Diets Ranked From the Unhealthiest to the Healthiest
Tl;dr: from the unhealthiest to the healthiest, here’s a list of different diets: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, paleo, ketogenic, animal-based, carnivore, lion. We discuss them all.
A diet is a restrictive list of foods that one allows himself to eat for health purposes.
When I was a kid, I had been told I was intolerant to dairy and subsequently poisoned my mind and body with soy products until my early 20’s.
Later on, it got more restrictive as I was also diagnosed with intolerances to latex, bananas, gluten, kiwis, and onions.
Around 14, I was told that my intolerance to foods could disappear if I desensitized myself, so I did and started to eat about anything, especially carbs.
I was already a big fan of sugar and chocolate as a kid, to which I added bread and biscuits.
I wasn’t fat per se but I loved sugar.
God, I loved sugar.
As the years went by, I got mentally worse (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, low self-confidence, low self-esteem added on top of a strict catholic education) until I had some sort of breakdown and decided to go to therapy.
After two years and a half, I had come out of the therapy stronger and had almost fixed all of my problems except for this damn anxiety and looming depression.
As I was sitting in a mall in Medellin, Colombia, wondering what I had not done to feel better, I thought about changing my diet.
I immersed myself in the nutrition world, discovered, and tried out several diets until I adopted a carnivore way of eating.
It has legit, changed my life.
Hereafter, I briefly introduce several types of diet, from the least healthy, to the healthiest.
The Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is to the human body what salt is to a slug: it eats it and severely damages it.
Vegans eat everything but animal products (meat, eggs, fish, dairy, and others like honey), meaning, they eat mainly products made out of wheat, nuts, soy, vegetables, fruits, and grains…basically the worse foods you could ever feed your body.
Why Is the Vegan Diet Unhealthy and Dangerous?
I extend a bit more on this topic here. For now, I’ll just tell you this: life in nature is about competing. Animals compete with each other and plants compete with each other.
About 1.5 billion years ago (life is 3.5 billion years), “life” split into two parts: plants and animals.
These two have different ways to defend themselves against predators.
Animals mostly run away and sometimes, fight back.
Plants don’t have this luxury. Over the years, they developed some chemical components (poison) to avoid being chewed by animals.
As such, only a very small fraction of plants are “digestible”. Furthermore, the wide majority of plants consumed today are not natural. They have been obtained after seed mixes experienced by farmers since the beginning of agriculture between 40 000-25 000 BC.
You may be afraid of modern GMOs, but a banana as you can buy one today is itself the product of a long evolution engineered by humans to make it more…”comestible”.
Why Don’t Vegans Realize That?
Their poor food choices drastically impair their mental functions and such a fly trying to escape a room by repeatedly bouncing on a window, they don’t have enough cognitive capacities to realize that… Kidding.
MANY vegans after years of veganism have come to realize something was wrong.
You can find a lot of them in the Restoration Health Vegan Recovery Group.
For the rest of vegans, their diet is mostly ideological.
They don’t like the idea of eating something they could pet and refuse to even consider that eating meat is healthy and veggies unhealthy. It would mean nature is cruel and that the world is inherently violent.
As such, veganism is to diets what communism is to political systems: it’s a great idea with noble purposes in theory, which doesn’t work in practice.
Why then, does the scientific narrative tend to be against meat? I don’t know. Ignorance is my best bet. I like to think that as humans, we are idiots.
Back to plants: they are so dangerous that most of them can’t be eaten as such by humans: they need to undergo a radical transformation.
For example, wheat is processed and turned into flour which is itself processed and turned into bread.
Onions must be pealed and fried or cooked for a very long time before we can digest them.
Almost no plants that we eat can be consumed as such. They need to be cooked, peeled, fermented, boiled, transformed over and over again until their nutrients are almost non-existent.
When you eat processed plant food, you eat empty calories almost nutrient-free.
If plants were indeed good for us…we wouldn’t have to transform them to that extent.
We’d be like cows, with four stomachs, a 4 days digestive period and above all…we’d actually be able to digest fibers.
There are other reasons why we shouldn’t eat plants as well as many different detrimental effects that different plants have, but I’ll stop here for now and will continue in the carnivore diet article.
Let’s talk about the vegetarian diet.
The Vegetarian Diet
It’s getting a tiny bit better. You have different sorts of vegetarians (eggs or not, dairy or not, etc).
Generally, vegetarians don’t eat meat (meaning flesh) from other animals.
Some do eat eggs, some don’t, but they generally eat dairy.
Eggs are a great source of omega 3 and other components (check Healthline) while cow milk is one of the most nutrient-dense food on the planet.
I genuinely understand vegetarians, because I understand if you don’t want to eat meat.
I think it’s stupid and that it shows that the person has done very little scientific research on life (for one to live, another has to die, such as the brutal truth of this world), but I understand.
At least, vegetarians get some proteins from eggs and dairy.
The Pescatarian Diet
I don’t include them in the vegetarian diet because they actually eat fish. They also sometimes allow eggs in their diet. Meat and poultry remain off-limit.
The Omnivore Diet
People that eat it all. Actually most people.
The Paleo Diet
We’re getting in the healthy territory here.
The paleo diet is great and to be fair, the one that makes the most sense.
The paleo diet is a diet which proscribes eating anything transformed. Forget about oil, bread, processed meat, cookies, hummus, and everything else.
The paleo diet aims at replicating the diet that cavemen could have had: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds.
Milk is allowed, but yogurt, because it is transformed, normally isn’t, although plenty of people eat yogurt on a paleo diet (and that doesn’t cause any problem, don’t be ideological about it).
This diet was the first one I experienced with and it was a great start!
It’s the one I would advise anyone to start with because it significantly decreases your carbs intake while not being too restrictive.
You can still eat plenty of other delicious foods (nuts, vegetables) if you are lucky enough to digest them.
The Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet was the second diet I experienced when I noticed that anxiety would surge in case I ate more than 2 apples a day on the paleo diet.
The keto diet is a low carb diet. It limits carbs intake to 50 grams a day (too much to my taste, I suggest 30 grams).
The keto diet does not care about transformed or processed products: it restricts high-carb food, period.
You’re allowed to eat meat, fish, eggs (foods with zero carbs), cheese and yogurt (you should avoid milk because it has a lot of lactose which is sugar), and vegetables.
Fruits are not allowed as they contain too much sugar (unless you want to eat raw lime). Some nuts such as almonds are allowed.
On my keto diet, I used to make keto bread out of almond flour that I was making myself.
The problem with the keto diet is that you cannot eat an unlimited volume of the food you are allowed to eat: for example, you’ll likely go over your 30 grams of daily carbs if you eat 2 salads with yogurt, cheese, and nuts during the day.
You need to eat meat or eggs to compensate for the carb intake.
This counting game is what I didn’t like about the keto diet.
I like to go crazy when I eat!
The Animal-Based Diet
I had an animal-based diet for a very long time, for two reasons: I had stopped eating vegetables because it constipated me and I was unconsciously uncomfortable about the idea of eating a kilo of meat and 10 eggs a day. So I had kept Greek yogurt and kefir.
Side note: constipation is a problem of dryness of your stool because you don’t drink enough, you don’t get rid of your stool fast enough, or you eat too many fibers.
Fibers absorb all the water inside your intestine and make your stool harder.
The reason why veggies are prescribed to get rid of constipation is that your intestine eliminates fiber as soon as possible as it cannot digest them. This quick elimination decreases the time your stool spent inside your intestine but…dries it more. It’s a catch-22. I got rid of constipation problems with a carnivore diet and sparkling water. Get rid of alcohol.
End of the side note.
The problem was that I loved yogurt and was eating on average between 1kg and 2.5kg of yogurt per day.
Since the yogurt had at least 3g of carbs per 100g, I was over my daily 30g of carbs.
So I removed the yogurt and started eating a carnivore diet.
The Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet is straight and simple.
It allows you to eat meat, fish, and eggs (sometimes butter). You are allowed to eat processed meat such as minced meat or patty burgers but beware of cheap sausages.
You are also allowed to eat charcuterie such as ham, which makes for a great snack!
While some people say it is highly restrictive, I tend to disagree. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what is allowed on a carnivore diet: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, sheep, goat, rabbit, fish (and there are a lot of them), game meat (duck, deer, boar), eggs, charcuterie.
That’s a lot of different options!
You can also make your own liver paté.
The carnivore diet is the one I eat not because it is full of meat and I love meat (I also loved vegetables and chocolate and dairy and bread and everything else), but because it is the diet that allows you to eat the most types of foods that have no carb inside.
After several experiences with carbs, I have realized they were the main cause behind my anxiety and depression I talked about at the beginning.
I saw a clear difference when I went from keto to carnivore the first time and when I went from animal-based to carnivore a second time because I was transferring from a carb-included diet to a zero carb diet.
There is one last diet, supposedly the healthiest of them all, but also the most restrictive.
I have never tried it.
The Lion Diet
The lion diet has been mainly popularized by Shawn Baker (at the beginning) and Mikhaila Peterson.
It is a diet that is supposed to make you feel your best because you eat the main type of food that your stomach was made for: beef.
Beef, as you will have probably noticed, is the only food (with eggs, to some extent, and some types of fish) you can eat raw.
Chances are it is because we had been eating raw beef before the discovery of fire.
Beef is one of the only food in the world that very few people are allergic to, that can be eaten raw, that is well digested by people having a sensitive stomach, that doesn’t bloat you, doesn’t have any carb, that gives you all the nutrient you need and on which you could solely survive.
It is also rather rare to see people “not liking” beef as what they don’t like most of the time is the idea of eating a cow.
The lion diet is recommended for people with auto-immune diseases.
The Bottom Line
From the most destructive to the healthiest, here’s a list of popular diets so that you can choose yours.
Of course, I’m not a doctor and I only know as much as I read, so if you’re looking for some references, I have some listed below.
Genius food by Max Lugavere: an honest look at the science and a good starting point to learn about nutrition.
The carnivore code by Paul Saladino, MD: details to the smallest scale what happens in our bodies when we eat and why plants are so dangerous, at least for the most sensitive of us.
The plant paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry: a book about dangerous natural chemicals in plants (called lectins).
The big fat surprise by Nina Teicholz: a book about the importance of animal fat in a healthy diet and how it was demonized by the sugar lobbies.
The case against sugar and Why we get fat by Gary Taubes: the sole explanation on how detrimental sugar is should be enough to justify the healthy character of the carnivore diet since it is, with the lion diet, the only diet that has zero sugar inside.
Healthline.com: a science-based website about all things related to health, with great knowledge of nutrition. I like them because they’re not ideologically-based like other nutrition websites.
Meatrx.com: to know more about animal-based nutrition, meatrx is THE encyclopedia. You can book a coach that will explain to you all you need to know about an all-meat diet and have access to a great library, with about 8000 scientific studies, inspirational stories, FAQs for beginners, recipes, and more!
Dietdoctor.com: a great science-based website about the art and benefits of a low-carb diet.