Want to lose weight and find a diet plan that will help you do it? From Weight Watchers, to low-carb diets, to paleo, vegan, and keto -- there’s an abundance of diet plans that someone somewhere swears is the magic bullet for weight loss. The problem is, and it’s a big problem: the majority of diet plans out there today are skating by based on ancedetodal, not evidence-based, facts.
Just go to your local pharmacy and you’ll see shelves brimming with weight loss shakes, bars, and pills. What makes one product more effective than the other? If you’re like me, you may find yourself a bit lost in a sea of promises that if you just eat this or don’t eat that, you’ll get the results you want...it’s a lot to take in, and a lot to sort out.
So...what’s the real deal here?
If a Diet Plan Sounds Too Good to Be True….It Is.
Just like anything else that’s in demand, there’s a huge cottage industry around weight loss. That being said, not all diet plans are created equally: there are far too many methods and products that are full of false promises and not much else.
So...what’s the problem? Weight loss, for the sake of weight loss alone, isn’t a goal with substance. Sure, you may want to drop a few sizes, or your doctor may want you to lose weight for your health…..and that brings us to the real goal: health.
When it comes to weight loss, getting healthy should be goal #1. Really, weight loss should be a side effect of getting healthier through nutrition and exercise (when you have some pounds to lose). Diets and weight loss products that put the sole focus on losing weight at any cost are riddled with problems: they don’t work to create a healthy environment in your body through which you can achieve and maintain your health goals (including dropping the extra pounds).
Why Diet Plans With One Goal (Weight Loss) Don’t Really Work
Let’s be honest: most ‘diet plans’ are meant to be temporary.
For a set amount of time, you exercise harder and pay close attention to what you’re eating. Great (maybe). After you’ve achieved your goal? You’re free...to slowly return to whatever you were doing before that wasn’t working for you. After all, nobody can subsist on a diet of Weight Watchers shakes forever...and most of us don’t have the time to burn thousands of calories each day at the gym.
Here’s the thing: true health needs to last a lifetime, not in three week or six month increments. Diets for short periods of time are problematic: a UCLA study shows that the majority of dieters return to their pre-diet weight rapidly after achieving their goal (and many actually put on more weight than before they started).
Further, dieting can lead to weight gain. Why? It’s stressful. Accomplished neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt has pointed out that dieting can lead to weight gain because it’s stressful for most of us. The stress hormones generated from dieting work together with fat cells to increase belly fat. Yuck.
So… Is There a Diet Plan That Does Work?
What are the keys to real, sustained health and weight loss? Portions, nutrition, and exercise...aka lifestyle changes. Eating healthy portions is a key to effective weight and health management: follow guidelines for healthy portions.
Make sure your portions are balanced with both the micro and macronutrients your body needs. Micronutrients are essential to overall health: they give your body the nutrition it needs to produce the enzymes, hormones (such as leptin - a key to burning fat), and other substances that keep everything chugging along smoothly. Examples of micronutrients are Vitamin A (sweet potatoes and pumpkins are excellent food sources of this micronutrient) and Vitamin B (lentils, avocados, meats, and sunflower seeds are all examples of food sources for various Vitamin B). Macronutrients are the three primary groups of energy sources or food components: lipids (fats), proteins (meats, beans), and carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, grains).
Finally, burn off that excess energy with a physical activity you enjoy. The best exercise is exercise you’re motivated to keep doing over a long period of time: choose physical activity you enjoy. Scientific evidence indicates that sustained weight loss is the result of sustained, long-term lifestyle changes, not diet shakes.
Bottom line? Find yourself a user-friendly way to get, and stay, healthy. Case in point: one of the reasons the iPod, and then the iPhone, became so popular was just how simple they are to use. So….if cracking open the nutrition textbooks and throwing yourself into the world of meal planning and prep isn’t going to work with your lifestyle right now, there’s good news: the future is here, and meal services such as our own (Pure Plates) can help take some of the stress and work of lifestyle changes off of your plate (pun intended).
Our 5 Day Revive meal plan, for example, gives you 5 full days of nutrient-dense, well-portioned, and delicious meals that help you get healthy and see results -- while saving money, time, and stress. If you’re not local to any of our St. Louis locations, you may be able to find a similar service near you: a local nutritionist or trainer may be able to point you in the right direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hannah Ash, Journalist and Blog Strategist, Nutrition Fanatic
JoHannah Ash first discovered the transformative power of nutrition after struggling to shed post-baby weight: today, she is 100% committed to continuously learning about disease prevention, weight loss, and healthy living through the foods we eat. She spent a decade living in Burlington, Vermont, surrounded by pioneers in the 'local foods' and 'farm-to-table' movements -- and is proud to have been one of the first people to purchase (and wear) one of the now-famous 'Eat More Kale' shirts. When it comes to meal planning for her family, her philosophy can be summed up in three words: "Easy. Pure. Tasty."