For most people, eating well and exercising regularly is the best way to stay healthy. However, for some, following a specific diet can be useful to get back on track and bring weight to a healthier level. There are many different diets to choose from. We’ve covered some of the more popular options below.
US Dietary Guidelines
To help physicians and citizens understand where to start when it comes to healthy food choices, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or DGA. The 2020 USA Dietary Guidelines suggest healthy eating patterns known as Key Recommendations. These include:
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other;
- Fruits, especially whole fruits;
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains;
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages;
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products;
- Oils; and
- Limiting saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Healthy Weight Loss
Being overweight is defined as having a BMI of between 25 and 29.9. Being obese is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. To lose weight, most people need to reduce the number of calories they get from food and drink and increase physical activity.
To lose 1 to 1.5 pounds a week, most people should reduce their daily calorie intake by 500 to 750 calories per day. Based on a 2000 calorie per day standard, eating patterns that contain 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day can help most women lose weight safely, and eating patterns that contain 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day are suitable for most men for weight loss.
Additional key diet recommendations include:
- consuming less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars;
- consuming less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats;
- consuming less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day;
- and if alcohol is consumed by adults of legal drinking age do so in moderation.
Popular Diets for Weight Loss
You should always talk with your doctor about changing your diet to achieve weight loss, or if you have concerns about your weight and overall health. With that in mind, here are some of the most popular weight loss diets.
The Mediterranean Diet is recommended by many authorities and is backed by many studies. It allows followers to:
- Eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil;
- Eat in moderation: poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt;
- Eat only rarely: red meat; and
- Stay away from: sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
The Ketogenic Diet is intended to induce ketosis by severely limiting carbohydrates to cause fat/protein burning. The body uses the fat/protein to make glucose, which the brain needs to function. It provides quick weight loss and can reduce abdominal fat in some people. The Ketogenic Diet allows followers to:
- Eat: full fat dairy, poultry, fatty fish and shellfish, low-carb vegetables, plant-based oils, olives, nuts, and seeds, Avocado, butter, peanut butter; and
- Stay away from: most fruit, starchy or high fiber vegetables, grains and grain products such as bread, pasta, or baked goods, beans and lentils, whole grains (like quinoa, farro, bran) and rice, sugary beverages and most alcohol, candy or sweet desserts.
The Atkins Diet is the most recognized version of the low carb/ketogenic diets. It includes four phases:
- Induction Phase – For two weeks or longer, consumers keep their net carbs at the lowest level, usually 20g, 40g or 100g of carbs/day. (200-300g recommended daily).
- Balancing Phase – People on the program slowly add grams of net carbs to find the best carbohydrate balance.
- Fine Tuning Phase – Clients are advised make small tweaks to reach and maintain their goal weight for at least a month.
- Lifetime Maintenance – You continue to eat a healthy diet with limited carbohydrates to maintain your goal weight.
The Paleo Diet is another popular diet. Simply stated, if foods come in a box, bag, or can, they should be avoided. Foods that are okay to eat include meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Some examples of foods that should be avoided are grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, certain oils, and processed foods.
The Weight Watchers Diet helps adherents to translate foods into points and to eat up to a certain number of points each day. There is an app that allows users to search foods and points, track points and eating activity, find recipes and restaurants, connect with coaching and other users, among other things.
The Zone Diet helps individuals balance amounts of protein, carbs, and fat. The balance takes into account weight and exercise habits. Carbohydrates can be eaten at 1/3 the amount of protein. Small amounts of fat are allowed at each meal.
Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet helps people with slow, steady weight loss. This diet involves two phases, the “lose it” phase and the “live it” phase. It suggests eating fruits and vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrates, proteins, and dairy products. This diet suggests staying from any of the following in excess: sweets, fats, and refined carbohydrates.
Why Do We Gain Weight?
The reasons behind why we gain weight can be complicated. The most common cause of regular weight gain, unrelated to health issues, is eating more calories than are burned. Additionally, some experts argue that the quality of the food we eat matters more than quantity. Sometimes food is used as a reward, which can also contribute to changes in weight.
Age also factors in to weight. Once we pass beyond the age of 25, we tend to need fewer calories per day to maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that there are several healthy diets to choose from. Additionally, consulting with a licensed healthcare professional about a proper exercise regimen can also help maintain a healthy weight.
Finally, it is wise to choose a healthy diet before starting an exercise program for greater odds of success. When people add exercise without forming proper eating habits, they tend to eat more of the same foods that contributed to their weight-control problems to begin with. This makes it even harder to lose weight.
If you have weight-loss questions or other women’s healthcare needs, please call OGA at 208-888-0909 and schedule an appointment.
*** This article is not intended to be medical advice and should not replace the advice of your treating medical professional. ***