What’s The Best Diet For Energy & Mental Resilience? Keto, Paleo, Vegan, & Other Popular Diets Compared

best diet for energy

Diets. What works, and where lies the truth? Let’s compare the most popular diets today and finally see which really is the best diet for energy and mental resilience.

This is a deep one, so take a breath and let’s dive in!

Who knew that politics and diets would have something in common? Ha! Even as a nutritionist and a determined researcher, it’s truly difficult to keep up with the changing trends of diets and their scientific benefits.

But after seventeen years of authoring books, papers, and speaking about wellbeing globally, I want to distil down to layman's language what a nutritional medicine practitioner thinks about which diet provides consistent ‘giddy-up and go’ energy, brain clarity, and physical and mental energy.

First, let me set the stage. 

Most of our clients are employees who are seeking overall wellbeing, including a healthy weight, balanced moods, and abundant energy.  They are concerned about having a low environmental impact but are equally concerned with the best health outcomes for work performance and personal prosperity.   

CEOs, corporate leaders, accountants, teachers, lawyers and all employees and their corporate wellbeing officers are seeking ways to create a positive culture, increase productivity and mental health, and avoid burnout and ‘quietly quitting.' Providing wellbeing education on nutrition is proving to be part of the solution to today’s ‘meh’, languishing, burnt-out employee.  

So, whether you’re an employee looking for more energy in your day to day, or an employer wanting to help your team feel and perform better, what are your options? 

That’s what I’m going to settle, right now.

Popular Diets in 2023 – The Pros and the Cons

Let's look at the current science, pros and cons of the most popular diets. I’ve included relevant research when it is valid. But remember that gathering high-level, gold-standard research on diets is difficult because examining controlled and uncontrol patterns of eating requires honest clients and the duration of the study. This is often difficult in randomised controlled trials. 

With all that in mind, here’s what you need to know about popular diets right now if your goal is to eat for energy and health.

Vegan and Vegetarian


  • Plant-based. 
  • Lower impact on the environment.  
  • Easier on digestion that an animal-based diet. 


  • Low in B12 and iron, which is essential for energy and biochemical pathways for dopamine and serotonin.  
  • Nutritional supplements are often required.  
  • Quality protein sources are limited due to no or low animal products being permitted for vegans and vegetarians. 
  • Mood may be affected by limited serotonin (the neurohormone often referred to as our happy hormone) which can affect your mood.



  • Similar to vegan and vegetarian diets, but with fish as the primary protein source.   
  • Easy on digestion.  
  • Good source of iodine.


  • Similar to Vegan and vegetarian. 
  • Low vitamin B12 and iron which is essential for energy production.
  • A diet without meat may cause a lower count of white and red blood cells, which can affect immunity.
  • Some seafood is high in Mercury which can cause damage to your central nervous system if consumed in excess.



  • Evidence shows short-term weight loss due to low amounts of carbohydrates in the diet.
  • No processed foods. 
  • Low in sugar.


  • People may feel low energy on this diet due to low carbohydrate intake. 
  • High protein and saturated fats may cause nutritional deficiencies like calcium and Vitamin D.

Intermittent Fasting 


  • Many variations of intermittent fasting schedules to choose from such as 5:2, 16:8, 14:10.
  • Emerging evidence of mental memory and mental performance. 
  • Short-term weight loss and metabolic improvements such as insulin sensitivity.


  • Weight loss evidence may be related to caloric restriction, not the fasting element.
  • Energy may be depressed due to longer periods without eating.
  • This diet does not teach you how to eat healthy food. 
  • There is a danger of indulging on non-fasting days.  



  • Short-term weight loss and blood pressure improvements while on the diet.  
  • Evidence shows that this high-fat diet reduces appetite. 
  • Reduces seizures in those with epilepsy.


  • Low carbohydrate consumption may cause low energy.
  • Difficult to get 25-30 grams of fibre, which is good for the gut, microbiome and bowel movements. Constipation is common. 
  • May experience a deficiency in vitamins, minerals and fibres from the lack of fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains. 

As you can see, these diets may offer short-term benefits, but fall short on nutrition in the long run. And most of them do not promote good energy production.

There is so much more to say about all these diets from a pro and con perspective. But, the truth is that with or without studies, you already know the answer.  

Is your diet made up of whole, real foods? 

Does it make you feel de-puffed, vibrant, mentally active, and lively?  

Does it improve your sleep, add stamina to exercise, maintain energy throughout the day, assist you in positive results at work and enable you to add value to your family? 

Flexitarian is the Winner.

Let me introduce you to the newcomer in the world of nutrition. The “Flexitarian’. 

What Is The Flexitarian Philosophy?

Here’s the snapshot:

  • No strict rules – eat a combination of good fats, healthy protein, and smart carbohydrates.
  • Most vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are included.
  • Meat and animal products from time to time. 
  • Consume the least number of processed foods. 
  • Low sugar and primarily natural sugar from whole-real foods.
  • No restrictions on time and can layer up with intermittent fasting, if desired.

The success of a healthy, wise, Flexitarian is creating the foundation of your diet with real food that is minimally processed.   

You see, the ‘Keto-ers’, the Intermittent Fasters, and Vegans may consume heavily processed foods or ‘healthy’ yet hidden sugar-packed junk food under the guidelines for their diet.  

On the other hand, one reason for the success of the Flexitarian may have to do with the type of carbohydrates they consume (rather than the amount).  

The crowding out of ultra-processed, simple carbs with unprocessed complex carbs that are slowly absorbed and come in their own natural packaging and fibre may be key to the success of this flexible way of nourishing. And provide a steady source of energy all day.

The BEST Diet For Energy and Mental Resilience In The World

In my view as an evidence-based nutritionist, adopting a flexitarian approach is the key to sustainable eating that offers both flexibility and nourishment and provides the best energy bang for your buck. 

By embracing real, whole foods that are minimally processed, you provide your body with the essential nutrients and energy needed for a healthy lifestyle. This way of eating allows you to savour your favourite treats while maintaining a diet rich in nutrition. And enjoy a steady stream of energy and motivation while you do it. 

Ready to embark on this journey towards balanced and enjoyable eating?

Start by checking out my Science of Workplace Wellbeing workshops, which will get you started down the flexitarian path while “edu-taining” you about how to maintain your energy, focus, make great sleep the new norm, and show up as your best, vibrant self whether at home or at the office.

Learn More About The Science Of Workplace Wellbeing programs here.

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