Diets, Diets, Diets!
It is a pretty obvious fact Americans are obsessed with dieting. The motivation to diet can be of many factors be they medical or all in the name of vanity. The view of society that "thin is in" has contributed to this obsession and carried it too far, although it is important to note the health benefits of weight loss for those who weigh too much are crucial and should be a motivational factor in changing ones diet.
The question now is how do you diet? Should you use a special diet? If so, which one? There are many different approaches.
Here we will cover some of the diets and how they work but please note; if you are on a diet and are healthy and feel good being on it, by all means, stay with it. This article is for informational use only. Any serious attempts on any given diet should be discussed with your health care provider prior to beginning.
High Fat, Low Carb
The Atkins diet is probably the most widely followed diet of all fad diets in the U.S. It has been around for nearly thirty years. Some are very happy with it and some are not.
The theory behind this diet is when we eat carbohydrates and sugar, the body responds by making insulin to burn them off. When excess carbohydrates are consumed, the resulting overproduction of insulin promotes the storage of fat and leads to weight loss.
So, to avoid this from occurring, you avoid processed foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. During the first couple of weeks you are allowed to eat all the protein and fat you wish. Some of the foods you can eat all you want of include meat, even bacon, cheese, poultry, cream, butter, seafood, eggs or oil.
You avoid starchy foods completely. Later in the diet you incorporate some. This diet tactic appeals to many and most likely will result in a weight loss initially. Your weight may plateau after a time, but if you continue the diet, it is unlikely it will increase from your plateau. One of the reasons this diet works well is due to the fact fatty foods satisfy hunger longer than most other foods so you are less likely to snack or indulge in raiding the refrigerator. As a result, you may consume fewer calories, which is the real key to weight loss along with exercise.
The bad part of this diet is the lack of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as they are starchy. When you follow this diet you do not get enough fiber, antioxidants or calcium all of which are proven, health-enhancing foods. It can also constipate you and will give you really bad breath. Of course, one could argue garlic and onions give you pretty bad breath, too. This is not in any way a dangerous occurrence.
The most troublesome fact about this diet in the opinion of experts is the long term effects of all the fat and cholesterol consumed. These clog the arteries and that in turn, promotes heart attacks and stroke. A person usually will not see much change in their cholesterol levels in the beginning and will think the diet is not affecting them negatively at all. This is where you must take caution -- once the effects do start to do damage, it is very difficult to reverse it.
There are studies being done to determine just how dangerous the long-term effects of this diet are. Meanwhile, most doctors and professional dietitians discourage people from going on this diet. It is, of course, even more risky to those who suffer from high cholesterol already or if there are any risk factors for arteriosclerosis. Other factors that could make this diet more harmful include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Some doctors, who have patients with one or more of the listed risks, but insist on sticking to this diet, will give the patient a statin drug to keep their cholesterol levels down.
The Zone Diet
A man named Barry Sears created this diet. It is more balanced than the other diets in the low carbohydrate group but again, protein ingestion is promoted at the expense of healthy carbohydrates. This diet is named the Zone because it keeps insulin levels within an acceptable range, or Zone. In putting this diet into practice, you eat 40-percent of your caloric intake from carbohydrates, 30-percent from protein, mostly cheese, fish and chicken breast, and 30-percent from fat, less than 10-percent of it unsaturated.
The creator of this diet claims you will get all the fiber you need with his diet, but it is too low in whole grains, one of the key sources of fiber, to sit comfortably with experts. You really do need to eat fruits and vegetables.
This diet is also lacking in calcium. If you decide to try it, you should seriously consider taking appropriate supplements but again, it is always better to get your nutrients from the foods you eat.
The Ornish Diet
Dr. Dean Ornish is the creator of this diet. This diet is nearly the opposite of the Atkins diet. This one follows the no- fat diet regime to an extreme, going so far that it insinuates fat is the root of all evil. Dr. Ornish feels he has shown that an almost totally fat-free diet will result in weight loss and will, in time, shrink the plaque that constricts your arteries.
This diet consists basically of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nonfat cottage cheese and yogurt. There is virtually no meat and very few low-fat dairy products. If you rigidly adhere to this diet it will result in weight loss and will lower your cholesterol levels.
Like most diets, however, there is a "but". This diet requires an iron will power to stick to for any length of time and when changing your diet, permanent changes should be put into place. This is a difficult diet to consider life long. On the upside of this, if you can adhere to this diet and find it to your liking, it can be very beneficial. If you have any risk factors for vascular disease or already have suffered a heart attack or stroke, you could help reduce your risks greatly with a diet such as this. Although heart patients do equally as well when the exercise, eat a low-fat diet and take a cholesterol lowering statin drug if necessary.
The Pritikin Diet
Robert Pritikin wrote this diet.
His father, Nathan Pritikin, a self-educated layman, had suffered a heart attack as a young man. It was he who eventually convinced the medical profession that fat is bad for the heart.
The Pritikin diet is low in calories and virtually devoid of fat. It places emphasis on fruits, grains and vegetables. Those who find it to their liking and are able to stick with it enjoy healthy sugar and cholesterol levels and a more acceptable weight.
Sadly, Nathan Pritikin later died of cancer, but his arteries were found to be virtually free of atherosclerosis.
The Mediterranean Diet
Following this diet will keep your calories and subsequently, your weight, down. You also will reduce your risk of heart attack. The diet consists of fruit, bread, root and green vegetables, fish and poultry. You also have monounsaturated fat such as olive oil added in this diet. This is the "good-for- you" fat. This diet is rich in heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
November, 2013: A recent study found that nearly 30 percent of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if people switched to a Mediterranean diet, not to mention the already established benefits the diet provides for Alzheimer's disease and cancer prevention.
Recently research has discovered you can improve on this diet by adding a few walnuts each day in place of some of the olive oil. Eating just eight to eleven walnuts every day lowered levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol by over 11-percent versus about 5-percent with the standard Mediterranean diet.
Smart eating habits mean eating foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol for maximum health benefits.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet is based on a daily feeding cycle of "undereating" during the day and "overeating" at night. The "Undereating Phase" during the day would maximize the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) fight or flight reaction to stress and thereby it promotes alertness, generation of energy, fat burning and the capacity to endure stress.
The "Overeating Phase" at night would maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) recuperation effect on the body, and thereby promotes calming down, relaxation, digestion and the utilization of nutrients for repair and growth. The above feeding cycles stimulate the production of cellular factors such as Cyclic AMP or GMP respectively that stimulates hormone synthesis and fat burning during the day as well as protein synthesis and growth during the night.
The 3-Day Diet
The Traffic Light Diet
Here is how families in a University of Buffalo study ate better, lost weight and saved money.
Green Light Foods: Fill your plate! Whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, fresh fruits (or frozen or canned in juice) and vegetables, non-sweetened dry cereal, fat free milk, fat free yogurt, beans and lentils and tuna.
Yellow Light Foods: Go for smaller and fewer portions. Good choices: low fat yogurt and cottage cheese, 1-percent milk, eggs, skinless chicken breasts and legs, and most types of fish.
Red Light Foods: Limit them to two servings a day or less. These include cheese, whole milk, butter, ice cream, red meat, pork and even modified diet foods such as high-calorie, fat free salad dressing and low-fat cookies.
If you are not sure how to tell if your weight is healthy, you can do so with a tape measure. Simply measure your waist at its narrowest part. For women, a waist measurement less than 35 inches is considered healthy and for men, 40 inches or less.
The diets discussed above often do work, but some are difficult to stick with while others may lead to health problems. If you wish to try one of them, be committed to it. If it does benefit you and you see no negative health effects, all the more power to you.
If you are skeptical of all of these "special" diets, practice the recommended eating habits of watching fat intake, limiting sugary treats and watching salt intake. Put into practice the statement of "all things in moderation" is the least painful way to incorporate a balanced diet, along with an exercise program. Staying physically active is an essential key to losing weight.
There's more! Click here for part II of Diets, Diets, Diets!
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