In this age of extreme obsession with food, it is no wonder that the average person has gone on at least one diet throughout his life. The sad thing is, the average person typically does not know how to differentiate a healthy weight-loss program from dramatic short-term fixes that may do more harm than good. As such it is important that you stock up on your nutritional knowledge, perhaps even just with the basic things that you need to watch out for.
If you are currently considering going on a diet to lose weight, there are some questions you need to ask before you follow any proposed weight-loss plan that you may have heard about or read in a book or magazine. The following should give you a clearer idea about whether a particular diet is nutritionally sound or feasible for your particular lifestyle:
1. Has the proponent tried the diet on hundreds of overweight individuals? Has he compared the results objectively against the same number of individuals who are on regular or other weight-loss diets? Have the findings been published in a reputable medical journal?
2. Does the diet boast of some “secret” that the author has just discovered? Don’t be fooled; there are no such secrets. Basic facts about nutrition have been discovered long ago, and these truths cannot be compromised. Be sure to check the so-called newly-discovered secret against stable nutritional principles, such as the different roles of different nutrients on one’s body, as well as the minimum amount of each that you should have each day.
3. Is it well-balanced nutritionally? There are many extremes in dieting, such as high-carbohydrate diets and high-protein diets. Take note that only those that are well-balanced are safe. For example, a high-carbohydrate diet may result in protein deficiency, which is dangerous; if the diet lacks high-value protein, vital body tissues such as organ and muscle might be utilized for protein. Also, the diet should contain enough vitamins and minerals to make sure you get optimum health. An adequate carbohydrate level is also needed so that it can prevent a too rapid burning of fat that may cause acidosis or lipemia, or having too much fat in the blood.
4. Is the author or proponent knowledgeable in nutrition? Just because he or she is a physician does not mean he is qualified to talk about nutrition. Also, check if he is going against the recommendation of the best authorities. If ever there is a challenge to existing recommendations, make sure it is backed up by new findings that can be scrutinized objectively.
5. Does the diet give room for individual preference and taste? This is crucial because diets that are too rigid are typically harder to maintain, and if it does not give you adequate foundational information, such as nutritional content, it will most likely fail, since you cannot stay on that level of eating forever, as weight control is supposedly a lifelong effort. Take note that the diet should be made to suit the person, and not the other way around. As such, a lifestyle change into something feasible is much better. Also, a weight-loss diet should form the basis for your reeducation in terms of nutrition so that you can continue proper eating habits long after you have lost your desired weight, in order to make sure you keep it off. This is why skipping meals or trick diets should be crossed off your list of possible diets to try.
Once you check and find that a diet meets all the above criteria, you can rest assured that you will find success with it. Of course, if you doctor recommends a particular diet for you for health reasons, you have reason to ignore any criteria that it may not meet, as your doctor knows best what you need. But if you have concerns or worries about something that fails to meet the above descriptions, particularly in terms of nutrition, find time to share them with your doctor. Just try not to appear inflexible or unwilling to do what he recommends, as you do not want to insult your doctor’s expertise in caring for you.