Diets aren’t just for weight loss. While changing your diet can be one of the best ways to lose weight, it can also be a gateway to improving your habits, focusing on your health, and leading a more active lifestyle. This article reviews the most popular weight loss diets and the science behind them.
Weight Loss Diets
1. The Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. This diet’s emphasis on minimally processed foods and plants has been associated with a reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases and increased life expectancy.
2. The DASH diet
The DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. Scientists believe that one of the main reasons people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is because it reduces salt intake. The regular DASH diet program encourages no more than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) of sodium per day, which is in line with most national guidelines. The lower-salt version recommends no more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) of sodium per day.
3. Plant-based and flexitarian diets
The Flexitarian Diet was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to help people reap the benefits of vegetarian eating while still enjoying animal products in moderation. That’s why the name of this diet is a combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” Vegetarians eliminate meat and sometimes other animal foods, while vegans avoid meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and all other animal-derived food products. Because flexitarians eat animal products, they’re not considered vegans. It’s based on the following principles:
- Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
- Focus on protein from plants.
- Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
- Eat the least processed, most natural forms of foods.
4. The MIND diet
5. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is any of various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a given period. Methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding. There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
6. The Volumetric diet
The Volumetric Diet is an eating plan designed to promote weight loss by having you fill up on low calorie, nutrient-dense foods. It’s meant to reduce feelings of hunger by prioritizing foods with a high water content and low calorie density. Food is divided into four groups. Category one (very low-density) includes nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, nonfat milk and broth-based soup. Category two (low-density) includes starchy fruits and veggies, grains, breakfast cereal, low-fat meat, legumes and low-fat mixed dishes like chili and spaghetti. Category three (medium-density) includes meat, cheese, pizza, french fries, salad dressing, bread, pretzels, ice cream and cake. And category four (high-density) includes crackers, chips, chocolate candies, cookies, nuts, butter and oil.