Friday, July 27, 2012

Best Type of Diet for Weight Loss

If you've decided it's time to lose weight, you've probably gotten a lot of conflicting information on the best type of diet to follow. Vegetarian? Low carb? High protein? Paleo Diet? Weight Watchers? MyPlate? The list goes on and on. It can be really hard to figure out what's best to meet your weight loss goals...and for your health.

As an RD (Registered Dietitian), this is my specialty. I review the scientific evidence and research on different types of weight loss diets routinely in an effort to give my clients the most up-to-date, accurate and safe advice when beginning a new diet. It's my job to help you sort through the mis-information that's out there. But that doesn't mean that I'm not met with misconceptions every day! It can be hard to stick to "just good-old healthy eating" when the next "best thing" or "shortcut" is broadcasted all around you.

In fact, certain diets can cause more harm than good. Losing weight too rapidly can also cause major health issues, like gallstones, syncope (fainting) or heart arrhythmias, not to mention the long-term negative health effects. Researchers have found that women who followed a low-carb, high-protein diet increased their risk of cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke) by 28 percent. (Read more here.) There have not been any long-term studies, lasting more than 2 years, on the effects of different diet compositions. But we do know that higher intake of saturated fats and lower intake of nutrient-dense, fiber-containing carbohydrates can increase the risk of many diseases from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Rapid weight loss due to over-restricting food (or certain foods) also often leads to rebound weight gain in the end because it's just too hard to stick to.

So what is the best diet to follow for weight loss? Although it may not be what you want to hear, it's really nothing special or outrageous. There are no tricks or secrets--just learning what your body's individual needs are, eating a variety of healthy foods and incorporating regular exercise. No pills. No exclusion of any single food or nutrient. And yes, that dreaded word "exercise."

I view this in a positive light because it means you never have to diet! You can forget those dreaded cycles of dieting, then going back to your old habits, then dieting again...only to weigh more in the end. The best (and healthiest) way to lose weight is through calorie reduction, a balanced meal plan and increased physical activity. Consuming a diet that is moderate in all food groups, even those "less healthy" foods, will help you to maintain your plan and your weight for the long haul.

For some guidance, start with MyPlate and begin an exercise routine. Meet with your dietitian for individualized guidelines, nutrient goals and meal-planning assistance to incorporate MyPlate into your lifestyle. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to begin exercise, especially if you haven't exercised in a while or have cardiovascular risk factors.

MyPlate emphasizes choosing a variety of foods from each food group, focusing mostly on:
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein, seafood, eggs and soy
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Plant sources of fat, such as nuts, nut butters, avocados and oils
And don't forget physical activity! Work your way up to at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, combined with strength training and flexibility activities too.

If you're ready to get healthier and lose weight the right way, contact RDbyyourside with questions or to schedule your nutrition consultation!