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Diet And Weightloss

April 15, 2014

Are you trying to lose weight but you don’t know where to start? With so many different diet plans, often times people can confused about which diet is right for them. Here we will be talking about the different diet plans you can learn which ones are fads, which is the right one for you to help you lose weight and make it a part of your lifestyle.

What you need to know before you start any weight loss plan.

Calculating your BMI

bmiBMI is known as the Body Mass Index. They are based on a heights and weights and they are often calculated using a BMI calculator or a BMI chart. Doctors use this tool to identify if an individual is overweight or obese. A BMI value between 25-30 is considered overweight and values over 30 is considered obese. The higher the BMI value the greater the risk is for developing diseases.

Consulting with your doctor about your weight loss plan

Your doctor should help prepare you and help you decide which diet and workout regimen is right for you. Your physician should be able to calculate your BMI and get you to see a dietician if needed.

Ways to be more active

It has been proven that regular physical activities help prevent heart disease and diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Regardless of whether the aim is to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle, including physical activities is important to maintain good health. Here are a few activities to consider:

  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • spend less time watching TV and video games
  • take a walk outside
  • do more activities like hiking and playing sports out with your kids
  • don’t park close to where you are shopping, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk

Things that may prevent weight loss

  1. Health Conditions

Hormonal disorders


Sleep apnea

Eating disorder such as bulimia

  1. Medications


High blood pressure medicines

Contraception (progestins)



What it takes to lose weight

Calories are the amount of energy you find in the food you eat. In order to lose weight you have to consume fewer calories than your body uses. If you eat more calories than your body uses the extra calories will be stored as excess body fat.

A pound of fat is about 3500 calories. In order to lose 1lb per week you would need to consume 3500 less calories which is about 500 calories less per day. Calories can be burnt off by exercising or by being more active. Its always advised to consult with your doctor before you start any exercise or workout program.

People often wonder how many times they should eat a day or how often. Most people eat 3 meals a day with 1-2 snacks. It is recommended to have 1-2 cups of fruits and vegetables. Some would prefer to eat 5-6 small meals a day.

It is always recommended to have breakfast and never skip meals. If and when you do skip a meal, you tend to get hungrier and thus overeat later. 

Are fats bad for you? 

There are two types of fat:

Saturated and Trans fat- this is what is usually referred to as “bad” fat. They increase you risk of getting heart disease. The USDA suggests that no more than 20g of trans fat should be consumed.

Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fat- this is known as the “good” fat. They are usually found in fish and nuts and some low fat dairy. Recommended to be consumed in moderation.

Is there such a thing as a miracle pill? 

Most diet pills have not been tested by the food and drug administration. Even though some may help with initial weight loss, they don’t help in keeping the weight off and may cause negative side effects. A healthy eating habit and exercise regimen is always recommended.

How to choose the right diet?

Everyone is different.  A single diet plan does not give everyone the same result.  “Going on a diet” to lose some weight means that you will eventually give up and go back to you old eating habits. These ups and downs is unhealthy. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make it a lifestyle change that includes make healthier choices and exercising more.

There are many reasons why people gain weight. Some may gain weight because they have a slower metabolism. Some overeat to comfort themselves when they are sad or stressed out. Some may have hormonal problems.

What is the first step to take? See you doctor and make sure the problem is not hormonal. Then find ways to deal with your issues that cause you to seek overeating because you need some comfort. Don’t think of this change as a diet but as a way to live a healthier lifestyle.

Can diets be unhealthy for you?

A lot of people feel like they are under pressure to lose weight.  Whether its to please someone, to fit in a certain job environment or to conform to social norms.

Any diet that requires you to eat fewer calories than your body needs to get through the day can be dangerous to your health. Diets that restrict fats can also be bad for you.  Everyone needs a certain amount of fat in their diet. The recommended value is about 30% of total calories.  Going on a completely fat-free diet is not healthy for the body.

A diet that restricts you from having no bread or rice but only allows you to eat fruits is also unhealthy. Your body will not get all the vitamins and minerals that’s found in natural fruits.

Some people go to extremes of vomiting after they eat or eat very little throughout the day. There are some that will even take laxatives thinking that this will help them lose weight. What this really does is lead to eating disorders.

How do you lose weight safely?

Start eating healthier meals and snacks. Include some exercise to your daily routine.  Some people will lose weight by being more active and not changing their diet.

Eat a wide variety of food that meets your body’s needs. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Try to cut back on meats that are high in fat, greasy fried foods and sugary drinks. Drink more water instead.

It is always best to talk to your doctor or a dietician about your weight loss plans. They will lead you in the right path. 

Types of diets 

  • Fad Diets

Fad diets are weight loss programs that usually promise you dramatic results. They are not usually long term and they are not healthy. Some common fad diets to stay away from are:

  1. Carbohydrate controlled: these include Atkins diet, protein power, the zone and sugar busters
  2. High Carb/low fat: Dr. Dean Ornish-eat more, weigh less
  3. Controlled portion sizes: Volumetrics weight control plan
  4. Food combining: such as fit for life
  5. Diet pills/ Herbal remedies: these include hydroxycut, metabolide 356 and Dexatrim natural
  • Gluten-Free  Diets

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley and grains. People that cannot have gluten are those that have something called celiac disease. Most people have no problem consuming gluten rich foods.

For those who have celiac disease, gluten damages their intestines. Its keeps their body from taking in many important nutrients in the food they eat. These include important nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, protein and carbohydrates. So it is important for those that have celiac disease to go on a gluten free diet.

Foods that need to be avoided: Any foods that have wheat, rye, barley and grains need to be avoided. These will include any food made with bran, bulgur, couscous, durum, farina, graham flour, semolina, spelt etc. These can be found in breads, cakes, pasta and cereal.

If you are on a gluten free diet, remember to check the labels. A label that says wheat free does not mean it has no gluten.

There are many foods that you can have that are naturally gluten free. These include fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, rice, nuts, gluten-free flours, dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese, cream cheese and most yogurts.

  • Mediterranean Diet

This diet is similar to other heart healthy diets. It encourages the consumption of foods such as fish, fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. It doesn’t allow the consumption of most meats, dairy products and sweets. It does allow you to eat more healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts and olive oil. It even allows the consumption of wine on a regular basis.

  • BRAT diet

The BRAT diet is usually recommended by your doctor after a recent upset stomach/diarrhea. It is a bland food diet that is often recommended for all age ranges. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. The reason why this is recommended after an episode of diarrhea is because it includes low-fiber foods that helps makes stool firmer. Another reason is because bananas are high in potassium and thus helps replace nutrients that your body may have lost.

Other bland foods can be incorporated into the diet to ease you back into normal eating. These include: saltine crackers, boiled potatoes or clear soups.

This diet is only recommended for a few days because it can cause your body to be malnourished if followed for too long. On this diet your body will not be getting many essential nutrients.

  • DASH diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an eating plan that doctors recommend to their patients to help lower their blood pressure.

This diet is low in salt, saturated fats, cholesterol and total fat. It encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat milk. It limits the amount of red meat, sweets and added sugar. The diet should be rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber.

Getting too much salt (sodium) in your diet can cause high blood pressure which is also known as hypertension. Following the DASH diet limits the amount of sodium intake to 2300mg per day. Salt can occur naturally in some food that we consume. But it is highly encouraged to pay attention to foods that have added salt to them.

Being on a DASH diet does not mean you should stop taking your blood pressure medicines. Always consult with you physician before making any health changes.

Amount of sodium found in the basic things we eat

1 teaspoon of table salt   2300mg

1 hot dog         460 mg

1 tablespoon soy sauce        900 mg

8 oz regular potato chips      1192 mg

2 oz processed cheese         600 mg

  • Low-Carb Diet

lowcarbCalories in the foods we eat come from protein, fats and carbohydrates. Most of the calories come from fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches. They can be found in foods like pasta, bread and sweets. Going on a low carb diet means that you will be cutting down on the amount of calories you consume from sugars and starches.

People on a low carb diet usually eat more meat, fish, cheese, eggs, nuts and vegetables. It has been shown that people who are overweight and go on a low carb diet will lose weight. They tend to work better than low-fat diets when someone is starting dieting for the first time to lose weight. But it is said that after the initial 6 months of weight loss low-carb diet doesn’t work any better than other diets.

People on a low carb diet may not get enough vitamins, minerals and fiber. By not eating carbohydrate rich foods such as fruits and whole grains, you will not get all the essential nutrients your body needs. It is recommended that you take a multivitamin and a fiber supplement when going on this diet.

  • Vegan diets

veganThose that are on a vegan diet avoid eating all animal products. This included meats, eggs and dairy. They do not eat food products that come from animal source like honey and gelatin. Vegans should be aware for ingredients in the fine prints found in labels of products. They cannot have ingredients such as:

  1. Shellac: a glaze obtained from beetles that’s usually found on shiny candies
  2. Casein: a milk product sometimes found in protein shakes
  3. Carmine/Cochineal: a common food coloring that’s derived from crushed beetles.
  4. Whey: a dairy product that’s added to a variety of foods

Those who choose to be vegans are inspired by the desire to preserve the environment and protect animals from harm. Some even go as far as not using products that are derived from animals such as leather and certain soaps.

For those on a vegan diet they have to be careful that they are getting enough of the following nutrients:

Iron: needed for the production of red blood cells

Calcium: for the building of string bones and preventing osteoporosis

Protein: helps keep skin, bones, muscles and organs healthy.

Vitamin D: helps the body’s absorption of calcium

Vitamin B12: helps in the body’s production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia

Zinc: usually found in beans, nuts and soy

Omega-3 fatty acids: helps improve brain function

  • Vegetarian Diet

vegetarianA vegetarian diet excludes the consumption of animal flesh and products that comes from animals. There are different vegetarian diets that people follow based on their health and needs:

  1. Flexitarians: they go on this type of diet based on health reasons. They are usually known as the semi-vegetarians. They still eat meat, poultry, fish and animal products in small amounts. It helps reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol consumed.
  2. Lacto-vegetarians: they do not eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs but they continue to eat dairy products
  3. Ovo-vegetarians: they don’t eat meat, fish, poultry and dairy but they still eat eggs
  4. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: they do not eat meat, poultry or fish but they still eat dairy and eggs
  5. Vegans: they avoid all animal products including animal byproducts such as gelatin and honey

Why do people choose to become vegetarian? Some may do so for health reasons such as lowering their cholesterol and helps in the prevention of heart disease. So choose it for religious belief reasons. Some may choose to follow this diet because they have concerns about the ethics of harming animals.

Whatever the reasons may be, it takes time to learn new habits and make a lifestyle change. They have to make sure they are taking enough nutrients that’s needed for normal body functions.

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