As anyone who's ever attempted dieting knows, advice on weight loss comes from every corner. Friends might swear by the latest dieting trend while family members may be just as adamantly convinced the trend doesn't have merit.
So what's true and what's false? Simply put, combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep that weight off. While most adults are fully aware of that fact, that doesn't stop them from finding the latest fad and letting it dictate their eating habits for days or even weeks. For those about to diet, consider the following good and bad diet fads.
• Portion control: Many diets emphasize the importance of portion control. Research has indicated it's not just what we eat that causes weight gain, but how much we're eating as well. In a study in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found cookies are 700 percent bigger than the suggested USDA standards. And it's not just cookies that are much bigger than recommended, as our servings of pasta (480 percent), muffins (333 percent) and bagels (195 percent) are much bigger than they should be. While not all diets that promote portion control are necessarily healthy, portion control on its own is a healthy way for everyone to approach their daily diet.
• Lifestyle change: Individuals who want to lose weight should look for dietary tips that promote a change in lifestyle and not just changes in diet. Look for diets that don't have a timeline, promoting fast weight loss in "X" amount of weeks. A diet that promotes a longterm commitment to eating healthy foods while also encouraging daily exercise is one that's likely going to be more successful and beneficial than one that promises significant weight loss in a short period of time.
• One food can do it all: Nearly every dieter has heard of a diet that promises you can eat all you want of a specific food and still lose weight so long as that's all you're eating. However, focusing on a specific food is certain to deprive dieters of nutrients they sorely need. Cutting out entire food groups means dieters won't enjoy a balanced diet. Also, dieters will begin to crave the foods they're not getting, which could lead to bingeing.
Another side effect to one-food diets is that certain foods can cause some unenjoyable side effects, including dehydration or gastrointestinal problems. Look for balance in a diet, which should eliminate one-food diets from consideration.
• Misguided vegetarianism: While vegetarianism isn't bad, dieters often apply it incorrectly. When applied correctly, a vegetarian diet has been linked to all sorts of benefits, including lower rates of obesity and heart disease. However, dieters often mistakenly eat a vegetarian diet with a foundation of cheese and pasta, which can actually cause weight gain. Carbohydrate-rich foods, while they might be vegetarian, will likely result in weight added as opposed to lost. When adopting a vegetarian diet, be sure to include whole grains and fruit and eat foods like nuts, beans or even tofu to ensure you're getting enough protein.
• Bye-bye, carbohydrates: Arguably no diet is more popular than the one that advocates eliminating carbohydrates. This is problematic, especially for those who want to combine their healthy diet with exercise. Carbohydrates are ideal foods for boosting energy, which dieters will need if they want to exercise regularly. Whole-grain breads, oatmeal and brown rice are all beneficial carbohydrate sources. For those desiring to eliminate some forms of carbs from their diets, eliminate white bread and white rice, as those are low in nutrients.
When it comes to dieting, there are certainly plenty of options touting incredible weight loss in short periods of time. But dieters should always look for healthy ways to lose weight and keep it off, which often includes some combination of a well-balanced diet that promotes moderation.