You may find that not many restaurants cater to raw food requirements; options for eating out could be significantly limited

Read more about the Raw Food Diet: Try out these inspiring recipes and get your shopping list together. You can also find a wealth of raw foodist information and inspiration in the Easy Living Food recipe book.