Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you
Don't fall for gimmicks when it comes to weight loss. Evaluate diets carefully to find one that's right for you.
When it comes to weight loss, there's no shortage of advice. Magazines, books and websites all promise that you'll lose all the weight you want for good, using diets that eliminate fat or carbs or those that tout superfoods or special supplements.
With so many conflicting options, how do you know which approach might work for you? Here are some suggestions for choosing a weight-loss program.
Before you start a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can review your medical issues and medications that might affect your weight and provide guidance on a program for you. And you can discuss how to exercise safely, especially if you have physical or medical challenges, or pain with daily tasks.
Tell your doctor about your previous efforts to lose weight. Be open about fad diets that interest you. Your doctor might be able to direct you to weight-loss support groups or refer you to a registered dietitian.
There's no one diet or weight-loss plan for everyone. But if you consider your preferences, lifestyle and weight-loss goals, you'll likely find a plan you can tailor to your needs.
Before starting a weight-loss program, think about:
It's tempting to buy into promises of rapid and dramatic weight loss, but a slow and steady approach is easier to maintain and usually beats fast weight loss for the long term. A weight loss of 0.5 to 2 pounds (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) a week is the typical recommendation.
In some situations, faster weight loss can be safe if it's done right such as a very low-calorie diet with medical supervision, or a brief quick-start phase of a healthy-eating plan.
Successful weight loss requires a long-term commitment to making healthy lifestyle changes in eating, exercise and behavior. Behavior modification is vital, and could have the greatest impact on your long-term weight-loss efforts.
Be sure to pick a plan you can live with. Look for these features:
The table below lists some of the more common diets. There's overlap, but most plans can be grouped into a few major categories.
Studies comparing different weight-loss programs have found that most programs result in weight loss in the short term compared with no program. Weight-loss differences between diets are generally small.
Before you dive into a weight-loss plan, take time to learn as much about it as you can. Just because a diet is popular or your friends are doing it doesn't mean it's right for you. Ask these questions first:
Successful weight loss requires long-term changes to your eating habits and physical activity. This means you need to find a weight-loss approach you can embrace for life. You're not likely to maintain whatever weight loss a diet helps you achieve if you then go off the diet and revert to old habits.
Diets that leave you feeling deprived or hungry can cause you to give up. And because many weight-loss diets don't encourage permanent healthy lifestyle changes, even if you do lose weight, the pounds can quickly return once you stop dieting.
You'll likely always have to remain vigilant about your weight. But combining a healthier diet with more activity is the best way to lose weight, keep it off for the long term and improve your health.
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