#1 Don’t Fall For Fads
Ever get sucked in by enticing testimonials about some "miracle diet"? It's best to hit the pause button before jumping in. Steer clear of fad diets that promise fast results with very little work.
Any weight loss you achieve will be short-lived, and you usually don't find much (if any) research to back-up those claims. The ketogenic diet is trending now for instance. While it has many benefits, it's certainly a diet that requires more thought.
“It is hard to sustain ketogenic diet over the long term. And there isn’t enough long-term evidence to support the benefits of this high-fat diet.”
Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, Cardiovascular Dietitian
#2 Focus On Whole Foods
A whole-foods, plant-focused approach can reap you huge benefits. That means cutting out junk foods, sugar and overly processed foods from your diet. Instead, commit to eating high-quality meals with nutrient-dense foods. Think of foods which are as close to their natural state as possible.
Choosing quality protein, healthy fats, lots of colorful vegetables, fruit and nuts can be made far easier than you'd think with great recipes available all over the web. Structuring meals around these foods will help your cells function properly, balance your blood sugar and maintain your energy, she adds. Functional medicine experts believe this will also support detoxification, help fight inflammation and help build a healthy gut.
#3 Do Rely On Research
You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. They’re tied at No. 1 for best overall diet in U.S. News & World Report.
The Mediterranean diet rules when it comes to well-researched diets; it’s proven to improve heart health, brain health and longevity. It features lots of veggies and fruit, healthy fats (like olive oil), fatty fish, whole grains and legumes, and a small amount of lean meat and poultry.
“Think of it not as a diet but as an eating pattern and way of life. Research consistently supports the benefits of the Mediterranean style eating pattern, and that includes reducing your risk of heart disease by 30 percent.”
The DASH diet combines lots of veggies and fruit with low-fat dairy and animal products. It significantly lowers both blood pressure and cholesterol — critical because heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. men and women.
Both of these whole-food, plant-heavy diets are easy to follow. And as a bonus, a significant amount of research points to their weight-loss benefits. They also don’t eliminate any food group or category of food.
#4 Incorporate Time-Restricted Eating
You can add time-restricted eating to any healthy diet or lifestyle plan, and you will gain additional benefits. Research shows that time-restricted eating can help to improve your metabolism, promote weight loss, reduce cravings and decrease your appetite.
What is time-restricted eating? It’s a type of intermittent fasting. Instead of eating throughout the day, you focus on eating within a smaller window of time.
“The rest of the time, you’ll be fasting. For example, you might fuel your body within an eight-hour window and then fast for 16 hours. You want to be consuming calories — your source of energy — when you’re most active, so you can use that energy instead of storing it."
That might look like waiting until 10 a.m. to start breakfast and then finishing your dinner by 6 p.m. Fasting after dinner helps you avoid the mindless habit of snacking in the evening.
Ms. Bluestone adds that it works best to stick to the same eating schedule every day, and that it’s important to stay well-hydrated with calorie-free beverages like water and tea whenever you’re fasting.