A Diet Plan For Me

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A Diet Plan For Me: For most people there comes a time when they say to themselves “I need to lose weight”. For whatever reason that is, whether it’s to look good in a certain outfit or just because of all the health benefits, millions of people decide to join a diet plan, with the hope of losing those excess pounds. The first step is choosing the appropriate plan for you.

What Diet is Best for Me? 

Confused about what you should be eating when it comes to your health and fitness goals? You’re not alone. 

You could hire a personal dietitian or nutritionist to curate a custom diet plan to fit your needs, but that can get costly. We’ve got a better solution: Science-backed meal plans curated by the experts. We do the planning, shopping, and cooking – all you do is sit back and enjoy!

Stop guessing when it comes to your eating plan. 

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How to choose the right diet

Your fitness goals, personal preferences, budget, lifestyle and health can all play a role in determining which style of eating fits your needs. 

Ultimately the best weight loss diet for you is the one you can stick to long term. This means finding a healthy, balanced meal plan that includes foods that you enjoy eating. 

Identifying nutritious options that match your personal taste preferences is the best way to build better eating habits that stick around. If you love bread, pasta, and starchy foods, there’s no way you’ll survive on a low carb diet! You don’t have to sacrifice everything to get results. 

Find the perfect meal plan

There is no special diet or magic pill to lose weight and get results, and it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. We are all a little different when it comes to our health and what we need to be successful. 

Step one is choosing a plan with healthy foods that you enjoy eating. Then step, 2 is learning exactly how much of those foods you need (macro balance) to support your fitness goals – whether you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle. 

When it comes to managing diet related health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, most don’t realize the same basic healthy eating principles recommended for good health can also support your weight loss and fitness goals! 

It’s also essential to pay attention to how you feel. If your meal plan is leaving you low on energy, hungry, and cranky, it may not be a good fit. Whereas a plan that has you crushing PRs in the gym and feeling great, is likely a better choice.

The Best Diet: The One That Works for You

If you bristle at the thought of complying with someone else’s idea of how you should shed pounds, the good news is that you don’t need weeks’ worth of expensive prepared frozen meals or a militant eating and exercise program to drop the weight. Even a slight decrease in calories, preferably on a plan that meets nutritional needs, is all it takes.

“One diet is not necessarily any more successful than the next,” says Joy Bauer, MS, RD, author of Your Inner Skinny: Four Steps to Thin Forever. “We know from research studies that almost any plan that reduces calorie intake results in weight loss, regardless of whether it’s high-carbohydrate, low-carbohydrate, high in protein, or low in fat.”

But here’s the rub: Weight loss won’t last unless you change your eating and exercise habits for good in a way that meshes with your food preferences, schedule, and lifestyle.

Dieter, Let’s Get Personal

Before you begin designing your own diet plan, some self-reflection is in order.

“Knowing who you are and what you need is the most important information you can have when it comes to losing weight, eating healthy, and changing your lifestyle,” says Heather K. Jones, RD, co-author of What’s Your Diet Type? Use the Power of Your Personality to Discover Your Best Way to Lose Weight. “Our personality explains why some approaches to weight control work, while others fail.”

Jones says dieting takes more than willpower, and that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off have simply discovered which approaches work for them and their unique personalities.

6 Key Questions to Answer

In order to design your own diet, Bauer and Jones advise asking yourself the following six questions:

• Do you prefer to eat three, five, or eight meals a day? Once you determine your desired eating schedule, divide your calories accordingly.

• How much time will you devote to food preparation? If you hate to cook, or have limited time, you’ll need to simplify the preparation of healthy, fresh, and lightly processed foods.

• What type of support, and how much, do you require? Everyone needs some cheering on to succeed, especially when the initial enthusiasm for changing bad habits begins to wane. Family and friends, online weight loss communities, and diet buddies can help you when you’re tempted to ditch your healthier diet and exercise program.

• Do you love to dine out? You’ll need to account for restaurant food by seeking out the calorie counts of the foods you eat most often.

• Will you require a daily treat to feel satisfied? If you can’t live without a little something special every day, reserve 100 calories for a single-serve package of cookies or chips, or for a frozen treat, like a fudge bar.

• How much exercise can you reasonably do? Experts recommend at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, such as walking, on most days of the week, but you may have to build up to that, especially if you aren’t physically active. Ask your doctor what’s best for you.

Calculating Calories For Weight Loss

Diets don’t work unless you run a calorie deficit by eating less energy than you burn. Most healthy people without chronic conditions can safely drop no more than two pounds a week on a balanced diet.

Adhering to a daily calorie budget for weight loss is the crux of any successful do-it-yourself diet plan. Your calorie allowance is based on your age, sex, physical activity level, and weekly weight loss goals.

Once you have calculated your calorie level, the next step is figuring out what to eat for weight loss. Bauer says the best diet plans are based on whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy foods, because they lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid.gov web site provides a blueprint for healthy eating, no matter what your weight goal. The number of servings to include on a daily basis from each of the five food groups, and oils, is determined by the calorie level you choose for weight loss. MyPyramid.gov also provides information about proper portions for foods in each food group.

How to Design Your Daily Meals and Snacks

You know how many servings from each of the food groups you need. Now you need to decide how to combine them to make healthy, satisfying meals and snacks that keep temptation at bay. Here are some basic rules:

• Have at least three meals a day. Eating on a regular basis prevents extreme hunger that can wreak havoc on your resolve to eat better and exercise more.

• Stay fuller for longer by combining protein (found in the greatest amounts in foods from the milk and meat/beans food groups) with fiber (found in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes) at every meal and snack. Noshing on fat-free yogurt and an apple, or a hard-cooked egg and a small whole grain roll, is more satisfying than spending the same number of calories on soda crackers, which are very low in fiber and devoid of protein.

• Conserve calories. Choose the lowest-calorie choices from each food group. For example, opt for 1% reduced-fat milk or fat-free milk instead of full-fat; 93% lean ground beef instead of 85%; and light popcorn instead of popcorn smothered in butter.

Prevent Portion Distortion, At Home and Away

All foods fit on a balanced weight control plan, but proper portions are paramount. Most people rarely go overboard on carrot sticks and celery, but it’s a different story when it comes to cheese, pasta, fatty red meats, and other favorite foods.

If you’re uncertain what constitutes reasonable serving sizes — and let’s face it, most of us are — invest in a reliable kitchen scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons to determine portions at home. If exactitude isn’t your style, learn how to compare correct portion sizes to everyday objects, such as a baseball, a deck of playing cards, and a light bulb.

Correctly eyeballing portions is particularly helpful when dining out. It’s a useful skill to have, because it’s unlikely you’ll be eating every meal at home.

“On average, Americans eat six meals a week away from home,” says Hope Warshaw, MS, RD, author of Eat Out, Eat Right.

Even when you’re dining on reasonable portions, the calories can add up.

“Research shows that restaurant food serves up more added fat and sugar and fewer fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy than homemade food,” Warshaw says.

That doesn’t mean frequent diners are doomed to fail at dieting. However, it helps to limit dining out as much as possible by brining food to work and on the road, and by counteracting extra calories with physical activity.

Rely on books and the web sites of your favorite eating establishment for the calorie counts of the dishes you order. Always ask for what you need to limit calorie consumption, such as low-fat salad dressing served on the side, grilled meat and fish prepared with no added fat, and plain vegetables.

Think about your personal needs

There’s no one diet or weight-loss plan for everyone. Think about your preferences, lifestyle and weight-loss goals. Pick a plan that you can tailor to your needs.

Before starting a weight-loss program, think about:

  • Diets you’ve tried. What did you like or dislike about them? Were you able to follow the diet? What worked or didn’t work? How did you feel physically and emotionally while on the diet?
  • Your preferences. Do you prefer to do a weight-loss program on your own, or do you want support from a group? If you like group support, do you prefer online support or in-person meetings?
  • Your budget. Some weight-loss programs require you to buy supplements or meals, visit weight-loss clinics, or attend support meetings. Does the cost fit your budget?
  • Other considerations. Do you have a health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or allergies? Do you have cultural, religious or ethnic requirements or preferences for food?

Look for a safe, effective weight-loss program

It’s tempting to buy into promises of fast and amazing weight loss. But a slow and steady approach is easier to keep up. And it often beats fast weight loss for the long term. A weight loss of 0.5 to 2 pounds (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) a week is the typical recommendation.

Faster weight loss can be safe if it’s done right. Examples include a very low-calorie diet with medical supervision or a brief quick-start phase of a healthy-eating plan.

Successful weight loss requires a long-term commitment to making healthy lifestyle changes in eating, exercise and behavior. Behavior change is vital, and could have the greatest impact on your long-term weight-loss efforts.

Be sure to pick a plan you can live with. Look for these features:

  • Flexibility. A flexible plan uses a variety of foods from all the major food groups. It includes vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and nuts and seeds.A flexible plan allows a treat now and then if you like. The plan should include foods you can find in your local grocery store and that you enjoy eating. But limit alcohol, sugary drinks and high-sugar sweets. The calories in those items don’t provide enough nutrients.
  • Balance. Your plan should include the right amount of nutrients and calories. Eating large amounts of some foods, severely cutting calories or removing entire food groups can cause nutritional problems. Safe and healthy diets don’t need large amounts of vitamins or supplements.
  • Likeability. A plan should include foods you like and that you would enjoy eating for life. If you don’t like the food on the plan, if the plan is too restrictive or if it becomes boring, you probably won’t stick to it. So long-term weight loss is unlikely.
  • Activity. Your plan should include physical activity. Exercise plus fewer calories can help give your weight loss a boost. Exercise also offers many health benefits, including countering the muscle mass loss that occurs with weight loss. And exercise is an important factor in maintaining weight loss.

What are the options?

The table below lists some of the more common diets. There’s overlap, but most plans can be grouped into a few major categories.

Studies comparing different weight-loss programs have found that most programs result in weight loss in the short term compared with no program. Weight-loss differences between diets are generally small.

Diet type and examplesFlexibleNutritionally balancedSustainable for long term
Balanced (DASH, Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean, WeightWatchers)Yes. No foods are off-limits.Yes.Yes. Emphasis is on making permanent lifestyle changes.
High protein (Dukan, Paleo)No. Stresses lean meats, dairy.Deficiencies are possible on very restrictive plans.Possibly. But the diet may be hard to stick to over time.
Low carb (Atkins, South Beach)No. Carbs are limited; fats or proteins or both are stressed.Deficiencies are possible on very restrictive plans.Possibly. But the diet may be hard to stick to over time.
Low fat (Ornish)No. Total fat is limited; most animal products are off-limits.Yes.Possibly. But the diet may be hard to stick to over time.
Meal replacement (Jenny Craig, HMR, Medifast, Nutrisystem, SlimFast)No. Replacement products take the place of 1 or 2 meals a day.Possibly. Balance is possible if you make healthy meal choices.Possibly. Cost of products varies; some can be very expensive.
Very low calorie (Optifast)No. Calories are severely limited, often to 800 or fewer calories a day.No.No. Diet is meant only for short-term use with medical supervision.
DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, HMR = Health Management Resources.
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Ask yourself these questions when evaluating weight-loss plans

Before you dive into a weight-loss plan, take time to learn as much about it as you can. Just because a diet is popular or your friends are doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Ask these questions first:

  • What’s involved? Does the plan provide guidance that you can adapt to your situation? Does it require buying special meals or supplements? Does it offer online or in-person support? Does it teach you how to make positive, healthy changes in your life to help keep up your weight loss?
  • What’s behind the diet? Is there research and science to back up the weight-loss approach? If you go to a weight-loss clinic, what expertise, training, certifications and experience do the providers, dietitians and other staff have? Will the staff coordinate with your regular provider?
  • What are the risks? Could the weight-loss program harm your health? Are the recommendations safe for you, especially if you have a health condition or take medications?
  • What are the results? How much weight can you expect to lose? Does the program claim that you’ll lose a lot of weight quickly or that you can target certain areas of your body? Does it show before and after photos that seem too good to be true? Can it help you keep up your weight loss over time?

The keys to weight-loss success

Successful weight loss requires long-term changes to your eating habits and physical activity. This means you need to find a weight-loss approach you can embrace for life. You’re not likely to keep off the weight you lose if you go off the diet and back to old habits.

Diets that leave you feeling deprived or hungry can cause you to give up. And many weight-loss diets don’t encourage permanent healthy lifestyle changes. So even if you do lose weight, the pounds can quickly return once you stop dieting.

You’ll likely always have to remain careful about your weight. But mixing a healthier diet with more activity is the best way to lose weight, keep it off for the long term and improve your health.

  

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