Almost every week I am asked for my opinion on the trending diet plans. Paleo, South Beach, vegetarian, vegan, ketogenic, the DASH Diet, the Abascal Way…the list goes on. This week, it was Whole 30. And everyone wants to know the same thing: is this a good plan?
As usual, I respond with a question: That depends, what do you want to get out of it? I am not a registered dietician, so the only opinion I can offer on any diet program is an anecdotal and experiential one. But, that’s okay, because these folks aren’t asking whether the program is balanced and healthy, but rather whether it offers a good chance for weight loss. On that subject, I am qualified to respond.
My answer is almost always the same. Yes, this can be a great program for losing weight if the number of calories you eat is less than the number that you burn. There are dozens of healthy approaches to eating, but there are really only a few sustainable, long-term strategies for weight loss.
You can lose weight eating cereal, ice cream, bread and cheese, living off of fast food, and even eating leftover Halloween fun-size candy bars every day. I know about that last one because I’ve done it. Not all of these approaches to eating are healthy, but they can certainly result in weight loss if you manage to burn more calories than you eat on a consistent enough basis.
When looking at a new way of eating, consider weight loss to be a benefit of each and every one. Read beyond the promises of before-and-after euphoria and consider the following:
Can I Do This Every Day?
Cabbage soup might taste great on Monday. Maybe not. By Wednesday, you’re talking yourself into powering through to the weekend. And by Saturday, when the time comes to make the same food again, your enthusiasm will likely be in the same place as the cabbage soup. Look at the menus that are suggested and consider whether you can see yourself eating this food for a long time. Maybe your whole life. If not, keep looking.
Is This Practical for My Lifestyle?
Ambitious recipes, exotic ingredients, and time-consuming preparation is a fun challenge for some, but not practical for all. If you have limited time to cook or prepare food, or even if you have plenty of time but don’t enjoy it, steer clear of diet plans that feature a wide variety of impressive recipes or consider whether you can easily simplify them. Look beyond the ideal day when everything works according to plan, and think about the day when it all goes haywire. Can you follow it on those days?
What Do I Really Want From This?
Adopting a gluten-free diet for a weight loss goal may result in losing water weight as a result of a change in eating patterns, but unless you have a gluten intolerance, the benefits may end there. Avoiding animal products as a means for eating more vegetables may certainly improve your health, but may not give you the long, lean physique of your favorite vegan celebrity. Striving to change eating habits to reflect ethical or health values is a great goal, but weight loss is not guaranteed in that process. Be clear with yourself what your primary goal is for adopting a change.
Oh, and that weight I lost while eating leftover Halloween candy? I gained it back, and then some. Same with almost every other weight loss program that came with a book and a menu plan featuring magic foods that would flush my fat away. It turns out that for me, the magic came in good old-fashioned calorie counting and regular exercise.
Now, weight loss is not always as simple as calories in and calories out. Some medical conditions make weight loss more difficult, and your doctor may prescribe a temporarily restrictive eating plan to manage risk factors or aid in weight loss. Follow your doctor’s recommendations, and ask how you can create a plan together that will last for the long haul.
8/21/2017 05:18:29 pm
I'm glad you mentioned staying away from diet plans with ambitious recipes if you don't have the time to cook. I really want to lose 50 pounds for my anniversary in December, but I don't really have a lot of time to cook because of my kids. Maybe I can find a weight loss program that can help me lose the weight without having to worry about cooking all the time.
10/5/2017 12:56:20 am
Good read. My friends and I are planning on losing weight, and I think joining a weight loss program would be a good choice. I like how you mentioned that we should ask ourselves if we can do this every day. We'll make sure we'll be able to commit to this once we start. THanks for posting!
10/23/2017 07:29:19 pm
I like that you mentioned asking yourself if the program you plan on starting is realistic. You want to be sure you can meet goals and actually succeed in the process. Getting a doctors hep and advice could be really beneficial in the beginning.
I've been wanting to find some weight loss coaching, and I think that being able to get some information would be good. I'm glad you talked about being able to see if a weight loss style is practical for you. I think that being able to see what we can do to find quality weight loss coaching and figure out what would be best for us!
6/19/2018 10:15:49 pm
My mother is wanting to lose a few pounds for my sisters wedding and isn't able to do it on her own. I really think she should look into finding a good weight loss program. Thank you for suggesting that she should look at the menus the program offers and ask herself if she can eat that food everyday. Hopefully, she finds something she can follow and see results with.
9/11/2018 06:43:32 pm
Asking yourself what you want from a weight loss plan is a great start. Making sure that you have this in mind constantly makes it a lot simpler. I know that my friend from high school would appreciate as she looks for programs.
9/17/2018 01:11:48 pm
I agree that you need to make sure your weight loss program is one you can do long term. You should make sure it's something you will be enthusiastic about everyday, like you said. That will help you keep going and see the results you want. You don't want to miserable during the process.
10/5/2018 01:59:20 am
Thanks for posting this wonderful post about finding the weight loss programs. Keep sharing.
12/20/2018 01:25:02 am
My sister wants to lose weight to fit in her dress on her wedding day. It was discussed here that she should have a program that is practice for her lifestyles. Furthermore, it's recommended to go to trusted health professionals for quality weight loss programs.
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About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!