With all the emphasis on low-carb diets that made the news for so long, it seems that the emphasis on low-carb is not as prevalent as it once was. Why is this? Where did the low-carb diets go? The popularity of Atkins and the South Beach diets may come and go, but the bottom line is that any successful diet--whether low-carb, low-fat, body type, blood type, or whatever the gimmick--has one thing in common. It cuts calories. Low-carb diets cut calories by reducing carbohydrate intake. Low fat diets reduce calories by reducing fats.
Another problem with fad diets is that everyone has something different to say, which only adds confusion. Many dieters are so bombarded with conflicting information that they no longer know who or what to believe. When the fad diets are written by doctors, as both Atkins and South Beach are, it can be even more confusing. The trick is to get through the diet hype to the real information that is useful.
In the simplest terms, the only way to lose weight is to take fewer calories in than are used. In order to lose a pound of fat in a week, daily caloric intake must be reduced by 500 calories. This can be accomplished through food intake or in a combination of reducing food intake and increasing exercise. However, even when you are reducing calories, you need to eat a healthful balance of foods to get the nutrients you need. This is where a lot of the confusion comes in. Low-carb diets restrict carbohydrate intake. Some restrict carbohydrates a great deal, while other diets are more flexible. However, carbohydrates are not only simple sugars and breads. Fruits and vegetables fall into the carbohydrate category, and both contain a wide range of healthy nutrients.
The body needs proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in order to function. How much the body needs of each of these will continue to be debated. The U.S. RDA recommends fat intake between twenty to thirty-five percent of total intake, proteins between ten and thirty-five percent, and carbohydrates between forty-five and sixty-five percent. Making healthful choices within each category is essential for overall health. Your choices can also have an effect on your mental outlook as well, because if you are watching caloric intake, you will be able to eat more of low-calorie foods, which can help reduce feelings of deprivation. Often, healthier choices are lower in total calories.
In general, the following tips can help you make better choices:
* Limit saturated fats
* Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables
* Eat whole-grain foods as opposed to refined flours
* Eat lean meats instead of high-fat meats
Exercise is also a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Most fad diets recommend some type of exercise, but many do not put a great deal of emphasis on exercising. The fact is that it is possible to lose weight with diet alone. However, diet combined with exercise is the most effective weight loss strategy, and some type of exercise is simply good for health. Exercise can help make your heart stronger, bones, and muscles stronger, all of which make even daily activities much easier.
While there is no doubt that a regular exercise routine can be highly beneficial, many studies indicate that short bouts of exercise throughout the day can be just as effective as a more structured exercise program. Squeezing in just ten minutes a day in increments can be beneficial. Also, consider that exercise comes in many forms. You do not need a home gym full of equipment; even vacuuming can provide benefit. Think of little ways you can add extra activity to your day.
* Park a few blocks from work and walk the rest of the way.
* Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
* Increase the intensity at which you do household chores.
* Take a few minutes to dance around the house.
* Go for a walk (all you need is a pair of shoes).
In short, fad diets such as Atkins and South Beach are tempting and promise fast results. If you want the most effective weight-loss strategy, reduce calories and add exercise. In addition, while rapid weight loss is always desirable, losing a pound or two per week is a safe goal; more than this can be dangerous. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods to maintain nutrients, and remember that a healthy lifestyle is the long-term goal.
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