Eating healthy and losing weight is far easier when you have a plan to follow. It’s all well and good to say “just follow the USDA’s MyPlate program,” but few people have the time and patience to go online to plan their menus and enter their food choices. There are dozens of weight loss plans, diet plans and healthy eating plans on the market – but finding the right one for your needs can be tricky. Every one of them seems to have a different theory of weight loss, and every one of them works great for some people – and not at all for others.
How do you choose among the many weight loss plans available? These tips can help you figure out the differences between the most popular weight loss programs and choose the one that’s best for your needs.
Talk to Your Health Provider
Always talk to your doctor or health care provider before beginning any weight loss program. You don’t need to talk to a specialist in weight loss medicine, though it can be helpful if you have access to one. A doctor who knows you well can evaluate any medical problems or medications that might be contributing to weight gain or making it harder for you to lose weight. In addition, you should keep your doctor in the loop as you lose weight, especially if you take any medications on a regular basis or have a condition, like diabetes, that you control with diet. Your changing weight can mean that your medications may need to be adjusted.
You should also discuss your plans for physical activity, especially if you have trouble doing regular tasks without pain. He or she can advise you on the best ways to exercise safely. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to weight loss support groups or to a registered dietitian. Your health insurance may even pay some of the costs for health or fitness club memberships.
Consider Your Needs
When choosing the best weight loss program, consider your lifestyle, your weight loss goals and your personal preferences. Matching those factors can make it easier for you to stick with a weight loss program and contribute to your success. These factors can help you decide whether or not a diet plan you’re considering is right for you.
- Other diets you’ve tried: how they worked, what you liked, what you hated
- Your weight loss style: do you like group support? Individual coaching? Going it alone?
- Your budget: some weight loss programs require supplements, meeting fees and other expenses
- Your health: any special considerations for diabetes, allergies, heart disease, etc?
- Cultural requirements: any dietary restrictions because of your religion or culture
Check the Safety of the Diet
Slow and steady is usually the best way to lose weight, but there are times when rapid weight loss can be acceptable, such as a very low calorie diet with medical supervision, or a quick-start phase that only lasts for a short period of time. Look for these features in weight loss programs you’re considering.
Balance: Safe diets include a variety of foods from all nutritional groups. If a diet requires a lot of weight loss vitamins or weight loss supplements, it may not provide the nutrients necessary for your health.
Flexibility: Look for weight loss plans that offer plenty of choices and few “forbidden foods.” You should also be able to find the foods on your weight loss plan in your local grocery store.
Enjoyment: Pick a diet plan that includes foods you like, not just foods that you can tolerate. The more you enjoy your meals, the more likely you are to stick to the diet.
Activity: It’s possible to lose weight without increasing your physical activity, but it’s a lot harder. Look for weight loss programs that include physical activity as part of your regimen. In addition to burning calories, physical activity helps improve your mood, reduce your blood pressure and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Use these criteria to help you evaluate weight loss programs you’re considering. Choosing the right weight loss plan will make it far easier for you to take off weight and keep it off.