Deciphering between latest diets can be overwhelming and exhausting. Eat carbs. Don’t eat carbs. Eat only plants. Eat only meat. Don’t eat after 6:00pm. Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Drink only water with lemon to “detox” your system. The last time I checked the liver and kidneys do a pretty good job of ridding the body of toxins. Nutrition information and misinformation is at every turn. So, how do you know what to eat? Where do you even begin? Consider these questions when contemplating a new diet.
- What is the purpose of the diet? What are you hoping to accomplish by being on a diet? Many diets eliminate entire food groups which can leave the body deprived of essential nutrients.
- How many pounds per week does the diet claim you will lose? A loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is a safe and sustainable amount. This can be achieved by decreasing your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Remember that increasing your daily activities as well as exercise can contribute to your calorie deficit. Talk to your doctor before beginning a workout routine.
- Does the diet recommend cutting out an entire nutrient group such as carbohydrates? Carbohydrates have become taboo, but in reality the body needs the majority of calories to come from this nutrient group. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which provides energy for our brains and muscles. Protein is important in building and repairing muscle as well as immune health. Fat aids in the absorption of vitamins and helps us stay feeling full longer. The body needs carbohydrates, fats, and protein from a variety of whole foods to function properly.
- Are there certain foods such as grapefruit or soup that one can have an unlimited amount of? All foods, even fruits and vegetables, should be consumed in moderation. More is not always better. In fact, too much of any one food group or nutrient can be detrimental to our bodies.
- Is there a requirement to eat at specific hours of the day? Meals should be small and balanced throughout the day. Most of us have heard that not eating after 6:00pm will contribute to weight loss. The body is not aware of what time of the day it is. There is nothing magical about consuming all calories before the sun goes down. However, think about how many less calories you would intake if you did not eat after dinner. Cutting out the evening grazing may save hundreds of calories which in turn will contribute to weight loss. Will not eating after 6:00pm, in and of itself, make you lose weight? No. Will consuming a large bowl of ice cream every night after dinner make you gain weight? If this means you are over your needed calories for the day, yes.
Remember: if something sounds to be too good to be true it probably is. There is no quick fix or magic bullet. Weight gain and loss comes down to one basic concept: calories in verses calories out. It is that simple…and that complicated. But counting calories may not be enough. How sustainable is a 1500 calorie diet of Twinkies? Consuming a balanced diet from a variety of whole foods is the best option for a lifestyle change. For long lasting effects, a balanced diet is in and fad diets are out.