It’s the New Year, and you may be super motivated to lose weight. You have undoubtedly been bombarded with advertisements for the latest diets – you know, the ones that promise to help you lose 10 pounds in a week, or slim down without any effort. Before you turn over your hard-earned dollars to buy that new book or program, read on to learn the pros and cons about some of the most popular programs and how to choose a healthy and safe food plan, and NOT a ‘diet’.
A lot of the diets on the market are based on pseudoscience – theories and methods that are not based on scientific facts. They may blend a little legitimate science with a lot of fiction and marketing to make them appear reasonable. Here are a few that I feel fall into this category.
The Fast Diet
This eating pattern consists of eating normally 5 times a week and fasting the other 2 days where you are limited to 500 calories (female) or 600 calories (male). This is dangerous because your body will interpret the extreme decrease in calories as starvation. It will deplete your very necessary glucose stores and begin to break down lean body mass – this is NOT what you want and can be very dangerous.
The Keto Diet
A keto diet is extremely low in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein. The low amount of carbs eaten on the keto diet leads to far less blood sugar circulating, so your body breaks down stored fat into ketones which are used as an alternative fuel source. People on the keto diet have been found to experience a reduced appetite which makes it easier to reduce calories and lose weight in the short term. However, because of because the foods you can eat are so limited, diet quality can suffer and it can be hard to maintain this diet over the long term. Also, the low amount of carbohydrate in the diet can lead to constipation, dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, poor sleep, and even brain fog.
Want to know more about the pros and cons of the Keto Diet? Read all about it here.
This diet focuses on the principle that certain foods promote acid more so than others, which would in turn lead to decreased bone health, heart health and higher risk of diabetes and cancer. But in actuality, the body works very hard to maintain a constant pH regardless of what we eat. Again, there is no evidence based science supporting this approach.
The Blood Type Diet
This diet states that you should eat according to your blood type. The author proposes that blood types were developed at different times during human evolution, and thus we ate differently during these periods. For example, Blood Group O was the first blood type of our ancestors that were hunters-gatherers 50,000 B.C. Because they subsisted on a high protein, animal protein diet, people who have this blood type should do the same. Blood Group B humans were more nomadic so they added more dairy and veggies to their meat based meals. This diet has no valid science behind it. Your blood type has nothing to do with what you should eat.
The Paleo Diet
Also known as the Caveman diet, it underlying belief is that if we ate like how our ancestors did thousands of years ago, we would be healthier, lose weight and curb disease. The general diet focuses on meat and fish, as well as shellfish, poultry, eggs, veggies, root, fruits and berries, while excluding dairy, legumes, sugar and salt. In other words, if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. This may sound like a great diet as it limits salt and sugar intake, while promoting fruit and vegetable intake, but eliminating whole grains, legumes and dairy is risky as they are great sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
I could continue because there are so many unsound diets out there, but I hope you get the point. So how do you choose a safe and healthy plan?
How to Choose the Best Diet for You
First, no plan should provide less than around 1200 calories (unless you’re 4’11 or shorter). Anything below that will launch you into starvation/deprivation mode. Try to eat less than this for a few days and you’ll eat the paint off the wall because you’ll be so hungry.
Second, a healthy food plan, will include all the food groups – including carbohydrates. You need the nutrients from these foods to support good health. It will emphasize portion control – there is no way around it, you have to eat less to weigh less.
Third, and most important, it must feature flexibility and adaptability to one’s lifestyle. You want a food plan you can see yourself maintaining a year or two from now, not just for the next few weeks. A ‘healthy’ food plan will foster gradual lifestyle changes that you’ll feel good about, not forced to do.
If you need help customizing a weight loss or healthy eating plan that meets your needs, give me a call! I’d love to help.