General info/diets







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Want to lose 10 kilos of weight? Do you want to do it sensibly so you can keep it off? Then you need to choose the right diet and exercise plan -- one you can enjoy and that you can stick to, one that works for YOU, not one that others are telling you to do. The bottom line in weight loss is simple: calories in vs. calories out. You have to consume fewer calories than you use. Eating a healthy, balanced diet combined with moderate exercise is the most effective way to lose weight.

The major trends in diets are low fat, low carb, low calorie (i.e. a calorie is a calorie, no matter how you cut it), and then different combinations of these.

Remember that being obsessed with being "thin" is not a healthy mindset, whatever you see in magazines and on TV. But carrying around excess weight is a strain on your heart and creates difficulties in your getting around, thereby increasing sedentary tendencies. And, whether or not we give in to the populist ideal, it is not good for the self image.

To measure your weight, do not go just by the weight on the scale. Your doctor now takes into account your "BMI" or Body Mass Index, which is a number that is calculated based on the proportion of your body weight to your height and even takes into account your age.You can check your BMI on any one of several BMI calculators on the web.

Various diets have been around for a while. Here is the rundown of a few popular and successful diets:

Weightwatchers Foods are assigned a point system, so that you have a degree of flexibility in what you choose to eat, as long as you stick to the pre-determined no. of points. A spokesperson for this is Sarah, the Duchess of York. There are also meetings that groups can attend for support. If this is a sticking point, there is an online version, where you do not have to weight in at a centre, or attend meetings.

Jenny Craig Diet is based on a combination of food groups and portion control. They do their own line of food, which can cut temptation, but can cost a chunk of change.

Zone Diet: This is based on the control of insulin levels in the body through the control of sugar intake. By sugar, we refer to all sorts of foods with rapid conversion to sugar e.g. refined carbohydrates and alcohol.

Nutrisystem Diet: The heavily advertised Nutrisystem diet does work, and is based on portion control, unprocessed carbohydrates, and supplements of fruits and vegetables based on a chart that is provided. The pros are that weight loss is almost inevitable, given the portions, and the whole system makes a lot of sense. The cons are that the foods themselves are inconsistent, sometimes very, very unappetizing, either dried (space food) or pre-"canned." Nutrisystem also sometimes substitutes your choice of foods, depending on what they have, are trying to market, and stocks. Still, there is much to be learned from being on the diet and is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Atkins Diet: Once the rage particularly among yuppies and more sedentary folks, this does work, and is predicated on very low carb, increasing as you proceed. Fat is not considered bad. The Atkins Corporation has suffered somewhat with the demise of Dr. Atkins.

Basic low fat diet: Years ago, Dr. Dean Ornish wrote "Eat More, Weigh Less" where he talked about low fat, unrefined carbohydrates, and consumption of more vegetables and legumes. There are different trends in thinking now. For some general information, see http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/features/2002/102_fat.html

South Beach Diet: A very popular diet now, this recommends very low carbs in combination with low fat. The public can "swallow" this rather better than the Atkins diet, and it has many who swear by it.

Restricting calories and portion control: Check http://www.caloriesperhour.com/ Some may find this to be the simplest way. There are calculators one can purchase to keep track of caloric consumption. However, do note that metabolism does factor into the equation. In other words, if you keep restricting caloric intake, your body might prime itself to believe (as in prehistoric times) that famine is at hand, and the metabolism shuts down. You will then find yourself perpetually hungry, but not losing much weight.

Vegetarian diet: Some will swear by these, to cut out animal fat, and support personal ethical issues. The balance of protein to other food groups does have to be carefully considered. The site will give you options within the vegetarian diet e.g. vegan, macrobiotic etc.

You can get an overall analysis of diets and then decide which you are most likely to stick to. See
http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/full/19/5/578 Try to be realistic, and try to take into account what you enjoy in eating/drinking. The consumption of food and beverages can very often be a social outlet, and if one feels deprived and out of the circle, the resolve will melt away.

A note about meals that are delivered e.g. by places like Seattle Sutton in the U.S., which will deliver meals twice a week according to the plan you have subscribed to. Many such services will provide balanced, healthy meals, and there is definitely portion control. This is a good plan for busy people who arrive home and cannot be bothered to cook a healthy meal. Instead, they end up getting an unhealthy takeout or doing junk food.Is it worth the price? That is for the individual to decide, based on lifestyle etc. In the end, there is no price to be put on health.

Final note about beverages: Sugared drinks add up. Be careful with the consumption of sodas in general. And even when drinking diet sodas, be aware that it can trigger the body to believe it is consuming sugar. Alcohol is high in calories, with certain types being lower than others e.g. white wine. Beer is basically bottled bread. While all things in moderation is not a bad plan, it is worth factoring in the consumption of what we DRINK, and not just what we eat. A can of Coke has the equivalent of 10 spoons of sugar. Fruit juices are also high in sugar, although they have other benefits. While a glass in the morning is refreshing, be careful about drinking many glasses of juice in a day.

Also, the consumption of water is very important, simply because it aids metabolism, and carries nutrients through our bodies. Drinking enough water can also give us the impression of not being hungry -- a very good thing at times!

A cautionary word about dietary supplements: everyone wants a quick fix and to lose the weight quickly.But many supplements that claim to make you not crave food or aid weight loss are not as well regulated as more mainstream vitamins and mineral supplements. Be very careful, and do consult your physician. However, if you are on something like the Atkins diet (generally disapproved by physicians), supplements are a good idea. Check the Atkins site, or do some supplementary reading from Dr. Atkins' book.

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