Living in times obsessed with thinness and body image, the word “diet” has become a household term everyone is familiar with. However, most people mistakenly believe the word diet to be synonymous with “weight loss,” and this isn’t entirely true. Diet, in fact, is a broader term referring to a person’s overall food intake – and this can be a healthy, balanced diet, or a harmful one low in nutritional value.
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It is true that when most people talk about diets, they are referring to weight loss plans; but it’s good to know the word diet in its broader application as well. This is because understanding that whatever you eat is considered your own, personal diet is the first step towards taking control of your health, and working towards the body and lifestyle you strive for. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, manage diabetes, or boost your energy levels, your diet will be a huge part of the process.
There are many different kinds of diets out there, and some of them come and go like fads. Any good diet, though, will have two components: 1) a reasonable calorie count, and 2) a healthy balance of the different food groups.
Diets with calorie counts that are too low, called crash diets, may work in the short run, but are not sustainable over a long period of time and will do your body more harm than they will good. At the same time, diets that seek to eliminate any of the different food categories (most notably in recent diet fads, eliminating carbohydrates) are not good for your body either, as you will be depriving it of essential nutrients and vitamins only available through that food group.
Here is a brief review of some of the more popular diets that have gone around recently:
The Atkins Diet – The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that instructs people to minimize intake of all sugars and carbohydrates. As carbohydrates are a big source of calories, minimizing the presence of breads, pastas, rice, sugars, etc. from your diet should technically lead to significant weight loss. The problem with the Atkins diet is that for many people, it constituted a crash diet. During their diet days, they felt hungry and unfulfilled, but they lost a lot of weight. As soon as they got off the diet, they regained the weight immediately.
After a short stint, focus began shifting from eliminating carbohydrates entirely to replacing them with healthier versions. In other words, nutritionists began urging consumption of whole grains and cereals. So if you’re looking into the Atkins diet, make sure you don’t go for the initial craze of totally eliminating carbohydrates, and concentrate instead on consuming healthier ones.
The South Beach Diet – The South Beach diet is a spin on earlier low-fat diets, initially prescribed for people with existing or at risk for developing heart disease. It then caught on as a means of weight loss. The diet encourages decreases in both bad carbohydrates and bad fats. Again, this does not mean eliminating fats and carbohydrates entirely, as your body needs both of these – it simply means concentrating on consuming good carbohydrates and fats that will neither trigger excessive hunger or raise cholesterol levels.
Special Ingredient Diets – There are a number of diets existing that encourage consumption of certain nutrients and foods as a means of weight loss or health preservation. For example, acai berry diets and the flat belly diet, just to name a couple. These diets involve eating certain substances to achieve the desired effect, and may or may not involve a total diet change.
When looking for a diet suitable to yourself and your needs, research the diet closely, and remember the two components of any good diet: you need a reasonable calorie count, and balanced proportions from all food groups. Anything else just won’t cut it.