Getting your body in shape for the summer requires exercise and watching what you eat. Summer is rapidly approaching, which is the ideal time to find the proper diet for you. In this feature, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer talks us through the most popular diets and which one is best.
Now is the ideal time to get yourself into shape for the summer. However, according to new world research from Alive! the evidence-based supplement brand, a whopping 41% of people are not reviewing their diet regularly to ensure it’s delivering what the body needs in terms of nutrients. It’s time to take action for all these reasons!
“Summer is a great time to evaluate your overall health and diet. Are you feeling at your best? Are you lacking in energy or suffering from low mood, anxiety, or brain fog? All can be linked to your diet”, says Suzie, formulator of the UK Alive! multivitamin range. “Summer is often a time when we re-examine our diet in an attempt to get ourselves in good shape, both inside and out”.
If you want to follow some of the latest dietary trends, here are Suzie’s tips on which ones to follow:
#1 The Mediterranean Diet keeps floating many boats
The Mediterranean Diet consists of plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, oily fish, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and seeds, all of which are healthy foods. Of its many benefits to one’s health, this diet has also positively affected longevity rates in Mediterranean countries. Crucially it’s also associated with a reduction in heart disease, which may be associated with its high polyphenol content.
Why not try this delicious, quintessentially Sicilian recipe, Caponata, which includes all the foods that remind us of the Mediterranean, including aubergines, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/caponata
Potential ‘Mediterranean Diet’ health wins! It’ll help to treat those suffering from high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues and is perfect for those who like to keep a watchful eye on brain health.
#2 ‘Veganuary’ will lead the way throughout 2022
Whilst we’re well past January, the popularity of the vegan diet is set to continue throughout 2022 and beyond for obvious reasons.
Following a plant-based diet not only benefits the environment and also delivers many great health benefits too. One of the essential positives for our bodies, which cannot be over-estimated, is its effect on the gut microbiome. Also known as the gut microbiota, this fantastic array of bacteria influences overall health, especially on the digestive system, the skin, brain, metabolism, and helps prevent degenerative diseases.
We’re learning more all the time, but it’s safe to say that almost every aspect of health is influenced in some way by the gut microbiota. Consider taking a daily probiotic supplement that survives the stomach acid and reaches the digestive tract can help rebalance the gut flora. I recommend Fortify Friendly Bacteria Gummies from Nature’s Way, which provides 6 billion viable live cultures of a lactic acid-producing strain, Bacillus coagulans, supporting the immune system.
However, there’s no such thing as the perfect lunch, and it’s important to acknowledge the potential for nutrient deficiencies with this diet, particularly in vitamin B12 and iron. Whilst it should always be a ‘food-first’ approach, supplementing these particular nutrients may be needed.
Potential ‘Veganuary’ health wins! It’s great for people suffering from joint pain, skin issues and hormonal imbalances.
#3 Ketogenic (Keto) diet still the first choice for weight loss
There’s nothing new about the keto diet; it was created to help children suffering from epilepsy before it became an effective weight-loss tool.
The body generally uses glucose as its main source of energy. However, by eating too many sugar-loaded, low fibre foods, the body will start to store fat. With the Keto diet, which is high in fat, the body is forced into ketosis, and fat becomes its main fuel.
Typically, the diet will include high-fat meats, fish, nuts, high-fat dairy products and very few carbohydrates (less than 20 g initially). Coupled with calorie restriction, you’re going to lose weight on this one. New research has confirmed the ketogenic diet as an effective weight loss plan and is also suitable for people with mild kidney failure. This may not be the case on the less popular high protein diets.
Potential ‘Keto Diet’ health wins! This diet is great for people wanting quick weight loss and who are heading towards Type 2 diabetes.
#4 Eating clean for maximal nutritional benefits
Avoiding processed foods and adding more plant-based meals or ‘real’ foods is the basis of this way of eating. The idea is to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Therefore, you’re going to be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables so that nutrient intake will be high and the sugary carbs will be low. It is a very effective way of losing weight without thinking about a ‘formal’ diet plan.
And if you’re worried about missing your pasta ‘hit, then courgettes also make great spaghetti and noodles. For something different, try Spiralised Singapore Noodles – this vegetable noodle dish not only delivers up to 4 of your five a day, but it also slashes the calories and boosts the nutrition of this spicy supper
Potential ‘Eating Clean’ health wins! An enjoyable way of watching weight is beneficial to the heart, brain, and digestion.
#5 Intermittent fasting the 5:2 way
Intermittent fasting is actually one of the most popular health and fitness trends. There are different ways of doing intermittent fasting but eating normally, but balanced, for five and then having no more than 500 calories on the other two days can really hit the weight-loss spot. Plus, there’s lots of science to prove its effectiveness for weight loss and improving blood sugar control.
If you think about how we evolved, hunter-gatherers didn’t have access to food 24/7 as we do now; hence they would have experienced extended periods of fasting. Our bodies don’t necessarily cope too well.
However, any form of calorie restriction can lead to nutrient depletion, especially of those all-important energy-providing B-vitamins. I take Alive! B-Complex Gummies, which contain the whole family of B-vitamins to keep my energy levels on track.
Need some inspiration? This delicious chicken recipe is loaded with nutrients with a total calorie load of only 240 kcal.
Potential ‘5:2 Intermittent Fasting’ health wins! Reduced overall calorie intake supports weight loss and reduces inflammatory markers, improves insulin resistance, and may encourage longevity.
-  Perspectus Global, Spring 2022.
-  Juan Jose Hidalgo-Mora et al. The Mediterranean diet: A historical perspective on food for health. Maturitas. 2020 Feb; 132:65-69.
-  Paola Ditano-Vazquez et al. The Fluid Aspect of the Mediterranean Diet in the Prevention and Management of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: The Role of Polyphenol Content in Moderate Consumption of Wine and Olive Oil. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 19;11(11):2833.
-  Hercules Sakkas et al. Nutritional Status and the Influence of the Vegan Diet on the Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Medicina (Kaunas) 2020 Feb 22; 56(2):88.
-  Adriano Bruci et al. Very low-calorie ketogenic diet: A safe and effective tool for weight loss in patients with obesity and mild kidney failure. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 27;12(2):333.
-  A Zubrzycki et al. The role of low-calorie diets and intermittent fasting in the treatment of obesity and type-2 diabetes. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Oct; 69(5).
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