Weight Loss Wednesday: Current Diet Trends- Hot or Not?
Attention all lions: Summer Is Coming! As I watch the snow drift silently pass my office window, it seems as if sweater weather is here to stay and this long winter will never end. As tempting as it would be to contentedly sit in my chair with a nice hot buttered whiskey and think deep peaceful winter thoughts, the truth is that the weather will soon warm and we will all be forced to shed our heavy winter layers for lighter dress-leaving us standing (at least in my case) pale, lumpy and uncomfortably exposed to the first waves of summer’s heat. Although it may seem like a bad dream to some, for those of us who have lived a little too “large” over the winter, this alternate reality may feel distressingly possible.
So what will you do to avoid this fate? Most of us will dust off our gym memberships and renew our attempts to exercise on a regular basis. The more dedicated of us will also usually pair this effort with a diet overhaul and a focus on weight loss, all the while praying that this will be enough to magically resurrect our summer bodies like John Snow at Castle Black . But what method is best for reaching that goal? Low carb? High carb? No Carb? Slow carb? The amount of information out there on eating for weight loss can be overwhelming, to say the least. So, for your convenience, here is a simplified list of a few of the new and noteworthy trends in the world of weight loss.
#1 Mindful Eating:
The Basics: This new “diet” claims to be the antithesis of all diet, listing no food as either “good” or “bad”. Instead it encourages mindfulness and an increased awareness of physiological cues for hunger and fullness, and placing trust in those cues to guide you to food choice and portion size. Bearing a striking similarity to previously seen diets such as “flexible dieting” this technique is seemingly neither new nor a diet, but something else entirely.
The Pros: This diet has been linked to lower weights, improved mental health and improvement in health indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol level.
The Cons: This diet requires you to be your own dietary compass, automatically pointing you in the right direction by hunger cues alone. As a dietitian, and sometimes professionally shining example of what not to do, I can tell you that this sort of focus and mindset, though not impossible, requires dedication and practice to achieve mental mastery. Factors like external distraction, emotional stress and existing belief structure surrounding food can often play a part in determining our perception of hunger and fullness.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a quick fix and have a habit of overeating when you are emotionally stressed, this diet may not be for you.
#2 The ‘F’ Factor:
The Basics: No, the ‘F’ in this diet does not stand for “fear”, so don’t worry about eating bugs or worms or slime- that’s not what this diet is about. ‘F’ stands for fiber and was developed by a Manhattan based dietitian named Tanya Zuckerbort. A diet that is quickly becoming popular among celebrities and the media, the F factor is based on the consumption of low-calorie, high fiber foods to promote feelings of fullness faster, thus limiting one of the major downfalls of most diets: increased feelings of hunger.
The Pros: Aside from being low calorie and extremely filling, increased fiber consumption has also been linked to reduction in blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and improved sleep patterns. In addition, high fiber foods are readily available and reasonably inexpensive. For even more fullness, pair fiber-rich foods with a protein source
The Cons: For some people, who are sensitive to fiber, pushing their intake to the max may cause a great deal of gastric distress, including bloating, gas and sometimes even constipation. If attempting this change, be mindful of this possibility and increase your fluid intake along with your fiber to help prevent this.
The Bottom Line: While this diet is found on scientifically sound principles, the reality of whether or not this diet is for you is largely based on your unique tolerance to fiber. For some people, fiber may cause too much of an upset to be worth the weight loss.
#3 The DASH Diet:
The Basics: The DASH diet is an oldie, but goodie of a diet that was originally formulated for people attempting to lower their blood pressure through dietary modifications. Based on science and emphasizing whole foods like fruit and vegetables, this diet is ranked by many different sources as the #1 diet for both heart health and diabetes. Scientifically proven weight loss is also an additional perk.
The Cons: One of the major tenets of this diet (low salt) makes it difficult to make appropriate choices when dining out, and since this diet is based on lots and lots of whole foods, even when dining in, you will need to be prepared to spend some quality time prepping your meals unless you can afford to have them all prepared and packaged for you.
The Bottom Line: This diet is sound, time tested and relatively inexpensive to achieve, but requires time to prep and some decent kitchen skills to make it happen.
The Take Home Message:
At the end of the day, none of these diets will work for you if you do not sustain the change that makes them effective. Many times, this necessitates coaching, discipline and professional help. If you feel like you cant get a leg up, call your local dietitian… We’re here to help.