If you want to lose weight, you need to modify your diet. But before jumping into a fad diet, it’s important to research your options and select a plan that complements your lifestyle, personality and goals. Here are three popular methods for weight loss how they can help – or hinder – your weight loss efforts.
Calorie restriction, reducing the number of calories you consume, is probably the most simple and clear-cut form of dieting. If you consume fewer calories than your body uses, your body will be forced to use or “burn” stored fat.
In the purest sense, calorie restriction will help you lose weight. The idea is that if you eat 500 calories less than what you burn each day, you’ll lose one pound of bodyweight each week. But the problem is, if you’re just focusing on calories and not the quality of the food you eat, it can negatively affect your health.
What’s worse, some medical studies suggest that people who use calorie restriction to try to lose weight are likely to fail. For example, an article published in the journal Psychology and Health says that women who used calorie restriction didn’t necessarily eat less than women who didn’t restrict their food intake. And women who restricted their food intake tended to have more guilt and other negative emotions than the other women.
If you’re planning on using calorie restriction to lose weight, you need to consider several factors:
- You must accurately measure your food and research calories.
- You should monitor the quality of the food you eat, so you don’t develop nutritional deficiencies.
- Some people experience guilt and stress when they restrict calories.
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, is the practice of limiting the window of time you eat each day or each week. There are various fasting protocols: some have you fast for 16 hours every day, while others suggest you fast for 24 hours at a time.
Ultimately, fasting also restricts food intake, but research on this weight loss method has revealed that IF may bestow some health benefits. Current research on both animals and humans suggest that IF might:
- Accelerate fat burning (aka fat oxidation)
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol
- Reduce blood sugar and increase sensitivity to insulin
- Improve appetite control
- Be psychologically a less stressful way to diet because it reduces the need to prepare and plan meals
- Stimulate the production of hormones associated with an increase in metabolism, such as Human Growth Hormone
Intermittent fasting is an advanced weight loss strategy and isn’t right for everyone. It can cause side effects like sleeplessness, anxiety and gastrointestinal distress. Women should also be aware that fasting could affect hormonal balance. Some women who fast may miss their monthly periods or even disrupt their fertility.
The basic principle behind the paleo diet is that eating more like our paleolithic ancestors will boost overall health and allow us to lose weight. Paleo diet advocates assert that many of the foods popularized by the invention of agriculture, like cereal grains, legumes and dairy, are deleterious to our health.
Paleo diet supporters believe that switching to a more primal way of eating can remedy type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and various autoimmune diseases. There’s limited scientific research to prove or disprove many of the claims made by paleo diet supporters. But there’s evidence that suggests the paleo diet is more effective at reducing body fat and controlling blood sugar than the popular Mediterranean Diet is.
If you haven’t seen success with restricting your calorie intake, eating paleo may suit you better. The paleo diet strictly limits what types of food you eat, but it doesn’t have specific calorie restrictions. Of course, the paleo diet can make planning meals more complicated. If you don’t like to cook, it may not be the best option for you.
The Bottom Line
Diets can help you lose weight. But to maintain a healthy weight, you must continue to eat a balanced diet all the time. When choosing a diet, it’s important to consider how easily you’ll be able to maintain it long-term.