October 17, 2014

Dr. Nathalie’s Top 8 Healthiest Diet Plans on the Market

Dieting was never really a concern for the vast majority of our ancestors. In fact, many were concerned with getting more fat, sugar, and carbs into their systems, than less. The first recorded person to go on a weight loss diet was England’s King William I. William was a large man, who nearing the end of his life was so big that he could no longer ride a horse. To shed the extra pounds the king went on a “liquid” diet, or in other words a “liquor” diet. It is recorded that for almost a year, King William attempted to resist everything but alcohol. Amazingly, he survived his diet and was eventually able to get back into the saddle. Since the time of King William there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of diets created, promising rapid weight loss. Obviously, some of these diets are healthier than others. I mean, I am pretty confident that the Liquor Diet won’t be making a come back anytime soon…

In 2013, diet plans seem to be moving away from low fat and low carb processed options and opting for natural and simple foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Moreover, many individuals are opting for wheat-free and dairy-free diets due to recent research indicating that such foods can be detrimental to the body. The Canada Food Guide suggests eating 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables, 6-7 servings of grains, 2 servings of meat or meat substitutes, 2 servings of dairy products, and 2-3 tablespoons of oils and fats per day. While I strongly disagree with the amount of dairy and grain suggested, the Food Guide is a good place to start if you are foreign to healthy eating.

For those of you curious about the diet plans out there, U.S News recently put out a list of the 25 Best Diets on the Market (http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets/data). In order to create this list, a panel of experts rated each diet on a scale of 1 to 5 on seven measures: short- and long-term weight loss, ease of following, nutrition, safety, and performance as a diabetes and heart diet. The score out of 7 was then used to determine the diets’ overall score. Based on my own dietary habits and nutritional knowledge, I’ve narrowed the list down to the Top 8 Healthiest Diet Plans on the Market. In no particular order, here they are…

The Top 8 Healthiest Diet Plans on the Market


Balanced Diets

1) Mayo Clinic Diet:

This is a phase-based plan, part is diet, part lifestyle changes, all are geared to accelerate weight loss. Some recipes are included in book, but if you want a true meal plan you need to purchase Fit-It and Enjoy-It Healthy Cookbook. Regular exercise is encouraged. You eat 1200-1800 calories/day. Lots of fruits/veggies, plus a moderate amount of carbs, fiber and protein. It is more about moderation than total restriction.

2) The Flexitarian Diet:

An option for someone who may have been tempted to try a vegetarian diet, but not fully committed to giving up meat completely. Flexitarian is a blend of two words, “flexible” and “vegetarian”. Simply put if you follow a flexitarian diet you are eating more plant base foods and less meat.

The Flexitarian Diet can make it easier for people to transition in eliminating or cutting down on meat from their diet. The diet continues to include some of the basic staples items in your kitchen and fresh, natural and in season foods.

A typical Flexitarian Diet allows for 1500 Calories (3 meals, 2 snacks). Although the meat is limited, the daily diet plans include approx. 50g of protein.

3) The Mediterranean Diet:

This diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets on the planet. Studies continue to show that eating a diet with healthy fats, and rich in plant foods is very good for you.

This is not merely a diet though, this is truly a lifestyle. In addition to nutrient-rich foods, there is leisurely dining, family involvement and physical activity.

There is a variation of this diet depending on where you go. Each region across
Europe, customizes it based on the food available and cultural preferences.

Some of the foods that form the basis of this diet plan include: vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, olives, and olive oil, as well as cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs and wine.

4) The Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is based on a daily intake of 2,000 to 3,000 calories, depending on your gender, size, and activity level. About 40 to 50 percent of your calories will come from carbs, 30 percent from fat, and 20 to 30 percent from protein. Weil suggests striving for a mix of all three nutrients at each meal. The program calls for a variety of fresh foods, with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables. When it comes to carbs, you want the kind that will keep your blood sugar low and stable. Saturated fats are to be eliminated from your diet. Your dietary fats will instead come from extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation.

Low Carb Diets

5) Back to the Land/Paleo Diet
Some health professionals suggest we look back and not forward. The principle of this style of eating, known as Paleo, is to consume only what is available to our ancestors. (eating like a caveman).

- no processed foods
– no cereal grains
– no legumes
– no dairy
– no starchy vegetables

The plan is not usually set up for weight loss but because of the carb restrictions, many who have excess weight will drop pounds.

There is no calorie limit to this diet. You get an open pass to meat and veggies, plus some fruit and nuts. Critics of the plan question the elimination of grains, legumes, and dairy as these foods do offer nutritional benefits and are not usually the main culprits for weight gain. If someone liked the Atkins Diet, then a Paleo-style plan may work for them.

6) South Beach Diet:

This is a doctor-designed plan that focuses on 3 phases. It is a high protein, low-carb diet.

Phase 1 is designed to eliminate cravings (maintaining blood sugar levels), encourage rapid weight loss and is only 14 days. In this phase you eliminate most carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and breads. All fruit is elimated in this phase.

Phase 2 focuses on eating delicious and nutritious foods (introducing good carbs into the diet) until you reach your weight goal. Some fruit is reintroduced and you learn to adjust to smaller portion sizes.

Phase 3 is for maintaining your weight loss, its now about a new lifestyle.

There are a variety of tools available for someone to succeed on this plan. It’s flexible, the food is delicious and easy to prepare, there is an online community for support, there are interactive tools that make it manageable and fun, and there is even a mobile app to help you stay on track.

The cost of the program is a bit unclear. It seems that for the online support it costs approx. $5/week paid quarterly, which includes meal plans and recipes. In addition, if you choose to buy their prepared foods, it’s approximately $4-$6 per entrees.
Another option is to purchase the book and work on your own.

7) Glycemic-Index Diet:

The G.I. measures how fast foods are broken down to form glucose, which is the body’s source of energy. High G.I. foods break down quickly, Low G.I. foods break down more slowly. The faster the food breaks down the sooner you feel hungry, so if it breaks down slowly, you’ll have a feeling of being full longer.

The diet does the work for you in figuring out what foods are high and what foods are low. It uses the three traffic light colour categories: red light foods should be avoided, yellow light used with caution and green light foods you can eat as much as you want.

There are a variety of G.I. books on the market.

Low Calorie Diets

8) The Raw Diet
The fundamental principle behind raw foodism, also called rawism, is that plant foods in their most natural state – uncooked and unprocessed – are the most wholesome for the body. The raw food diet is a lifestyle choice. It is not a weight loss plan. That’s because the diet is typically made up of 75% fruits and vegetables. Staples of the raw food diet include:
• Seaweed
• Sprouts
• Sprouted seeds
• Whole grains
• Beans
• Dried fruits
• Nuts
Alcohol, refined sugars, and caffeine are avoided. Moreover, most raw foodists are vegans, who eat no animal products, but some do eat raw eggs and cheese made from raw or unpasteurized milk. Ensuring that you are getting all of the proper nutrients is fundamental on this diet, especially when it comes to protein.

** The Wheat Belly Diet: 
Dr. Davis’ program didn’t quite make it on US News’ Top 25 list, but I wanted to bring attention to it anyways because I very much agree with Dr. Davis’ nutritional principles. The Wheat Belly diet eliminates all wheat and grains from the diet, as wheat
tends to raise our glycemic index and cause weight gain, as well as a variety of other symptoms. In general, the Wheat Belly diet  suggests eating healthy balanced meals, that are free of gluten and grains. And since most processed foods contain gluten, it suggests eating simple, natural foods.

Note: I’m not endorsing any of the diets mentioned above. I wrote this blog to point out some of the healthier weight loss plans on the market, as not all diet plans are good for our health. In order to lose weight and keep it off you must be willing to change your lifestyle. I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s true. The diets mentioned above aren’t meant to be a quick fix, they are meant to get you to where you want to be weight wise, and keep you there through continued healthy dietary habits.

Have you tried one of the diets on U.S News Best Diets on the Market List? What was your experience? Leave your comments below.

 
References:
http://www.neatorama.com/2010/09/09/the-history-of-diets/
http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets/data