These days, everybody you know is talking about calories. Everybody is on the lookout for shortcuts to lose weight. Social media has been promoting unhealthy body images that people have been romanticizing.
It has led people to follow bizarre diets that ask people to cut down on essential nutrients that may show quick results in the short run but are extremely detrimental in the long haul.
What people should understand is that counting calories and looking for shortcuts to a slender body is nothing but a waste of time. Proper nutrition and regular movement can do wonders which calorie counting won’t.
On one side, it is a good sign that people are becoming health conscious and are looking for ways to be and feel better. On the other, it is the methods that people are following to achieve it that is far from ideal.
These days, modern diets are mostly based on counting calories or eliminating food groups from diets. Most of them do not have sufficient data to back them but let us look at some such fad diets that have been doing rounds in fitness conversations.
Most Popular Diets for Healthy Weight Loss:
1. Vegan Diet
Vegan diet is different from a vegetarian diet where people eat only plant-based foods as a conscious choice to avoid cruelty towards animals. People following veganism do not consume anything of animal origin, which includes honey, milk, or eggs. This diet lacks vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate, all of which are derived from animal products.
2. Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet emphasizes higher consumption of fats and the elimination of carbs from one’s diet. The concept is that generally, your body gets energy from the carbs that you eat. But when the carbs are eliminated it turns to fats for energy by entering a stage of ketosis. However, restricting carbs also reduces the glucose in your blood causing a shortage of energy. Such a high-fat diet may be detrimental for those at the risk of heart ailments as the fat content in the food may be high and may also comprise a lot of meats.
3. Paleo Diet
The paleo diet suggests that people should eat as the cavemen would. It eliminates all foods that are derivatives of farming, like all grains and cereals, all processed foods, starchy foods like potatoes, corn, legumes, milk, and sugar. While such a diet may promote a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, it might strip one’s diet of essential nutrients like calcium and others by eliminating certain food groups.
4. Vegetarian Diet
Now, the vegetarian diet, even though plant-based, allows people to consume milk, eggs, and honey. Vegetarians are mostly so due to religious preferences and avoid meat and fish. While this diet is relatively more balanced than others, promotes faster weight loss, and reduces the chances of diseases, it lacks vitamin B12, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Ultra Low-fat Diet
This diet allows no more than 10% calories from fat. The diet also tends to be low in protein but high in carbs. Also, most of the fats come from high-fat plant foods but in limited quantities even though generally considered healthy. By limiting fat consumption, this diet may reduce the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and might also interfere with cell repair and membrane formation.
6. Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is a 4 phase plan which encourages the consumption of proteins and fat and low consumption of carbs. The diet is spread across four stages, induction, balancing, fine-tuning, and maintenance. As the diet begins, carb consumption is reduced to under 20% initially, after which carbs are slowly added back as the diet progresses, and one loses weight or comes closer to their goal weight. In this diet, high carb foods, starchy foods, legumes, grains, sugar, and processed food are completely avoided. Even though this diet may reduce hunger pangs by helping you feel full due to high protein and fat content, reducing carbs may reduce the energy levels and make one feel weak or unfocused.
7. Zone Diet
While the zone diet does not promote elimination, it asks people to focus on the ratios of each food group they consume. It instructs people to consume 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Though there is little research to back the claims of fat loss that this diet makes, the Zone diet is relatively more balanced than other diets. But again, it focuses on portion sizes rather than focusing on essential nutrients.
8. Raw Food Diet
This diet is low in calories and instructs people to eat only those foods that can be eaten raw. So naturally, it eliminates meat and fish. On a raw food diet, you can consume as many fruits and vegetables as you want. You can also consume grains, legumes, juices, herbs, spices, and condiments. The disclaimer is that these food items must be consumed raw. Sprouting, fermentation, germination, and other natural methods are allowed, but the belief is that cooking breaks down most of the essential nutrients and interferes with nutrient absorption. While this diet may help reduce a lot of weight due to its low-calorie count, it eliminates some foods responsible for making you feel full for a long time. Thus, overeating is very likely as fruits and vegetables get digested quickly, making you feel hungry very often.
Now, if you notice, each of these diets focuses on losing weight. Barely any of them talks about nutrition. While some diet wants you to limit your protein consumption, some want to eliminate carbs. By removing food groups from one’s diet, we run the risk of completely depriving the body of the nutrients we derive from them, thereby causing nutritional deficiencies.
These diets have got people worrying about calories so much that people have forgotten the importance and role of nutrients.
It is true that when you are trying to lose weight or maintain a lean and healthy figure, there should be a calorie deficit. However, simply counting calories is not enough.
When the focus is on calories consumed one, might eat a bowl full of biriyani and justify it by saying that they still have 500 calories left for the day. But in reality, how much nutrition did the bowl of biriyani provide?
A balanced diet is one that provides you with all the essential nutrients that you need including fats, protein, and carbs. Modern-day diets focus so much on proteins, carbs, and fats that minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins get left out of the picture completely.
Instead of fixating on calories, weight, and losing fat, paying attention to what you consume could do wonders. We wouldn’t advise you to eliminate any food group from your diet unless you are allergic or suffer from a serious condition. However, our suggestion would be to limit the consumption of sugar and products that contain it, fried food, and foods with a high glycemic index.
Quick Tips to Maintain Healthy Weight
Here are some simple steps that could help you manage your weight while also help you derive proper nutrition every day.
- Eat 3-4 servings of raw fruits and vegetables daily.
- Include at least 2-3 servings of protein.
- Limit carb consumption but do not eliminate it.
- Reduce sugar consumption and replace sugar with other sweeteners like jaggery and honey, if needed.
- Keep fast food consumption to a bare minimum.
- Drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water every day.
- Spend at least 3-4 hours a week doing some form of exercise.
If you could follow these few steps regularly, and make it a lifestyle habit, counting calories or looking for shortcuts to lose weight will soon become a thing of the past.
In case you crave certain unhealthy foods, try replacing them with healthier alternatives. Initially, this may be difficult, but when your body is well-nourished, you will notice that the cravings are limited, and your energy levels are higher than usual too.
The aim is to eat healthily and lead a healthy life rather than sacrificing and eliminating foods from your diet. Remember that micronutrient deficiency can be hidden and may manifest suddenly with a health problem.
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