THE BLOG
02/24/2016 12:10 pm ET Updated Feb 24, 2017

Are These Popular Diets Right for You or Are They Too Restrictive?

IAN HOOTON via Getty Images

It seems like a day doesn't go by without a new trendy diet hitting the health world. Not every diet is right for every person, so it's important to do your research and know what works for you. It may be a mix-and-match of certain ideas to find the right balance. Here's the low-down on a couple popular diets, Paleo and vegan.

Paleo

One such trendy diet is Paleo. It's based on the idea that you are only putting all-natural, whole ingredients into your body, nothing processed or artificial. Here are some general guidelines the Paleo diet follows:
  • Your diet should be generally high in protein and good fats and low to moderate in carbohydrates
  • Eat all the fresh or frozen vegetables you want, raw or cooked
  • Eat a solid amount of animal proteins, preferably pasture-raised and grass-fed meats
  • Limit your fruit intake and stick to only fruits low in sugar
  • No grains or legumes, such as wheat, rye, barley, beans, and peanuts
  • Eliminate added sugars and dairy, as much as possible

Since the diet consists of mostly meat and vegetables, it's hard to satisfy your sweet and salty taste-buds, especially when snack time hits. To satisfy those snack cravings, I looked high and low for the best snacks for the Paleo diet and created a guide to help you find them.

Vegan

There is a lot of talk, curiosity and interest around plant-based diets these days. People choose to follow a vegan diet for a variety of reasons, including health and environmental concerns. Here are some general guidelines the vegan diet follows:
  • Same rules as vegetarian apply, so no meat, fish or poultry
  • In addition, vegans do not consume any animal by-products, such as eggs and dairy
  • The staples of a vegan diet include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes
  • Animal products shouldn't be replaced with refined and artificial foods, instead look for foods with a similar nutrition-profile to whatever you eliminate

Protein can be one of the hardest nutrients to find when following a vegan diet. Options include hemp and plant-based protein powders, grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut, legumes and lentils, tofu and nuts. Try to stay away from consuming too much "fake meat" as a lot of those alternatives are very high in sodium, soy and gluten, making them hard to digest. The key to making sure you get all the nutrients your body needs is variety.

While both Paleo and vegan diets can seem restrictive, it doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation. Putting the focus on consuming only all-natural foods and eliminating artificial ingredients is beneficial to your health, even if that means trying out meatless Mondays or only buying paleo-friendly packaged products. A little effort can go a long way!