Many Ways to Lose Weight

Losing WeightThereís no end to the number of weight loss approaches, and as the problem of overweight and obesity grows, so does the array of solutions. In February 2000, the USDA began looking at the claims made by some of the popular diets, and in January 2001, the USDA met to develop research standards to study the effects of these popular approaches. The diets that involve food instead of pills, formulas, and non-food supplements fall into three categories: high-fat, low carbohydrate; moderate fat with balanced nutrient reduction; and low to very low fat diets.

Your diet plan is a moderate fat plan with balanced nutrient reduction, with about 25-30% calories from fat, 50-55% calories from carbohydrate, and 18-20% protein. When weight reduction diets have been looked at objectively, it has been shown that it really doesnít matter what balance of nutrients are, as long as the calories are reduced, weight loss occurs. 

The reason you are given a moderately low fat diet with a balance of nutrients is that this is the diet that has been shown to help people maintain the weight lost over time. 

Why not learn to eat the way you need to eat to maintain a healthy body weight while you lose? In addition, it has other health benefits. Because your diet focuses upon replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fat, eating low amounts of high fat animal foods, and increasing the nutritional quality of the foods you eat, it is a diet that is made for good heart health, and reducing risk of certain cancers and diabetes.

Here is an overview of some of the popular diets, the pros and cons, who should avoid them and some of the pitfalls of each approach.

Popular Diets-Pros and Cons

Basic Approach






People who should avoid this




Diets using this approach

High protein, Low carbohydrate, High Fat

For short term weight loss, there is a reduced feeling of hunger

High in fat, low in important vitamins and minerals found in carbohydrate foods, may be potential long term health problems due to high fat foods

Those with heart problems, at risk for heart disease, kidney problems or diabetes, pregnant, women 

Cutting carbohydrates is just a trick to help people reduce food intake, there is no scientific basis for it in the long run

Atkins Diet

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats must be eaten in a precise ratio, and meals and snacks are eaten at precise times

High in fruits and vegetables, balance of nutrients is better than other high protein diets

Difficult rules to follow for eating - not practical, hard to follow eating formula

Those with kidney problems, pregnant women, children

Takes concentration on food all day long. Will you lose your patience before you lose weight?

Zone Diet


No sugar, No refined carbohydrates

Promotes eating whole grains

Too high in protein and fat. Glycemic index is used to condemn certain foods like potatoes and other vegetables, and white flour.

People with diabetes


Restricts an entire category of food (carbohydrates), this is not the real way to eat!

Sugar Busters


High carbohydrate, extremely low in fat


High in fiber, vitamins and minerals, good for heart health


Very low in fat, no meat - may not appeal to many people because a very low fat diet loses itís appeal and taste

Pregnant women due to iron availability, people who donít cook at home most of the time, those who donít have a lot of time to prepare food

While this may be a healthy diet, it can be very difficult to follow long term. Can you live with this diet?

Ornish Diet


Balanced Nutrient, 
Moderate Fat,
Heart Healthy


Some of you may know people who are on these diets, or perhaps you have tried one (or more) of these approaches. While they all have benefits and drawbacks, unless the diet plan is something you can adapt your lifestyle to and develop new eating habits you can stick with over time, the weight you lose will come back. The key is to follow a plan you can live with, and one that makes sense nutritionally, not just for losing weight.

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