Are you looking for a way to lose weight permanently? Diet researchers have found that the only real way to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off permanently is to make specific changes to your diet and lifestyle. It can be difficult to dive in and start changing the foods you eat while making other changes to bring you toward healthier lifestyle decisions, but there are a number of very popular weight loss diets that are designed to make the transition from unhealthy eating to healthy diet much easier. These top new lifestyle diets are among the most reviewed and most successful of all diets available today.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet is a low carbohydrate, high protein diet that uses a three-stage weight loss program to train you to eat healthier foods and transition you to a lifetime of healthier eating. During the first stage, you avoid all carbohydrates. During this stage, which lasts two weeks, you can expect to lose eight to 14 pounds. During the second stage, you’ll begin to re-introduce good carbohydrates into your diet in healthy proportions while maintaining your calories at a low enough level to continue losing weight at the rate of two to three pounds a week. Once you reach your weight loss goal, you’ll enter the maintenance stage – a new way of eating that will last the rest of your life. You’ll find tons of resources both online and at your local library or bookstore to help you stick to the South Beach Diet, including menus, recipes and support groups.
Key Points of the South Beach Diet:
Drink 8 glasses of water or other non-caffeinated drinks daily
Limit caffeine intake to 1 cup per day
Take a multivitamin supplement and 500-1000 mg calcium daily
Eat foods low on the Glycemic Index scale
The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet was developed by Barry Sears, a former researcher at MIT. Sears postulates that the major cause of obesity is an insulin imbalance – a theory that is gaining more acceptance across the medical world. According to Sears, the high carbohydrate, low-fat diet recommended by most diet experts is exactly the wrong way to lose weight permanently. Instead, he recommends a diet that is based on controlling the balance between insulin and two other hormones your body needs to metabolize food properly. Like the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet eases you into changing your eating habits with three stages. The first stage is a jump start, with a strictly defined set of menus to follow. During this stage, you can expect to lose up to 10 pounds. In the second stage, you’ll begin adding foods to your diet and learning new ways of cooking and eating. By the time you reach your weight loss goal, you’ll have become accustomed to eating healthy, nutritious and delicious whole foods, whole grains, vegetables, proteins and the right amount of polyunsaturated fats to keep your body in The Zone.
Key Points of the Zone Diet
- Avoid “white carbohydrates” – white rice, potatoes and white bread, specifically
- Keep processed foods to a minimum in your diet
- Eat 1 part protein to 4 parts healthy carbs in your diet
- Get most of your carbs from vegetables and fruit rather than bread and pasta
“Packaged” Weight Loss Plans
Among the best-known diet plans of the last few years are pre-packaged weight loss meal plans that take all the guesswork and measuring out of changing your eating habits. Jenny Craig and other meal plans provide three pre-packaged meals and two or more snacks daily, ready to heat and eat. The meals are generally developed by nutritionists and are designed to meet specific calorie requirements deliciously. There is no learning curve with packaged weight loss diets and weight loss meal plans – you just eat what they send you and follow instructions. Unfortunately, you also don’t learn how to create and maintain your own healthier diet to maintain your weight loss after you reach your goal weight. These diets can also be more expensive than cooking your own meals with foods from the supermarket.
Key Points of Packaged Weight Loss Meals
- Eat prepared meals provided by the diet plan
- Low calorie, healthy foods in convenient single serving sizes
- No real education about food choices
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet has gotten a lot of attention over the past decade after researchers found that people in the Mediterranean regions were generally healthier and less likely to be obese than the general population. While there are books written about the “Mediterranean diet,” it is not actually a weight loss plan. Rather, it is a way of eating that is typical in countries and regions surrounding the Mediterranean. Generally referred to as a “heart healthy” diet, it includes whole grains, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, small amounts of protein and fats derived from plant sources, such as olive oil. Because there’s no specific blueprint or plan for following a Mediterranean diet, it can be difficult to jump from a typical American diet to the far healthier Mediterranean way of eating, but there are many resources available to help you learn to cook and eat the Mediterranean way.
Key Points of the Mediterranean Diet
- Eat whole grains and whole fruits and vegetables
- Avoid processed sugars and refined flour
- Use olive oil in dressings and for cooking
- Derive at least 45 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and fresh produce
- Practice healthy portion control especially with regard to proteins