Every New Year advertisements appear for some of the most popular styles of eating to help with our new year weight loss resolutions. Further, you’ve probably heard of other dieting styles through the grapevine as well.
While, I’ve spoken abundantly about dieting, I understand the allure and ease of many of these approaches, so I wanted to provide my two cents on them so you can make an informed decision.
In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of some of the most tempting and popular diets in mainstream health.
Many people take on the idea of “eating clean” in order to begin eating in a healthier way. While “clean eating” is somewhat of a misnomer, it’s safe to say that this diet entails focusing primarily on whole, natural foods, while eliminating highly processed ingredients.
While that would certainly make sense, the details of clean eating can sometimes be lost on many people.
It’s important to understand two distinct variables that make clean eating a bit different. First, with clean eating, you’ll need to eliminate just about any type of “unhealthy” foods from your diet. While this makes sense, it also can create issues when you’re presented with these options.
If you were perhaps tracking calorie intake, rather than solely depending on eating clean, you could potentially eat foods you normally do, by simply accounting for the calories. However, with clean eating, you need to restrict the number of foods you eat, in order to ensure that you’re actually in a calorie deficit.
Second, clean eating can present issues for individuals with bad eating habits. Since clean eating is often associated with high calorie cheat meals and since restriction is often so high, it creates an environment that encourages binges and can potentially lead to poor mental health as a result.
Bottom Line: Overall, if used appropriately, and if you have little preference over the foods you eat, clean eating might be a beneficial approach. I still suggest attempting to track your calorie intake as well, to allow for a bit more variation.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension) is a new and fairly popular approach to dieting. In fact, it was recently named one of the best options for starting a healthy eating plan. Overall, this approach is geared towards combating hypertension, but of course will be applicable even for normal people looking to get healthier.
Essentially, with the DASH diet, there are two phases. Phase 1 entails eating low calorie-dense foods and increasing the quality of food being consumed, followed by the elimination of processed foods and sugary concoctions. Fortunately, however, some low fat dairy is allowed.
Upon completion of phase 1, you’ll begin incorporating some of the eliminated foods back into your diet, albeit in limited weekly and daily doses.
Overall, the DASH approach is surprisingly a decent option. With a primary emphasis on whole, natural, high quality foods, there’s no doubt that this diet could be beneficial.
Further, what I like about this approach is that it makes it quite simple to know servings, and it also considers sustainability. While many diets restrict certain foods outright, the DASH diet makes an attempt to understand that we’re humans who occasionally may feel the need to surrender to our temptations. The DASH diet just wants to make sure you control yourself when that happens.
Bottom Line: With an emphasis on quality food intake and consideration of sustainability, as far as commercial diets go, the DASH approach isn’t a terrible choice.
Nutrisystem is one of the more popular approaches in this list and is essentially a meal-prep service.
The important thing to take note of with Nutrisystem is that for the most part, you could do everything yourself. Nutrisystem is essentially a service that provides your meals in small portions, in order to reduce your calories intake with ease.
Fortunately for you and your pocketbook, you could easily adopt that same approach by meal-prepping yourself, for a few hours every few days. While I understand that meal-prepping can be quite difficult or tedious, if you’re motivated enough, it’s a small step to take for your goals.
In addition, I’ve written about best practices for meal-prep so consider reading this article before taking the leap of faith (and finance) with Nutrisystem.
Bottom Line: Nutrisystem will work just fine but it’s essentially a meal-prep service, providing small portions sizes. While that’s certainly appropriate, you could do the exact same thing yourself, by prepping your own meals each week. It essentially comes down to the money you have available and how much time you have and personal work you care to do.
Weight Watchers is essentially an easy-to-use, food tracking option. This diet assigns most foods and food-types according to a point system. It essentially works like this.
Based on your weight, activity level and goal, you’ll be assigned a certain point value for the day. Then, different food options will be assigned points, depending on their caloric value.
For instance, a piece of chocolate cake, while acceptable on the diet, will cost more points than would chicken and broccoli. Essentially, low-calorie dense foods are worth fewer points, while high-calorie dense foods (chocolate cake) are worth more.
Overall, this approach is quite sound and is understandably quite easy for many people to use.
However, it’s important to consider just how important your weight loss is to you. If for example, you’re simply looking to lose a few pounds, Weight Watchers is actually not a bad option. At the very least, you’re controlling the amount of calories you’re consuming, while also being able to consume different foods you enjoy.
However, keep in mind that if you have a really serious goal, such as getting ready for a show, or are hoping to make a positive dieting change for the long term and looking to find a sustainable new way of eating, then I suggest opting for calorie and macro tracking instead.
While weight watchers will provide a similar benefit, macro and calorie counting will increase your accuracy significantly.
Bottom Line: Weight Watchers is a dieting style that essentially allows you to track food without having to worry about calories or macros. While this might be a great idea for the regular, everyday person looking to drop a pound or two, using actual calorie and macro tracking may be a better idea for any serious fitness individuals.
Popular Diets Reviewed
While tracking calories is the most accurate route to weight loss, many popular diets restrict calories in a roundabout way. So, while you can do most of these things on your own, their ease and palatability do make them quite attractive.
Hopefully with this information, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into and just how these diets actually work so that you can make an informed decision on what’s right for you ahead of time.