There is no shortage of advice and opinions surrounding weight loss. Every week is a new fad or “hack” that promises to shed pounds away in the blink of an eye. But these diets often don’t work and can even be seriously detrimental to your overall health. This blog will explore some popular fad diets and what makes the best weight loss diet.
The Fad Diet
With Americans spending billions of dollars per year on weight loss, it’s no shock that companies try to capitalize on fad diets. Unfortunately, most of these diet plans are ineffective and can be very dangerous. Fad diets often require severe trade-offs, such as completely eliminating an entire food group or only consuming a specific type of food. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and serious health issues. One recent example of a popular fad diet is the ketogenic or keto diet.
The keto diet operates by forcing your body into ketosis, where it essentially burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Your body achieves this by getting 75% of your calories from fat instead of the typical 20-35%. Physicians at the University of Chicago Medical School do not recommend the keto diet except in rare cases because it can lead to low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, weight loss from this diet often immediately returns when the diet is stopped.
The Restrictive Diet
Another way that some people try to lose weight quickly is through restrictive dieting. This system severely limits the calories you consume for rapid weight loss. Sometimes, the target caloric intake is as low as 800 calories or less per day. While the results are quick and impressive, this diet can be extremely dangerous if not supervised by a medical professional.
Fewer calories go hand-in-hand with less nutrition. As a result, people on these diets are often sluggish, tired, and have very little energy. In addition, the lack of nutrients can compromise your immune system and damage your blood vessels, increasing your risk for complications like blocked arteries and heart attacks.
Restrictive dieting is also not a sustainable weight-loss solution. Because of its restrictive and inflexible nature, most people would only be able to follow this system for a short time. After stopping the plan, followers would return to their old dietary habits and regain the weight that they had lost.
The Best Weight Loss Diet
The only way to healthily and sustainably lose weight is to maintain a balanced diet that takes in fewer calories than you burn through exercise and daily functions. And the hard truth is that there is no “best weight loss diet” that works for everyone. But, there are some things to keep in mind to help you get the most out of your nutrition and fitness plan.
A key advantage to a balanced diet is that it is more flexible than a restrictive or fad diet like keto. The more flexible your plan is, the more likely you will stick to it long-term, which means that the weight won’t come back after a short time. A testament to this theory can be found in the Weight Watchers Program. In 2019, this program had over 4.6 million global users and a high satisfaction rate. The primary selling point of this program is that there is no restriction or elimination. You can still eat cake, pizza, or pasta, as long as you are willing to follow the plan and adjust some of your other food choices.
Additionally, balanced diets ensure that you have the proper nutrients to cover all aspects of your health, not just weight. When your diet includes a balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and essential vitamins found in vegetables and fruits, your body will have the fuel to perform at its best.
The USDA recommends that the average person’s calories fall into the following proportions:
- Carbohydrates: 45-65 percent
- Protein: 10-35 percent
- Fats: 20-35 percent
With weight loss as your goal, many fitness and nutrition experts recommend that carbohydrates account for about 45-50 percent of your caloric intake, and protein is increased to 25-30 percent. Below is a list of healthy sources of each macronutrient that you can consider adding to your diet to reach these goals.
- Carbohydrates: Sweet potato, oats, whole-grain bread, bananas, brown rice
- Protein: Lean meats, poultry, beans and legumes, eggs, greek yogurt
- Fats: Eggs, yogurt, salmon, avocado, almonds, flax seeds, coconut oil
At the end of the day, a quick-fix diet that promises to lose pounds easily and quickly sounds appealing. But in this case, we like to follow the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you follow the USDA recommendations for macronutrient breakdowns and aim for a balanced diet, you will have a nutritional base to lose weight and meet your health and fitness goals healthily.