Updated: Apr 29, 2021
FOMO: the fear of missing out when it comes to dieting is real... especially when someone else you know is doing really well on their diet. It can be easy to think:
-- why are they losing weight faster?
-- does that plan work better?
-- shouldn't I be doing (intermittent fasting, carb cycling, #veganjanuary )?
You should start with asking yourself these 3 questions before you chose any diet. Chew on these for a while before you jump on the band wagon with your co-worker or sister just because they are:
3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Diet
1) Does this diet plan fit into my current life? Would it be hard for me to do it with my job? my family? my health? my fitness level?
2) Does this diet have any fiber in it? Does it encourage eating plants? Does it have any advice about my gut microbiome?
3) Does this diet allow my favorite foods? Does it have a positive or negative approach? Will it allow me to eat out if I need to? Does it have an all or nothing viewpoint on food?
You should always consider the 3 F's when you choose a new food regimen---fit, fiber and favorites
2 Weeks Inside That Diet
Here's how you can categorize most diet plans out there:
This includes popular plans like Noom and Weight Watchers. They offer some personal support and generally prescribe a low calorie amount that everyone should follow (around 1200 calories a day). These two specific plans focus on low-fat foods so you eat less calories overall.
2 weeks in : 1200 calories a day, a group meeting, weighing in, eating only "free foods" or "green light" foods which excludes most eating out.
PROS: Some support, some control over choices, teaches calorie awareness
CONS: No support "off" plan, low calorie and low fat can cause cravings,
The most popular version of this are Keto, where carbohydrates are completely restricted less than 20-50 grams per day to place the body in a state of ketosis; and, Carb Cycling, where carbohydrates are limited on most days with one or two high carbohydrate days.
2 weeks in: quick 5 pounds weight loss is common due to water weight, no bread, rice, pasta, starchy vegetables, cereal or sweets, limited or no fruit, lots of eggs, meat and green vegetables.
PROS: quicker initial weight loss, teaches carbohydrate/sugar awareness
CONS: weight loss plateaus common, limited eating out, higher protein and fat intakes limit eating high antioxidant foods, doesn't work well with plant-based diets.
LESS EATING TIME
Intermittent Fasting requires a period of window that restricts food intake while awake. While this has been shown in some studies to benefit insulin resistance, it has not proven to provide any further weight loss beyond other diets at the same 6 week mark. While it doesn't limit fat or carbs, it generally gives you less time to eat during the day.
2 weeks in: typically skipping breakfast and lunch, no late night eating, reduced insulin levels, limited eating at social events unless in the time window, no restrictions on types of food
PROS: really simple, generally lowers overall calories, reduces high blood sugars quickly.
CONS: not recommended for highly stressed individuals, or those with hormone or thyroid issue, doesn't teach healthy awareness or behavior change.
I am not recommending or discouraging any of any of these diets, as all of them can have success for different individuals. I wanted you to know exactly what the solid nutritional science that we see SO FAR that promotes the longest life and least disease and healthiest weight.
As for behaviors, I would always recommend working with someone who has experience with making lifestyle changes because when you restrict you make your brain desire those "forbidden foods" even more. And the minute you decide to be done with the diet, the old habits usually resume. It is my belief that significant restriction can lead us on the wrong path neurologically about food causing weight rebound without making permanent health gains.
The Best Diet Ideas
If you zoom out 100 years and look at all cultures with healthy individuals here's what we find out about their food and eating habits.
1) They eat a lot of plants, which includes less processed, starchy carbohydrates from plants.
2) They eat high antioxidant foods in small amounts at most meals.
3) They eat healthy fats in modest amounts.
4) Times for feasting and fasting.