What word comes to mind when you hear the word diet? Most often than not, it is deprivation. We diet by regulating what we eat. We diet because we either want to maintain, to gain, or to lose weight. However, diet has to be combined with physical exercise for more satisfactory results.
The word is one of them that gets thrown and used a lot it loses its simple meaning. Diet is simply what we eat, whatever it is. It is the sum of all the food we consume, whether by habit or preferential choice. If you’re fond of Big Macs and potato chips, that’s your diet (or part of it). If you like salads and grilled chicken breast but enjoy occasional cupcakes and chocolates, that’s also a part of your diet. Here, we will use diet as the food we take by choice.
There are five diet categories which popular dietary programs are based from. Each category has its pros and cons and it is up to the individual what specified diet program suits him or her best.
These diets restrict carbohydrate consumption usually for weight control. Carbohydrates are replaced with proteins and fats and other foods low in carbohydrates although other vegetables and fruits are allowed. Low-carbohydrate diets are used to treat or prevent some chronic diseases and conditions including cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. No wonder two of the great examples of this kind of diet came from doctors --- Atkin's Diet and the South Beach Diet and both have a lot in common.
Some say that the South Beach Diet is a friendlier, less restrictive version of the Atkin's Diet. Aside from being created by certified physicians, both diets restrict carbohydrates. Although intake of good carbohydrate-rich foods are allowed, dieters following the South Beach Diet must abstain for two weeks from high-carb foods like pasta, bread, cereal, potatoes, and corn to start. But after that, some of them may be returned to the normal diet as some of them are discouraged. Although these diets are effective in losing weight in a short period of time, some experts questions their long-term sustainability.
Low-fat diets involve the reduction of the percentage of fat in one's diet. Calorie consumption is reduced because less fat is consumed. They are known to be heart-healthy strategies, but can be difficult to stick to.
An example of this type of diet is the Macrobiotic Diet, which embraces a lifestyle change with a touch of Zen and vegetarianism. The Macrobiotic Diet is low in fat and high in fiber, and rich in phytochemicals. Because of this, the diet is somehow recommended for the prevention of certain diseases like cancer although there is no scientific evidence that Macrobiotic Diet reduces breast cancer. People may benefit from eating more natural foods, whole grains, beans, and vegetables but experts are worried that dieters would lack some vitamins and minerals like other vegetarians suffer from.
The goal of low-calorie diets is to lose weight up to 2 pounds a week anything greater than that should be supervised by a doctor or dietician. It is also recognized in this type of diet that each individual differs in calorie needs. One great example of a low-calorie diet is the Raw Food Diet.
Raw Food Diet is based on the principle that plant foods in their most natural state --- uncooked and unprocessed --- are good for the body. Like the Macrobiotic Diet, this is also more of a lifestyle choice than a weight loss program. Devotees claim that a diet consisting of uncooked, unprocessed plant foods lead to a leaner body, clearer skin, and higher energy. The diet also cuts the risk of diseases. Sticking to this diet is not easy. Most of the dieters are vegans who eat no animal products but some do eat raw eggs and cheese made from raw or unpasteurized milk. Unlike with Macrobiotic Diet, Raw Food dieters do not cook using the traditional stove or oven. They use food dehydrators that make vegetables crunchy, and use juicers to extract fruit juices. People may find juicers and food dehydrators relatively costly but this diet can deliver both short- and long-term weight losses, experts concluded, since they typically eat fewer calories and healthier than most other people.
These diets generally fall within widely accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients they provide. Most popular diets are in this category because each diet program claims that they encourage nutritious, balanced diets. One of the notable diets for example is The Biggest Loser Diet which is based on the famous reality TV show.
Everyone can relate to The Biggest Loser because viewers see the how the obese contestants slim down and reach their goals. The diet is also a low-calorie diet that promotes the 4-3-2-1 pyramid (four servings of fruits and veggies; three of lean protein; two of whole grains; and one "extra"), along with an exercise program over a 12-week period. It requires dieters to keep daily food logs, watch their food portion sizes, and drink 48-64 ounces of water each day around the basic plan plus daily workouts. It has a guide book that contains a detailed cardio and strength-training program, plus tips and inspiration from former contestants. Diet experts agreed that calorie restriction and physical activity should work for dieters be it in short- or long-term period.
Some people turn to high-protein diets to lose weight because it helps them control their appetite and calorie intake. Researches don't understand exactly how could this be but they think it may be because a protein causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones therefore, fewer cravings. Some new research studies hint that protein may be able to satisfy hunger better than fats or carbohydrates. One example of a high-protein diet is the Dukan Diet.
Multi-hyphenated celebrity Jennifer Lopez was said to have lost weight after her pregnancy by following the Dukan Diet. It’s a high-protein, low-calorie diet plan that doesn't require you to weigh your food or count calories. Eat as much as you want any time as long as you're eating lean protein. It promotes rapid weight loss with a protein-only diet at the onset of the program. Like any other diets, it has (four) phases a dieter has to go through. However, experts are worried that dieters may not get the proper nutrition because of too much focus on the protein content of the diet, almost eliminating the other healthy food groups in the diet.
Andrea Wheeler is a lifestyle blogger. She writes for Bodylab, a trusted health and fitness website in Denmark.