If there’s any universal truth that can be told about Malaysians, it is probably that they simply love to eat.
And who could blame us? There’s just so much food in Malaysia to be enjoyed, with Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines having their fair share of delicacies.
However, there is an obvious downside to having too much food; namely the burgeoning waistlines of one too many Malaysians.
Malaysia has the highest obesity rate in the region, and it has become clear that Malaysians have to start doing something about it.
And that’s not even mentioning the fact that just because you’re not obese, it doesn’t mean you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
Exercise is a no-brainer when it comes to maintaining one’s health, but dieting is the other half of the battle.
With so many types of diets available, one might not understand which diet suits their needs.
Here are five types of diets with different requirements and effects. Which is the one that will serve you best?
1. The Paleo Diet
Talk about going back in time! Subscribing to the paleo diet means that you will be eating the same food that your hunter-gatherer ancestors ate millennia ago.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to figure out what exactly they were eating back then, but it’s obvious they weren’t eating processed food out of cans.
According to the paleo diet, you are to keep sugar, dairy, grain and all sorts of processed food off the table.
In their place, you can feast on any protein sources, such as meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The paleo diet has been found to be effective for people looking to lose weight, with the high protein levels reducing hunger pangs.
Unfortunately, the emphasis on meat makes this diet off-limits to vegetarians and vegans, and it’s pricey to eat only fresh, unprocessed food.
2. The Vegan Diet
Do you wish to make a stand against the meat industry? Then join the growing multitude of people swearing off meat entirely.
Aside from ethical consumption, the vegan diet is said to have several health benefits including a slimmer body and improved blood sugar control.
The vegan diet has also been linked to reduced risk of cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s, though studies are currently ongoing.
However, swearing off animal food products can easily result in nutrient deficiencies, so you must find a vegan option to counter this problem.
Vegans cannot expect to eat meat, be it red or white, dairy products, eggs and any food made using animal-based ingredients such as gelatine or lactose.
To compensate for the lack of protein, Malaysian vegans can instead feast on tofu and tempeh, with seaweed also being an option.
Those on an entirely plant-based diet are actually advisable to turn to nutritional supplements to ensure they don’t miss out on any nutrients needed for good health.
The vegan trend has also caught on in the F&B industry, with more restaurants offering vegan-friendly options as of late.
3. The Mediterranean Diet
As the name may suggest, this diet is indeed one inspired by the traditional diets of people living around the Mediterranean Sea.
In the 1960s, American scientists noticed that people in Italy and Greece were leading healthier lives than their American counterparts, and it was found that their diet played a huge role in this.
Given the number of countries and cuisines around the Mediterranean, there is no actual definition of what a Mediterranean diet is.
But, in general, the Mediterranean diet has an emphasis on most everyday foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and dairy products.
On the other hand, you will have to avoid factory-processed meats, refined oils and sugary treats.
Scientific studies have found that the Mediterranean diet may lower risks of lifestyle diseases and help with weight loss.
4. The Keto Diet
It is not surprising that the average Malaysian’s daily carbohydrate intake is substantial, considering their love for rice.
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, suggests exchanging carb for fat instead, as strange as it sounds.
While fat consumption sounds unhealthy, replacing carbs with fat causes your body to go into a state of ketosis, during which the body efficiently burns fat for energy.
Fats stored in the liver are also converted into ketones, which provide energy to one’s brain.
There are several health benefits linked to the keto diet, including reduced blood sugar and insulin.
When on this diet, you have to avoid sugary foods, grain, fruit and most root vegetables.
Your plate should be instead stacked with meat, dairy products, nuts and leafy vegetables.
Do be cautious though, as the keto diet may lead to side effects, such as kidney stones and micronutrient deficiencies.
5. The Atkins Diet
While the Atkins diet shares some similarities with the keto diet, namely the emphasis on avoiding carbohydrates and processed foods, there are some key differences.
For one, participating in the Atkins diet will keep your saturated fat intake at moderate rather than high levels, while maximising your protein intake.
Normally, people embracing the Atkins diet do so in four phases, eating minimal amounts of carbs early on for about two weeks, before slowly introducing more over the next few weeks.
According to the Atkins diet, you are welcome to gorge on meat, seafood, dairy products, nuts and seeds and healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil.
The Atkins diet is also viable for vegetarians, though they will have to compensate for the loss of meat with soy-based food and lots of nuts and seeds.
Please note that this article (including images) is for information purposes only. It is to promote a broader understanding of various health topics, and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please visit your doctor if you have any health concerns.