Choosing the right diet
In 2012, ABC News reported that approximately 108 million Americans are on diets annually — with about four to five million more attempting diets each year. Dieting is often considered to be synonymous with weight loss. However, in many cases, a specific diet is also kept in order to pursue and maintain a healthy lifestyle with no intention of losing weight.
Nutrition sophomore Misty Statum explained her clean-eating lifestyle and how it benefits her.
“I don’t really have a special ‘diet,’ because diets are only temporary. I eat clean as a lifestyle, with a few exceptions every once in a while, because I’m only human,” Statum said. “My clean eating does not consist of fried foods, soft drinks, oils, butter, candy or desserts on a regular basis. It’s a good, healthy lifestyle.”
Diets can feature different approaches according to their specific objectives. Diets can be used to lose weight, gain weight, lower cholesterol or help the dieter live a long and healthy life. Some diets utilize factors such as calories, carbohydrates and proteins to achieve their individual objectives. Other diets focus on increasing, decreasing or altogether eliminating specific food groups.
Health promotions sophomore Josh Vidales described how he incorporates food throughout the day to achieve his fitness goal.
“I try to micromanage my diet throughout a four-week schedule and restart once it has been completed. I’m trying to gain weight, so I focus on gaining one pound for every week. I eat two hours after every main meal: breakfast, eat a snack after two hours, lunch, snack and so on,” Vidales said. “I try to stay away from fried foods and starches and limit servings per meal.”
When considering a diet approach, it is essential to determine whether a specific diet will work with your lifestyle.
Nutrition and obesity studies assistant professor Daphne Hernandez identified things to consider when starting a new diet.
“One thing to keep in mind when starting a new diet is understanding the pros and cons of each diet and whether the diet is applicable to your lifestyle. Many fad diets are associated with cutting particular food groups or foods completely out of one’s lifestyle. However, it is important to not completely deprive oneself of a particular food group or foods,” Hernandez said. “Moderation and portion control is the key to any diet.”
So what kind of diets are out there?
The Atkins diet is a high-protein, low-carb diet that increases the body’s metabolism and switches the body to burning fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel source. This is done by increasing intake of protein-rich substances, such as meats and eggs, along with high-fiber vegetable intake and decreased carbohydrate consumption. This diet is composed of four phases that lead to an ultimate lifestyle change: induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance.
Weight Watchers Diet
Weight Watchers focuses on losing weight through diet, exercise and utilization of a support network. Weight Watchers is based on a “point system” in which a proportional amount of points are allowed according to a person’s body weight. Foods are assigned points by the amounts of fiber, fat, and other components that they contain.
Vegetarian Diet and Vegan
Vegetarians do not eat animal-based foods, with the exception of eggs, dairy and honey. Several studies over the last few years have shown that vegetarians have a lower body weight, suffer from fewer diseases and generally have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat. Vegans do not consume any animal byproducts, including eggs, dairy and honey. Vegans usually adopt this lifestyle for health, environmental or ethical reasons.
Paleo and Clean Eating
Both paleolithic, or “paleo,” and clean eating focus on fresh and whole foods, increase intake of fruits and vegetables, include lean meats, limit healthy fats and eliminate processed or refined foods. Paleo is a high-protein, low-carb diet that is popular among athletes. It eliminates all grains, beans and legumes and usually does not include dairy. Clean eating includes whole grains, beans and legumes and limits dairy intake. Clean eating is a balanced diet that incorporates all major food groups and is good for people seeking a generally more healthy diet.