I’ve attempted many diets over the years. Some I remember trying are the Cabbage Soup Diet, South Beach Diet, Body for Life, and Weight Watchers. Sure, I lost a bit of weight following these plans only to regain it once I went back to my normal eating patterns. One thing is clear, they were all temporary and did not result in any lifestyle or behavioral changes.
Today, I believe that small, sustainable lifestyle changes are the way to a healthier self. Creating habits that you can maintain over the long run just makes sense to me. It’s not a quick fix and takes time, but worth it!
Nonetheless, many people feel they need a “diet plan” to lead them in the right direction. Or maybe to get a “jumpstart” on weight loss. If you are considering a diet plan, there are some questions to ask in order to evaluate whether or not it is a good option.
Here are some things to consider if you are searching for a diet plan:
- How does the diet cut calories? The truth is, in order to lose weight, you must eat less calories. I do believe that not all calories are created equal and it’s not healthy to eat a bunch of “diet” foods. Nor is it a good idea to cut calories too much which will definitely backfire. But, in order to lose a pound per week, you must reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Including daily exercise can make this more attainable. It’s important to note that, over time, the rate of weight loss will diminish.
- What is the nutrient density of the diet? The most sensible diet plan will advise eating at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day in order to supply necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Click here for some tips if you don’t like fruits and vegetables! Getting plenty of fiber from whole grains and eating calcium-rich foods should be reinforced. It’s probably not a good choice if the diet plan relies on supplements to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
- Does the diet promote exercise? Nutrition isn’t the only factor in the weight loss puzzle. Getting daily exercise helps with expending calories and keeps your body healthy and strong. Exercise is also key in helping to maintain any weight loss.
- Does it make sense? If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Some diets are promoted to sound so easy and effective. Try to remember that any weight that is lost quickly is most likely regained quickly. The most successful way is to strive for slow, steady weight loss and make lifestyle changes that you can stick with.
- Where is the evidence? Looking into any research studies is a great way to examine the safety of different diets and if they actually work. Not only is it important to see the results of the research studies, but it’s also important to find out the study limitations. Another important consideration is how long the diet study was conducted. It may not be successful for the long term.
- Does it meet individual needs? When choosing a diet plan, it’s essential to be mindful of health status and history of any medical illnesses (such as diabetes or heart disease).
- How much does it cost? You may be able to afford a weight loss program in the beginning but can you afford it for a long period of time. Plan ahead and make sure you’re ready to commit to a program and determine if any financial sacrifices need to be made.
- What kind of social support do you have? Support from family and friends is key to weight loss success. You will probably have a difficult time being successful if your family isn’t encouraging and devoted to helping you make healthy changes.
- How easy is it to adhere to the diet? The key element for lifelong weight loss success is lasting adherence to a program. In other words, lifestyle change. It’s hard to stick with a plan that has strict rules. Finding a plan that you can follow over the long term will yield greater weight loss as well as reduce health risk factors. According to the National Institute of Health, most dieters regain almost all weight lost within 5 years. And one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than they initially lose.
If you are trying to lose weight and are looking into a certain diet plan, I hope this helps with making a decision. Try to find a balanced plan, not too extreme and not too restrictive. Remember that permanent changes to your overall lifestyle is vital in order to have success at weight loss and to improve overall health. Fad diets come and go, but healthy habits last forever!
Have you ever tried a “quick fix” diet?
Have you had success with a particular diet plan?
*Reference: Sports Nutrition for Health Professionals*