We often associate dieting with starving ourselves to lower the numbers on the scale. But diet actually means having a proper balanced meal that has all macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and micro nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
A healthy and balanced diet gives your body the nutrients that it needs everyday while regulating a healthy weight goal, be it losing, gaining or maintaining weight. This healthy diet also helps to improve your heart health and reduce risk of other diseases.
What counts in a healthy diet?
A healthy diet emphasizes on:
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy products.
- Good quality protein like egg, chicken, fish, milk and byproducts of dairy such as curd, paneer, nuts.
- Limiting the saturated and trans fat, excess sodium and added sugars.
- Controlling the portion size.
Drawing attention to the last point, controlling the size of portions is one of the keys to achieving success in weight loss. We often feel that after running for a good 30 minutes, we have burnt enough calories to eat our favorite foods, however, we tend to consume more calories than we burnt. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the serving size listed on the nutrition labels. This will help you identify how much to consume when you eat that particular food.
How to estimate your eating portions?
A good way to estimate portion control is to follow the portion control instructions as mentioned in Ikigai. Eating till you feel full, but not too heavy is a good measure of intuitive eating that will help you with your diet goals and avoid overeating. Cups, bowls and kitchen weighing scales are some alternatives that can help you weigh your food and avoid eating too much.
We have come across various kinds of diet on social media that help you manage your weight.
- Paleo Diet
The paleo diet focuses on eating whole foods, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, while discouraging processed foods, sugar, dairy, and grains. Some more flexible versions of the paleo diet also allow for dairy like cheese and butter, as well as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Paleo diet can lead to weight loss and improved immune system from healthy eating.
- Intermittent Fasting
It is a pattern that cycles between eating and Fasting. The most popular ways to do Intermittent Fasting are:
- The 16/8 method: Involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to eight hours, subsequently fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
- The eat-stop-eat method: Involves 24-hour fasts once or twice per week on non-consecutive days.
- The 5:2 diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, you restrict your caloric intake to only 500–600 calories. You do not restrict intake on the five remaining days.
- The warrior diet: Eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and one huge meal at night.
Intermittent fasting has been very successful to reduce weight. It has been shown to cause weight loss of 3–8% over a period of 3–24 weeks, which is a lot compared to most weight loss diets.
Note: Some people should avoid fasting, including those sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels, pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, teenagers, children, and people who are malnourished, underweight, or nutrient deficient.
- Low Carb diet
Low-carb diets look at high amounts of protein and fat while severely limiting your carbohydrate intake. When there are lesser carbohydrates in your body, fatty acids are moved into the blood and transported to your liver, where some of them are turned into ketones. Low-carb diets are extremely helpful for weight loss, especially in overweight and obese individuals.
Thinking that a particular diet works for all is a huge red flag. Diets vary from person to person and results gained by one person does not mean that it works for all. There are many aspects when it comes to an ideal diet. It depends on genetics factors, level of physical activity and pre-existing medical conditions. Therefore, it is very important to consult a professional like a nutritionist or a dietitian as they are medically qualified to help you out with a diet.
Dieting is hard and there is no such thing as a perfect weight loss diet. Different diets work for different people, which is why you should pick one that suits your lifestyle and tastes.
A diet is not about starving yourself to lose weight, but instead eating for health and good taste that can be consistent, not just till you reach your weight loss goal.