Choosing a Diet Plan for Weight Loss: What’s Right for You?

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Amelia Phillips

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Editor’s Note: This post is written by weight loss expert (and former couch potato) Meg McFarlane. Meg has experienced the weight loss journey first hand and has chronicled this in her blog, Spud On The Run. She has a Bachelor of Science from Sydney University is currently working in IT.

You have decided that you need to lose weight, but with the hundreds of diets out there, how do you choose the one that is right for you?

If you are like me than you have probably tried hundreds of “fad diets” which were successful until you started eating normally again and then the kilos piled back on and brought a few of their friends with them.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to choose a diet that you can stick to long-term.  Think of it more like healthy eating rather than a “diet”.  Therefore, you need to stay away from diets that have you eating only soup or fruit for a period of time and diets that involve meal replacements.  Yes, you will lose weight on these diets but as soon as you go back to eating normally, that weight will return.

Stay away from diets that have you consuming a very low amount of calories:

Women need at least 1200 calories a day, whilst men need at least 1500 calories a day.  Anything less than this will drive your body into starvation mode which will make it extremely difficult for you to lose weight.  If you are not consuming enough calories then you will not have the energy you need to exercise and to get through your busy day.

Watch out for diets that drastically restrict your intake of carbohydrates or fats:

Diets that are very low in carbohydrates or fats are not ones which will keep your body in optimum health.  Your body needs the right amount of carbohydrates, good fats and protein to keep you healthy and strong.

Pick a diet that allows you to have a cheat meal once and a while:

The occasional cheat meal is part of a healthy diet and you don’t want to miss out on celebrating special occasions with your family and friends as you lose weight.  Just make sure that these cheat meals don’t happen every day and that you don’t go overboard.  Enjoy your cheat meals, like you do alcohol, in moderation.

Don’t choose a diet just because it worked for a celebrity or a friend:

Everybody’s bodies are different and can respond to the same foods differently.  Just because a diet worked for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you.  You may need to play around with your food intake until you hit upon your golden combination.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, the worse that can happen is that you gain a couple of kilos.

Consult a professional:

If you are totally confused about what you should be eating and in what amounts, then consult a nutritionist.  A couple of sessions with a qualified nutritionist will have you well and truly on the path to healthy eating and weight loss.

If you can’t find any diet out there that suits you, then there is nothing wrong with designing your own.  Just make sure you follow these golden rules.

The golden rules of a diet:

  1. Make sure that the majority of your foods are fresh whole foods like vegetables, meat (if you eat it), some fruit and some dairy.  If it comes in a box or lasts more than week (with the exception of frozen vegetables), then it shouldn’t form a major part of your diet.
  2. Reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates you are eating.  Try to remove sugar, white breads, pastas and rice from your diet.  Kick your habit of drinking sugary drinks (including those so-called vitamin waters) or switch to the diet versions if you absolutely must have them.
  3. Exercise portion control.  Even if you are eating healthy food, if you are eating too many of them, you will still put on weight.  If you don’t know your portion sizes, then head to ninemsn and view the chart to find out.
  4. Remember that you cannot out run the fork.  Diet forms 80% of your weight loss efforts and unfortunately, you can exercise off all the bad foods you consume.  Keep your diet as healthy as possible and with regular exercise you will see results.

With the right diet, regular exercise and determination, you can lose weight and keep it off.  The trick is to find an eating plan that you can stick to for the rest of your life. Don’t be scared to experiment with your diet as you lose weight and increase your physical activity as your food intake requirements will change, so have a play around and see what combination works for you.  Just stick to eating lots of fresh whole foods like vegetables as the basis of your diet and cut down your intake of sugar and other refined carbohydrates and you will see results.

 

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  • Peter J

    It’s so true that a big part of dieting is knowledge. being armed with the facts, as well as finding out what works for one’s own body, is the key to success. (When combined with a healthy dose of self discipline!)

  • Alison

    This is such a confusing area. Carbs??? Good or bad? Depends on what you read and who you are it seems (ie. a serious exerciser or not). I am cutting down on carbs and it is definitely impacting on weight loss but I don’t want to get too carried away. Surely some carbs are necessary as fuel?

  • http://jcdfitness.com/ JC

    Allison, eating carbs doesn’t have to be a confusing thing. It’s all about calorie balance. Typically when I set up a diet I start with the right amount of protein, EFA’s and other fats then I fill in the rest with carbs.

    The type of carb or amount of carbs doesn’t matter as long as you are in a deficit. Now some people report “faster” weight loss when dropping carbs because they shed some water weight. This should not be confused with actual fat loss though.

  • http://spudontherun.wordpress.com/ Meg

    Carbs are necessary for energy, but it is the type of carbs that are important. You should be choosing complex carbs over simple carbs, that is carbs coming from vegetables, fruits and wholegrains over those coming from sugars and white bread, pastas and rice.

    I love JC’s theory that proteins and healthy fats should form the bulk of your diet with carbs filling in the rest. A great recipe not only for weight loss but optimum health as well.

  • Alison

    Thanks for the replies. What are EFAs? I am essentially doing what you guys are recommending – cutting down on rice and pasta, eating good grain bread when i do eat it and eating less carbs at dinner time for example. I am also eating way more fresh fruit and vegies. It’s all working well – i think i also need to read less and just get on with it!

  • http://spudontherun.wordpress.com Meg

    Hi Alison. EFAs stand for essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6.

    It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Just remember that weight loss is and should be a slow journey. It took you time to put the weight on and it will take time to lose it.
    Best of luck!

  • http://jcdfitness.com/ JC

    Type of carbs are important because of? The type has nothing to do with fat loss. I eat kiddy cereal and white bread/rice on a diet and still lose fat.

    If we are talking about health, sure, fruits, veggies and other complex carbs may be better for you but replacing your fruits and veggies with an equal amount of carbs coming from a simple source is not going to make a difference in fat loss.

    When I am not on a fat loss diet, my energy kcals come mainly from carbs. I just lower them on a diet to create the deficit. Getting your macros from fat, fruits and veggies does a lot to promote satiety when trying to drop body fat.

  • http://www.ameliaburton.com.au Amelia Burton

    Hi JC and Alison,
    The type of carbs can impact weight loss, water levels and blood sugar levels. JC you are right that if you are eating less calories than exerting, yes you will lose weight no matter what type of carbs, but hormone and blood sugar levels must be considered. If one eats high glycemic ‘kiddie’ food, then blood sugar spikes, causing insulin to convert excess sugar into lipids and store as fat. Meanwhile these spikes in sugar can increase hunger, and affect hormone balance, not to mention lacking in other important nutrients like fiber. My suggestion for Alison is sticking, when possible, to low glycemic (slower release) carbs. But as JC says, calories in vs calories out is the key!!!
    Regards,
    Amelia.

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  • http://kaboodle.com/terrypants Mardhanaya

    I understand how hard it is the weightloss battle.Just commit to geting back into your plan and you will win.We all can do it.

  • http://www.ameliaburton.com.au Amelia Burton

    Thanks for the motivating tips Mardhanaya.
    Amelia

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  • http://www.ameliaburton.com.au Amelia Burton

    Your’re welcome Green Tea,

    Hope you come and visit again soon :)

    Amelia

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