With so many diets around, it’s important to choose a weight loss plan that will help you reach your goals safely and be sustainable for the long-term, but you might be wondering – what does a healthy weight loss plan look like, anyway? But what does a safe diet look like? Luckily, it’s easy to find a safe diet plan that will suit your goals, lifestyle, and health.
Let’s see what the experts say about it.
First, the Mayo Clinic suggests four characteristics of a balanced weight loss plan:
- Flexibility – The foods in your diet plan should be varied and easy to find.
- Balance – The diet should include different food groups instead of relying heavily on a few foods.
- Likeability – Make sure the meal plans consist of foods you’d like to eat long-term.
- Activity – Physical exercise should be included in every weight-loss plan. It keeps you healthy, prevents heart disease and diabetes, and boosts your weight loss efforts.
WebMD adds other useful suggestions to what makes a weight-loss plan safe.
- It should be created by accredited professionals. Do some research about who created the program. Are they medical professionals? What are their credentials and experience?
- It should promote steady weight loss. As we mentioned before, avoid diets that promise fast results with little effort.
- It should include portion control and snacks between meals. A healthy diet plan should not leave you hungry all the time.
- It should include your favorite foods in small portions. Banishing your favorite foods forever will make it harder for you to stick to your diet. Instead, make sure your diet has room for the foods you like, albeit in small amounts (moderation!).
- It should be based on science. Dedicate part of your research to finding studies that support the diets’ claims. Make sure you find these studies from reputable sources.
- It should include a maintenance plan. It’s important to choose a weight-loss plan that is made for long-term results.
- It should recommend drinking plenty of water. Drinking enough water is actually beneficial not just to your health, but also to your weight loss plans. A 2010 study cited by WebMD (Brenda Davy) shows that people who drank two cups of water before every meal lost 4 more pounds over 12 weeks than the group who didn’t drink water.
The Michigan Health and Wellness website proposes that any diet should be either supervised or created by a certified professional–a doctor or a dietitian with experience in weight loss and behavioral modification. In fact, your very first step should be to talk to your doctor if you’re planning to lose weight. Talking to your doctor is also important because you need to take into account any health issues you may have, like type 2 diabetes, allergies, high cholesterol, Celiac disease, or any other condition.
Fad diets promise amazing results in very little time with little effort. However, the truth is, losing weight requires the commitment to acquire new, healthier habits like a more nutritious, balanced diet, and regular physical activity.
A safe weight loss plan should be based on three key aspects — healthy eating, physical activity, and behavior changes. In other words, a safe weight loss plan should help you replace unhealthy habits with better choices for your health.
A Balanced Eating Plan
Diets that require you to drastically cut your calories are the types of diets you should stay away from. A good diet, meaning one that will promote healthy, long-term weight loss, should be centered on a well-balanced eating plan.
Always remember that a safe diet will never require you to eliminate an entire food group or eat large quantities of one particular food. Instead, it will include proper amounts of nutrients from the various food groups.
Following a diet long-term is key to keeping the weight off. To avoid being one of the 80% of people who quit their diet within three months, choose a diet that does not exclude entire food groups and has room for your favorite foods in moderation. The longer you stick to your new, healthier habits, the better results you’ll see over time.
A healthy diet is not a restrictive diet. When a diet forbids you to eat certain foods that is a diet that will almost always end in failure.
Losing weight is not about eating chicken and broccoli all day. You can eat really delicious food and still lose weight
A successful diet gives you a great deal of flexibility with your diet. Yes, it is important for you to eat healthy foods, but it is also okay to indulge in your favorite junk food every now and then.
As with all things, the key is moderation. As long as you don’t go overboard you have nothing to worry about.
Every successful weight loss program should include some form of physical activity. When you combine healthy eating with exercise, that’s when you start to see amazing results in a relatively short period of time.
The good news is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get great results. An intense, 30-minute workout 4 times a week is all you need to start seeing your body change.
In addition, the great thing about physical activity is it does much more than just changes your physical appearance. When you exercise, you strengthen your cardiovascular system and reduce your risk for health issues such as heart attacks, heart disease, and diabetes.
Those who exercise on a regular basis are also more likely to maintain their weight loss.
A safe weight loss program should also include a maintenance plan to keep the weight off. The maintenance plan may include meal plans and appointments with your doctor or dietitian.
A healthy, safe diet will set achievable goals. For example, a reasonable goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) per week with a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise.
Choosing a weight loss program you like is more important than you realize. If you hate going to the gym and you choose a program that requires you to lift weights 7 days a week, the chances of you sticking with that program are slim to none.
Any diet you choose should be flexible enough to fit your lifestyle and preferences. For example, if you’re thinking about following the Keto diet (very low in carbohydrates and high in fat) but you enjoy eating fruits and vegetables more than meat and fatty foods, you will have a hard time sticking with it.
Choosing a program you like will increase your chances of sticking to it, which means you, are more likely lose weight. Following a diet long-term is key to keeping the weight off. To avoid being in the 80% of people who quit their diet within three months, choose a diet that does not exclude entire food groups and has room for your favorite foods in moderation. The longer you stick to your new, healthier habits, the better results you’ll see over time.
In addition, you need to be honest with yourself about your limits. A diet may require you to buy more expensive foods, spend even more time at the gym, or go to regular appointments with a dietitian. Do you have the time or resources to follow that diet? Choosing a weight loss plan that adapts to your particular circumstances will make it easier for you to follow it.
Your budget is another aspect to consider and he upfront and hidden costs of different diet plans.
- How often does a program require you to visit a weight loss center or clinic?
- Is the diet asking you to switch to different, more expensive foods, or to particular brands?
- Does it require you to buy vitamins or supplements?
Your Lifestyle Is Key
The key to sustained weight loss is to choose a plan that combines healthy eating habits and physical activity. However, there’s a catch – regardless of what diet plan you choose, the most important thing is to stick with it over time, after all, the greatest measure of weight loss success is sustainability.
This might be the trickiest part of choosing your weight-loss plan. On the one hand, you’ll have to change some not-so-healthy habits, like cutting down on fast food or sugary drinks and working out more.
On the other hand, you don’t want to adopt a diet that’s too different from your current lifestyle. If you try to make too many changes in your diet and workout routines too fast, you might feel overwhelmed and not follow up your diet for too long.
A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association cited by Harvard Health Publishing found that people who stuck with their weight-loss plan lost the same amount of weight, regardless of the diet they chose. It also found that those with more restrictive and extreme diets were more likely to stop following their plans.
So, do consider your lifestyle and habits before starting a new diet. For instance:
- How much time do you have to exercise every day?
- Are the meal plans compatible with your food preferences?
- Does the plan require you to buy special foods?
- Are the meal plans too strict or too flexible for your taste?
- Is the diet asking you to make drastic changes to your routine?
Think of your habits, your schedule and preferences, and adopt a health plan that suits your needs without turning your life upside down. Changing your eating habits is the best place to start, and solidifying these habits will ensure that you can not only take the weight off, but also keep it off for the rest of your life.
You can lose weight without harming your health, your budget, or your lifestyle. A safe weight-loss plan adapts to your preferences and helps you improve your eating and exercise habits.
Now that you know what a safe diet looks like, it’ll be easier for you to make smart decisions about your weight loss journey.
Start by talking to your doctor, and keep in mind that the safest diets are the ones created to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle, a balanced diet, and regular physical activity.