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Choosing the Right Diet

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When choosing the right diet for you it is important that you consider many different factors.  In this, you will need to ask yourself a number of important questions. Moreover, you’ll need to think before you answer.  Answering automatically won’t do you any favors.  Instead, you’ll need to take the time to take in the question and understand the realistic and practical answer.

Questions to Ask Yourself About a Diet You’re Considering

There are many different factors to think about when choosing the right diet.  After all, nutrition and its goals are complex.  It’s not just a matter of swallowing a nutrition pill that will help you achieve all your goals while gaining all the nutrients you need.  You need to factor reality into the mix. 

Ask yourself the following questions to help yourself to be more confident in choosing the right diet:

  • Do you know your goal? (Weight loss, better nutrition, weight maintenance, muscle building, etc)
  • Have you spoken to your doctor to be sure your goal is healthy and attainable and that you know how to achieve it realistically?
  • Do you know what calorie level is appropriate for you?
  • Is the diet that you are considering nutritionally balanced?
  • Do you eat lots of whole foods including fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats?
  • Will this diet be practical and easy enough to follow?
  • Do you know how you will gradually incorporate this diet into your current lifestyle so that you’ll avoid massive sudden changes that are unlikely to stick over time?
  • Is the diet better suited for short-term weight loss or will the diet be maintainable for the rest of your life?
  • Is there a chance that the diet you’re considering is a fad diet instead of a healthy lifestyle change?

The below information will show you what to look out for in a diet. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Diet

Make sure that your diet contains all the essential nutrients for good health. Using the Food Guide Pyramid or Choose My Plate (from the USDA) and the Nutrition Facts Label that is found on most processed food products can help you to improve your nutrition choices

This official guidance from the USDA shows you the kinds and amounts of food that you need each day for good health. The Nutrition Facts Label will help you select foods that meet your daily nutritional needs. Though these may not be perfect and fully customized nutrition recommendations, they can help to put you on the right track.  From there, you can adjust your diet to better suit your own unique nutrition goals.

Helpful Steps to a Diet Based on Good Nutrition

The basic steps to good nutrition come from a diet that:

  • Helps you either lose weight or keeps your Body Mass Index (BMI) in the "healthy" or “normal” range.
  • Is balanced overall, with foods from all food groups, with lots of delicious fruits, healthy vegetables, whole-grains, lean proteins as well as healthy fats in appropriate amounts.
  • Is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Includes a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains, a good source of fiber.
  • Includes a variety of fruits and vegetables (2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a 2,000-calorie diet).
  • Adds only a small number of calories from added sugars (like in candy, cookies, and cakes).
  • Keeps sodium levels under control, particularly by avoiding too many processed foods in favor of whole foods. Aim for no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, or about one teaspoon of salt per day.
  • Does not include more than one drink containing alcohol per day (two drinks per day for men). Understand alcohol portion sizes to be sure you’re not exceeding this amount as they may be smaller than you think. 

Why Rapid Results Aren’t Everything

So, you ask, how do people lose 20 pounds in one month or 300 pounds in one year as is claimed in published testimonials for certain diets or products? The answer is that most of such rapid weight loss is not fat. It is lean tissue – muscle (it takes fewer than 1,000 calories to burn a pound of muscle) and to a certain degree it will be water weight loss and excess waste stored in the colon.  Regardless of what is lost to achieve those results, this type of extreme dieting often results in extreme weight rebounds as well as was clearly demonstrated among the winners of The Biggest Loser.

Therefore, while choosing the right diet, it’s very important to look at many more factors aside from the speed of weight loss.  Yes, you want to reach your goal sooner rather than later.  That said, it’s important not to try to lose so quickly that you only end up seeing the pounds again shortly afterward.