If you are trying to lose weight you may wonder which diet is the best. In reality, there is no “best” diet, since it is possible to lose weight following almost any diet. But there are characteristics of diets that tend to promote better long term success:
- Reduce calorie, fat and sugar intake,
- Emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat protein sources,
- Incorporate “real” food and teach healthy choices,
- Reduce portion sizes and
- Include regular exercise.
The last two are particularly important since reducing portion sizes almost always reduces calories, and daily exercise will increase weight-loss and help you keep it off. The goal of a good diet should be for you to learn how to change your lifestyle for long-term weight maintenance, not just short-term weight loss. The result may be losing weight more slowly, but you are less likely to gain it back.
There is a diet that I recommend to everyone: The DASH diet. This diet was originally developed to treat high blood pressure – DASH stands for Dietary Approaches Stop Hypertension – but research showed that it led to weight loss. The DASH diet is low in red meat, added sugar and fat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. It is widely considered to be a healthy diet and has been shown to lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose in addition to promoting weight loss. Best of all, information about the DASH diet is available for free at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/.
The DASH diet is an excellent way to eat for promoting weight loss and maintaining your weight. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, the makeup of the diet is consistent with preventing and treating other health problems and maintaining your weight over time.