Top 5 diet trends demystified

Paleo, Keto, Flexitarian, Volumetrics - they sound like the latest science fiction movies, no? Actually, they are the latest diets that are gripping the health community. It can be tough being healthy right now, especially if you have to navigate your way around these newfangled new ways of eating.

But don't let these complicated names deter you from trying to eat healthy. I've gone past the Matrix- sounding names and found out that these diets are actually based on simple theories about food. Here are the top five trending diets demystified.

1. PALEO DIET (Also known as: Caveman diet)

Dr. Loren Cordain's best seller The Paleo Diet was the catalyst for the Paleo diet's popularity. According to Cordian, the best diet is the one we humans are genetically adapted to - the same our ancestors ate. This ancient eating practice is said to help to reduce the risk of modern illness like heart diseases as the diet cuts out everything that people who lived a long time ago wouldn't have known about.

What you can eat: Throwback to the food our hunting and gathering ancestors feasted on - fruit, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish and grass-fed meat. What you can't eat: Dairy, grains, potatoes, legumes, processed food, salt, refined vegetable oils, refined sugar, alcohol

2. KETO DIET (Also known as: High fat, low carb diet)

Initially used to treat children with epilepsy, this high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate diet is said to help the body burn fats instead of carbs. Normally, the body converts carbs into glucose for energy. When an individual eats more fats and less carbs, this will cause the body to instead burn fats for energy - the process is called ketosis. The Keto diet calls for 70 to 75 per cent of daily calories to come from fat, 20 to 25 per cent from protein, and 5 to 10 per cent from carbohydrates.

What you can eat: This is not your excuse to go out and binge on fast food. When it comes to fats, think a balance between Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids like wild salmon, tuna and shellfish with cold-pressed almond and flaxseed oils. What you can't eat: Sugars, grains, corn, potatoes, processed food, fruit, beans, beers, milk

3. FLEXITARIAN DIET (Also known as: Flexible vegetarian diet)

Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner launched the term "flexitarian" with her book The Flexitarian Diet. The flexible approach to healthy eating doesn't cut out meat completely. On most days, Flexitarians are vegetarians but they can eat a steak when the urge hits. Blatner believes that one doesn't have to go cold turkey on meat to reap the health benefits linked with vegetarianism. Flexitarians are said to weigh 15 per cent less, have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live 3.6 years longer than their carnivorous friends.

What you can eat: True Flexitarians skip meat five or more days a week. The more greens, the merrier! What you can't eat: Meat on most days.

4. VOLUMETRICS DIET (Also known as: The you-won't-feel-hungry diet)

Developed by Barbara Rolls, a Penn State University nutrition professor, the Volumetrics Plan is based on Rolls' assumption that "people tend to eat the same amount of food each day, regardless of how many calories they take in". The trick according to her book The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet is to fill up on low-density foods that fill you up and get you satisfied with less calories.

What you can eat: Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes and mushrooms; fruits; broth-based soups; whole grains; legumes; low-fat dairy; lean proteins What you can't eat: Fried foods, candy, cookies, nuts, fats, butter, oil

5. MEDITERRANEAN DIET (Also known as: Eat whatever the Greeks, Italians and Spanish eat diet)

Inspired by the traditional eating habits of the natives who live along the Mediterranean sea, namely Greece, Southern Italy and Spain - this diet is rich in fruits, greens, olive oil, fish and seafood. Apparently, adopting the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, leading to a longer life.

What you can eat: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish and seafood aplenty. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. What you can't eat: Keep red meat and sugar to a bare minimum.

Please consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting on any diet. For more information about these diets, go to health.usnews.com, www.webmd.com/diet/volumetrics-what-it-is, www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com, dawnjacksonblatner.com/ and thepaleodiet.com.

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