Best Diet Plan
Donuts to Dollars
It has been stated by the health care community that as many as 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, we would be getting thinner. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many people spend much of their adult life dieting, obesity has reached epidemic levels.
In addition, the incidence of life-threatening problems such as Type II Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer have increased right along with our waistlines, and are often tied to our diet and lifestyle.
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:
1. Group Accountability Diets such as Weight Watchers
2. Online Diets such as sparkpeople.com and ediets.com
3. Low-carb Diets such as South Beach Diet, Atkins, Keto and Paleo Diet.
4. Fad Diets such as the Cabbage Soup Diet and the Maple Syrup-Lemon Juice-Cayenne Pepper Diet.
5. Prepackaged Food Diets such as Nutri-System and Jenny Craig
6. Faith-based Diets such as Weigh Down and Victory Steps
7. Supplement-based diets such as Acai Berry and Green Coffee Extract
8. Intermittent fasting plans
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 actual diet plan, 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 food 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.
Is a group accountability Diet 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.
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.
1. This type of program usually charges a fee to join, so those on a tight budget may not have the resources to afford it.
2. The Weight Watchers program relies on artificial sweeteners, which some health experts say you should 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 even 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.
Is an online diet, 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.
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., may be 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.
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.
Is a low-carb Diet such as South Beach Diet, Atkins, Keto and Paleo the best diet plans?
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.
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.
1. Restricting any nutrient type is difficult to do in the long term and may have a deleterious effect on your health, since you are missing out on the nutrients found in that group.
2. It may be hard on your kidneys, which have to deal with all the waste products of high protein eating. (May also cause 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 if it is the wrong kinds of fat.
Is a fad diet such as Cabbage Soup Diet and Kelp, Lecithin, Cider Vinegar diet the best diet plans?
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.
You could also include supplement-based diets and liquid diets in this category.
None, other than you may lose some weight.
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.
Is a prepackaged Diet 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 prepackaged form that is delivered to your door.
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.
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.
Is a 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.
1. Faith-based diets 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.
1. Even if a faith-based approach is an effective way to lose weight, money-making and religion 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!
Is a supplement-based diet, such as Acai Berry and Green Coffee Extract the best diet plan?
1. You may lose some weight
2. Aside from taking the supplement, there is usually a dietary component to these diets, so you may learn to eat better.
1. They require a continual expense--buying the supplement.
2. You do not know what is really in the supplement you are buying, since they are not regulated.
3. The supplements may be bad for your health. (Think Phen-Phen!) This is true, even if the supplement is touted as "natural." Many poisons are found in nature and could be called "natural, " but that does not mean they are safe for you to eat, especially long-term!
4. You are unlikely to take the supplements forever, and eventually will have to figure out how to maintain a healthy weight through food choices and lifestyle changes.
Is an Intermittent fasting approach the best diet plan for you?
1. There are a variety of programs, which may allow more flexibility in choosing a plan.
Click on this link for more about intermittent fasting.
2. There seem to be other health benefits, to further motivate you, such as better sleep, improved insulin response and even better mood.
3. It doesn't cost anything, so it is an economical choice.
4. It doesn't involve calorie counting or restricting certain food groups.
1. It's not for everyone, since those with certain health conditions are advised not to try it. (Check with your doctor to be sure!)
2. It may affect your social life, since the time frame when you can eat is limited.
3. It may not address the reasons why you gained weight in the first place, such as emotional eating or ignorance about what foods are good for you.
Make it your own!
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.
You may find that picking and choosing the best aspects of several types of diets will give you the results you are looking for.
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