One of the most important decisions you'll need to make in terms of health and fitness is what eating plan you'd like to follow, especially if your goal is to lose weight and/or get fit. There are so many to choose from, it can be really confusing in terms of what actually works and what doesn’t. And with new fads appearing all the time, it can be tempting to jump on yet another diet bandwagon. (I've certainly tried my share in the past.)
But let’s keep things simple and narrow it down to a number of options – some that work and some that don't.
Counting calories is the most common way to lose weight and is definitely I do NOT recommend. It requires a database of the caloric values of foods and a calculator or pen and paper. A food diary to keep track of exactly what you eat can also be used. So basically, it requires a lot of work on your part.
There's a variety of reasons why I don't recommend counting calories - ever! For starters, you quite literally have to count calories for the rest of your life in order to maintain your goal weight. Personally, I don't see that as being realistic. And most importantly, a calorie simply doesn't equal a calorie. For example, if you're staying under your desired recommended calories and even at your goal weight but your calories consist of junk food... then you're going to have other problems like low energy, acne, thinning hair, etc. Read more about why I don't recommend counting calories here.
There are lots of low carb fad diets including Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, and Keto. Counting carbs is certainly another popular way to lose weight - and another I do NOT recommend. Much like counting calories, I find this approach stressful and not sustainable in the long run.
I do think that there's a time and place to limit your carb intake, however, I don't think that counting carbs is ever necessary. You can limit cards by omitting white potatoes and refined flours and still have a diet rich in whole food grains while losing weight. And not have to count a thing.
DON’T FALL FOR FAD DIETS. PICK A HEALTHY PLAN AND STICK TO IT. IF YOU FALL OFF THE WAGON, JUMP RIGHT BACK ON. CONSISTENCY WINS THE RACE.
Every year, the magazine U.S. News and World Reports ranks the best diets in the world. The two diets consistently at the top of the list are DASH and the Mediterranean diet.
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension [High Blood Pressure]) was developed by the U.S government as a way to try to lower high blood pressure naturally. You'll find information free online, such as recipes, eating guidelines, and more.
The Mediterranean diet is modeled on the diet of the people living in Italy, Greece, and other countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Their diet is made up of small portions of an average of 60 different foods each day. The foods are mainly fruits, vegetables, 3 portions of fish per week, and high-quality olive oil.
Both diets are heart-healthy and taste great. You may be able to find one you can stick to for better health and ultimately adapt and incorporate it into your own life in a way that works for you.
SIMPLY EAT CLEAN
This is definitely the method I follow and recommend... eating a diet rich with brightly colored fruits and vegetables with a limited amount of high-quality animal products. (This has been coined the "PEGAN" diet by my favorite health expert, Dr. Mark Hyman, by the way!)
Ultimately, this plan depends on you to figure out what works for YOU by creating healthy habits you can depend on to help you stay on track towards your goals.
It's said that 80% of your body is determined by what you eat so choosing an eating plan that's right for you is crucial to meeting your fitness goals.
If you're curious how I can help you meet your goals, check out how I can help here.