It seems like there are countless diets out there, all promising to be the most effective way to shed those unwanted pounds. While these diets might have unique labels and marketing the ones that actually work really take one of three approaches, they are either calorie controlled balanced diets, low fat diets or low carbohydrate diets. To make things slightly more complicated some are a combination of two of the above, but their main underlying philosophy will typically be built upon one of the three. As always make sure you work with your doctor in deciding which diet to follow and how to follow it. Which one works? Well they all do, depending on the individual, their time frame and their goals. So instead of looking at it as picking the “best” diet you need to pick the one that is best for you.
Calorie Controlled Balanced Diet
This is by far the healthiest option assuming you don’t have medical conditions that dictate otherwise. This diet is a very simply approach, eat from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in smaller portions and consuming a reduced number of calories a day leads to weight loss. Generally this is a very effective and healthy way to lose weight, but it doesn’t always work for everybody in every unique situation with that individual’s self determined time frame. However long term this is an ideal diet and in fact it really isn’t a diet but rather sound nutrition. The ability to easily vary your calories should make it easier to keep your body in a calorie deficit which is the basis of weight loss.
• Breakfast – oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon and sausage
• Snack – fruit and a handful of almonds
• Lunch – turkey sandwich on whole grain, rye or wheat, with cheese, a handful of baby carrots and a fruit
• Snack 2 – Yogurt and granola
• Dinner – grilled chicken or fish, sweet potato and a mixed green salad
• Snack 3 – Yogurt and fruit
There are a lot of options on this type of plan, the above is just an example based on my own experiences.
Low Fat Diet
A low fat diet is really a twist on calorie reduction since a gram of fat has 9 calories while a gram of protein and a gram of carbohydrates only have 4 calories. Low fat diets do not mean no fat, because some fats are essential to how your body operates. Low fat is generally considered less than 30% of your total calories coming from fat, so these diets aren’t as simple as they seem since you have to track both total calories and how many of those calories come from fat. The most effective low fat diets also focus on keeping the total daily caloric intake down and eating smaller meals every two to three hours. For me low fat diets are a bit too much math, so although I don’t eat Trans fats and avoid other bad fats I have never really followed a low fat diet. However someone I know has and here is her typical day of eating while on this type of diet:
• Breakfast – oatmeal and one cup of milk
• Snack 1 – 1 cup 1% fat cottage cheese and half a can of pineapple chunks
• Lunch – turkey, tomato and cheddar on whole wheat
• Snack 2 – low salt crackers and turkey
• Dinner – grilled fish, mixed green salad and mixed frozen vegetables
Remember the portion size will contribute to the total per meal calories and the fat needs to be less than 30% of the total daily caloric intake, see like I said way too much math. This type of diet has been shown in recent studies to be the most effective for weight loss for around 40% of the population and some believe that lowering the fat intake lowers cholesterol so despite the math it might be worth a try.
Low Carbohydrate Diet
Low carbohydrate diets are some of the most popular diets on the market today because they generally tend to be the most effective, the quickest, and the easiest to follow. While they will vary in both the amount and types of carbohydrates they allow, their approach to controlling fat intake and their concern for total calories they are all based on the same principle, reduce calorie intake low enough to reduce insulin production to prevent dietary fats from being stored as fat in the body and force the body into a ketosis state where it doesn’t have glucose to use as fuel so the body has to cannibalize it’s stored fat for energy.