Q:There are a lot of diets out there. I hear such different opinions from different people. Can you shed some light on what to choose?
The short answer is that just about any “diet” will work for weight loss. Whether you are counting carbs, calories, or fat, you will lose weight on just about anything that means you are eating less than you were before. The trick with many of these diets is whether you can STICK WITH THEM LONG-TERM. Following a low glycemic diet with proper food combinations is truly the best way to maintain your weight long-term.
Check out the MEAL PLANS on Heart In Motion for a great guide to get you started. Here is a breakdown of the pros/cons of a few popular diets. If you choose one of these plans to follow, just make sure you are adapting your lifestyle to support it.
Weight Watchers – Counting points is really a matter of tracking calories. This program teaches what proper portion sizes look like. Weight Watcher’s does not teach about the glycemic index which is key to long-term weight loss in most people. Many people find it difficult to push through plateaus on this program as their answer is often to just “drop your points” which eventually can drop low enough to slow the metabolism. This program often yields fantastic short term results but many people do not stick with it long-term.
Atkins – As the beginning of the low carb movement, Atkins has some good principles but goes astray with the lack of fruits and vegetables. Eating a low glycemic diet helps to decrease blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and promotes weight loss. These are all good things; however, Atkins’ limitation of fruits and vegetables brings the body into an ACIDIC environment. Many studies have linked an acidic environment in the body to increased cancer rates. Eating fruits and vegetables balances out the protein into a more alkaline environment. Cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment. The China Study is a fantastic book on the link of excess protein and cancer. (note: I advocate small portions of protein throughout the day, not protein loading for this reason).
South Beach – This food plan is the closest to what I have seen the most success on. It is easy to make a lifestyle of eating this way. This food plan advocates lean protein including lots of fish, olive oil, nuts, and fruits/vegetables and cutting down on processed foods.
The Paleo Diet – This food plan focuses on eating foods that our ancestors ate. There are several versions of this plan, but most focus on lean meats, fruits and vegetables and eliminate grains and dairy. This is a great eating plan, however some people find the lack of dairy and grains restrictive.
Really, almost any diet will help you lose weight if you do not go into it with “diet mentality.” Focus on the long-term changes. Weight loss will be the end result when you make the lifestyle changes to support it. Pack your lunch. Always have food with you for “emergencies.” Pre-plan your choices when you eat out. These types of changes will serve you well no matter what “plan” you are on.
In closing, I really just don’t love diets. You can use principles from the “diet” plans above without “going on a diet.” Remember, if there’s no wagon to fall off of, you can’t fall off the wagon : ).