Category: Healthy Diet

Your Own Healthy Diet Plan!

You don’t have to follow any specific diet program for weight loss. You can put together your own healthy diet plan for both weight loss and good health.

Cut Out The Junk!

not-so-healthy

Your first step in developing a healthy diet plan is to cut out the foods that make you fat and unhealthy. Here’s a hint: If you get most of your food from a clown under golden arches or in a box, your eating junk food. I can safely say that pretty much anything you get at a fast-food restaurant is going to be unhealthy for you.

You can add to the junk food list, a long line of items that we often consume at home or the office:

  • Sodas. Even diet sodas aren’t healthy for you.
  • Chips of any kind.
  • Candy
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies, Cake, Doughnuts and other Pastries.
  • Anything that has more sugar and fat in it than nutrients.

If you just cut these junk foods out of your eating habits or at least make them a very once-in-a-while treat, that will go a long way toward losing weight and getting healthy.

Junky Health Food

Beware of many foods that masquerade as healthy foods but are actually just as bad as the junk food. Many breakfast cereals now boast that they’re made with whole grains but they still have loads of sugar in them. Low-fat yogurt is another product that sounds healthy but may have large amounts of sugar and a lot of calories in it.

Margarine is a classic example of a food that was marketed as a healthier alternative to butter. It turns out that it was very unhealthy, loaded with trans-fats.

Soy products are now marketed as the healthier food alternative. The truth is that most soy products have a multitude of unhealthy qualities. I discuss the dangers of soy here.

So What’s to Eat?

healthy-diet-plan

Your best bet for a healthy diet plan is to concentrate on natural, whole foods that haven’t been processed. Eat plenty of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Fish and Seafood.
  • Lean meat. Even red meat is healthy if you buy grass-fed beef at your local health-food store or online.

Healthy Carbs

Not all carbs are created equal but you definitely want to cut down on and even eliminate if possible:

  • Sugar
  • White pastas
  • White rice
  • Anything else made with white flour

Whole wheat products are a little bit better, but not much. The best carbs are found in whole fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grain and sprouted grain products.

More on healthy carbs…

Healthy Cooking

The best way to make sure you’re following a healthy diet plan is to do your own cooking. If you don’t have a lot of time, you’ll need to do some meal planning on the weekend. A lot of food can be cooked at once and frozen for easy microwave meals during the week.

Food Labels

When you’re shopping at the grocery store, you should be buying mostly from the fresh meat, seafood and produce sections. But you may still need or want to buy some prepackaged foods. Check out the label to see if you’re getting unhealthy ingredients like soy, trans-fats, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, etc.

A diet program may be best for you if you need detailed rules to live by. But if you’re a do-it-yourself-er, you can put together your own healthy diet plan and successfully lose weight. It just takes a little time and effort to educate yourself and form new, healthy eating habits.

Is a Low Calorie Diet Right For You?

The best diet program for weight loss is the one that works best with your body and your lifestyle.

Since you’re reading this, you’re probably planning to go on a weight loss program or you’ve tried one or more that just didn’t “work” for you, right? We bet your research has turned up dozens of potential diet plans – low carb, low fat, low sugar, etc.. How do you know which one will work best for you? Our goal is to help you figure that out.

Experienced Reviews

You may have read diet reviews on other sites. They may be informative, but what we want to do here is go a step further and give you reviews based on experience. In most cases, we don’t just describe the diet to you, we actually “do” the diet program. That way, I can give you first-hand experience!

A low calorie diet can help you lose weight, but some can be darn-right dangerous! Let’s take a look at which ones can help and which to avoid.

vlcd

The first type of diet you might run into when searching the web is a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). These diets are sometimes used under a doctor’s supervision for obese patients. They usually consist of a diet of 800 calories or less, combined with vitamin supplements.

A very popular VLCD is the HCG diet. This diet uses a controversial hormone – in the form of drops or injections – that is supposed to curb your hunger. This is combined with a diet of only 500 calories. Besides the questionable safety of the hormone, a daily calorie intake this low is not healthy and can be dangerous if not properly supervised. However, many people are recently using hCG drops for a safer use. What you need to do is to find a respected hCG drops diet supplement website which suggests good brands to buy.

A Crash Diet is another type of VLCD, but it’s more of a fad diet. These generally aren’t recommended by doctors.

Other low calorie diets can be very healthy. These diets focus on consuming less calories, but are not so drastic as the VLCD diets. A few of these include:

  • The Truth About Abs diet and exercise program.
  • The Okinawan Diet
  • The Weight Watchers diet program

Why Count Calories?

count caloriesSome experts will tell you that losing weight is just a matter of burning more calories than you eat. This is only partially true. The truth is that not all calories are created equal.

A 2000-calorie-per-day diet of simple carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, sugar) will put more fat on you than 2000 calories of lean protein and vegetables (chicken breasts and salad). Not to mention the difference in nutritional value. I know this from my own experience and I think this would be true for you too.

That said, lowering your calorie intake, say… from 2000 calories per day to 1500, will help you lose weight (or stop gaining), no matter what you eat.

But I Hate Calorie Counting!

I used to say this myself. But once you get used to it, I’m sure you’ll find it’s no big deal. For packaged foods, just look at the nutrition label to find the calories per serving. Once you learn how many calories are in a serving of food, it’s not hard to add them up to see how many calories you’re consuming in one meal.

The new labeling law in the USA makes it easier than ever to count calories when eating out. Most of the big restaurant chains (including my favorite daily destination, Starbucks) now list the amount of calories contained in each food and drink item.

If you do need help, there are tools available to help you keep track of the calories you eat. A calorie tracker or food journal may be what you need. Or, just a simple calculator might be enough.

So, is a low calorie diet right for you? If you like to eat a wide variety of foods and don’t mind keeping track of what you’re eating, then it just might be.

If you’re morbidly obese and have tried everything else, you might want to ask your doctor about a VLCD. Otherwise, stick with cutting back on your calories in a sensible way. There are plenty of diet programs to help you do that.

Do Low Fat Diets Work?

The idea of just staying away from fats at all cost in order to lose weight never worked. A new, smarter approach to low fat diets can help you lose weight and keep you healthy.

During the 80’s and 90’s, we were all told that fat was evil and caused disease. Consequently, food manufacturers began producing low-fat and no-fat versions of many food products. However, since fat adds flavor and consistency to food, it had to be replaced. Often with added sugar and artificial ingredients.

Along with that, we were encouraged to eat more bread, pasta and rice – usually all white. This new high-carbohydrate food supply just made Americans (including myself) even fatter. Along with the additional pounds came additional health problems.

An old idea is that “if you don’t eat fat, you won’t store fat”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Carbohydrates that aren’t used by the body right away are converted and stored as fat. It’s true that fat has a higher amount of calories in a smaller amount of food, so cutting down on fat consumption can lower your daily calorie intake, which in turn can help you lose weight.

But cutting out fat completely is a bad idea. Our bodies need a certain amount of fat in order to function and certain fats are actually good for you.

Are They Healthier?

More recent research shows that a low-fat diet isn’t a cure-all for disease prevention. This study shows that an overall reduction in fat intake doesn’t help prevent cardiovascular disease in women but reducing certain fats can help.

The Good and The Bad

We now know that all fat is not created equal. There are bad fats and good fats. The fats you do want to stay away from as much as possible are trans fats. These are artificially produced fats by means of hydrogenation.

Whenever you see the words hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated on an ingredients label, don’t eat it! Trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. These fats are usually found in fast-food and prepackaged, processed foods.

Saturated fats are another type of fat that we’ve all been told to stay away from. But they’re not all the same. Saturated fats are generally associated with animal products. Foods such as bacon, other fatty meats and full-fat dairy products have a lot of saturated fats in them. If you consume factory-farm produced foods of this type, it’s a good idea to cut back on them because they are often full of hormones, antibiotics and lacking in good nutrition. On the other hand, grass-fed meats and dairy products are actually good for you.

Many sources of saturated fats are definitely good for you. You will still find advice in books or even on the web that is a little behind-the-times.

If you drink milk, you can reduce your calorie intake by switching to non-fat milk but it can be difficult to do it all at once. I recommend doing it in stages. Start with a container of 2%, then go to 1% and finally non-fat milk. Your taste-buds will adjust over time. In any case, try to use organic milk from grass-fed cows if at all possible. Organic Valley is a good brand to look for.

Whole eggs were once demonized as a bad source of saturated fat and cholesterol. More recent studies show that eating cholesterol doesn’t raise your overall cholesterol level (but that’s a discussion beyond the scope of this article.) The fact is that egg yolks from free-range chickens contain a mountain of nutrition and can even help you lose weight. Eating a couple of eggs for breakfast gives your body a good start on it’s nutritional needs for the day, so you’re less likely to over-eat later.

Coconut oil is another source of saturated fat that often gets a bad rap. New research has shown that it’s actually very healthy. Coconut oil contains a type of saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCT’s help your body burn the fat calories instead of storing them as fat. It also contains lauric acid, which actually raises your good (HDL) cholesterol.

Real butter from grass-fed cows is actually a healthy fat. It contains a type of fat called CLAs, which help burn fat and build muscle. One study also found that CLAs are good for your heart. The trick is, it has to be grass-fed and only use a small amount if you’re trying to lose weight. Kerrygold is a brand imported from Ireland that I use a little of every day. You can find it in most supermarkets.

Other good fats are pretty well known. Olive oil, avocados, nuts and salmon are all fatty foods that are actually good for you.

Balance

As you can see, you don’t want to eliminate all fats from your diet. Eliminate the trans fats from fast-food and processed foods. Just getting these types of foods out of your diet can go a long way towards weight loss. The good fats you can consume in moderation. They do pack in a lot of calories, so go lightly on them to lose weight.

Low Fat Diet Programs

Modern low fat diet programs have adjusted to some of this new information, but not completely. I still don’t think a low fat diet is the best way to lose weight, but it can be done. One low-fat diet program I’ve studied is the DASH Diet. I had some success with it but it wasn’t easy. Check it out for yourself here.

Is a low fat diet right for you? You may want to give it a try, but as always, check with your doctor first. And remember that low-fat doesn’t mean no fat.

Is a Low Carb Diet Plan Right For You?

A low carb diet plan may be right for you if you love to eat meat and are tired of low-fat diets that don’t work. We’ve been told for years to stay away from red meat and fat is evil. Yet, Americans are now fatter than ever. Why?

The Problem With Carbohydrates

In the quest for ridding fat from our diets, we’ve been eating a lot more grains and products that are low/no-fat. The fat in these products is usually replaced by sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to make them taste good. All this adds up to a very high carbohydrate diet. The problem with carbs is that they spike your blood sugar level. This higher level can lead to fat storage and weight gain.

The Advantage of Protein

In more recent years, many studies have shown that a low carb diet plan is healthier and better for weight loss. Now, more and more nutritionists and doctors are recommending it.

For one reason, in a low-carb diet you eat more protein than carbs. Protein boosts the metabolism much more than carbohydrates. This increased metabolism helps the body burn more calories, even in your sleep.

Here are a few low carb diet programs you can try:

  • The Paleo Diet
  • The Slow Carb Diet
  • The Atkins Diet Program
  • Sugar Busters
  • Wheat Belly
  • Protein Power

How They Work…

Most plans restrict carbohydrates in the form of grains and sugars. This includes bread, rice, tortillas and all kinds of sweets. Some plans also restrict starchy vegetables like potatoes. Some allow fruit and some dairy products where others do not.

The Paleo Diet for instance, allows all the fruit you want (limited dried fruit) but absolutely no dairy (except for “open meals”). The Slow Carb Diet restricts all fruit and dairy except for one “cheat day” per week.

A low carb diet plan can be tricky for some families or ethnic groups. Asians for instance, are used to eating rice with every meal and Mexicans usually eat tortillas with a meal. And then there’s my mother who can’t have a meal without some bread to go with it.

It can take a lot of will-power to go against ethnic or family tradition and you may have to compromise in some situations. Fortunately, most diet plans include a cheat day or meals where you’re allowed to eat whatever you want.

All in all, I think a low carb diet plan is a great way to lose weight and it’s usually healthy. It’s the type of diet that I’ve used in the last few years with good success.