When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be extremely difficult to choose among the various weight-loss diets. Should you go low-fat or low-carb? Count calories or control portions? Choosing the best diet means doing some research. Some of the factors that affect your choice of a diet include the amount of weight you need to lose, your overall health status, your exercise tolerance and some personal characteristics. Don’t start a diet without consulting your doctor, as undiagnosed health problems can have an impact on your success. For successful weight loss, you need to exercise; exercise builds muscle mass and revs up your metabolism. Consider your personality and food preferences. Someone who hates math and details will probably struggle with counting calories, while a person who really enjoys wine with dinner will have difficulty sticking to a diet that doesn’t allow alcohol.
Most low-carb diets allow you to eat meat, butter, cheese, eggs and vegetables. Grains, potatoes and starchy vegetables are either eliminated entirely or severely restricted, although other vegetables are allowed. The idea is to get your body into fat-burning mode as quickly as possible. When carbohydrates are limited, the body burns body fat for energy. The research on low-carb diets indicates that they are slightly more effective than other diets for weight loss – especially for women – and there are no negative health effects for at least the first year. These diets haven’t been studied long enough to determine the long-term health effects.
Pasta and Wine
If you enjoy pasta and wine, a Mediterranean diet may be the best choice. This diet has demonstrated positive health benefits and is one of the most heart-healthy diets around. Olive oil and a glass or two of red wine, lean meats and plenty of seafood, chicken and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables make the Mediterranean diet satisfying and full of variety. Portion control is important with the Mediterranean diet – you can’t eat large helpings of pasta or regularly enjoy Fettuccine Alfredo and still expect to lose weight.
Doing the Math
If you choose to count calories or manage your weight loss through portion control, any healthy and well-balanced diet is a good choice. For calorie counting the first step is to determine what your healthy weight should be. First, you need to ensure you eat enough to maintain your basic body functions; additional calories will vary according to your height, weight, age and activity level. There is a formula called the Harris Benedict equation that can help you calculate your daily calorie intake. To lose 2 pounds a week – a safe rate of loss – subtract 7,000 calories from your weekly caloric intake. For portion control, obtain a chart that shows what portion sizes should be. In today’s “supersized” world, much of the problem of obesity is simply becoming accustomed to eating large – and thus high-calorie – portions of foods.