The Best Diet Plan

Best Diet Plan

Doughnuts to Dollars

It has been stated by the health care community that 30% of people in the U.S. are "severely obese." The corollary to this statistic is that weight loss is big business in this country, raking in billions in revenue every year.

You would think that with all the money being spent that we would be getting thinner. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many people spend much of their adult life dieting, obesity has reached epidemic levels.

If you landed on this page, you are probably considering which, of the many weight loss plans available, is the best diet plan for you. I hope the information provided here will help you make that decision.

Weight loss plans fall into several categories:

-Group Accountability Diets such as Weight Watchers

-Online Diets such as sparkpeople.com and ediets.com

-Low-carb Diets such as South Beach Diet and the Atkins Diet

-Fad Diets such as the Cabbage Soup Diet and the Paleo Diet

-Pre-packaged Food Diets such as Nutri-System and Jenny Craig

-Faith-based Diets such as Weigh Down and Victory Steps

-Supplement-based diets such as Acai Berry and Green Coffee Extract

There may be some that I have missed, but these are the main groups that characterize diet plans. There are also weight loss programs where there is no diet plan, per se, but the issues of why you are overweight and how you look at food are addressed without recommending any specific eating plan. These would include the Beck Diet Solution and the Anderson Method, among others.

Diets based on exercise have also become popular and may include dieting recommendations in addition to the workout videos. 

Finally, there are the inspirational books, which describe one person's weight loss journey, such as 150 Pounds Gone Forever or Crazy, Sexy Diet, both of which I recently reviewed on this site.

Let's look at each category of diet and think about the pros and cons to help you find the best diet plan for you.


Are Group Accountability Diets such as Weight Watchers the best diet plan?

Many people over the years have found success with Weight Watchers. This diet plan includes group sessions, weekly weigh ins, and keeping track of what you eat using a points system.

PROS

1. Some people function better in a group, not only because of the accountability, but because of the support from others in the same situation. Weight Watcher leaders are generally people who have themselves been successful in losing weight and keeping it off, so they can empathize with those in their group and provide real inspiration. This is also true of other diet programs of this type.

2. This type of diet provides a proscribed amount of food, from all the food groups, that is designed to provide all of the nutrients you need, but still be low enough in calories for you to lose weight at a steady pace.

3. There is enough flexibility in the program to allow you to design a diet that will satisfy your taste preferences, budget, schedule and other variables in your lifestyle.

CONS

1. This type of program usually charges a fee to join, so those on a very tight budget may not have the resource

2. The Weight Watchers program relies on artificial sweeteners, which I would prefer that you limit or avoid, since the goal is to retrain your taste buds, and because the long-term side effects of using these chemicals is unknown. There is some research that suggests that using these artificial sweeteners may actually cause you to gain weight!

3. These programs that have weekly weigh-ins, may cause you to become obsessed with the number on the scale. We have all heard stories of women who wear their lightest clothing for the weigh in, so that they have a better chance of getting the number they want. Your weight may fluctuate for many reasons, but if you are the type who is too focused on that number, you may want to avoid programs where weigh ins are done. Measuring your body or just noticing how your clothes are fitting may be a better way to assess your progress than that number on the scale.

4. Unless you stick with the program, or at least its principles, even after you lose the weight, you are likely to gain it all back, and even more. You may be able to skip the meetings, but you have to stick to the eating plan.


Are Online Diets such as sparkpeople.com and ediets.com the best diet plan?

These are programs where the support is completely through the virtual world. They usually have calorie counters and other tools to help you track your progress. Some are free of charge and are paid for by ads on the website and some will charge a fee to join.

PROS

1. You can do them from the comfort of your home on your own schedule, and the free ones don't cost you anything but your time.

2. The tools to help you succeed, such as meal trackers, calorie counters, exercise journals, etc., are very useful and may make it easier to plan and keep track of your progress.

3. You can tailor the program to your needs with more or less participation on the website, depending on your schedule, personality and knowledge about healthy dieting.

CONS

1. You need to have a computer and be somewhat computer literate.

2. You are on the honor system, since there is no real accountability other than what you type into the site.

3. It takes time to learn how to use the programs, to enter the information about your meals and to enter your recipes and other foods not on their food lists.


Are Low-carb Diets such as South Beach Diet and Atkins Diet the best diet plan?

This type of diet has been around for over thirty years and involves limiting carbohydrates in your diet in favor of protein and fats. This is done in varying degrees depending on the particular plan and where you are in the process of the diet.

PROS

1. Most people lose weight, especially in the beginning when on a low-carb diet.

2. The diet includes eating a lot of vegetables, which is a healthy choice for dieters.

3. These types of diets force you to learn about low-glycemic and high-glycemic foods, which gives you an advantage in choosing foods that keep your insulin levels stable.

CONS

1. Restricting any nutrient type is difficult to do in the long term and may have a deleterious effect on your health.

2. You may develop a condition called "ketosis" that is hard on your kidneys, which have to deal with all the waste products of high protein eating. (Ketosis also causes you to have bad breath.)

3. The extra emphasis on eating fats in these low-carb diets may cause you to have the health problems associated with eating too much fat, especially the wrong kinds of fat.


Are Fad Diets such as Cabbage Soup Diet and Paleo Diet the best diet plan?

There are so many fad diets out there that they are too numerous to mention. Everything from single food diets, to combinations of foods, to special concoctions of ingredients, to magic pills and potions are being touted every day by a billion dollar diet industry. I would also include supplement-based diets and liquid diets in this category.

PROS

None, other than you may lose some weight.

CONS

1. You won't stick to it forever, and you will be even more discouraged when you gain all the weight back and more.

2. A diet like this may be hazardous to your health, since fad diets can upset the balanced diet you should be eating.

3. These diets do not address the lifestyle choices that made you gain weight in the first place, but instead, rely on gimmicks and even junk science to convince you to try them.


Are Pre-packaged Diets such as Nutri-System and Jenny Craig the best diet plan?

These diets are highly promoted, usually by celebrities, and involve purchasing your meals and snacks in a pre-packaged form that is delivered to your door. 

PROS

1. These programs are probably the most effortless, since you don't have to think too much about what you are going to eat ahead of time or spend much time grocery shopping.

2. There are usually different versions of the program based on your particular needs.

3. They are generally designed by a nutritionist who will balance the foods to provide the nutrients you need.

CONS

1. These programs are expensive, and not the best use of your food dollars.

2. Unless you plan to buy the foods for the rest of your life, you will eventually have to go off the program and fend for yourself, which could lead to weight gain.

3. These programs rely heavily on processed foods, including those with artificial sweeteners and preservatives, rather than the fresh, whole foods that should dominate a healthy eating lifestyle.


Are Faith-Based Diets such as Weigh Down and Victory Steps the best diet plan?

These programs include prayer, inspirational instruction and support and other faith-based approaches to the dieting experience.

PROS

1. These programs address the spiritual aspect of your problems with being overweight, which may be the most important component of successful weight loss.

2. They provide a lot of positive feedback and support and encourage you to think of yourself more in terms of your inside than your outside.

3. The underlying problems in your life that have led to weight gain may be more thoroughly addressed, which could increase your chances of long-term success.

CONS

1. While a faith-based approach may be one of the most effective ways to lose weight, money-making and faith do not often mix well, so beware of someone who is using religion rather than a sincere desire to help you, just to get your hard-earned cash.

2. Programs that rely on a faith-based approach may have some confusing doctrinal issues that don't match your belief system and therefore could derail your weight loss attempts as well as your faith!


The Best Diet Plan

The best diet plan is the one that allows you to (1) reach your goal weight, (2) maintain that weight and (3) remain healthy doing it.  


As you can see, each approach will probably allow you to lose some weight. Some of the programs even have a pretty good long-term success rate for some people.

However, the best diet plan isn't a diet but a lifestyle change that you can live with for the rest of your life.

Click on this link, for information about what to look for when choosing the best diet plan for you.

You may find that picking and choosing the best aspects of several types of diets will give you the results you are looking for.


Click on this link to go from Best Diet Plan page to Weight Loss Tips page.




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