We have earlier discussed the immense benefits of the carnivore diet. Some may consider this diet to be too extreme, exposing one to potential harm. Are there any other alternatives out there that could give similar results and perhaps have less potential threats? In this article, we will explore some of these options.
- A Low-Carb Paleo Diet
As opposed to going straight from the Standard American Diet to pure carnivore, oftentimes, a low-carbohydrate Paleo template might provide some of the same benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and alleviation in autoimmune symptoms.
The paleo diet involves eating unprocessed foods that were likely available to your Paleolithic ancestors before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. While not strictly low-carb, it can be modified to fit such a lifestyle.
According to paleo supporters, returning to the diet of your prehistoric ancestors should improve health because humans allegedly evolved and adapted to eating such foods. Several small studies show that a paleo diet can cause weight loss, reduce blood sugars, and improve risk factors for heart disease
A paleo diet emphasizes meats, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts, and seeds. A strict paleo diet eliminates processed foods, added sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy products.
- A Fasting Mimicking Diet
Fast mimicking is a type of modified fasting. Instead of abstaining from food completely like a traditional fast, you consume small amounts of food — but you do it in a way that gives you the benefits of fasting.
A fast-mimicking diet typically lasts about five days — you’ll keep your carb, protein, and calorie intake low and your fat intake high. Calories are kept at around 40% of normal intake. This keeps you nourished with nutrients and electrolytes. It also puts less stress on your body than normal fasting while still giving you the same benefits.
Fasting and especially intermittent fasting have been shown to be an effective mediation in many diseases, including obesity and diabetes. Recently, the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) has been found to improve metabolic disorders.
Studies show that it can reverse type 1 and type 2 diabetes, alleviate age-dependent impairments in cognitive performance, and protect against cancer and aging in mice. In humans, the fasting-mimicking diet was found to significantly reduce body weight, improve cardiovascular risk markers, lower inflammation, and potentially improve symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
- Periodic Prolonged Fasting
Undergoing 72-hour fasting once every few months could also achieve many of the benefits boasted by the carnivore diet. Prolonged fasting causes organs to shrink and then be rejuvenated as damaged cells are cleared out and stem cell pathways are activated. Prolonged fasting (PF) has also been known to promote stress resistance.
The latest study to explore the impact of fasting on the human body concludes that it increases metabolic activity more than previously realized and may even impart anti-aging benefits.
- A Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic (keto) diet involves reducing carbs sufficiently to induce a metabolic state called ketosis. It’s a very powerful diet to lose fat and may protect against several diseases. The ketogenic diet has been very well studied and has documented benefits for epilepsy, neurodegenerative disease, and autoimmune disease. Ketones themselves are potent anti-inflammatories.
The ketogenic diet is a very-low-carb, high-fat diet. The goal of a keto diet is to keep carbs so low that your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, your insulin levels plummet and your body releases large amounts of fatty acids from its fat stores.
A big amount of these fatty acids are transported to your liver, which converts them to ketones. Ketones are water-soluble molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and supply energy to your brain.
So, instead of operating on carbs, your brain starts being largely dependent on ketones. It is, however, important to note that your body can still produce a small amount of glucose required by your brain via a process called gluconeogenesis.
Traditionally used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children, the keto diet may also have benefits for other neurological disorders and metabolic problems like type 2 diabetes. Some versions of this diet restrict protein intake as too much protein may reduce the number of ketones you produce.
In recent times, it has also become popular for fat loss — even among some bodybuilders — as it’s a very effective way to lose fat and reduces appetite effectively.
A ketogenic diet involves high-protein, high-fat foods. A very small amount of carbs is allowed. A conventional keto eating pattern is referred to as a standard ketogenic diet (SKD).
Other variations that involve strategically adding carbs are:
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). In this version, you add small amounts of carbs around workouts.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD). This type has you eat a ketogenic diet on most days but switch to a high-carb diet for 1–2 days each week.
- The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet is a popular low-carbohydrate eating plan developed in the 1960s by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins. The Atkins Diet restricts carbs (carbohydrates) while emphasizing protein and fats.
The Atkins diet has been popular for over 40 years. It is a 4-phase, low-carb eating pattern that allows you to consume plenty of fat and protein. It is the best-known low-carb eating plan and it involves reducing all high-carb foods while eating as much protein and fat as desired.
This diet is divided into four phases:
Phase 1: Induction. Eat under 20 grams of carbs per day for 2 weeks.
Phase 2: Balancing. Slowly add more nuts, low-carb vegetables, and fruit.
Phase 3: Fine-tuning. When you get close to your weight goal, add more carbs until your weight loss becomes slower.
Phase 4: Maintenance. Eat as many healthy carbs as your body tolerates without gaining back the weight you lost.
The Atkins Diet says that it’s eating plan can prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
And most weight-loss diets — not just low-carb diets — may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily. One study showed that people who followed the Atkins Diet had improved triglycerides, suggesting better heart health. But there have been no major studies to show whether such benefits hold up for the long term or increase how long you live.
The Atkins diet was originally demonized, but current research indicates it’s both safe and effective as long as fiber intake is adequate. This diet is still popular today.
- The carnivore diet as opposed to other diets
The carnivore diet is sometimes considered to be too severe. Because of the many positive outcomes of this diet for weight loss and managing certain chronic diseases, alternative, milder options can be looked into. The health movement now dictates that people proactively make lifestyle decisions that will affect their lives, and diet is key in this. We expect to see more people engaging in such diets not only as a cure for certain conditions they may have but also for the general maintenance of health.
- Healthline (2019): The 8 Most Popular Ways to Do a Low-Carb Diet. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-popular-ways-to-do-low-carb
- NCBI (2018): Intermittent administration of a fasting-mimicking diet intervenes in diabetes progression, restores β cells and reconstructs gut microbiota in mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6245873/
- Perfect Keto (2019) : Fasting Mimicking Diet: What It Is and How to Do It. Retrieved from https://perfectketo.com/fasting-mimicking-diet-and-how-to-do-it/
- Medical news today (2019): Fasting boosts metabolism and fights aging. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324347.php
- NCBI (2015): A periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance and healthspan. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509734/
- Mayo Clinic: Atkins Diet: What’s behind the claims? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/atkins-diet/art-20048485