Not all diets are created equal

In Fitness, Sports
Courtesy of MCT

With holidays in full swing, most of us are packing on the pounds and getting ready to hibernate under lots of layers of clothes for the winter.

While it may not exactly be the season to diet, nutritionists and personal trainers would agree that a healthy diet and maintained fitness habits are important all year long.

So let’s talk about diets.

There are many diets out there that claim to be the answer to weight loss. Most of these advertise themselves as easy, fast and healthy. But ultimately, what are the differences between the most popular diets and how should you pick the one that best suits you?

If you’re into group fitness, like working out with friends, then an organization like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers might be a good choice. Weight Watchers provides a program to its dieters that includes a mix of group meetings, exercise, and nutrition.

The program also includes nutrition education that teaches how to choose ingredients and about portion control. Weight Watchers helps people lose weight at a steady healthy rate; cost poses an issue as individuals have to pay for provided meals and weekly meetings.

For quick results, many people have found the Atkins diet to work well. This diet involves eating lots of protein and very low carbs. It holds the belief that your body will burn stored fat instead of carbohydrates, which will lead to fast weight loss results. The process of fat burning is called ketosis, which means burning fat for fuel. Some dieticians believe that too much protein can cause health problems.

The South Beach diet is very similar to Atkins in the way that it involves eating high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates but it involves more self-motivation than other diets. Because of its lack of framed structure, this diet allows dieters to go off on their own tangent.

It involves an initial phase of no carbohydrates for three to four months and then slow adding carbs back into your diet. The diet focuses on eating low amounts of glycemic carbohydrates. Low glycemic carbohydrates include whole grains, fresh fruits, legumes, nuts and other starches high in fiber.

The Mediterranean diet, approved by the American Heart Association, promotes a heart-healthy diet with the use of fresh ingredients that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It includes eating lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains and fish. There is no calorie limit per day on this diet so dieters must keep track of portions and prioritize eating healthy fats.

The Zone diet includes a balance of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. The diet focuses on lean proteins and healthy fats and includes eating five small meals a day.

It reworks your metabolism, which leads to weight loss. Exercise and lots of water are important factors in making sure this diet works for you.

Some new-age diets are also becoming more popular. These diets not only help people lose weight but improve their overall health as well.

For example, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet lowers fat and cholesterol consumption, which in turn leads to weight loss. The TLC diet also calls for increasing fiber intake.

It includes lots of fruits, veggies, nonfat or low fat dairy, fish and lean chicken. The program, free to download online, teaches how to diet, exercise and manage weight. This diet works well for people who enjoy modifying their favorite meals to fit a healthier way of eating.

The Paleo diet provides a new outlook on eating healthy by eating unprocessed, organic foods. This diet involves only eating food that was available to our ancestors, often eliminating grains and dairy products from consumption.

It prohibits processed foods, cereal grains, dairy and starchy vegetables. This diet functions on the theory that what was good for us in the old days is better for us now.

From cutting back on carbohydrates to eating smaller portions more frequently, there are many ways to help your body burn unwanted fat by keeping your metabolism up and eating healthy. Experts advise cardio, resistance training and eating balanced meals on a daily basis to increase your body’s metabolic rates.

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