A lot of men and women today struggle with excess weight. There are many reasons why this is so, but researchers generally agree that a sedentary lifestyle, overeating on calorie-dense foods, and stress are most likely to blame. If you’re a busy mom struggling with extra pounds, know that there are healthful and enjoyable diets that can help you lose weight effectively. These diets are known to tackle the root causes of weight gain while also being healthy and sustainable.
1. Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets include vegan and vegetarian diets. Studies found that obesity rates were much lower among populations following vegetarian diets and that every year of being on a vegan diet decreases a person’s obesity risk by 7 percent. These diets help with weight loss because they’re higher in fiber, and fiber is known to increase fullness and improve metabolic health (i.e. lower blood glucose and insulin). When well-planned, a plant-based diet is low in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, both of which can cause weight gain.
If you’re considering eliminating meat (or all animal products), you need to replace them with plant sources of protein. Great examples are soy milk, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. On plant-based diets, you’re focus should be on eating a variety of fruits and veggies to get all your nutrients. If completely excluding animal products, you will, however, need to take vitamin B12 supplements and even consider zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty supplements.
2. Low-Carb Diets
For decades, the medical community has recommended reducing saturated fat intake for the prevention of heart disease risk but also weight gain. Unfortunately, this led to an increase in refined carbohydrate intake, which proved to be even worse for metabolic health and your waistline. High intake of refined carbohydrates, in particular, causes spikes in blood glucose and an increase in insulin levels. Both of these factors cause constant hunger and fat accumulation.
For this, and many other reasons, a lot of a lot of people are now following low-carb diets such as Atkins, and the ketogenic diet (keto) in order to lose weight. These diets help stabilize blood glucose levels, and keto even causes a complete metabolic shift into enhanced fat burning mode; both help with weight loss. However, these diets are best suited for people who are prediabetic or diabetic since they help tackle their main issue – disrupted glucose metabolism.
3. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is not so much a diet as it is a pattern of eating. Rather than restricting certain types of food, IF involves controlling the time when you eat. It is commonly used for weight loss but is often a part of other weight-loss diets such as keto. It’s said to work because it can lead to eating fewer calories. The 2 most popular IF methods include:
- The 16/8 method
The 16/8 method involves following a 16-hour fasting window and 8-hour feeding window. This is how this method looks in practice: you have your last meal at 8 PM, you skip breakfast the next day, and your next meals at noon until 8 PM.
- Alternate day fasting
This type of IF involves restricting calories to 500-600 a day for two days, and you don’t restrict calories on other days.
A recent study review found that IF was efficient in reducing weight, and especially fat mass while sparing muscle mass. Studies also found IF results in a 3-8% fat loss after only 3 weeks.
4. The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is based on foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors allegedly ate before the dawn of agriculture some 12.000 years ago. The argument behind paleo is that most modern diseases (obesity included) are the result of eating foods like grains, sugar, and dairy for which our bodies have not had time to adapt. In other words, there’s a mismatch between our genes and the food we eat, and this leads to metabolic disruption and inflammation.
The paleo diet involves eating only whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, eggs, and organic meats while excluding processed sugar, dairy, and all grains and legumes. One study involving 10 overweight women found that following this diet led to eating 25% calories less and a weight loss of 4.5kg on average after only 5 weeks.
5. The DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) was originally designed by doctors to help reduce heart disease risk. This flexible and balanced eating plan is easy to maintain for life and may come with the added benefit of weight loss if you follow it correctly. The DASH diet involves:
- Eating mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
- Eating fat-free or low-fat dairy, fish, poultry.
- Using healthy vegetable oils such as olive oil in cooking.
- Limiting saturated fat foods like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils such as coconut oil-
- Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and limiting desserts.
Studies found that this way of eating can be helpful for weight loss as well as overall metabolic health. However, the Dash DIET may not work if you don’t watch your calorie intake and if you don’t include exercise. The old adage calories in, calories out holds true whatever diet you are on. It’s just that healthful diets such as the DASH diet make calorie restriction easier. They’re also easier to maintain in the long-run than unhealthy crash diets.
Losing weight is never easy, but it becomes particularly hard when you’re busy managing family and life obligations. If you’re struggling to lose weight and don’t know where to begin, consider following a healthy eating plan that will give you long-term results instead of almost instant weight loss that’s bound to end with the dreaded yo-yo effect.
The 5 diets laid out here are both healthy and effective. They improve metabolic health, curb hunger, and burn fat when followed correctly. But whichever of these diets you choose, know that calories still matter. To check if you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, consider using calorie calculators and diet apps such as MyFitnessPal. These can help you stay on track no matter what weight-loss plan you’re on.
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