The 7 best diets of 2020 and why they work

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The truth is, everyone is different. That means no one diet is suitable for everyone. Some people thrive on low-carb diets, some on low-fat diets. Some need plenty of protein to support their active lifestyles, while some prefer raw diets. 

Here at Lifesum, we understand that a diet needs to fit with the lifestyle and needs of our users. That’s why we have different diets and meal plans centred around three common goals:

Maintaining weight

Losing weight

Building muscle

Here we list the 7 best diets of 2020 that will help you achieve these goals and highlight why they work so well. 

Best diets to maintain weight

Maintaining a good diet is all about creating long-term habits. That means having a diet that is easy to adapt to in the beginning and relatively easy to maintain on an ongoing basis. Often, that involves sticking with a diet that incorporates all the large food groups – protein, fat and carbohydrates. For example, that might be a sugar detox to start, followed by a clean eating diet.

1. Sugar detox

Going through a sugar detox has endless health benefits. This type of diet eliminates added sugars and focuses on reducing cravings.

By excluding all added sugars as part of the detox you only eat nutrition-rich foods which are immediately beneficial for your health and well-being. 

An increase in protein, healthy fats, complex carbs and veggies is key to going sugar free.

Why does it work?

Did you know that sugar is an addictive substance? 

In fact, about 10% of the US population are true sugar addicts, according to experts. 

By reducing sugar, a carbohydrate, you reduce the amount of carbs turning into fat in the body. You also see more stable blood sugar levels, which decreases hunger and cravings for more sugary foods and stops you gaining weight. While it might be difficult to sustain a sugar-free diet, it’s a great way to cleanse the body and pave the way for a more long-term diet like clean eating.

2. Clean eating diet

A simple clean eating diet is great to lose weight and relatively easy to maintain.

Clean eating is all about saying goodbye to processed foods and hello to whole grains. It aims to refresh your body and includes loads of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, chicken and avocado.

Why does it work?

Embracing unprocessed foods on a clean eating diet means you get all the necessary vitamins, minerals and essential energy your body needs to be healthy. This diet allows you to feel satisfied, ensuring you’re in a good place to maintain your weight long-term.

Best diets to lose weight

To lose weight, it’s critical you commit to a calorie deficit. A deficit is any shortage in the amount of calories you consume relative to the amount of calories required for the maintenance of your current body weight. Essentially, this means eating less than you burn. 

Hunger is often an issue for people following a weight loss diet as it involves reducing your calorie intake. As a result, it’s really important to eat whole foods which will enable you to stick to your calorie deficit plus make you feel fuller for longer so you don’t experience the feeling of an empty stomach. This goes a long way in maintaining healthy habits and reducing the likelihood of digressing back to old habits.

Here are some of the most popular diets to lose weight and reasons why they work so well.

3. The ketogenic diet

The ketogenic (keto) diet drastically reduces the amount of carbohydrates you consume and replaces them with fat.

Olive oil, fatty fish, eggs, vegetables and berries all take centre stage on this diet, while starchy carbs like bread, pasta and sugar are ruled out. 

When you reduce your consumption of carbs and replace them with fats, you achieve a state of ‘ketosis’ which means your body starts to use fat storage for energy instead of sugar/glucose.

Why does it work?

Achieving ketosis essentially increases your metabolism, turning your body into a fat burning machine.

When consuming fat without carbs, you also experience an appetite reduction which makes you eat smaller portions without thinking about it. 

These changes in your diet will help you lose weight in a natural way. According to experts, the keto diet also stabilises your blood sugar which lowers blood pressure and can help prevent heart disease. 

4. The Paleo diet

The paleo or ‘caveman diet’ as it has also become known as, is a diet focused on pure, wholesome and unprocessed foods. 

Paleo is all about going back to basics and consuming foods that our hunter gatherer ancestors would have eaten thousands of years ago.

Colourful vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, fruits and healthy fats all take centre stage on this diet- bursting with rich nutrition, but also delicious!

Why does it work?

By excluding all processed foods as part of the Paleo diet, you will only eat nutrition-dense foods. 

The diet combines decreased carbs and sugar, more so than in other diets and this helps regulate metabolism and blood sugars. 

By eliminating processed foods you will also benefit from better digestion and reduce bloating. 

All of these changes in your diet will help burn stored body fat in a natural and sustainable way.

5. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that regulates intervals of not eating (fasting) and eating.

Rather than state which foods you should eat, fasting focuses on when you should eat. 

Experts say it can have a powerful effect on the body and mind and people all over the world are using it to lose weight and improve their health.

Common intermittent fasting methods are the 5:2 diet which revolves around fasting for two days a week and eating normally the rest of the week.  (within reason, you will still have to avoid sweet treats and junk food) 

The other common fasting diet is 6:1 which means you fast for one day and eat normally for six.

Why does it work?

Your weekly calorie consumption will be heavily reduced from your one or two days of fasting, which contributes to successful weight loss.

When not eating for a certain number of hours, your body has time to clear out rest products from all the normal food you eat, making you feel more energized over time. 

Research also suggests that fasting contributes to longevity by causing cells to repair themselves.

6. Protein diet for weight loss

If you want to maintain muscle while losing fat, a protein diet is your ticket to success.

A protein diet embraces eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates to promote weight loss, improve energy and augment exercise performance. 

Quality protein like fish, chicken or poultry, salmon and tuna, beans, asparagus and spinach are important on this diet, while highly processed foods, white bread, pasta and other baked goods are reduced. 

Why does it work?

When you’re trying to lose weight, hunger can be tricky. However, a diet which consists of lots of protein means you don’t need to worry about an empty stomach because it fills you up on fewer calories. The result? Successful weight loss and no hunger.

Best diets to build muscle

A muscle building diet, when properly optimized enables you to progress that much faster in your quest for muscle growth.

When you lift heavy weights and complete more reps, you send a signal to your body to get stronger and build muscle during recovery. That means you need the right type of energy before, during and after training to make your muscles recover and grow stronger.

7. Protein diet for muscle-gain/food for strength

A high protein diet encourages the consumption of a large amount of protein to help build muscle. This diet focuses not so much on cutting down on what you eat, but simply eating more of the foods you need to build muscle like chicken, fish, beans and spinach.

Generally, a high protein diet recommends getting more than 20% of your total calories from protein but most protein diets, like those from Lifesum, consist of around 30% intake. 

The main role of protein is for growth, repair and maintenance of body cells and tissues, such as muscle. Therefore, a high protein diet typically supports an active lifestyle. 

Why does it work?

Consuming protein increases your overall fat burn, while using more energy to digest than other nutrients.

Protein is the building block of muscle growth when you do strength training. Therefore, eating an adequate amount of protein, in combination with lifting weights helps promote muscle gain.

In combination with a good amount of protein intake, muscle building diets also need high quality carbs to energize your workouts and good fats to keep your metabolism up. This ensures you’re getting all the macronutrients (a combination of the different food groups – protein, fat and carbs) you need to gain muscle.

It’s important to understand what your optimum macro ratio should be when you want to gain muscle. Food packets contain the nutritional information you need to calculate your daily macros, but a more efficient way to keep track of your intake is by tracking your macros in a food app, like Lifesum. By tracking your macros, you make sure you fuel your body with the right type of energy to perform in your workouts, have energy throughout the day, build muscle and maintain hormonal balance.

The bottom line

Here we’ve highlighted the best diets of 2020 to help you either maintain your current weight, lose weight or build muscle. Here’s a recap of which diets are suitable, depending on your goal.

  • Sugar detox – Great for hitting the reset button
  • Clean eating – Long-term healthy eating plan that includes all the food groups
  • The Ketogenic diet – A diet that cuts carbs for quick weight loss
  • The Paleo diet – A natural diet that focuses on wholesome, unprocessed foods
  • Intermittent fasting – A diet focused on not what you eat, but when you eat
  • Protein diet for weight loss – Low carb, high protein for effective weight loss
  • Protein diet for muscle gain/food for strength – A high protein option which supports strength training

Whatever your goal, Lifesum has the plan. Download the app to browse our diets and meal plans.

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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