Sunday, January 28, 2018

Best Diets for Weight Loss in 2018

So many people make a resolution to lose a few pounds in 2018.  If you are one of them, what  would be a healthy weight loss diet? So many weight loss diets are “bad” diets as they are fads, diets that take away food groups and take away nutrients.  Last week we talked about the Whole30 diet which is ranked as one of the worst diets to be on.  These types of fad diets don’t change your lifestyle but offer a quick solution but for so many a temporary solution.  Yes, you may lose some weight but once you go “off” the diet, you gain the weight back.  US News & World Report not only ranks the Best Diets for Health 2018, and the Worst Diets for Health 2018, but also the Best Weight-Loss Diets.  

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 = Number 1 Diet for Weight Loss in 2018 (It was also number 1 for weight loss in 2017).  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 2015, Weight Watchers launched a Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program focusing on healthier eating, moving more and changing your mindset.  Thus, 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 Weight Watchers, you count points, not calories.  Unlike many diets, Weight Watchers 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 – you count points for food and you 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.  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 Weight Watchers offers a “Menu Master” to guide you on how to eat healthy when eating out. 
Weight Watchers
      2.  Volumetrics Diet = Number 2 Diet for Weight Loss in 2018 – last year it was ranked number 3 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 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.
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.
Volumetrics Diet
      3.    Jenny Craig Diet = Number 3 Diet for Weight Loss in 2018 (was tied for second place in 2017).  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.  Like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig promotes an active lifestyle and healthier eating patterns.  Studies do show you will lose weight on this program, about 2 pounds a week, as long as you stay on the program.
b.      Cons – cost – you will pay for the pre-packaged food. US News & World Report notes the enrollment fee is $99 and food costs can run $15 to $23 dollars each day which equates to $450 to $690 a month.  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 you 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. 

Jenny Craig
Try a diet 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 other ideas for losing weight and keeping it off. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Worst Diets for Health 2018

Are you looking for a diet for good health?  Last week we talked about “eating healthy” and reviewed 3 diets that promote good health, the Mediterranean Diet, the  DASH Diet, and the Flexitarian Diet.  

Mediterranean Diet- A healthy diet
Unfortunately, some people choose diets that are actually bad for their health.  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.  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 these not so good for you diets and provide you with some pros and cons of these diets.  

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-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days, you can take away your aches and pains, lose weight, fix digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, and chronic pain. 

What foods do you eliminate on this diet?
This diet claims that certain food including sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are the foods that negatively impact your health.

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. 
You don’t have to count calories.  Exercise is not a part of this diet plan so diet is not really a lifestyle change approach to good health.

What ranking does US News & World Report give the Whole30 diet?  The experts looked at 40 diets and ranked the Whole30 diet as 37th.    Registered Dietitian, Jessica Penner, has also evaluated the Whole30 diet on her “Smart Nutrition” website. 
  • The Whole30 diet is very restrictive.  Eating out at restaurants, eating out at other people’s homes would be quite difficult on this diet.
  •  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.
  • Time-consuming – you will need to shop and prepare a lot of meals at home as the diet plan is quite restrictive.
  •  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 by the change in diet is their key to good helath.
  •  US News & World Report noted the diet is not supported by research. 

What are the pros of this diet plan?
  • The diet does emphasize minimally processed food.
  • 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 36 out of 40 diets.  US News & World Report  states: “is not a good all-purpose diet, experts said.”
  • Body Reset Diet ranked #37, tying with the Whole30 Diet.  US News & World Report calls is a “gimmick” and an “unhealthy” diet for weight loss.
  • Keto Diet – ranked 39, almost dead last.  This diet is high-fat and low in carbs.  
So if you are looking to eat better for good health in 2018, there are many good diet plans to choose from.  There are also a number of fad diets one should avoid.  As I noted last week, 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.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Best Diets for Health 2018

What does “eating healthy” mean?  What are healthy diets to follow?  Not for weight loss or weight gain, but just a healthy eating pattern?  I recently heard a person say they were on a vegetarian fast diet.  For 4 weeks they were giving up meat and all animal products including dairy.  Not really a healthy diet choice.    Another person said they were eating healthy and following the Whole30 diet.  According to the Whole30 website, food groups like grains and dairy have a negative impact on health.  US News & World Report gives the Whole30 diet a poor rating and a low ranking.  Why?  The diet is quite restrictive and excludes grain (an important food group), legumes, even peanut butter, and dairy – another important food group.  Whole grains are hugely important in our diets for fiber, trace minerals and other nutrients.  Rather than excluding whole grains, Americans should be eating more whole grains.  Dairy foods shouldn’t be restricted as dairy foods contribute calcium and vitamin D which so many Americans are lacking in their diets.  Any diet that excludes a food group, excludes nutrients that the food group provides, is not a healthy diet. 

Each year, the US News & World Report evaluates the “Best Diets”.   For 2018, they evaluated 40 popular diets and determined which ones are best for your health and fitness.  What do they look for?  They use health experts to rank diets on a number of parameters including how nutritious the diet is, how safe it is and whether the diet protects against diseases like diabetes and heart disease.  Top spots for 2018 went to the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.
Three diets are ranked as the “Best Diets” for 2018

    1. DASH Diet – this diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, thus the acronym, DASH. Although it was designed to help lower blood pressure, the diet is good for your health.  U.S. News & World Report notes the diet is praised for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to control diabetes, and prevent and lower blood pressure.
a.       Nutrients – the diet emphasizes nutrients that help lower one’s blood pressure like potassium and calcium.  It encourages more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein and dairy – but low fat dairy products. 
b.      Foods to limit are red meats, and foods high in salt. 
c.       To get more guidance on the DASH diet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, get a 20 page guide, DASH Eating Plan or a 6 page guide at Lowering Blood Pressure with DASH.  
Although the DASH diet was designed for lowering high blood pressure, it is a good overall pattern of eating healthy.
          2.        Mediterranean Diet – this diet has been written about extensively.  Many nutritionists and health experts recommend this pattern of healthy eating.
a.       Why is this diet good for your health?  The Mediterranean diet is a good diet for disease prevention – prevention of cancer and diabetes.  It is diet for healthy hearts and a healthy brain.  Basically, a healthier you.
b.      Foods to enjoy:  fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and fish.  
                                                               i.      Choose low-fat dairy – 2%, 1% or non-fat milk.  Choose low-fat yogurt.  Buy cheese that is made with low fat or skim milk like mozzarella cheese.
                                                             ii.      Whole grains – as noted in a previous blog,  so many Americans have few or no whole grains in their day.  Find a way to add whole grains to your daily food intake and to your kid’s diet.  Starting the day with oatmeal or Cheerios is a good way to add whole grains to your day.
                                                            iii.      Fruit and Vegetables – 5 A Day is a start.  More than 5 A Day is even healthier.
                                                           iv.      Nuts – add a handful of nuts a day
                                                             v.      Olive oil – buy some extra virgin olive oil and use it in cooking.
c.       Foods to cut back on: red meat, foods with added sugar and foods high in saturated fat.  

           3.  Flexitarian Diet– last year third place went to the Mind Diet and this year it is the Flexitarian Diet.  This sounds like it would be a “quack” diet, but it is actually a diet that emphasizes many healthy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein.  It is a diet that combines vegetarian and flexibility.  This diet has been around since 2009 and was popularized by Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D. in her book, “The Flextarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life”.  Well mostly a vegetarian diet, the flexibility comes in because you can still enjoy a burger, a steak and other meat – but on occasion. 
a.       You ADD 5 food groups to your diet:
                                                               i.      Plant-based protein = tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, eggs and seeds.
                                                             ii.      Fruit – all kinds
                                                            iii.      Vegetables
                                                           iv.      Whole grains
                                                             v.      Sugar and spice – spices are super healthy so a good addition to any diet,
                                                           vi.      pastries.  Oil – olive oil
                                                          vii.      Protein – emphasis on fish and poultry
               b.      Foods to cut back on:  red meat, fried and fast food, butter, stick margarine (choose tub margarine) and foods with added sugar like sweets and soft drinks.

So rather than going on some crazy diet plan in an effort to eat healthier in 2018, choose one of the above diets to begin modeling your own eating after.  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.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

To lose weight, should you count time or calories?

Can you lose weight without dieting?  Can you eat what you want and lose weight?  New year, new goals.  If one of your goals is to take off a few pounds, do you need to count calories, go on a diet, or just watch the clock?  There is a new weight-loss strategy called, “time-restricted feeding” or TRF.  Apparently, this TRF strategy is not only for weight loss but also to help prevent diabetes, lower your blood pressure and increase your longevity. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, “A Diet Strategy That Counts Time, Not Calories” and other publications outlines what this strategy is and how it works.  

What is TRF?  (Time Restricted Feeding)?
With TRF, you eat what you want but not when you want.  Your eating is limited to a 12-hour period of time each day.  So, if you eat your breakfast at 7 AM, you need to finish your dinner and evening snacks by 7 PM and then not eat again until your breakfast at 7 AM.  Thus, you have a 12-hour period of “fasting”.  You choose the 12-hour time period.  

Can I eat what I want?
Yes, during the 12 hours you are eating, you can eat what you want.  You don’t have to count calories, restrict any foods.  This is not a low-carb, gluten-free diet and there are no foods to restrict, eliminate or add to your diet.  On the other hand, it doesn’t mean you can now load up on all the cake and cookies you want.  Just eat what you usually eat but during a 12-hour period each day.  

What can I drink during the 12-hour fasting period?
Water, black coffee, plain tea – no added milk, sugar, cream, etc.  

Will I lose weight on the TRF?
Probably.  Researchers have found that people who do limit their food intake to a 12-hour window and then “fast” for 12 hours each day, do consume less calories and lose weight.  Researchers, Panda and Gill, tracked the eating patterns of 8 overweight people for 21 days.  Most of these individuals consumed food over a 15-hour period or more each day.  These individuals then went on TRF and restricted their eating to a 10-hour window each day.  They lost about 4% of the body weight.  Of interest is that a year later, they were still sticking to TRF and had succeeded in keeping off the weight they lost. The WSJ quotes Dr. Panda as saying, “All of them said they slept better, and they felt more energetic throughout the day. They were actually feeling less hungry.”
Krista Varady, an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago has studied an 8-hour TRF diet among 50 obese individuals over a 12-week period.  These individuals were allowed to eat between 10 AM and 6 PM each day.  They did consume less calories, about 300 less calories a day, lost an average of 7-8 pounds.  And this weight loss was not muscle loss but loss of fat.  

Are there other health benefits of TRF?
Yes.   Research indicates you can not only lose a few pounds but lower your blood pressure, have better glucose levels, and it may even slow the aging process.  Why?  They don’t know exactly but believe your body becomes more efficient at digesting foods and breaking down fat.   Dr. Shatzel, a doctor in Folsom, California recommends the TRF method not only to her overweight patients, but also to patients that need to lower blood pressure or their blood glucose levels.   Why would TRF help longevity?  Apparently, by not eating for 12 or so hours a day, you give your body, your organs time to repair and rest.  Why does TRF lower blood glucose levels?  Dr. Mirkin, a sports medicine physician, “points out that eating late at night and then going to bed causes the highest rise in blood sugar.  It’s important to move and contract your muscles after eating so that you draw excess sugar from the bloodstream.”  

How does it work each day?
The WSJ interviewed Vivian Rootness who is 66 and lives in California.  She has told her friends that she has to be done eating by 7 PM each day.  She has been restricting her food intake to 10-12 hours each day and has been doing this for five months.  She reports that she has lost 6 pounds.  Not a lot to some people, but 6 pounds she probably will be able to keep off.  She does not count calories, eats a healthy diet, enjoy some desserts and notes it really doesn’t feel like a diet to her.
Newsmax provides a suggested schedule for those interested in trying TRF:
8 AM – Breakfast
10 AM – snack if you want
1 PM – Lunch
3 PM – snack if you want
6 PM – Dinner

During fasting hours, allow yourself only water, black coffee or plain tea. 

You may want to try TRF – whether to lose weight or for other health benefits noted above.  If you want a beginner’s guide to TMF, read Time-Restricted Eating:  A Beginner’s Guide by Grant Tinsley, PhD.