When you’re trying to lose weight or keep the weight off, everyone has suggestions. They’ve all got ideas about what you should eat and what you should do. Some of the suggestions are helpful, but other diet plans that they come up with are not practical. While eating only cookies for a week sounds great, it’s not really realistic, healthy or even really helpful.
The internet is really no better. It’s filled with all kinds of diet advice and plans to lose weight and keep it off. All of this advice makes it incredibly confusing when it comes to finding a diet that works for you. To help you out, here are six diet plans that are all about getting, and keeping you healthy.
1. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is one that has been popular for a number of years. The Mediterranean diet is one that originates from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. There are more than 15 countries that surround the Mediterranean, so all of these countries different cuisines come into play with this diet.
The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant based – whole grains, legumes, nuts fruit and vegetables. Oils are used (especially the heart healthy olive oil) instead of butter or margarine, which are high in saturated and trans fats. Instead of salt to flavor foods, herbs and spices are used.
Fish and poultry are the primary meat sources, while red meat is consumed very rarely, only a few times a month. Wine is also enjoyed in moderation (red wine is especially heart healthy). The final aspect, and one of the most important, is getting plenty of exercise and being active throughout the day.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to not only lower the risk of heart disease, but also can help promote intestinal and immune health. All of the fiber from the whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes help you to feel full and satisfied for longer. When you’re not constantly hungry, you are less likely to binge-snack or make unhealthy food choices.
This means you’re going to be consuming fewer total calories, and the calories you are consuming are rich in nutrients. A largely plant based diet combined with plenty of exercise is a great way to lose weight, and an even better way to keep it off for the long run.
2. Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is one that’s been around for about 40 years. Dr. Atkins was a cardiologist who designed a high protein, high fat and very low carbohydrate diet for his patients to help them lose weight and improve their cardiovascular health. It has received a lot of negative publicity over the years because it is so high in fat (especially saturated fat).
The principle behind the Atkins diet is pretty simple: carbohydrate intake is controlled, so your body starts burning fat to fuel itself. The key to the Atkins diet is in following its phases. The first phase is one of the most important in weight loss.
Carbohydrates are strictly controlled (about 20 grams a day) for 2 weeks. During that time, you can eat as much protein and fat as you’d like. After the initial phase, carbohydrates are slowly added back into the diet in controlled amounts. Over time, you reach a maintenance phase, where you are still consuming mostly protein and fat, but you’re also eating carbohydrates from vegetables and some fruits.
The advantages to the Atkins diet are really three fold. You start off with a bang. You begin to lose weight and notice a difference immediately. This really makes it easier to stick with the toughest phase of the diet. The second, and one of the biggest, advantage is the maintenance phase.
Throughout the phases of Atkins, you learn about food and how to make choices that constitute a healthy diet. You learn what you need to in order to maintain those choices for the rest of your life.
3. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet has become more popular in recent years. But really, it’s been around for years. The ketogenic diet follows the same principles as other diets, like the Atkins and South Beach diets. It controls the amount of carbohydrates that you eat, while allowing you as much fat and protein as you’d like.
These strictly controlled carbohydrate diets cause your body to go into a state called ketosis. Ketosis is caused because carbohydrates (which are a primary source of fuel for the body) are in short supply. The body then begins to burn fat. Your body’s stored fat is broken down into fatty acids.
However, your brain cannot fuel itself on fatty acids, because they can’t cross the blood brain barrier. Instead, your body breaks down the fatty acids into acetyl-CoA, which is used as an alternative energy source. This whole process leads to your liver producing a substance called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are eliminated through the lungs (causing your breath to smell sweet) and the urine.
While the ketogenic diet is a great way to initially lose weight, it’s important that you don’t maintain that weight loss by continuing to use a ketogenic diet for a long period of time without direct medical supervision. Instead, you should slowly begin to add carbohydrates (especially whole grains, fruits and vegetables) back into your diet in order to maintain your weight loss for the long term.
4. Paleolithic Diet
The Paleolithic (or Paleo) diet has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It’s based on the premise that our bodies are not designed to eat large quantities of grains, legumes and dairy products. Instead, you are encouraged to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, meat (especially organic, free range, grass fed and wild game), fish and shell fish, eggs and tree nuts.
The Paleo diet is extremely useful in helping treat a number of medical conditions, including diabetes. Since no grains or legumes are consumed on the Paleo diet, your blood sugar is more likely to be stable and blood sugar control may even improve.
Since you’re filling up with fruits, vegetables and meats, you’re going to feel satiated and full much longer than if you’re snacking on refined grains. This means you’ll eat less during the day and you’re going to lose weight.
5. Vegetarian Diet
The vegetarian diet is a plant based diet. There are several different types of vegetarian diets. Some people will eat mostly plant based, but will also have dairy and egg products. Others will only have eggs, or only include fish with the rest of the diet made up of plant based products.
The vegetarian diet is great for weight loss. When you remove most (or all) animal products from your diet, and you replace those calories with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, you end up consuming far less calories than you typically would. You are also eating more fiber than the average person, so you’re going to feel full and satisfied for longer. You’re going to snack less and you’re going to end up losing weight.
A well balanced vegetarian diet is highly sustainable in the long term, and is a great way to not only lose weight, but also to keep it off once you’ve lost it.
6. Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is a form of the vegetarian diet, but no animal products are consumed at all. The vegan diet relies entirely on fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and soy products to get all of the nutrients your body needs to function and be healthy.
Overall, the vegan diet is sustainable long term thanks in large part to the number of meatless options now available with soy products. It is also very low in fat and cholesterol and high in nutrients that are vital for good health.
The vegan diet is very similar to the vegetarian diet, in that you will likely consume far less calories than normal. This will lead to weight loss and over time, maintenance of the weight loss.
So, which diet plan is right for you?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question. Each person is unique, that no one diet will work for everyone. The diet that works for you is not only one that fits into your lifestyle, but is one that leaves you feeling satisfied. If you try the Atkins diet and you’re always cranky (a possible side effect, especially during the initial phases), maybe that one isn’t for you.
If you’re always hungry when you don’t eat meat, it’s best to avoid vegetarian and vegan diets. You want to find a diet that you enjoy. You want to be able to enjoy the food you’re making and eating, feel satisfied and feel good. Any one of these diets is a great option to start you on your weight loss journey and will help you to keep the weight off.