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Losing weight and getting fit are always at the top of New Year’s resolution lists, but people need a little guidance. Is red meat good or bad? Are fruits and vegetables considered carbs? Which ones are the “healthy fats”? While it’s true that jumping on and off diets doesn’t really accomplish lasting weight-loss goals, the following eating guidelines can help by providing a long-term, structured plan for incorporating healthy meals into an active lifestyle.
This relatively new approach (which has actually been around for a decade) combines medical science with gourmet meals to make dieting more palatable. A week’s worth of complete meals, the kind available at fine restaurants, are delivered to the user’s home so they don’t have to count points or worry about whether what they’re eating is healthy. Menus include dishes like grilled chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta or pork tenderloin with olive tapenade and broccoli. The combined strengths of medical doctors and chefs created a program of healthy meals that also taste great.
It’s been around for 50 years or so because so many people have had success losing weight by sticking to a few simple principles. High-calorie, high-fat foods cost more points while most vegetables cost nothing. Once the plan is out of points, the user has to stop eating or take points away from the next day. In fact, just the process of tracking what is actually being eaten goes a long way toward helping participants control their diets. There are a few levels of support to choose from, such as the go-it-alone, online-only points tracker site, weekly meetings with others who share the same weight loss goals or a personal healthy eating coach. Another one of the best aspects of this plan is that it has adapted well to new technology. Weight Watchers has a mobile app that will immediately calculate points of common foods on the go, including the ability to save a picture of the meal so points can be added up later.
Price: Varies considerably from $20/month for online access only to $70/month or more for personal coaching
This is the most searched-for diet on the web. Although it was just patented last year, it represents an eating style that has been around for 10,000 years. Like a modified version of the Atkins diet, Paleo concentrates on more protein and fewer carbs, but in a truly unique way. It tries to imitate as closely as possible the diet that hunter-gatherers ate before agriculture came along, hence the nickname, “The Caveman Diet.” Most of the food on this diet, like grass-fed beef and macadamia oil, can only be found at health food shops and specialty groceries like Whole Foods, which can get expensive. The high-protein aspect of Paleo makes it the preferred diet of those who stay active using CrossFit, especially its Olympic strength-training program.
Price: Grocery bills can run up to $1,200/month for a family of three.
It’s not a good idea to start any diet, especially the dangerous ones like juice cleanses, without talking to a health professional about individual nutritional needs and goals. Many of the ones favored by Hollywood stars are just designed to drop water weight before a photo shoot and are the opposite of healthy. Remember that for any diet, the long-term goal is to establish healthy eating habits for life, not just to look good in a bathing suit this summer. Take it slow, eat all the nutritious food necessary to support an active lifestyle and choose personal rewards other that fat-filled foods. Then it will be no big deal to splurge on rare occasions.