Sunday, February 23, 2020

Is Detoxing Healthy?

Have you heard of people going on a Detox Diet?  A guy at the gym says he detoxes every January.  For him it is a week long fast with nothing to eat.  He drinks water but his main source of calories is a bit of real juice to drink. Usually during this detox week, he has very little energy and feels light headed.  What a surprise.  When one doesn’t fuel their body, they will not have the energy for exercise and because of low blood sugar can feel lightheaded.  Is there really any reason a person should “detox”?  Is it healthy?  Are there health risks?

The Mayo Clinic has some good information on Detox Diets.  

Why do some people want to “detox” their body?  

Some people think because our environment has pesticides and our food is contaminated, they need to cleanse themselves of harmful chemicals.  Yes, there is some mercury in fish, arsenic in rice and they do use pesticides on the foods we eat.  But does one need to go on a “detox” diet to get rid of these substances.  And, do any of the detox methods work?  Our bodies already work to remove toxic substances, so is “detoxing” helpful?  According to the Mayo Clinic, little scientific evidence exists to show any positive results of “detoxing”.   

What is detoxing and what are Detox Diets?

People “detox” in a variety of ways.  They are trying to remove any toxins in their body.  Some fast for a day or more.   Some fast for a few days, then add back real juice and some raw vegetables.  Some add herbs or other substances to their detox regimen.  Some companies advertise “detox” products and they may contain some harmful ingredients.  One wants to avoid unpasteurized juices that may contain harmful bacteria, avoid “detox” juices made of spinach or beets.  Drinking large quantities of spinach or beet juice can be hard on one’s kidneys as both contain oxalates.  Diabetics need to be aware that going on fasting regimens may adversely affect their blood sugar control.  

Our bodies are “detoxing” every day and no special “detox” program is needed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, our kidneys and liver are two organs that filter and naturally eliminate any toxins we may have ingested.  The liver can take the toxins, convert them into forms that our kidneys can get rid of.  

What is better than “detoxing”?
  • Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a way to keep your kidneys and liver healthy.
  • Fluids:  Drink plenty of fluids like plain water, to keep your kidneys healthy. 
  • Fruits and Vegetables:  Wash fruits and vegetables before eating to get rid of or reduce the pesticides.  
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Fish and Mercury:  To cut back on mercury in fish, avoid King Mackerel, Swordfish, Tile fish, or Orange Roughy.  Low mercury fish/seafood include shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, salmon, flounder, sole, trout, perch, haddock and sardines.  We want fish in our diet as it has so many health benefits. 
  • Microwave using glass containers:  Microwave foods in glass containers, not plastic containers to avoid release of chemicals like BPA into the food.  According to Harvard, some of the chemicals in plastic containers can leach out into food and beverages.  “This leaching can occur even faster and to a greater degree when plastic is exposed to heat.  This means you might be getting every higher dose of potentially harmful chemicals simply by microwaving your leftovers in a plastic container.”  So, maybe better than detoxing, is to invest in some glass containers to reheat food.
Use glass containers to reheat foods in the microwave.
So, skip the detox.  Instead do 3 things:  1) Eat more fruits and vegetables (after you wash them).  2) Microwave your food in glass containers and 3) Enjoy some sparkling water.  



Sources:  Clinic, Fish, Mercury, Orange Roughy, Harvard   Image sources:  fruit, containers, Water

Sunday, February 16, 2020

What is the 5/20 rule for nutrition?

Have you heard of the 5/20 rule when it comes to reading food labels?  Most people haven’t, but it is an easy and handy rule to use.  Students in my class often ask what they are supposed to look for when reading food labels.  Food labels can be confusing so applying the 5/20 rule can help you decide what foods are healthy to eat. 


What is the 5/20 rule?

The 5/20 Rule has to do with the % Daily Value on Food Labels.  The % Daily Value shows you how much of a nutrient you are getting in each serving of that food.    
When you look at any food label you will “% Daily Value” and then a lot of numbers and %’s by various nutrients.  To paraphrase The Moxy Kitchen blog, “By the 5/20 Rule, a % Daily Value at or below 5% indicates a low amount of a nutrient in the food, whereas a % Daily Value at or above 20% indicates a high amount of a nutrient in that food.” 

In the 5/20 rule, what is the 5% or less?     

If any nutrients on the food label are 5% or less of the Daily Value, then the food isn’t high in that nutrient
We want some nutrients to be 5% or less.  For example, look for foods that have 5% or less of sodium.  Trying to keep sodium at 5% or less in the foods you eat, would be a good thing as Americans get too much sodium in their diets. 

In the 5/20 rule, what is the 20% or more?

When you look at food labels and you see a vitamin or mineral has 20% or more of the daily value, then that is considered a high amount of that nutrient and this is a good thing. 
Look down the food label for vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein providing 20% or more of the daily value and that would be considered a good contribution to your daily needs for that nutrient.  

How can you use the 5/20 rule to cut back on added sugars, total fat, and saturated fats?  

Look for foods that provide 5% or less of your daily value for sugars, but especially for added sugars.  We aren’t trying to cut back on the natural sugars in foods like the natural fructose in fruit or the natural lactose in cow’s milk.  But, we are trying to cut back on the “added sugars” manufacturers add to so many of the foods we buy.  The new food labels will more clearly state, “Added Sugars” so the consumer can now tell how much sugar a manufacturer added to a food. 
Cutting back on total fat and saturated fat is also good for one’s health.  We need some fat in our diets but most Americans get far more fat than they need each day.  Saturated fat has been linked to raising your blood cholesterol levels and increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke according to the American Heart Association.  So, watching for the % Daily Value of saturated fat would be a good thing to look for. 

New Food Labels will emphasize Vitamin D, Calcium and Potassium.  And now clearly state, "Added Sugars".
How can you use the 5/20 rule to beef up your protein intake?

Look for foods that supply 20% or more of the daily value of protein.  Meat, poultry, fish aren’t usually labeled for nutritional value but are very good protein choices.  Dairy foods like cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese provide high quality protein as do eggs.

What nutrients should you focus on for the 20%?

Americans aren’t getting enough calcium, potassium or vitamin D so finding foods like cows’ milk or yogurt that provide these nutrients is a healthy choice.  In fact, the new nutrition labels will be focusing on Calcium, Potassium and Vitamin D as these are nutrients of concern in the American diet.   No longer required on food labels are vitamins A and C but a manufacturer can still decide to put these on the food label package.  

This week:
This week when looking at food labels, skip the “natural”, “light”, “reduced” on labels and look at the food label to see what nutrients the foods you are eating provide.  How can you apply the 5/20 rule this week to the foods you eat? 

(And a special shut out to my sister who suggested this topic.) 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Add some healthy carbs to your day.

Carbs – so many myths about carbs.  Come January, you hear about people going on diets and many people say they are “cutting my carbs”.  Are there carbs you should cut back on?  Yes, but there are also carbs you should be adding to your diet, not cutting.  Healthy carbs add important nutrients to your diet.  And carbs are your body’s fuel.  Low carb diets can mean low energy diets.  I love carbs and we aren’t cutting carbs in our family.  Recently, I was out eating lunch with my two daughters.  The waiter asked, “would you like a bread basket?”   We all responded in unison, “YES!”  And we enjoyed every piece of bread in that bread basket.

So, what are the “healthy carbs” and what are the carbs we actually should be cutting back on?

What are carbs?
I showed a video in the nutrition class I teach that asked people on the street, “What are carbs?”  Most people really couldn’t answer that question.  Carbs can be starches like the starches found in bread, beans, potatoes, pasta or sugars like white table sugar or the natural sugar found in fruit. Fiber is also a carb, even though we can’t digest it, fiber is important for a healthy digestive system.  

Why do we need carbs?
Carbs are your body’s main source of fuel.  When you eat starches or sugars, your body turns it into glucose which fuels all of our body cells.  And we need glucose to support the physical activities we do each day.  According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines about half our daily calories should be from carbs. 

What are healthy carbs?
The least processed carbs are the healthiest.  That would be whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain bread, whole grain English muffins, whole grain cereal like Shredded Wheat, Wheat Chex, Cheerios, and whole grain pasta.  Good carbs also include fruit and vegetables and beans.  All of these healthy carbs are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  They also provide those healthy antioxidants that help prevent diseases and boost our immune systems. 

What are unhealthy carbs?
A student said there aren’t really “bad” carbs, there are just carbs that aren’t so good for our health.  These would include processed foods like white bread, pastries, donuts, sugar sweetened beverages like Sunny D, Hi-C, lemonade, juice drinks.  Why are they considered unhealthy?  First, these processed carbs are stripped of many vitamins and minerals during processing and often stripped of fiber.  Carbs high in sugar are easily digested and can lead to weight gain, and promote diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Look at the ingredients when you buy a packaged food.  If the first ingredient is sugar, high fructose corn syrup or some other sugar, the food is mostly sugar and not a very healthy choice.  Save those foods for dessert.  

How can you add some healthy carbs to your day?

Breakfast – eat some whole grain cereal, have a slice of whole grain toast, enjoy an English muffin.  Oatmeal is one of the healthiest choices for a breakfast cereal but there are many whole grain cereals.  If you have kids, let them choose any big G cereal as all General Mills cereals are whole grain.   Enjoy some fresh fruit like bananas.  Bananas are full of nutrients, add some fiber to your day, and are a quick energy source to start your day. 

Lunch – pack a lunch that includes some whole grain.  It doesn’t have to be whole grain bread, as you can choose some whole grain crackers.  Or chips – yes, chips.  I love chips and often eat some chips at lunch.  But usually healthy, whole grain chips, like Sun Chips, or Late July chips or Food Should Taste Good chips. 

Add some whole grain chips to your lunch.
Juice – be sure the juice you buy is “real” juice.   Juice drinks like Sunny D and Hi-C have little juice and lots of added sugar and are never a good choice.  I like a glass of 100% Orange Juice or 100% Grapefruit Juice.  Some of my students like Naked Juice and V8.  Find a 100% juice that you like to drink.

Dinner – reach for those sweet potato fries or enjoy a baked sweet potato.  Serve some brown rice instead of white rice.  At a recent meeting the professor next to me said she loved white rice but maybe she ate too much of it.  I suggested she switch it up with some brown rice as brown rice is whole grain.  Quinoa comes in easy to cook 90 second packets.  This makes it so easy to add Quinoa to any dinner.  And Quinoa is whole grain and for those worried about gluten – it is gluten-free.   Enjoy some chili made with beans as beans are a very healthy carb. 
Quinoa is whole grain and this Quinoa cooks in 90 seconds.
What are some ways you can “add some carbs” to your day?  Not just any carbs, but some healthy carbs.  

Sources:  carbs, U.S. Dietary Guidelines, Naked Juice,  V8,  Dinner   Image sources:  Quinoa, Chips, V8 Fusion

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Some Easy Ways to Burn Off Those Calories

So many people say they will exercise more as the new year starts.  Always good intentions, they join a gym, go a few times and by late February or early March they stop going or go to the gym rarely.  But one doesn’t have to “go to the gym” to exercise and burn off calories.  Engaging in some simple, everyday activities can put some exercise in your day and help burn off some calories.  Going to the gym is fine and I go a few times a week. But one can also “exercise” in many ways throughout the day.  The goal is to be more active, Sit Less and Move More.  Shape and Self have some ways to “Burn More Calories In A Day”.  Here are a few:  

1.  Cook – who ever thought one could “work out” by cooking a meal?  But when you cut, chop and dice you are burning up some calories.   Shape estimates about 128 calories before you sit down to eat.

2.  Cleaning – add in some 25 minutes of cleaning – scrubbing, bending, vacuuming, washing the car and you burn up about 107 calories.  

3.  Gardening – a little early for gardening in most parts of the country but once the weather warms up you can go out and do some gardening.  Digging, planting and walking around your yard can burn up about 105 calories over 25 minutes.  No place for a garden?  Then put some pots on your deck or patio and plant some herbs like chives, parsley, Rosemary.

4.  Paint – no, not a landscape but paint a room.  Painting can burn up about 120 calories over 35 minutes. 

5.  Stand Up – instead of sitting at work, answer a phone call standing up.  My Apple Watch reminds me to stand every so often throughout the day.  Or, if someone calls walk around your office or house.  A neighbor has a friend call her every night at 8:00 PM and while they are talking, they both walk around their home for their evening “workout”.  Standing instead of sitting can burn up an extra 100 calories a day. 

6.  Move More – Instead of sending a text to a co-worker – walk to their office and talk to them.  I was always amazed when an employee 2 cubicles down from my office would send an email instead of walking down the hall and talking to me in person.  Walk to the copy machine.  Go to the stairwell and climb up and down a few flights of stairs.  Registered Dietitian, Patricia Bannan,  recommends, “If you have a job that requires you to sit all day, set your smartphone alarm to go off every hour as a reminder to get up and take a brisk five minute walk.  By the end of an eight-hour day you could have walked an extra 40 minute or burn an extra 150 calories.”

7.  Park Far Away – whenever I go to a mall, a store, my car is always far, far, away from the door.  Walking across the parking lot to the store door is an easy way to add some steps into your day and to burn up a few more calories.

8.  Protein – add some protein to your lunch, in fact, to every meal.  Your body burns up more calories digesting protein.  “A 2002 study published in the NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition found that consuming a high protein meal, 30 percent calories from protein, nearly doubles the amount of calories burned during digestion when compared with a meal of only 15 percent calories from protein,”  says a trainer.  And easy way to add some protein to your day is to pack some yogurt – real dairy yogurt, not fake yogurt.  Real dairy has an excellent quality protein. And according to the Cleveland Clinic, “Eating yogurt (as part of a healthy diet) also is linked with gaining less weight long-term.”
Yogurt is a great way to add high-quality protein to a meal.

9.  Stretch Breaks – take some time during the day for some stretches.  Get up from watching TV and do some Yoga poses or stretches.  Get up from your desk and take the time to do some stretches.  Instead of a “coffee break” have a “stretch break”.  Adding in 10-20 minutes of stretching during the day can burn up 100 calories.  And, your body will feel better.

10.  Stairs – take the stairs, not the elevator whenever you can.  If there is an escalator, “walk” up the escalator.  Need a bathroom break at work?  Go down or up the stairs to use the bathroom on a different floor and take the stairs back.  Registered Dietitian, Maxine Young, says she got this idea from one of her patients and now she shares it with others.  
Take the stairs and not the elevator whenever you can.
So often I hear, “I don’t have time to exercise.”   By incorporating some exercise throughout the day, you will be “exercising” even though you don’t hit the gym, or you didn’t have to block out an hour or more of your day to take an exercise class or “workout”.  Stand more, sit less, move more, walk more, stretch more.  Find ways that work for you.  This week, try just one of the above ideas and see if you can incorporate the idea into your day.



Sunday, January 26, 2020

Worst Diets for Health 2020

So many people choose to go on a diet to lose weight.  And this can be a good thing.  However, dieting is not so good for one’s health when people chose to go on a fad diet, a diet that may help one lose weight but takes a toll on their health at the same time.  Watching TV, I heard a newscaster say, “I am going on the Whole30 diet.  I do it every January.”   Sad for her as she is choosing to go on a diet ranked as one of the “Worst Diets” by U.S News & World Report.  Last week we talked about weight loss diets that will help you lose weight and are good for your health including:  Weight Watchers, the Volumetrics Diet and the Jenny Craig diet.  Whether you want to eat healthy or lose some weight there are healthy ways to do so.  Unfortunately, some people choose diets that are actually bad for their health like the newscaster I heard on TV.  Why?  Maybe they are looking for a quick weight loss fix.  Maybe they are duped into thinking a diet is healthy when it is actually bad for their health.  Whether at the gym or at work you will hear people talking about being on a low-carb diet, or going on the Whole30 diet, or some latest fad diet.  These may be fads but also can be quite unhealthy diets.  When the US News & World Report ranks the Best Diets for health, they have diets that fall at the bottom of their rankings.  What diets are ranked the lowest and why?  Let’s review some of the 2020 ranked not-so-good for you diets and provide you with some pros and cons of these diets.  What diets are ranked “bottom of the barrel” and diets you want to stay away from in 2020?

Whole30 Diet

This diet is popular once again.  Even though it was created in 2009, many people are currently trying the Whole30 approach.  Whole30 claims it will “change your life”.  How?  Their website claims that by eliminating certain foods from your diet, the “gut-disturbing, inflammatory food groups for 30 straight days and see what your life, body, and self-confidence could look like.”   
  
What foods do you eliminate on this diet?

For 30 days, they tell you to avoid a number of foods.  This diet claims that certain food including sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are the foods that negatively impact your health.  Grains are a food group on MyPlate that provide many essential nutrients we need in our diets.  Whole grains are especially healthy and this diet tells you to avoid them.  Not a healthy “rule” to follow.  

What foods does the Whole30 diet eliminate for 30 days?
  • No added sugar whether real or artificial.  Forget the maple syrup on your pancakes, the sweetener for your ice tea, the Diet Coke. Not even sugar less gum is allowed.
  • No alcohol – no wine, beer or mixed drinks for you.
  • No grains – so no bread, no cereal, no toast, no bagels, no quinoa, no crackers
  •  No legumes/beans – this means no peanut butter, no kidney beans, baked beans, peas.  Forget the soy sauce – banned. 
  • No Dairy – no milk, yogurt, sour cream, no ice cream no cheese.  No cheese pizza for you.
What foods are permitted on this diet?
  • Protein foods = meat, seafood
  • Vegetables and some fruit
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings
The diet focuses on whole and unprocessed foods so you will be eating your meals at home.  Eating whole and unprocessed foods is a good, healthy thing to do.  But avoiding food groups like the grain and dairy food groups is not a healthy choice.
You don’t have to count calories.  Exercise is not a part of this diet plan but they do endorse moving more.  To the founders, it is diet not exercise that promotes good health. Thus, this diet is not really a lifestyle change approach to good health.

What ranking does US News & World Report give the Whole30 diet?  For 2020, the experts looked at 35 diets and ranked the Whole30 diet as #33 in Best Diets Overall and #34 in Best-Weight Loss diets.  So not a good endorsement of this diet, either for good health or for weight-loss.  Registered Dietitian, Jessica Penner, has also evaluated the Whole30 diet on her “Smart Nutrition” website. 
  1. The Whole30 diet is very restrictive.  Eating out at restaurants, eating out at other people’s homes would be quite difficult on this diet.
  2. Many healthy foods are eliminated:  Any diet that eliminates food groups like dairy and grains, also eliminates the nutrients that those food groups provide.  Whole grains are foods we want to add to our diet for fiber and many trace minerals.  Dairy provides much needed calcium and vitamin D to our day.  So many Americans are deficient in vitamin D that the last thing they should do is cut more vitamin D out of their diets. Beans, peanut butter, nuts are very healthy and we should be adding more of these to our diets, not cutting back on them or eliminating them for 30 days.
  3. Time-consuming – you will need to shop and prepare a lot of meals at home as the diet plan is quite restrictive.
  4. It is not a lifestyle change – it is not a plan that helps you learn how to eat healthier and exercise such as walks are mentioned but the change in diet is their key to good health.
  5. US News & World Report noted “Whole30 lacks scientific support and is severely restrictive, according to the experts.  Its short-term approach and long-term promises didn’t win over the panelists.”   Further, they note going on the diet would lead to “temporary weight loss”.  Who wants to spend the time and effort to lose weight and then gain it all back because the diet they choose promotes “temporary weight loss”?
What are the pros of this diet plan?
  1. The diet does emphasize minimally processed food. 
  2. The diet promotes eating more fish and more vegetables.
What other diets are ranked low on the Best Diets list?

Atkins Diet is ranked number 32 out of 35 diets for healthy eating, almost dead last.  Yet, people still go on the “Atkins Diet” to lose weight.  Why go on a diet ranked so low?    US News & World Report  states: “is not a good all-purpose diet, experts said.”  US News & World Report noted a meta-analysis study that indicated low-carb diets like the Atkins diet may increase the bad or LDL cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease.  

Body Reset Diet ranked #36 last year and wasn’t even on the list of Best Diets in 2020.  Last year the  US News & World Report called this diet a “gimmick” and an “unhealthy” diet for weight loss. 

Keto Diet – ranked #34 out of 35, almost dead last.  This diet is high-fat and low in carbs.  Among the health risks for this diet according to the US News & World Report is the diet can lead to muscle loss.  Odd, since many people on this diet are hoping to lose fat, not muscle.  It is also a diet not recommended for pregnant women, women who are nursing, or those with heart disease until they consult their doctor.  

Dukan Diet – dead last at #35.  Not only very restrictive but one of the panelists for U.S. News & World Report “described the diet as ‘idiotic”.  Needless to say, not a good diet to go on.  


So, if you are looking to eat better for good health in 2020, there are many good diet plans to choose from.  There are also a number of fad diets one should avoid.  As I noted a couple of weeks ago, healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you like to eat, but adding some foods that promote good health like more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and more low-fat dairy to your day.

Sources:  Weight Watchers,  Volumetrics Diet,  Jenny Craig, US News & World Report,  Best Diets, Whole30, US News & World Report, Smart Nutrition,  noted,   US News & World Report,  idiotic   Image Sources:  Best Diets , Whole 30 Week 1  , atkins, Diet 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Best Weight Loss Diets for 2020

Hoping to lose a few pounds 2020 and have you made a New Year’s Resolution to do so?  Everywhere you look there are ads for taking off weight easily.  But we all know there is nothing so easy about it.  Yes, there are diets that one can lose a few pounds pretty quickly but what we really want is to lose the pounds and have them stay away.  To do so, skip the fad diets and try some real diets that have been shown to work.  If you do want to drop a few pounds or more, what are some healthy weight loss diets?  Too many diets promise the world but are not good for your health.  For example, one of the diets ranked the worst is the Whole30 diet.  This, like so many fad diets, don’t work to help you change your lifestyle but offer some quick solution that isn’t viable for the long term.  You may lose some weight but when you go “off” the fad diet, the weight piles back on.  Another poorly ranked diet is the Alkaline Diet.  So, shun these poorly ranked diets and focus on one’s that have been proven to work.  The US News & World Report has once again ranked the weight loss diets in their “Best Weight-Loss Diets for 2020.  

Why does US News & World Report rank a weight-loss diet a winner?  The experts ranking the diets not only look for fast weight loss, but also lasting weight loss.  They noted some diets did well in the short term, people lost weight on the diet, but long-term results, not so good.  A diet really isn’t successful if you gain all the weight back that you wanted to say good bye to. 

What Weight Loss Diets were ranked the best by US News & World Report?

1.   Weight Watchers  (WW)= Number 1 Diet for Weight Loss in 2020 (It was also number 1 for weight loss in 2019).  Weight Watchers scored the highest for overall weight loss and fast weight loss, and experts said it’s a smart, effective diet.  They note you will lose about 2 pounds a week on this diet.
a.       Pros:  Healthier eating. In 2017, Weight Watchers launched a more freestyle way of eating, called the WW Freestyle program.  Weight Watchers, now called just WW, not only focuses on weight loss but on building a healthier lifestyle and improving your health.  Their SmartPoints system builds on its traditional point system that assigns every food and beverage points based on how healthy it is.  Foods such as fruits and veggies are now zero points.  And there are 200 foods that are zero points like eggs, fish, turkey breast, non-fat plain yogurt.  The support systems that Weight Watchers is known for is still there through meetings, online chats or via phone.  This is one diet program that helps you learn to eat healthier and encourages exercise.  This diet doesn’t just focus on counting calories but on making healthier food choices.  In WW, you count points, not calories.  Unlike many diets, WW doesn’t just focus on lowering calories.  It also helps you choose healthier foods, foods with less saturated fat, less added sugar and more protein.  There is mobile App to use on your smartphone. Fitness – unlike many other diet programs, WW also focuses on moving more.  You not only count points for food, you also count points for exercise.  But not just going to the gym, cleaning your house adds points, mowing the lawn, walking the dog.  Basically, get moving points.
b.      Cons – some people don’t like all the counting of points but may find the WW freestyle program easier to follow.  A student in my class said their mother was happy counting the points but their dad said he just wanted to eat when out in a restaurant and didn’t want to figure out the points for every food on his plate.  But WW offers a mobile app that has the points for over 285,000 foods and a “Menu Master” to guide you on how to eat healthy when eating out. 
Choose an egg, Canadian bacon and avocado on an English muffin. 
2.  Volumetrics Diet = Number 2 Diet for Weight Loss in 2020 – last year it also ranked number 2 for weight loss.  Volumetrics earned high marks for being safe and nutritious, and experts said it could have positive effect on heart health and diabetes.    
a.       Pros – this diet is focused on foods loaded with nutrients, not loaded with calories.  Thus, more fruits and vegetables which are low in calories but full of nutrients.  A nutrition professor from Penn State University, Barbara Rolls, is behind this diet.  She divides foods into 4 groups – not the basic four, but new groups based on energy density (or calorie density).  Nonstarchy fruits and vegetables are number one or category one.  Then comes the starchy fruits and vegetables along with grains, cereals, low -fat meats and other low-fat foods.  Junk food ends up in the 4th category – the chips, candy, cookies.  It is interesting that nuts are put in the 4th category as nuts are a healthy food choice.  Cost is a pro as there are no expensive foods to buy.  You do need to buy a book to give you guidance on what to eat and cook on this diet. US News and World Report recommends “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet” book that provides information on the energy density food groups. 
b.      Cons -  You have to keep track of what food is in what category.  If you choose a higher calorie food, you might be able to eat only a portion of it to fit into your daily allotment.  Thus, if you eat a large bowl of soup, you can then only eat 1/6th of a cheeseburger. (WebMD).  Exercise is not a major focus although the diet encourages walking.  You add 150 steps a day with your first goal of 1,000 steps a day and then increasing your daily steps to 10,000 a day.  WebMD notes that on this diet, “you won’t lose weight in a hurry.”  You can read a lot more about each diet at the Best Weight-Loss Diets website and by going to the websites of each of the above programs. My con – if one has to buy a book to learn how to follow a diet, it is too complicated for me. But the book has recipes for those who like to cook and need guidance on following this diet plan.
You can enjoy French fries but watch portion sizes.
3.  The Vegan Diet tied with the Volumetrics Diet for 2nd place for 2020.  But US News and World Report noted it is restrictive and hard to follow.  You can read more about it on the US News & World Report website.  But since it is so restrictive, we will move on to the diets ranked fourth. 

4.  Jenny Craig Diet = The Jenny Craig Diet and the Flexitarian Diet are tied for Number 4 for Diets for Weight Loss in 2020   (Jenny Craig was also tied for third in 2019.)  Jenny Craig drew praise for being easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe, but experts were lukewarm about its potential to bolster heart health or help diabetics.

a.      Pros – this program offers meals that come to you with calories already counted for you.  These prepackaged meals not only restrict calories but restrict fat and have smaller portions.  They also provide recipes so you can make foods that fit into their diet program.  In addition to the prepackaged foods, you can enjoy fresh fruits and veggies and low-fat dairy foods.  Like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig promotes an active lifestyle and healthier eating patterns.  For exercise, the goal is 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise about 5 days a week.  Studies do show you will lose weight on this program, about 2 pounds a week, as long as you stay on the program.  For those with Type 2 diabetes, they offer the Jenny Craig for Type 2.  The diet is nutritious and one will get enough protein, fiber, potassium and calcium following this diet plan.  Which is not true for many diet plans. 
b.      Cons – cost – you will pay for the pre-packaged food. US News & World Report notes the enrollment fee is $99 and $19 per month for their “Premium” plan.  This doesn’t include the food and Web MD notes the food costs can run from $15 to $26 dollars each day which equates to $450 to $780 a month for food plus the $19 a month for the plan.  So not a cheap way to lose weight.  You can eat out occasionally, but the program is based on Jenny Craig foods delivered to you or for you to make.  A male student in my class chose this diet to lose weight for a future mountain climbing trip.  He lost weight, but said he was quite hungry at times. 
There are more weight loss diets in the Best Weight Loss Diets rankings including the Engine 2 Diet and the Raw Food Diet.  The best diet is the one that works for you.  One you can follow and stay on.  One that not only results in weight loss but lifestyle changes that help you keep off any weight you do lose.  WebMD has good advice to follow:  to prevent disease and stay active for life, you do need to exercise. So be sure to add this into your new lifestyle! (Jenny Craig Review).  Next week we will look at some of the worst diets for your health.  Those fad diets you should say “no” to.