Before and After
As the waistlines of Americans expand, so do the number of diet books in library shelves. There is such a huge number of diet books, that it is impossible to figure out which one is the best. Every doctor who writes a book claims to have a superior diet, and all doctors criticize each other’s diets. The average person is completely confused because they don’t know whom to trust. The problem is compounded because anybody, even celebrities who know nothing of nutrition, can write diet books.
The purpose of a diet is to provide guidelines for healthful eating, but most diet books also give advice about how to lose excess weight. A basic diet is supposed to provide adequate amounts of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and trace minerals. The total number of calories can then be regulated to allow weight loss or to maintain weight. The differences in the diets like Atkins, South Beach, Ornish, and others, depends on the proportions and sources of proteins and fats. The Atkins diet allows a variety of meats, whereas the Ornish diet is mostly vegetarian. The big differences in the diets seem to be:
How much exercise should you get? Some diets emphasize exercise as a way of burning extra calories and firming up muscles.
How much protein should you eat? Protein provides satiety and makes you less hungry. High protein diets like the Protein Power Plan or the Zone Diet say that approximately 30% of the calories should come from protein sources such as meats, poultry, fish, and dairy.
What percent of your diet should be fat? The range can be anywhere from 15% to 50%. The Ornish diet tends toward the lower end of the range. The types of fats are also important. Fats are structural components of the body. The brain, for example, consists of 60% fat. Hydrogenated fats and trans fats are harmful for the heart and the brain. Polyunsturated fats, like those in walnuts, reduce cholesterol levels, whereas saturated fats from animal fats and tropical oils like coconut and palm kernel, increase cholesterol levels.
How many calories should you eat? This depends on whether you want to lose weight or maintain weight for a specific level of activity. Sedentary people need fewer calories than people who exercise. One hour of vigorous exercise burns approximately 400 calories.
What proportion of carbohydrates should you eat? This usually is decided by the amount of protein and fat in the diet. The real question is what type of carbohydrates should be consumed. Starchy carbohydrates don’t have enough vitamins and nutrients to meet normal requirements, and excess starch is stored as fat in the body. Leafy green and non-starchy vegetables are nutritionally superior.
How do you spread your calorie intake over time? Some diets say that it better to eat five small meals throughout the day to minimize insulin spikes. Other diets advocate taking most of the calories in one main meal to get the body into a ketogenic, fat-burning mode during the fasting period.
The success of a diet to lose weight depends on being able to maintain a lower calorie intake without being deprived. This is easier to achieve with high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets.