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Seven Signs that a Diet Needs a Makeover

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -
Seven Signs that a Diet Needs a Makeover

Despite the quick weight-loss promises made in commercials and advertisements for workout gadgets and fad/"popular" diets, true weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. If you're not careful, you could fall victim to false information and end up stuck in a cycle of trying “quick-fix” diets that don't work.

Check for any of the following 7 signs to find out if your diet is stuck in a rut. Your diet probably needs a "makeover" if you:

  1. Eat one meal a day. Eating one meal a day to lose weight is not supported by scientific research. A diet consisting of only 1 or 2 meals is probably not providing enough daily calories. When you don’t eat enough calories, your body slows down its metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) to save energy. It is best to eat 3 small meals and 2 small snacks spread throughout the day. This prevents most people from ever feeling too full or too hungry. 
  2. Fear fat. Fat is an essential part of our diet, even if you are trying to lose weight. Fat provides the body with energy and helps it absorb essential vitamins. The current recommendation for the amount of fat in our diet is 30% daily. Try to eat fat from mostly vegetable sources, such as avocado, peanut butter, and nuts (still, in moderation). Limit the amount of fat you eat from animal sources. Buy lean cuts of meat, and trim off any visible fat. Also prepare these foods by steaming, broiling, or grilling.
  3. Make meat the main focus of your meals. Watch out! Popular high-protein diets don’t provide well-balanced nutrition. When you severely limit carbohydrates (present in grains, fruit, and vegetables), you deprive your body of the essential nutrients they provide.
  4. Eliminate meat from your diet without giving it much thought. If you want to go on a vegetarian diet you should read up on it from a reputable source, or seek professional advice. A professional, such as a registered dietitian, can help you develop a personalized plan that includes all the nutrients of a well-balanced diet. Since meat products are good sources of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, you need to be sure to replace them with a vegetarian substitute that has similar nutritional value.
  5. Consume liquid meals. There are various opinions on these famous liquid diets. Some experts recommend them. Others condemn them. They may help you lose weight, but they don’t promote permanent changes in your lifestyle or health.

Ask yourself the following:

  • How long can I replace my breakfast and my lunch with a drink?
  • Will I feel satisfied with 8 ounces of liquid instead of a well-balanced meal?

Dietary shakes/meal replacements, are usually intended to be a substitute for one of your daily meals. These products may save some time from preparing one of your meals each day, and are definitely better for you than skipping a meal. But keep in mind that products like these do not come with all of the benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed foods. In general, it is not recommended to use such products on a long-term or regular basis.

    6.  Avoid variety.          Have you heard the following? You shouldn’t . . .

  • Combine foods if you want to lose weight
  • Eat sandwiches because the combination of bread and other food makes you fat
  • Mix protein with carbohydrates in the same meal or eat them at the same time of day.

These recommendations are not based on scientific evidence. If you lose weight by following these recommendations, it is a result of  reducing the amount of calories you are eating, not because you left essential food groups out of your meals. It is important to include a variety of foods in your daily meals so that the nutrition content of each complements the deficiencies of others.

     7.  Have tried every diet you've heard about.

It is best not even to begin a diet without first consulting a health care professional. Though of course, you can begin on your own by starting to eat healthier foods and exercising more. Since everyone's body and lifestyle is different, weight-loss plans should be tailored to meet each person’s individual needs. Changing from one diet to the next is likely going to be more harmful than helpful. You need to find a way to make healthy choices and to include exercise as a permanent part of your lifestyle.

*Dietitian

 

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