Almost everyone I know is on a diet right now, and they’re all determined to lose the weight they put on over the holidays. You may be considering a new diet too, but with so many choices out there, how will you know what’s right for you? Here’s my list of the six main types of diets, and how they work…
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This is probably the best diet plan to follow, because it teaches you life-long healthy eating habits. It works like this: for each of the food groups, you’re allowed a certain number of helping per day. If you stick to the plan, you’ll maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight. To get a free plan that’s personalized to you, based on your age, sex, height, weight, and activity level, visit mypyramid.gov. You’ll learn which foods are in which groups, and how many of each you’re allowed each day. It will also tell you how many overall calories you ought to consume, and let you know if your current weight is healthy. Let me stress again why this type of diet is the best — because it teaches you the habits you’ll need to eat healthier forever, not just while you’re trying to lose weight!
A planned menu diet is a diet in which you select the foods you eat from a set menu for each meal. For example, there are a few breakfasts to choose from, along with a few lunches, dinners, and snacks. On the plus side, it’s very easy to follow this sort of diet because you don’t have to count calories, or plan menus… you simple choose a meal from the list provided. On the negative side, a diet like this won’t teach you how to eat healthier, so once you reach your weight loss goal, and stop following this diet, you’re likely to gain the weight back, because you didn’t learn how to follow proper nutrition and eating guidelines.
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If you don’t have the time to invest in learning proper nutrition, or don’t feel comfortable enough in the kitchen to prepare your own meals, then diet with pre-packaged meals may be the way to go! It works like this: you join a plan, like NutriSystem, and they send you the foods you will need for the next three to four weeks. Everything is in categories, like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. In the morning, grab a package marked “breakfast,” take a “lunch” and a “snack” to the office, and when you get home, choose one of the “dinners.” This is an ideal type of diet for a gal who lives alone and doesn’t like to cook!
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The first example of this diet that pops into my head is SlimFast. On the SlimFast, or any other formula diet, you replace one or two meals each day with a canned drink, meal bar, or powder drink mix. They’re designed to make you feel full, so you’re not going to miss the meal you skipped, and they’re usually loaded with the same nutrition you’d have gotten from the meal, only with far fewer calories. Formula diets are great if you want to lose a few pounds quickly, but don’t usually work for long-term weight loss, because once you stop using the meal replacements, and start eating the meals again, you go back to your old eating habits — the ones that helped you gain the weight to begin with.
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On this type of diet, you’re advised to monitor and reduce either fat or calories, or both. You still get to choose what you eat, and how much, as long as you’re reducing your calories and/or fat. Yes, cutting fat and calories will help you lose weight, but monitoring only these two factors won’t work long-term, and may actually lead to worse, or sometimes dangerous, eating habits. It’s much safer to reduce fat and calorie intake in conjunction with learning which foods to eat, why, and when.
This is by far the unhealthiest diet you can choose. Why? Because any diet that requires you to eat only one type of food, and completely eliminate another, is not healthy in the long-term. For instance, you should never cut out carbs and eat only protein. Yes, you will lose weight quickly at first. But carbohydrates are the only natural source of fiber, and without it, you’ll lose motility, among other things. Also, your digestive and other systems can’t function properly, and your brain activity will decrease! In order for our bodies to function normally, we need ALL of the food groups and their macronutrients in moderation. Does it make sense to eat a double-cheeseburger but without the bun and lettuce? Of course not, how could that possibly be healthy for you?
With so many diets to choose from, in each of these six categories, there is sure to be a diet plan that’s right for you! I suggest trying the first type, the exchange, and seeing how well that works. If you don’t find success with that, try one of the others, but avoid the no-no diets for sure! Have you tried any of these diets? Which kind works best for you, and why? Please let me know!
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