In my last article, I discussed eating habits surrounding the holidays and the average weight gain because of overindulging. This month I’ll follow up with possible solutions and trending diets.
Can you guess the number one New Year’s resolution for 2018? It was…drum roll please…the desire to lose weight (becoming a better person was also in the top spot as the most popular resolution—something we should all strive for) (Poll, 2017). Diet expert Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson (Walden, 2018) points out that even though weight loss is the most reported New Year’s resolution, it is the least likely to be achieved. Why? Because despite good intentions, other things sabotage dieting—willpower (lack of), an unhealthy mindset, and unreasonable goals.
How then to get motivated? According to research by Thomas, Hyde, Karunaratne, Kausman, and Komesaroff (2008), all diets will work…when you stick to them. Piggy-backing off this line of thinking, I will offer my own expertise: all and any diet will work…if you’re not currently dieting (said another way, if you’re eating to your heart’s content and not making any effort to lose weight, you won’t. But if you start taking the steps—any steps– toward weight loss, you more than likely will budge those pounds).
In my role as fitness counselor, I’ve had many clients through the years ask me: Which diet works? My pat answer: The one that works for you. What does that mean? Well, for example, if you don’t like bacon and you’re trying out the Atkins diet, you’re probably not going to be successful at it. Why? Because this low-carb diet relies on a variety of meats (usually high in saturated fats–including bacon) (Gunnars, 2017). That is why it is important to choose a diet plan that will take into account your preferences and lifestyle (what works for one person, might not work for the next person). Notice that word too—lifestyle. Dieting might help you lose weight—but won’t necessarily keep it off. Your lifestyle should reflect healthy eating, physical activity, and daily management of those two aspects.
So which diets are piquing people’s interest in this new year? One of these is the popular keto diet (if you’re Keeping Up With The Kardashians, then you already know that this one is favored by Kim) (Nava, 2017). The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein plan. The idea is to restrict carbohydrates but fuel your diet with “good fat” in order to get your liver to amp up the ketones—those substances that are produced when our bodies break down fat for energy. This diet is similar to the Atkins diet in the sense that it allows bacon and cheese, however the keto diet prohibits bananas, grains, and sugar.
The ketogenic diet was originally developed early 20th century and was intended for treating children with drug refractory epilepsy (Krilanovich, 2007). The method was touted for weight loss when it was discovered that hunger decreased as the concentration of ketone bodies increased (with fat as the main fuel source). Does the keto diet work? Celebs might say it is so, but the scientific community has rejected this system and claim there is no metabolic advantage associated with ketosis through dieting (Krilanovich, 2007). Studies by Urbain, Strom, Morawski, Wehrle, Deibert, and Bertz (2017) concurs, stating: while a mild impact on physical performance (faster exhaustion, peak power, and endurance capacity) has been detected, a ketogenic diet will not effect physical fitness in a clinically relevant manner. In addition, Patel from Global News (2018) points that the Keto diet is ranked as one of the worst diets for the new year (if measured by the following criteria: being easy to follow, nutritional value, ability to produce short and long term weight loss, safety, and prevention of/managing heart disease or diabetes).
While the Keto diet did not make the grade, the DASH diet ranked high. This system is associated with preventing hypertension (lowering high blood pressure) by focusing on eating lean fish/poultry, vegetables/fruits, and whole grains. The diet also urges participants to restrict consumption of salt, red meat, and alcohol. Even though dieters might find it hard to give up fatty, salty foods, DASH is a simple method that most people can follow, therefore increasing their chances of sticking with it and successfully losing weight (Patel, 2018).
Another diet that is making the rounds is the Low Glycemic Index diet. This method incorporates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, and whole grains. Studies by Radulian, Rusu, Dragomir, and Posea (2009) explain that this system has produced favorable metabolic effects—weight loss, improved blood pressure, and decreased fasting glucose and insulin levels. This diet has also been particularly beneficial for at risk populations, such as obese patients and individuals with hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, and certain types of cancer.
These are just three diets among thousands that are circulating out there—some good, some to be avoided. The common elements to any good diet should include: “real” food (as opposed to processed products), something simple to implement, and easy enough that you can track your progress (in other words, you can detect weight loss or losing inches, or see a difference in your health–you feel better and are more energized). No Fitbit required.
Next article, I will examine some other kinds of weight loss systems (not all are categorized as “diets”), their effectiveness, and whether they’re right for you.
Until then, I leave you with this:
“Dieting is easy. “It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire. And the ground is on fire. And everything is on fire, because you’re in hell.”
Gunnars, K. (2017). The Atkins diet: Everything you need to know (literally). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/atkins-diet-101
Krilanovich, NJ. (2007). Benefits of ketogenic diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85 (1), 238-239.
Nava, C. (2017). Kim kardashian’s diet could be the answer to christmas weight loss. https://www.inquisitr.com/4684217/kim-kardashians-weight-loss-plan-could-be-the-answer-in-dropping-off-pounds-during-christmas-festivities/
Patel, A. (2018). Best and worst diets of 2018 — here’s how to get started. https://globalnews.ca/news/3945428/best-worst-diets-2018/
Poll, M. (2017). Being a better person and weight loss share the top spot as the most popular New Year’s resolution for 2018. http://maristpoll.marist.edu/1220-being-a-better-person-weight-loss-top-2018-new-years-resolutions/
Radulian, G., Rusu, E., Dragomir, A., & Posea. M. (2009). Metabolic effects of low glycaemic index diets. Nutrition Journal, 8 (5). doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-8-5
Thomas, SL., Hyde, J., Karunaratne, A., Kausman, R., & Komesaroff, PA. (2008).”They all work…when you stick to them”: A qualitative investigation of dieting, weight loss, and physical exercise, in obese individuals. Nutrition Journal, 7 (34). doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-34
Urbain, P., Strom, L., Morawski, L., Wehrle, A., Deibert, P., & Bertz, H. (2017). Impact of a 6-week non-energy-restricted ketogenic diet on physical fitness, body composition and biochemical parameters in healthy adults. Nutrition & Metabolism, 14 (17), 1. doi.org/10.1186/s12986-017-0175-5
Walden, S. (2018). How to train your brain to meet your weight loss goals in 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sponsor-story/bright-line-eating/2017/12/23/how-train-your-brain-meet-your-weight-loss-goals-2018/108870636/