According to Time, strange dieting dates back to the eleventh century, when William the Conqueror devised an alcohol-only diet to reduce his massive size. Other sources find that Greeks and Romans also dieted to increase health and fitness. Now that we’ve got an arsenal of scientific research, low-calorie options, and real food substitutes, we should have the nutritive code to the perfect diet. Despite, and perhaps due to these new developments, society is still jumping from one trend to another. Whether you’re a food lover or a yo-yo dieter, your food choices have probably been influenced in one way or another from dieting trends of the last century.

Some of the trendiest diets advocate a reduction of carbohydrates. Here we’ll look at a low carb diet breakdown and few of the popular diets that have transformed the way we look at losing weight.

Low Carb

A low-carb diet is simply one that reduces or attempts to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. This can be good and bad. Studies show us that the majority of processed carbohydrates do more harm than good, but research also shows that carbohydrates remain an important macronutrient. Once the body metabolizes carbohydrates, they are essentially stored as glucose (sugar) for future energy needs. Here are a few popular solutions to ridding your body of that stored glucose.

Atkins

Although others came before him, Dr. Robert Atkins is considered the father of the low-carb movement. In his personal life, he found that increasing protein intake and reducing carbohydrate intake would lead to weight loss. He was no self-appointed nutritionist, but an actual doctor, which added weight to his claims. This diet was so popular in the 90’s that he even gave his seal of approval to many popular chain restaurants’ menu items: Dr. Atkins approved!

Simply put, if you’re overweight, you’ve got plenty of stored glucose. His idea was to stop consuming glucose, in order to get your body to metabolize the stored fat.  You’re told to order your burgers without buns, and your stir-fry without rice. In its early days, people believed this diet meant you could gorge on steak, burgers, chicken, and fish, which is not the case. It simply advocates a reduction in carbohydrates, which spurned the creation of several additional diets.

South Beach

This is probably the most approachable diet of the bunch because of its structure. The South Beach Diet consists of three different phases, the first being very strict, and the second and third being subsequently more lenient. The diet is based on the low-carb philosophy, and was created by a doctor to reduce his patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease. The theory is simple, take the “bad” carbs and “bad” fats and replace them with “good” carbs and fats. The first stage lasts for two weeks and eliminates the majority of sugar from the diet, as well as processed carbohydrates and high-glycemic fruits and vegetables. The second stage is the losing-weight stage, which allows some whole grains, as well as most fruits and vegetables. The third stage is meant to be the lifelong stage in which the dieter must create the menus that work for him or her in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While it does advocate the removal of bad sugars – such as soda and corn syrup – it’s doesn’t ask you to completely remove a large food group from your diet, making this diet much more manageable for the general public.

Paleo

The Paleo diet is also sometimes called the Caveman Diet, and achieved many followers through the Crossfit community. It’s another of the low-carb diet craves that was often confused with: “I can eat as much meat as I want!” This diet focuses on getting to the most natural and basest forms of our food supply. Essentially, you want to eat how and what the cavemen ate. We’re talking wild game and fish, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables that can be consumed raw. This diet eliminates any legumes such as beans and lentils, any grains, including rice and quinoa, and anything processed, such as salad dressing and sauces.

The major difference in this diet is the demographic. The majority of people didn’t “go Paleo” in order to lose weight, they did it to increase their lean muscle mass, as well as performance in athletics, such as Crossfit, cycling, and triathlon events. The Paleo diet doesn’t leave a lot of room for “cheating,” like many other diets. You’re expected to eliminate processed items like soda, most supplements, pasta and even cured meats, forever. This diet is more expensive than the others, because it requires more expensive cuts of meat, as well as specialty food items, such as coconut oil and almond meal, if you want to make your traditional meals.

While the majority of Americans could benefit from reducing their intake of carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods, these radical diets might not be the answer. Most doctors and nutritionists advise against completely eliminating a food group, especially the carbohydrate group, as is an essential macronutrient that humans require for survival. Instead, considering picking and choosing the most important aspects of these diets, and making them a part of a healthy lifestyle.