As a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and health coach, I am frequently asked “What diet do you recommend?” or “What do you think about this diet?” I usually talk about moderation and healthy eating with limiting the amount of calories if weight loss is the goal. I always emphasize a food diary, whether electronic or by hand.
But really, the best diet for you is the plan that you can follow, is safe, and provides you with all your nutrients. If calorie intake is too low, you need to work with a registered dietician or doctor. If you have a health concern such as diabetes, you need to choose a diet that is recommended by your physician.
Below is a list of popular diets (alphabetically) and a basic description (from IDEA Fitness Journal, March 2015):
• Atkins ® – low carbohydrates/calories are not specified/induction phase with very low carbohydrates (20g) and then gradual increase
• Biggest Loser® – balanced/individual calorie targets/adherents choose a Biggest Loser book to follow for instructions.
• DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – balanced/calories based on individual needs/high in fruits and vegetables/low sodium/developed to reduce blood pressure
• Gluten-Free – balanced/calories not specified/eliminates all foods that contain gluten (wheat, barley, and some other grains)
• Jenny Craig ® – balanced/individual calorie target between 1200 and 2000/followers purchase prepackaged meals and snacks and go to a Jenny Craig center for weekly counseling, or sign up for an at-home plan
• LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition) – balanced/calories not specified/emphasizes lifestyle changes to promote weight loss and health.
• Low Glycemic Index – balanced/calories not specified/a diet rich in “good carbs” (low glycemic index)
• Medifast® – balanced/very low calories (800-1000per day)/five 100 calorie meal replacement shakes and Medifast products per day, plus one meat and vegetable entrée per day
• Mediterranean – balanced/calories not specified/emphasizes produce, nuts, healthful oils and minimal red meat, sugar and saturated fat; red wine in moderation
• Nutrisystem® – balanced/calorie targets 1200 – 1550/followers purchase prepackaged meals online and shop for vegetables and fruits to supplement them
• Ornish – low fat/calories not specified/rates food as most (1) to least (5) healthful with emphases on fruits, vegetables and whole grain
• Paleo® – low carbohydrates/calories not specified/adherents aim to eat the way hunters and gatherers did, with no refined sugar, dairy, legumes or grains/emphasis is on meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables
• Pesco-Vegetarian – balanced/calories not specified/no meat or poultry/includes fish
• South Beach® – low carbohydrate/calories not specified/initial low-carb phase relies on low-glycemic-index and high-protein foods, plus moderate intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats/gradually adds back “healthy” carbs
• Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC Diet) – low fat/weight loss calorie goals of 1600 for men and 1200 for women/developed to decrease cholesterol
• Vegan – balanced/calories not specified/no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy
• Vegetarian – balanced/calories not specified/no meat, fish or poultry
• Volumetrics – balanced/individualized target goals/ tracks daily points (few calories relative to nutrient value/fullness)
• Weight Watchers® – balanced/individualized calorie targets/tracks daily points (each point = approx. 50 kcal) based on current weight and weight goals
• Zone® – balanced/individualized calorie targets/active weight loss targets of 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men
Each of these diets have pros and cons. If you are interested in following one of the above, I recommend you do a little more research and determine if this is a program that you can adhere to.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.