“Diet” lingo explained (do you know your macro from your keto?)

By Rachel O'Regan |

I Quit Sugar – “Diet” lingo explained (do you know your macro from your keto?)

Sometimes, all the different health terms can seem like another language.

Luckily, we’ve been in the health world so long we’re pretty much fluent in the local lingo! Master the health jargon with our easy guide below.


This term refers to the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. If counting calories wasn’t fun enough, many diets require you to divvy these up into calorie ratios, too.

Depending on your body type and weight goals, these macros can be evenly rationed or favour a certain diet, with “low-carb, high-fat” or “high-carb, low-fat” being the most popular.

What macros often don’t consider is quality – olive oil is a better fat than margarine, for example.

Our verdict? At the end of the day, it’s usually people with specific goals (like bodybuilders) who focus on macros. To borrow from Michael Pollan, a better approach is to “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”


Since the 1920s, the ketogenic diet has been used for children with severe epilepsy (there’s a movie about this with Meryl Streep in it!). It’s a very strict low-carb, high-fat diet which aims to make the body burn fat instead of glucose.

Sounds too good to be true? Side effects include “keto flu” withdrawal symptoms, constipation and sadness because you can’t eat spaghetti (okay, maybe that’s just us).

Our verdict? If you’re thinking about adopting this stringent diet, consult a doctor first.


This wellness buzzword is everywhere – last time we checked, #cleaneating had more than 29 million posts on Instagram. Its meaning varies, but generally refers to healthy foods (or whatever definition of “healthy” the diet is going for).

Our verdict? The problem with the “clean” tag is that it infers other foods are “dirty”. When we talk about food in this way, it may lead to psychological issues around eating.


Alkaline diet proponents believe that disease cannot live in an alkaline state. The regimes limits you to foods that have alkaline by-products, including veggies, fruits, seed and nuts. No meat!

Our verdict? While this diet can affect the pH of your urine (which people monitor with regular pee-on-a-stick tests), scientists say that you can’t change your blood pH. And, while cancer does thrive in acidity, it has been shown to increase acidity on its own.

Raw Till 4.

This high-carb vegan diet lets you eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as you like until 4pm, when you’re allowed cooked vegan food (including plenty of grains).

Our verdict? Eating lots of raw fibre doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you have gut issues. Plus, cooking actually helps break down indigestible plant molecules so we can absorb their nutrients more efficiently.

Sick of the diet jargon?

So are we! When you quit sugar, you get rid of the calorie counting and diet confusion. All you have to do is Just Eat Real Food, or JERF. And that’s the only food-related slang you should have in your vocab!

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