Choosing a diet plan that will work for you, feels like a daunting task. What helped your best friend lose 20 pounds may actually make you gain weight. If the diet sounds crazy, like the “all you can eat ice cream” diet, it probably isn’t all that legitimate as a sustainable diet. Genetics programmed eating responses, food selection and self-esteem are all players in the success or failure of a diet. It’s important to include facets of all of these in your plan. Here are three conventional diet approaches that you might consider for healthy and sustained weight loss.
Low Fat Foods Diet
For the body to live in a sustainable and healthy way, in general, it needs proteins to replenish itself, and sugars to make energy. The body is a complex piece of science and technology and has systems in place to do the hard work, as long as the basics are provided for. If you feed it quality sources of food, it will function well to separate and use different food components.
The idea behind a low-fat diet is to limit the fat intake to improve and regulate heart function, lower blood pressure and create a better functioning body. Low-fat diets can also promote weight loss when used properly.
*Important Note: Simply substituting high-fat meats with excess numbers of calories in carbohydrate form (think bread and sauces as well as lower fat sweets) to gain satisfaction may put you in a worse spot than before the diet. Responsible eating is paramount.
There are different kinds of dietary fat. Trans-fat is the worst kind and should be avoided regardless of the diet you choose. Trans-fats exist in many things; hidden culprits are shelf stable foods and processed foods. Read labels carefully, and take solace in the fact that new laws and trends have increased the number of alternative products for sale without trans-fats in them. Another bad fat to eliminate is saturated fats. Foods to limit include red meat, vegetable spread or sprays, fried foods, potato chips, muffins, pastries, etc. Limit dairy products or use low-fat brands. What you need to eat are polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega-3 fats, things like fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil or canola oils in moderation.
Derive your fats from good sources, and watch how many substitutes you are putting in place of the fats, so you don’t overdo it. When in doubt, use whole grains, legumes, and hearty foods. Use vegetables of all colors, especially greens, oranges/yellows and deep reds/purples in place of high-fat foods. These colors in vegetables signify greater nutrition and more complex taste components generally.
In general with any diet, if you can eat fewer calories you will lose weight, this diet is no exception, so look for how you are replacing the fats in your diet before you mistakenly overdo it with carbohydrates and sugars.
Low-Calorie diet for weight loss is a two-step process. Learning to count calories and adhering to a daily goal and then making those calories you are eating, productive and healthy ones. There are a ton of online calculators to figure out how many calories you should eat to lose weight given your individual statistics. Once you have figured out how many calories your current daily intake averages, and how much weight you’d like to lose, finding a good calorie counter and following the plan is part one.
The second part involves learning a little more about the nutritional value of foods in addition to their calorie count. Many resources exist for calorie counting on the internet, and it can be a good place to research caloric content. Knowing what those calories I each piece of food will do for you may help out in the battle of the bulge.
Programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers do a lot of the legwork for anyone trying to lose weight with the low-calorie diet, but they cost a lot. What they also provide is peer reinforcement and support which can be invaluable. A less expensive alternative is to start a program of your own with a friend or two, share resources, recipes and successes. If counting calories aren’t always possible for time constraints, another alternative is to fill your plate with your usual portions and eat half. Recycle the other half or discard. Don’t go for “seconds” and opt out of high-calorie desserts. Buy and eat more fruits and vegetables, try to avoid junk food or fast food.
Generally speaking, try for highly complex calories, which require the body to use its metabolic process extensively to break them down, specifically high fiber foods like ground flax or spinach, or low fat high protein foods like legumes or white chicken breast meat, or complex grains like quinoa or real whole grain versions of your normal foods.
Low Carbohydrate Diets
Low carbohydrate diets were popularized by the Atkin’s and the South Beach Diets. The intention of a low carbohydrate diet is to induce a state of controlled ketosis. When carbohydrates are not available to be used as an energy source, the body converts fat into usable energy. The science behind this method is: by limiting carbohydrates, the body breaks down the fat stores and weight loss is achieved.
The American Association of Family Practice defines a low carbohydrate diet as daily consumption of 20-60 grams of carbs. Initially, the medical community was concerned about cardiovascular effects from a low carb, high protein diet. Extensive studies showed that risks were decreased at both 6 months and a year. Most likely the benefit was derived from the weight loss itself, as high protein and high-fat diets can have additional drawbacks (elevated blood pressure and sodium levels in some cases).
You can get great weight loss with a better appetite suppression with this type of diet, but it may not always be the best way for weight loss, unless you pay particular attention to vegetables and minimize the sodium intake, as well as combine it with proper exercise. Generally speaking, you will want to include exercise with any diet plan you choose.
Knowledge and support are going to be great variables in the diet game no matter how you approach it, even if you are just looking to lose a few pounds. Knowing your body, its ability to handle different things, and the process behind the diet will help you achieve exactly the result you are looking for.