Best diet for weight loss? It’s confusing. Every week there seems to be a new best diet. The truth is that any calorie deprivation diet will lead to short-term weight loss. But, many of these regimens are not “best diets” in terms of sustainability or healthy eating.
Experts in nutrition science advise that fad dieting isn’t a good long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy weight. Dieting can have serious long-term consequences for your heart and your overall health. A 2017 New England Journal of Medicine study found that the more yo-yo dieting a person does, the more likely he or she is to suffer deadly heart attacks, strokes, and other fatal conditions.
The Latest Best Diets for Weight Loss
Keto and Whole30 are exploding in popularity, but they can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Here’s what to know before starting them:
- The diets villainize entire food groups, making them tough for most people to adopt as long-term eating strategies.
The KETO Diet
The ketogenic diet has been around for about a century, and was first introduced as a treatment for epileptic seizures. Lately, it’s become popular with Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley biohackers, who tout it as a brain-fog reducing, appetite-suppressing plan.
- The keto diet is centered on fats, which constitute anywhere from 70-80% of a dieter’s daily calories. People who adopt a keto lifestyle often start the day with bulletproof coffee which is coffee with added butter or coconut oil. They revel in eating pepperoni pizzas and add bacon to everything.
- People who go keto also load up on limited doses of protein and very, very few carbs. This puts their bodies into a fat-burning mode called ketosis, relying on fats as fuel instead of carbohydrates.
The plan makes sense in some ways: There are carbs we know are bad for us. Sugar is 100% carbohydrate, and because we burn through it so fast, it sends our insulin levels soaring, setting us up for a hangry crash.
But if a low-carb keto diet leads you to load up instead on red meats and expensive, unproven supplements, you’re not doing your body any long-term favors. Keto dieters and other meat-eaters who abandon fiber can suffer severe problems.
Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, warns that “In the absence of adequate fiber, the bacteria in the colon consume and thin the protective mucus lining. This then leads to impaired immune function and inflammation.”
Whole 30 Diet
Whole30 is aimed at improving people’s relationship with food, at least temporarily, by severely limiting what they eat for 30 days. Whole30 dieters are restricted to eating only fruits, veggies, meat, seafood, eggs, and some fats including avocados, cashews, and olive and coconut oil. Other healthy carbohydrates are off limits.
- The Whole 30 diet isn’t a scientifically sound one. Nutrition experts say it takes more than 30 days for your body to perform a truly complete nutrition re-set if you want to reduce inflammation.
- Fiber-rich foods, which the Whole30 diet strictly limits, can actually improve inflammation and help stave off all kinds of diseases. They take more time for the body to break down, and can fuel us for hours. They’re also rich in potassium, iron, and B vitamins.
- Whole grains including oats, cracked wheat, and brown rice are a great way to satisfy your appetite, even though they’re strictly off-limits for Whole30-ers.
As with keto, if Whole30 simply pushes you into eating a lot of meat for a month, it’s not a stellar plan. As scientists from Oxford University noted in a January white paper, while additional portions of beef and pork in a diet can up a person’s risk of death, more protein from wheat, beans, and peas boost potassium and fiber intake while reducing mortality. A diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, and shying away from sugary, cakes and processed foods is also linked to lower cancer rates and may even help reduce symptoms of depression.
Here Are Guidelines for the Best Diet
- Consider a high-fat plain yogurt-and-nuts breakfast. Just make sure your yogurt isn’t sugar-loaded, setting you up to crash before mid-day.
- Stay full with more healthy, fat-rich foods. Some best diet choices include pine nuts and walnuts, oily salmon or lake trout, and avocados.
- Eat real food and skip processed and packaged goods.
- One of the most straightforward ways to lose weight is to eat a bit less.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get enough sleep.
There is No Single Best Diet for Everyone
The reality is that people are different and bodies are different. The best weight maintenance diet is a healthy one that you find enjoyable and can live with. That means a diet that does not exclude any healthy food groups. For me, that’s the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes complex carbohydrates, nuts, lean meats and fish, and dairy products. This best diet is a time-tested plan to help prevent heart disease and promote healthy aging.
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