With the new year, you're bound to get bombarded with ways to lose weight, get fit, and improve your performance. When it comes to nutrition, there are numerous popular diets out there, many made famous by celebrities and media personalities. Before adopting a new diet trend, the American Council on Exercise recommends considering the following questions:
- How does the diet cut calories? Is the diet about energy balance - or more importantly, creating an imbalance? When it comes down to it, if you want to lose weight, you need to consume less calories than you are using. Without the imbalance, you will not lose weight.
- Is the diet healthy? This is a hard question to answer sometimes, but we definitely can't assume that a diet that cuts calories is automatically healthy. The diet should not advocate a weight loss of greater than 1 to 2 pounds a week. Losing weight faster then this often results in yo-yo dieting, which can cause more challenges such as altered metabolism, impaired immune system, and cardiovascular damage. Slower weight loss is associated with maintenance for the long haul.
- Does the diet affect your nutrient intake? If the diet calls for eliminating specific food groups or types, you may not get all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs. A healthy diet should advocate for at least nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Does the diet encourage exercise? People who have lost and maintained a significant amount of weight have found greater success with improved nutrition AND regular physical activity.
- Does it make sense? If the diet creators are making extravagant claims, chances are it is too good to be true. Do some research on the diet and seek advice from medical and health professionals.
- Is there unbiased research to back up the claims? Have there been any research studies completed and published in peer-reviewed professional journals?
- Does it meet your individual needs? Just like fitness plans, there is not a one-size fits all nutrition program. You should factor in personal health considerations such as diabetes or heart disease as well.
- Is it cost-effective? Will the diet add to your current financial expenses or do you have to buy specific products or meals to follow the program?
- Is social support involved? If the diet will require you to eat differently from others in your household, how will that factor in for you?
- Is adherence discussed? Once you lose weight or alter your diet, how will you maintain it? Adherence is typically the hardest part of the game so it should be addressed.
There may not be perfect answers to each of these questions, but your chances of success will be greater, (and frustration lower) if you consider all of these factors before jumping into a new nutrition plan.
Don't forget about these helpful nutrition sites: