Doctors’ Best Diets for Health and Weight Loss
How’s that New Year’s resolution to lose weight coming along? Have you already thrown up your hands in frustration because the hottest new celebrity diet is just too difficult to live with, even for a few days?
That’s the problem with fad diets. They may take off a few pounds (often comprising mainly water weight), but the rules are just too restrictive to maintain over the long term. In addition, research has shown that dieting is not effective in the long run, and can lead to greater weight gain the more you diet. The body interprets calorie restriction as a pending famine, leading to fat storage against the possibility of future food shortage, and automatically slows your metabolism as a survival mechanism. What you really need is a whole new approach to eating that doesn’t shun some foods in favor of others, but allows you to make intelligent selections while enjoying the food you eat.
If you’ve already given up on your resolution to lose weight, the family practice doctors at Cohen Associates in Delray Beach, Florida, want to offer you some suggestions for healthy eating that you can use for the rest of your life.
The Best Diets
There are many sound approaches to achieving slow but steady weight loss and a healthier body in general. Here are some of the best, in our opinion.
Of all the diet plans available, we believe one the recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is the best overall, because of its proven effect on lowering blood pressure in both hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients. Known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—the DASH diet—it has not only been proven to improve cardiovascular health, it has also been shown to help prevent cancer, reduce the incidence of diabetes, and improve kidney health. Most important if you’re trying to lose weight, it is effective for both short- and long-term weight loss.
The best part of the DASH way of eating is its lack of strict rules. Instead, it provides more in the way of guidelines. These include: eating more fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, fish, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy, and less full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and sweets. It emphasizes variety, portion size, and natural foods. And by including a good balance of lean protein, it helps satisfy hunger and maintain energy. Although adherents are encouraged to reduce their salt intake, they are not required to do so. However, many of the recommended foods on the plan are naturally low in sodium, so a good deal of salt reduction occurs incidentally.
This diet is based on studies during the 1990s that found those in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea tend to live longer, healthier lives than those in other countries, and have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Researchers looking into the reasons for this soon discovered the answer: a diet high in seafood, nuts, fresh produce, olive oil, and beans, and low in red meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and saturated fat.
Like the DASH diet, the Mediterranean way of eating eschews calorie counting and forbidding certain foods, and simply shifts the emphasis towards healthier fare and away from those foods that are known to pile on weight and trigger health issues. The benefits of adhering to a Mediterranean diet include reduced levels of inflammation throughout the body, which means a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also means almost automatic weight control, which reduces your risk for diabetes.
Mayo Clinic Diet
If weight loss is your primary goal, this is an excellent diet to follow. At the same time, like the above diets, no foods are completely forbidden (once you pass the first two weeks of fairly restrictive eating). It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, seafood, and nuts. It promises you’ll drop six-ten pounds during the first two weeks, with a slower, steady loss of one to two pounds per week after that until you reach your goal weight.
As with all the above diets, the Mayo Clinic diet also includes the recommended half-hour of moderate-intensity exercise daily, or a total of two-and-a-half hours every week, along with two days of muscle-strengthening activities.
We believe the best diets are those you can easily follow throughout your life, without designating certain foods as forbidden or “bad,” and that will enhance your overall health. There are some other good diets available, in addition to those we’ve listed above, and we can help you select the one that’s right for you. Of course, it’s best if you check with us before embarking on any new diet or eating plan, and remember we are here to answer any of your nutrition or diet questions.