It’s the start of a New Year and, like many people, one of the top resolutions on your list is to lose weight and get healthier. So you might be wondering, what’s the best way for you to do that? To make it even harder, there’s a new diet on the cover of grocery checkout magazines every week and an entire table of new diet books in book stores.
But recently, US News and World Report ranked diets in many categories – best weight loss diet, best diabetes diet, best heart healthy diet, etc. So, to boil down the huge list of diets you could go on this New Year, here are the Top 3 ranked diets for weight loss and improving your health at the same time.
1. DASH – the long-time favorite choice of medical professionals, the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet has a dual purpose – weight loss and lowering high blood pressure (hypertension) – as the 2 almost always go hand in hand.
It’s a balanced diet that gets top rating for Nutrition and Safety as well as improving heart health. DASH has been proven to raise HDL (high density lipoprotein), or “good”, cholesterol and lower LDL (low density lipoprotein), or “bad”, cholesterol and is also endorsed by the American Diabetes Association as hypertension often also accompanies diabetes.
DASH shares many characteristics of the Mediterannean Diet, the Mayo Diet, and the Vegetarian Diet, as it is high on greens and fruits and full of fiber, potassium, calcium, Vitamin B12 and D. It’s lower in animal fat and higher salt-containing foods like red meat and very low-to-none in baked goods and sweets.
As it aims at lowering blood pressure, with weight loss as a byproduct, it limits intake of table salt and adding a lot of salt during cooking. It also prohibits alcohol, so if you like to have a few drinks during the week, this diet may not be for you. The two drawbacks may be the slight increase in cost for all of the fresh vegetables; and it has a fair amount of rules to follow which some may find tedious and confining.
2. TLC – this is basically a cholesterol lowering diet, so if you also need some help in that area, this diet may be for you. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change diet (TLC) is similar to the DASH and the Ornish diet, ranking 5 stars in Nutrition and Safety, so it’s not a fad diet. It’s created by the National Institute of Health’s Cholesterol Education Program and endorsed by the American Heart Association as heart-healthy. However, it’s also been proven to help diabetes as well.
It’s focus is cutting back significantly on saturated fat, particularly red meat, butter, deep fried foods, etc., that increase LDL cholesterol. It’s higher in fiber (up to 25 grams, including soluble and insoluble) and limits intake of cholesterol to 200 mg a day. It claims that, by following the diet exactly, you should not only lose weight but should decrease your LDL cholesterol by 8% to10% which is significant.
You’ll do this by eating a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-no fat dairy products, and more fish. And you’ll learn how to understand food labels correctly. Sample meal plans are available to help you choose how to put your meals together correctly.
3. MAYO CLINIC DIET. This diet’s been around for a few decades now and there’s a reason for that – it works. Like DASH and TLC, it, too, gets 5 stars for Nutrition and Safety. It’s aimed at weight loss – it claims you will lose 6-10 lbs in 2 weeks and continue losing 1-2 lbs per week until you meet your goal.
As a by-product, you’ll also improve your heart health (cholesterol, triglycerides) and diabetes (stabilize blood sugar levels). The Mayo Clinic Diet focuses on you relearning food habits – replacing bad ones with good ones.
It’s heavy on fruits and vegetables, moderate in whole grains and low fat dairy and very low in saturated fats/salt foods. Yet, unlike many other diets, you don’t have to count calories and food components; it’s all worked out for you. You can even snack all you want on fresh fruit and vegetables. A comforting thing is that no food group is off limits.
So, even though alcohol and sweets are still limited, if you want to have a drink or two during the week, or even a dessert, they can all be worked into the plan in moderation. The Mayo Clinic Diet’s Food Pyramid helps you make choices. You’re relearning how to do “checks and balances” on the foods you eat that will become a part of your everyday lifestyle, not just another weight loss diet. It may also reassure you to know that doctors view it as both a heart-and-diabetes-healthy diet as well.
If you’d like even more specific information on these top 3 diets, or to check out all the diets that were ranked, follow the link below.