Diet Plans For Weight Loss: Which Ones Work and Which Ones Don’tJuly 12, 2018
Since the time when it was classified as an epidemic, obesity has always attracted keen worldwide attention. Diet plans proposed by various people began to emerge, and we see various discussion groups, conferences, and symposia centred on obesity and these various diet plans. In America alone, this obsession about weight loss has turned it into a veritable cottage industry, with various ‘experts’ coming out of the woodwork, bringing forth with them ‘revolutionary’ diets.
To date, there already are several popular diets, all claiming to be effective, with names such as 5-Factor Diet, Anne Collin’s Diet, Atkins Diet, Bob Greene’s Best Life Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, DASH Diet, Fat Smash Diet, Size Zero Diet, and South Beach Diet.. The list goes on, and there are probably many more waiting to be ‘discovered’ and/or proposed by other self-proclaimed weight loss ‘gurus’.
Of course, proponents of these diets are always armed with ‘data’ as well as testimonials as to the effectiveness of their diets (that is, how much weight you will be able to lose) and the ease or speed with which you will be able to shed these pounds. Some even boast (perhaps ridiculously) that you will able to lose 10-12 pounds a week, in spite of the well-known medical fact that such massive weight loss can only be achieved by draining lots of water from our bodies (that is, dehydration), a process which has been proven to be detrimental (instead of being beneficial) to us. Furthermore, a common thread linking these diets is the danger of rapidly regaining the ‘lost’ weight once you stop following the diet plan.
Now, let us talk some science first in order to lift the veil of mystery surrounding these diets, so that you will be armed with the requisite knowledge to empower you to evaluate these diets should you choose to try out some of them. First off, a few very basic principles: Our bones, muscles, cartilages, veins and capillaries, as well as the inherent water and fat content in our body contribute to our body’s ‘base’ weight. Factor in excessive calorie intakes, and that’s why a lot of us experience an increase in weight. So basically, all we need to do is to cut down on those excessive intakes of calories, and we’re back to our ‘base’ weight, right? Such a proposition, however, is easier said than done, so that’s why there are these many ‘plans’ about how to cut down on these calorie intakes. Some of these plans, for instance, work on the principle of increasing our body metabolism, either through exercising or using ‘fat-burning’ substances, so that our stored fat can be ‘burned off’. Thus, these diets come with different ways and means, but all of them share the same ‘targeted’ outcome: the cutting down of excessive calorie intakes and/or the ‘burning off’ of stored body fat.
Now, as far as these diet plans go, they usually are classified into three broad categories: 1.) The so-called “fad” diets; 2.) Diets that are centred around specially-processed foods; and 3.) The so-called “natural” diet plans.
“Fad” diets are a bit quirky and subjective, as there is no precise definition about what really is a “fad” diet. Historically speaking though, diet plans in the past that rapidly became popular but just as quickly fizzled out are often pigeon-holed into the “fad” diet category. These past diet plans had several common denominators, among which were: a.) the boasted claims of rapid weight loss, but by and large, these claims have never been supported by statistical data from scientific studies; and b.) their endorsement by ‘overnight’ experts who went on to publish books about these diet plans or by those who sold pills or substances that were part of the said diet plan. Thus, it would seem that ‘fad diet’ is society’s catch-all phrase for those past diet plans that meteorically rose into prominence but failed badly and quickly faded into oblivion. Hence, any one of today’s most popular diet plans could potentially end up as tomorrow’s “fad” diet, and you’ll never know if the hot new diet plan you are eyeing to adapt today would end up being labelled as a “fad” diet in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps one way of knowing is by closely studying the diet plan that you are eyeing; that is, determining if it is scientifically grounded, and if the supporting ‘data’ are there and are genuine, etc. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine and only time will tell.
The “natural” diet plan, on the other hand, is predicated on making healthy choices among the foods that we normally encounter in our daily diets. Accordingly, it labels some food groups or individual foods as being ‘beneficial’ from the standpoint of weight loss while classifying others as ‘harmful’ and thus, should be avoided. For instance, certain fishes such as Herrings and Sardines are classified as ‘very beneficial’ because not only do they provide Omega 3 fatty acids, they are, along with lean meat, also a ‘good’ source of animal protein. Pork, on the other hand, has been deemed a ‘poor’ source of animal protein and thus, should be shunned. Skimmed (or Skim) Milk is ‘good’ because it has been found to contain less than 1% fat, but fresh milk, once thought to be very ‘healthy’, is to be taken in moderation because it has been found to contain a higher percentage of fat content. Thus, as the foregoing examples illustrate, “natural” diet plans are grounded on easily-recognized and clearly-understood scientific facts and principles, but this body of knowledge is not ‘fixed’, as expert judgement on what constitutes as ‘beneficial’ and what is ‘not good’ may change from time to time as new ‘data’ are emerging/gathered.
The use of specially-processed food ingredients or specially-formulated ‘supplements’ as they call them is a hallmark of the third category of diet plans. Among the three categories, this one is probably the most highly commercialized, with plenty of products, some of them with accompanying scientific bases or write-ups as well as testimonials, claiming to be the next anti-obesity miracle drug or pill. However, a lot of them have actual track records that would usually indicate that at best, they are marginally effective on the entire population of obese ‘subjects’, or are effective on only certain subjects with certain body types or metabolic rates. Thus, this category encompasses a lot of products which might turn out to be just “fads”.
In closing, the foregoing discussion would seem to indicate that the best diet plans of all are the “natural” kind (and rightly so, because they are grounded on medical/nutritional facts), but it doesn’t mean that ‘supplements’ are just “fads” and have no place in our diets. In fact, a number of supplements these days hold some promise, and a healthy combination of “natural” diet plans, supplements, and exercise is what most people resort to nowadays. Good luck then in your search for the perfect diet plan!