When it comes to losing weight, everyone has an opinion about what works best. Low fat, low carb, or Mediterranean style—you’ve probably heard stories of people dropping major pounds by following one of these diets. The truth is you’ll lose weight on any diet as long as you take in fewer calories than you burn. Keep reading to find out which diet is best for you.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied more than 800 overweight adults over 2 years, and researchers found that as long as people made healthy choices, the percentage of protein, carbs, and fat consumed didn’t really matter. All the study participants (divided into groups eating low fat, high fat, high carb, or high protein) lost about the same amount of weight when they ate fewer calories than they burned.
The bottom line: The diet you choose should make you feel good, keep you satisfied, and limit your cravings for unhealthy foods. So how do you decide what plan will work for you?
• Try balancing various amounts of lean protein (poultry, fish, and lean beef), complex carbs (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), and healthy fat (nuts, olive oil, and seeds). Find the combination that makes you full and energetic.
• Keep a food journal of what you eat and how you feel. Over time, you’ll start to see patterns emerge.
• Visit the Eat Smart section of Team Beachbody and choose from three different pre-populated meal plans (Balanced, Low Carb, and Active Lifestyle), or custom design your own according to your preferences.
When you decide what kind of diet to follow, here’s how to get the most out of it:
The amount of fat you eat varies according to the diet’s creator. The Ornish Diet, designed by cardiologist Dean Ornish to help people reverse heart disease, recommends that you eat 10 percent of your calories from fat. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, considers low fat to be up to 35 percent from fat. A low-fat diet should consist of lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, and little meat. It is not an excuse to eat mountains of pasta or processed carbs (like fat-free cookies or crackers), as these will spike your blood sugar, make you hungrier, and add a lot of unnecessary calories.
Plans like Atkins, South Beach, and the “Paleo” diet claim that by cutting carbohydrates your body will have to dig into its fat stores for energy. That is often true, at least at first, until your body adapts to the decreased energy from carbs and rapid weight loss slows. Plus, if you chow down on artery-clogging bacon, butter, and steak every day and don’t choose heart-healthy protein and fat sources (like lean meats, nuts, and olive oil), you can develop other health problems and nutrient deficiencies. Watch out for saturated fat in foods like whole milk, butter, and meat, and be mindful of portion sizes when you’re following a low-carb diet. You might find it hard to sustain a low-carb diet over the long term because you have less energy and feel tired a lot. If that happens, just switch to another diet plan.
This has gained popularity over the last few years as a healthy, balanced approach to eating. It emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats from nuts and olive oil, and lean protein like fish and chicken. You don’t want to overdo the pasta, cheese, and alcohol on this diet because these calories add up quickly. This is a moderate-fat diet that offers a variety of choices and will suit many different tastes. You’ll find that most Beachbody® nutrition plans follow guidelines that are similar to a Mediterranean-style diet. It’s easy to get all the nutrients you need to sustain a healthy, energetic lifestyle with this method of eating.
When you’ve found the diet that suits you, you may notice that your weight starts to drop without a lot of effort. You’ll be more satisfied and less prone to cravings, which will help you be consistent with your plan. As long as you stick to your diet and combine it with a workout program that also fits your preferences—Slim in 6®, ChaLEAN Extreme®, or whatever you choose—you will be able to lose weight and keep it off.