It is that time of year again when many of your friends and family are researching the best weight loss diet or exercise program. Whether it’s trying to lose weight gained over the holidays or making a New Years’ resolution to be healthier, It’s easy to feel pressured into doing the same. This blog post discusses some of the most popular weight-loss diets and highlights the best way to lose weight.
Popular Weight Loss Diets
There are many popular diets and programs which promote weight loss, but they all have one thing in common. And it’s not weight loss. Diets that promote fast, quick, or easy weight loss are not going to provide you with sustainable weight loss and can lead to “yo-yo” dieting and an increased risk of many chronic diseases.
The Ketogenic Diet
In a healthy diet, carbohydrates make up 45 to 65% of the calories we consume each day. The ketogenic diet (often called the keto diet) limits carbohydrates to 5-10% of your daily calorie intake. This diet also limits the amount of protein you can eat to 20% of your daily calories, leaving fat to account for 70% of the calories you consume in a day.
One of the key problems with the ketogenic diet is the serve restriction of carbohydrates. Our bodies require carbohydrates to carry out many functions. In fact, many of our organs including our brain, heart and red blood cells, rely on glucose (one of the building blocks of carbohydrates) as fuel.
There are many different variations of the ketogenic diet including, the high-protein ketogenic diet and the targeted ketogenic diet. You can learn more about these diets from diabetes.co.uk’s website.
The Dukan diet is a new take on the high-protein, low-fat diet. The diet contains 4 stages, 2 weight loss stages and 2 weight maintenance stages. During the weight loss stages you can eat an unlimited amount of high-protein foods, and oat bran while during the weight maintenance stages you can include non-starchy vegetables and small amounts of fats and carbohydrates in your diet. Towards the end of the diet, you begin including more carbohydrates and fats to maintain weight.
Ultra-Low Fat Diet
As the name suggests, the ultra-low fat diet severely limits the amount of fat you consume to less than 10% of your total calorie intake and emphasizes plant-based foods. This diet is based on the idea that fat is the most calorically-dense macronutrient; 1 gram of fat produces 9 calories, while 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates produces 4 calories each.
However, fat is a very important nutrient that our bodies need to function. Fat is needed to build cell membranes and hormones, as well as to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and insulate our bodies. Limiting the amount of fat we consume can have negative consequences in the long run, including the development of vitamins deficiencies.
There has been a lot of debate around whether or not intermittent fasting (also known as IF) is a diet, as it doesn’t restrict what you eat, only when you eat. Intermittent fasting involves the restriction of all foods between certain al hours and provides you with an “eating window” where you can eat anything you want.
The idea is that by limiting what times of the day you eat, you can limit your calorie intake and lose weight. But, it isn’t quite this simple. Limiting when you are “allowed” to eat food doesn’t mean you are going to eat less food. When food is limited to a certain window of time, people tend to overeat so they won’t feel hungry later. In fact, most people end up consuming more calories when they are intermittent fasting than they normally would.
The zone diet is similar to low carbohydrate diets such as the keto and Atkins diets. In addition to limiting carbohydrates to 35 to 45% of your daily calories, the zone diet also encourages low-glycemic index (GI) foods. The zone diet rules out many nutritious carbohydrates, such as bananas and potatoes, from your diet by restricting the glycemic index of carbohydrates.
You can learn more about the glycemic index (GI) from the Diabetes Canada website.
This diet is another popular low-carbohydrate weight loss diet that is split into 4 phases. The Atkins diet allows an unlimited amount of fat and protein but limits your carbohydrate intake. The first phase of the diet lasts for 2 weeks and reduces your carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams each day. Carbohydrates are slowly re-introduced into your diet during the other phases.
The diet is supposed to limit your calorie intake by limiting the amount of carbohydrates you eat. But, fats and proteins also contain calories, and eating an unlimited amount of these macronutrients can possibly lead to more calorie consumption.
How Weight Loss Diets Work
Weight loss only occurs when our bodies are burning more calories than we are consuming. For many people, weight-loss diets do achieve this, giving the impression that weight-loss diets “work”. But the weight loss associated with these diets only lasts while you’re on the diet and maybe a few months later. Within a year, most people have returned to their original weight.
You can learn more about weight loss from my post.
Problems with Weight Loss Diets and Programs
Weight loss diets and programs have many problems, ranging from over restriction of food to the development of eating disorders. Some of the biggest problems with weight loss diets include,
Weight-loss diets and programs promise fast weight loss, not lasting weight loss. Many weight-loss diets are short-term diets, lasting for a few weeks to months, while other diets are so restrictive that it’s nearly impossible to stay on for long periods of time. Although we lose weight while on a diet, once we finish a diet and return to our regular eating habits, we begin to regain weight. This leads to another problem with weight loss diets.
Within a year of finishing a diet, many people have regained the weight they have lost and are looking to try another weight-loss diet to shed some weight again. For many people, this can lead to a cycle of on-again and off-again dieting, a poor relationship with food, an increase in our risk of chronic diseases and the development of eating disorders.
80 to 95% of dieters regain weight they lost within a year of completing a diet.
Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders
Weight loss diets and programs promote disordered eating patterns. Disordered eating patterns are not diagnoses but irregular eating behaviours such as food restriction, fasting and routines surrounding food and eating. Disordered eating patterns are not the same as an eating disorder, but can increase your risk of developing one. Disordered eating can also impact both our physical and mental health, increase our risk of gaining weight and promote bone loss.
You can learn more about disordered eating patterns from Eat Right.
Picking the Right Weight Loss Diet(itian)
Rather than jumping on board a popular weight loss diet or program that your friend recommended, there are more nourishing ways for you to lose weight.
Registered Dietitians can help you to lose weight and keep it off through personalized, delicious and sustainable nutrition that takes into account your likes, dislikes, health goals and lifestyle. Dietitians work with you to keep foods that you enjoy in your diet while working towards your goals.
There are many ways you can benefit from working with a Registered Dietitian including,
- Advice from a professional in nutrition. Registered Dietitians (RDs) are experts in nutrition with years of nutrition knowledge and expertise under our belts! We have many hours studying the role of foods on all aspects of our health so we can provide you with the most precise information available to help you meet your health needs and goals. Registered Dietitians have an in-depth understanding of the body’s metabolism and the mechanisms behind weight loss.
- Understanding of nutrition and your body’s needs. Everyone’s body is unique and has different nutrition needs. Registered Dietitians can help you understand nutrition better, from breaking down the meaning of nutrition facts labels to answering your questions about your body’s response to spicy foods, or your late-night cravings.
- Personalized nutrition recommendations. Everyone’s body is unique and has different nutrition needs. Registered Dietitians can help you understand nutrition better, from breaking down the meaning of nutrition facts labels to answering your questions about your body’s response to spicy foods, or your late-night cravings.
- Form sustainable nutrition habits. With a better understanding of nutrition and your body needs, you will have the knowledge and tools you need to build healthy meals that support your body.
- Support and accountability. Working with a dietitian provides you with the support and accountability you need to make healthy lifestyle changes. Making changes can be hard but it doesn’t have to be when you’re working with a dietitian to help answer questions and keep you on the right path!
You don’t need to wait until the New Year to start working towards your goal weight. Why not begin today? Book a FREE discovery call today to get started!