Do you feel confused by all the dieting options out there? Don’t worry, most people have a hard time picking a diet that actually works. With all the books, web sites and infomercials, it’s hard to separate what works from what doesn’t. The truth is that all diets work in the same way. What separates the good ones from the bad is whether the weight loss is healthy and permanent.
A diet is more than just eating less to lose weight quickly. If you think of a diet as a temporary solution, you might lose a few pounds but will eventually quit because the changes you’re trying to make are too much to handle. If you think of a diet as a permanent solution to your weight problems, you’re a lot more likely to succeed.
The most important step in creating a diet for yourself is to figure out how many calories you need to eat. Use the calorie calculator to estimate how many calories you burn each day. To lose weight, simple eat less. Generally, the bigger your calorie deficit (difference between calories burned and calories eaten) the more weight you’ll lose. You might be tempted to start drastically cutting your calorie intake and increasing your exercise level to lose weight quicker. Don’t.
Yes, if you cut your calories to a point where you’re barely eating, you’ll see a few pounds drop off right away. As soon as you start eating again, you’ll go right back to where you started. If you’re looking for permanent weight loss, this won’t help you. Going from a normal intake of 2,000-2,500 calories a day to ~1,000 will be a huge shock. You might be able to sustain it for a few days but eventually you’ll give up and go back to your old eating habits.
The key to permanent weight loss is to make changes to your lifestyle slowly so that you can absorb them without giving up. If you normally take in 2,500 calories per day and want to get down to 1,500 per day, don’t do it all in one step. Gradually make your meals smaller, slowly cut out most of the junk food and start eating low calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables.
A diet, especially a good one, is about more than just slow and steady weight loss. To lose weight in a healthy way, you also need to be eating the right foods. You can lose weight by eating 1,500 calories worth of doughnuts each day but the result won’t be very healthy.
Gradually start cutting out junk foods such as candy, soda, chips and even some fruit juices. Replace these with healthy snacks: fruit, vegetables, low fat milk, nuts, beans, salads, cottage cheese and whole wheat breads.
Try and get rid of anything that is made from white flour. One hundred percent whole wheat flour contains more fiber, vitamins and minerals than white flour and is digested slower to make you feel full for a longer period of time. Slower digestion means you’ll eat less because you won’t be hungry.
You can also replace meats that are high in fat with lean alternatives. Reduce your intake of pork, beef and lamb. These can be replaced with turkey, chicken, fish and some cuts of beef. Fat that is found in meat products is the unhealthy kind which is associated with increased cholesterol levels. Fish does contain high amounts of unsaturated or healthy fats which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Moderation and variety are also important elements of a good diet. All foods can be included in a healthy diet as long as you balance unhealthy options with healthy ones. One chocolate bar won’t cause that much harm as long as you don’t go over board. The same can be said about healthy snacks such as bananas.
Bananas are very healthy but if that’s the only fruit you’re eating, you won’t have a good diet. While bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, they don’t have much in the way of vitamin B12 which is found in meat products. You need to moderate your intake of unhealthy foods and eat a variety of healthy ones to have a truly good diet. Each time you visit the grocery store, pick a different set of fruits and vegetables. This will ensure that you get a wide variety of nutrients in your diet.
The Bottom Line
A good diet isn’t one you stop once you reach your ideal weight. Most people go back to their old eating habits once they’ve reached their weight loss goal. This will put you in a cycle of constantly gaining and losing weight. Unless you think losing weight is fun, this isn’t an ideal situation nor is it very healthy. Going back to thinking of dieting as a permanent solution, when you reach your ideal weight, stick to healthy foods. You can increase your calorie intake a bit so that your weight loss will stop, but don’t start eating junk again.