“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.”
This is something we usually say when we attempt to kick our poor eating habits and substitute them with healthy ones. Eating a well-balanced diet may not be enough, and we may need to follow a stricter regiment than what’s on the Canada Food Chart. Choosing a specific diet plan with clear rules may be a way to give your metabolism a boost and shed extra pounds.
When choosing the right diet for you, it’s important to do research on your options and select one which suits your body type, lifestyle, and most importantly, your preference. There is no sense in starting a diet you hate.
The National Weight Control Registry is a long-term study which observes over 10,000 people who have lost a significant amount of weight and been able to maintain their loss. They found the following was common amongst them:
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
One common thing amongst almost all diets is the push to avoid processed foods in order to boost overall health status and not just shed a few pounds. But this approach doesn’t necessarily need to break the bank. Fancy words like “organic”, “grass-fed” and pricey specialty items are not necessary when planning a healthy diet. Stick to minimally produced whole foods, and seasonal produce that you can buy in bulk and share. If you have the time and space for it, you can start your own vegetable and herb garden.
Luckily with healthy eating growing in importance in popular culture, there are numerous diets to try. Don’t let the first one endorsed by a favourite celebrity steal your favour. Here’s some things to consider when selecting a new diet, and a little about some of the biggest diet trends for 2018.
“Glutens” refer to a specific protein found in rye, wheat, barley and other types of grains, which act like a glue and bind grains like cereal products and breads, together to give them their texture. People with Celiac Disease are allergic to gluten, and although it isn’t too common, you may still be gluten-intolerant and have a difficult time digesting the protein.
Pros: When people eat a gluten-free diet, they often claim they lose weight and feel healthier.
Cons: “Gluten-free” doesn’t mean that the product is any less calories or fat than a regular product. Make sure to still watch your calories, fat, and sugar content, especially if you’re not gluten-intolerant.
The Paleo Diet was developed by a researcher in the 1970s who believes it is essentially “the way man was genetically designed to eat”. Paleo diet plans include lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables, nuts, eggs, seeds, and plant-based oils. It focuses on mimicking the eating habits of humans before farming and the introduction of processed foods.
Pros: Weight loss is likely, because of the limited food choices, and there is no specification about portion control. There are also anti-inflammatory benefits from nutrients in plants, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Cons: Meal plans can be very expensive, and because of the restriction on carbohydrates, you may find yourself with a lot less energy. This diet is often not recommended for athletes who require a certain amount of carbs, and those who are also vegetarians are very restricted in their food choices because paleo excludes beans.
Traditionally, products which market themselves as low-fat, reduced fat, or fat-free have been presented as a healthier alternative: however, this positioning is based on flawed science. There are three types of fats – unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats, which are healthy, healthy in moderation, and unhealthy, respectively. It’s important to ensure you get a certain amount of the healthy fats in your diet.
Pros: There are countless options of low-fat foods available in the grocery store including dairy, meats, and packaged foods. A lower-fat diet also tends to be lower in calories which can help with weight gain.
Cons: Low-fat foods tend to be highly processed and high in sugar and additives. If you avoid essential fatty-acids you are at risk of other health-related problems including a well-functioning brain.
Almost all diets and weight loss plans give daily caloric recommendations based on your goals and body type. People are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of monitoring calorie intake, and many restaurants present the calories on their menus, or have nutritional information available on request.
Pros: It’s fairly simple to follow, and there are many apps available on Smart Phones to keep track of calories you consume and burn throughout the day. Another pro is that there are no foods off limits.
Cons: Reducing your caloric intake doesn’t require you to eat healthily, and you may end up consuming a low-calorie diet primarily of junk food. Low-calorie foods are also known to contain artificial sweeteners which have been reportedly to have potential negative health effects.
Reducing the portion size of your meals is an easy way to lose weight, but depending on your current eating habits, you may find it tremendously hard when starting a portion-controlled diet. There are various ways to reduce your portion sizes; you can prepare them yourself or join a company like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem who sell pre-packaged meals and do the portion control for you.
Pros: Many studies have proven that eating smaller portions more frequently can help curb your appetite and increase the metabolism.
Cons: Pre-packaged meals can work out to be very expensive. If you choose to do your own meal plans, you need to monitor the types of foods you are eating, and it can become a pain measuring out specific quantities for all meals of the day.
Most are familiar with the concept of the vegan diet: no meat, eggs, dairy, or foods that come from a byproduct of an animal. There are “Ethical Vegans” who chose this diet because they apply the holistic philosophy to their lives that animals should not be used for any purpose and “Environmental Vegans” who believe the industrial farming of animals is unsustainable on the environment.
Pros: In addition to weight loss, the vegan diet is said to have multiple health benefits including preventing certain types of cancers, diabetes, and to help maintain a healthy heart.
Cons: The vegan diet lacks a lot of essential nutrients which come from animal byproducts including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and folate.
There are multiple types of detoxes or cleanses including simple raw fruits and vegetables, smoothie plans, and even a “Teatox”. If any solid foods are allowed, they’re usually small clean meals consisting of lean meat and vegetables.
Pros: They last only a few to ten days, and they’re a great way to shed off extra weight in a short amount of time. People report feeling healthier overall and more energetic by the end of the cleanse.
Cons: It is very hard to commit to a full detox. At first you may be very hungry, fatigued, and irritable. There is also no real evidence that detoxes actually do release or cleanse toxins from the body.
In contrast to the theory that it is better to eat several small meals to keep the metabolism going, intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating which involves only eating during certain windows of time throughout the day. You alternate the times each day where you’re allowed a few hours to “feast”, then skip food altogether for the remainder of the day.
Pros: There are no specific foods to consume or avoid, making it appealing to those who find healthy eating challenging or expensive. Health benefits are known to go beyond weight-loss to lower cholesterol, reduced inflammation, and more stable blood sugar levels.
Cons: Hunger is the primary side effect of intermittent fasting, as on two consecutive days of a plan you may be consuming only a fraction of your recommended daily caloric intake. This also leads to fatigue, which can be detrimental to your metal and physical performance levels.
With any change in diet it is important to know there is no quick and magical fix to keep off weight loss. Sometimes if you follow a diet regime for long enough and then go back to your regular eating habits, you will gain weight even faster than before. Remember that every diet works best when combined with regular exercise, and that it is recommended that you should consult your family doctor before adopting any radically new diet plan!