Estimation suggests that more than half of the country’s population plans to lose weight every year. While there are multiple ways to reach your ideal weight goal, one of the best and most important ways to lose weight is by following a strict diet plan. You can follow the diet plan for a long duration, or you can have intermittent diet plans for shorter periods. However, there are numerous types of diet plans that you can choose from, and that tends to confuse a lot of people.
While some people are concerned about the results that a diet plan will show, others might have anxieties about them completing the course of the diet plan. Thus, it is important to understand the kind of diet plan that will suit you and to make sure that you have the resources and will to stick to the plan for its entire duration.
Although diet plans are mostly followed for weight loss, there are a number of other health benefits. Some diet plans help in the treatment of chronic diseases or keeping such diseases at bay; others could have a direct impact on your everyday health and could keep your blood pressure in check. All in all, diet plans have multiple benefits.
Out of the numerous diet plans available to us, vegetarian and vegan diets have been very popular lately. It is estimated that 18% of the world’s population is vegetarian. There are obvious environmental benefits of not consuming meat. However, if you plan your diet well, you can also keep yourself from exposure to some chronic diseases as well as prevent obesity. While people adopt vegetarianism for various reasons, including religious, ethical, etc., the results are clearly visible in their lifestyle.
Let us first understand the popular diet plans that have shown great results.
Intermittent fasting is the kind of diet wherein you restrict any food intake for certain durations of time. So a period of fasting is followed by a period of eating. Some of the forms that are popular in intermittent fasting include the 16/8 method and the 5:2 method. In the 16/8 method, a person only eats for eight hours per day, and the remaining 16 hours every day are for fasting. In the 5:2 methods, a person only consumes 500-600 calories twice every week.
In a very simple way, the calorie intake of the body is restricted, and this leads to weight loss. However, one must make sure that one does not compensate by over-eating when one is allowed to eat. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting has resulted in up to 8% weight loss over a period of 24 months. This makes the diet plan one of the most effective ways to lose weight. However, since one is not defining the kind of foods that one will consume, other benefits are usually not seen with this diet.
This comes from the fact that people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea have a longer life expectancy than others, including Americans. They also suffer from lesser cardiovascular diseases and are less prone to cancer as well. The diet involves an active lifestyle, weight control, and foods that have less sugar and saturated fat. The diet is rich in produce, nuts, and has more wholesome foods that are good for health.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet include cancer prevention, diabetes control, and heart and brain health. Chronic diseases can also be avoided by following this diet plan. This is also said to be a balanced diet that is rich in protein, carbs, as well as necessary fats and other nutrients. Some of the popular foods that one can enjoy in this diet plan include buckwheat pancakes, Greek yogurt, Mediterranean pasta salad, roasted almonds, quinoa salad, chocolate mousse, pumpkin soup, French fries, and banana bread with peanuts. Foods like roasted almonds and banana bread with peanuts can be had in the morning, while others like pumpkin soup, French fries, and salad can be had during the course of the day. It must be noted that portion control is a very important part of the Mediterranean diet, and sharing the diet with another person will keep the portions in check and also make following the diet easy.
One of the best diet plans for avoiding hypertension or high blood pressure is the DASH diet. This diet comprises foods that we’ve always known are good for health like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. These foods help in deflating blood pressure by inculcating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and fiber in your meals. Fatty meats and full-fat dairy products have to be completely avoided if you’re following this diet, and so are sweetened beverages and sweets.
Since it does not involve a complete change of diet, you can introduce the foods slowly over a certain period of time, and the results will be seen over time. To every meal, a vegetable or fruit serving can be added. Chips can be replaced with almonds, and herbs and spices can be added to meals in order to make the food more interesting. White flour can be replaced with whole-wheat flour over the course of time. Physical activity is also important, and you can take a short walk after lunch and dinner.
Some of the foods that can be included in the diet are bran flakes, minestrone soup, yogurt, apples with cottage cheese dip, vegetable kabobs, and strawberry banana smoothie with soy milk. The diet might be a little more expensive than the other diet plans that are available. However, this is because whole-grain products are generally more expensive than processed foods. You can stick to the DASH diet for longer durations since there are endless recipe options, and the food is not boring, as in many other diet plans.
Some of the popular low-carb diets include ketogenic or keto diet, Atkins diet, and low-carb, high-fat (LCFC) diet. Within this category of diet plans, some of the diet plans reduce the carbs intake drastically. For example, in the keto diet, the carbs intake has to be 10% of the total calories consumed. The carbs are reduced, and thus the intake of proteins and fats increases. Once the body receives fewer carbs, fatty acids are used by the body for energy requirements, and the fatty acids are converted to ketones. This process is referred to as ketosis.
Among other benefits, weight loss is one of the primary benefits of this kind of diet. In fact, the weight loss has been even more drastic than low-fat diets. Low-carb diets specifically work towards reducing belly fat. Apart from weight loss, low-carb diets also reduce the chances of heart diseases, as they help in keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check. The diet can also help people who are known to suffer from type 2 diabetes as it helps in controlling insulin and blood sugar levels.
There are just a couple of downsides to this kind of diet. Firstly, it can lead to the rise of LDL cholesterol levels. Since these are strict diets, some people can find it difficult to sustain the diet for longer durations.
Mayo Clinic diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet is formed on the fundamentals that in order to adopt a healthy diet, one must leave behind unhealthy eating habits. The diet plan lays across a unique food pyramid that emphasizes the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are known to have a low-energy density, and thus you can eat these in generous portions without consuming many calories. The diet is very effective, and you can expect to lose up to 10 pounds in just two weeks, and about a pound every week thereon, until you’ve reached your goal.
The diet is nutritionally rich and has a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fat. The best part about the diet is that you get the opportunity to shape your diet, and thus you can choose the foods that you like and avoid foods that you do not wish to eat.
The Mayo Clinic diet is divided into phases. While the first phase is focused on forming 15 key habits, the second phase starts getting more stringent, where you have to count the number of calories you’re consuming every day. This is not a short-term diet plan, and thus, there’s no food group that you have to religiously avoid. This makes it easier to follow the diet plan for a longer duration, sometimes even for life. The first phase involves including a healthy breakfast, losing habits like watching TV while eating, and not snacking on processed foods. You should also include some physical activity in your daily routine so that you get maximum results. In the second phase, the calories in each serving are counted. Regular physical activity must be included in your lifestyle, and you’re set to follow a diet plan for the rest of your life.
Some of the foods that can be included in your meals include banana oatmeal pancakes, couscous salad, pita pizza, hummus, vegetable stir fry, avocado salad, and dark chocolate. The cost of following this diet completely depends on what you plan to keep in your diet. Apart from helping you lose weight, it also keeps your heart healthy as the activity level is also monitored in this diet plan.
The Zone diet
In the Zone diet, the glycemic load in the diet is contained as you limit the number of carbs to 35% to 45% of the total calories consumed, and fat is limited to 30%. The diet suggests eating only those carbs that have a low glycemic index (GI). GI is an estimate of how much a food raises the level of blood glucose. Some of the effects of this diet include a reduction in diet-induced inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases, apart from weight loss.
The diet is simple. You only have to balance each meal and have one-third protein and two-thirds vegetables and fruits. Even fat has to be added in the form of monounsaturated oil, which can be olive oil, almonds, or avocados. The consumption of foods with carbs having high GI like bananas and rice has to be reduced.
This diet has shown inconsistent results as far as weight loss is concerned. It has worked with some people really well, while with others, it has only shown negligible results. However, it has worked well in the prevention of other ailments like heart diseases and high cholesterol.
The Flexitarian diet
Flexitarian is made from two words—flexible and vegetarian. By only consuming plant-based foods, this diet can help with weight loss as well as lower the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and several heart diseases. The diet is flexible, as the name suggests, and thus you can come up with a number of delicious recipes while following this diet. One setback is that this diet mainly concentrates on home cooking, which is limiting for some people.
In this diet, you need to add five new food groups in your diet—namely non-meat proteins, fruits and vegetables, dairy, whole grains, and sugar, and spice. The diet plan has a five-week meal plan for all three meals of the day. You can also interchange the plans for any two weeks as per your convenience. Basically, each breakfast has about 300 calories, lunch around 400, and dinner has 500 calories. Two snacks of 150 calories each can be added to the diet, taking the total daily intake to 1,500 calories.
Some of the foods you can eat in this diet include veggie hash, pumpkin-spice oatmeal with hazelnuts, lentil soup, Greek yogurt with berries, quiche, hummus, apricots dipped in dark chocolate, avocado salad, honey garlic tofu, and quinoa salad. Couple the foods with some exercise every day, and you’ll see the results at the end of the five weeks.