Figuring out how
you're supposed to eat to lose weight can be difficult, even if you
have a plan. Busy schedules can preclude involved meal preparation
or even keep you from trying new recipes. In those cases, calling on
companies that will fix everything for you may deserve
consideration. Remember, however, that these suppliers can be
expensive. Some examples:
started in 1983 by providing its clients with frozen meals. The
company has since branched into cookbooks and programs that
encourage clients to make food choices from readily available foods,
as well as an at-home program for people who don't live close to an
established center. Jenny Craig also encourages long-term weight
loss through exercise, stress reduction and individual support. Food
is shipped to you overnight. You can receive personal consultations
over the telephone. Using frozen meals is convenient, and the meals
contain the right proportion of fat, carbohydrate, protein all
the necessary nutrients.
also delivers frozen meals to your door for a set price per week.
You select what you want for each meal, as well as seven desserts or
snacks weekly. Meals are prepared in low-calorie portions that Nutri/System
deems optimal for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. You can
choose from among Nutri/System's additional products, such as salad
dressings, crackers and beverages.
when you decide the best way to lose weight comes from eating
low-calorie foods in moderate amounts, you don't have to go it
alone. Commercial group programs can support your efforts, giving
you eating plans and reinforcement from others on the same path.
Here's a sampling of group approaches:
Watchers believes in a healthy, comprehensive weight management
program that includes plans for food, activity and behavior
modification. Once you join, you attend a weekly meeting for a
weigh-in, information or activity session, and supportive
conversation. The program involves a three-step approach
encompassing the foods you eat, your activity levels and the use of
specific strategies that promote long-term healthy weight. There's
no measuring, no complicated counting, no forbidden foods. The
initial focus is on a 10 percent reduction in your weight. Once you
reach that goal, you receive instruction and encouragement for
continued weight loss. Eventually you reach your proper, healthy
weight, and the focus moves to maintenance.
TOPS Club Inc.
(Take Off Pounds Sensibly)
support group, TOPS doesn't tell you what foods to eat or how much
to consume, nor does it watch over your exercise levels. It's a
nonprofit, noncommercial group that's run solely by volunteers.
Weekly meetings begin with a confidential weigh-in, then include a
program from a TOPS leader or member, or perhaps a physician,
dietitian, psychologist or other expert. Participants can share
their successes and challenges in sessions afterward. Before getting
started, TOPS urges you to see your doctor for food and exercise
plans as well as an appropriate goal weight. The group does
recommend an exchange dietary plan and publishes a healthy lifestyle
guide that includes a full description of how to use the plan.
Are you a
compulsive overeater? According to Overeaters Anonymous (OA), you're
in the best position to decide whether your eating is out of
control. If food has become unmanageable for you, Overeaters
Anonymous can help. This is a program designed for people who regard
themselves as recovering compulsive overeaters. The approach is
identical to that of Alcoholics Anonymous, with 12 steps and 12
traditions. It's goal is to help members avoid compulsive overeating
and to offer assistance to others who "still suffer."
Among the many fad diets in circulation are:
Atkins, M.D., was a pioneering proponent of a high-protein,
low-carbohydrate diet back in the 1970s when his Dr. Atkins' Diet
Revolution hit the bookstores. His ideas went out of vogue with the
low-fat craze in the '90s, but he's selling books again with his Dr.
Atkins' New Diet Revolution. Dr. Atkins believes that carbohydrates
promote insulin production, which leads to weight gain and other
health risks. The Atkins diet, therefore, limits carbohydrates to 20
to 40 grams a day initially. Most grains, beans, fruits, breads,
pastas and vegetables are excluded. He says you can eat as much
meat, eggs, cheese, butter and cream as you want. Without enough
dietary carbohydrates, your body begins to burn its stored
carbohydrates for energy which releases a lot of water weight.
Your body also starts burning some fat, but not as efficiently as
exercise would. Burning fat without carbohydrates creates toxic
byproducts called ketones that build up in your bloodstream. These
will be processed through your kidneys before they're eliminated. To
be sure, ketones suppress appetite, as Dr. Atkins says, but they
also cause fatigue and nausea. The long-term health effects of this
diet are unknown and potentially risky.
Dr. Atkins, Barry Sears, Ph.D., author of The Zone, is
downright permissive when it comes to carbohydrates. Dr. Sears
claims the key to successful weight loss is a diet in which every
meal has a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 4 to 3. For overweight
people he recommends a caloric ratio of 40 percent carbohydrate, 30
percent protein and 30 percent fat. With this ratio, says Dr. Sears,
dieters experience less hunger, increased energy, peak physical
performance, improved mental focus and decreased illness. The Zone
diet's thrust is to sustain a specific ratio of insulin and glucagon,
important regulators of carbohydrate metabolism. Maintaining the
right proportion of these hormones, according to Dr. Sears,
contributes to the balancing of eicosanoids, which are hormonelike
substances derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids. The best way to
enter "the Zone," says Dr. Sears, is by preserving your
eicosanoid balance. However, there's little evidence that
eicosanoids are primarily responsible for diseases or that disease
risk can be manipulated through changing eicosanoids in the diet.
People will lose weight if they follow the prescribed diet in the
book because it's low in total calories and emphasizes fruits and
vegetables. A typical Zone diet consists of fewer than 1,000
calories a day.
consider that Americans each consume nearly three pounds of sugar
per week, the premise of Sugar Busters!, "Cut Sugar to Trim
Fat," may seem like one whose time has come. But the concept
which lumps in whole foods such as potatoes, corn and carrots
with refined sugars found in cakes, candies and sodas goes too
far. Moreover, although authors H. Leighton Steward and their
associates don't advocate the heavy fats of Dr. Atkins, the diet
still promotes its fair share of rich foods. Cutting back on sugar
is only one aspect of healthy dietary changes. Without making any
other nutritional alterations, and particularly when encouraging the
intake of saturated fat and decreasing beneficial vegetables, this
diet is unlikely to help you lose weight or at least keep it off
over the long term.
there are many versions of this plan one even erroneously calls
itself the Mayo Clinic Diet all require you to eat half a
grapefruit before every meal to reap the benefits of the fruit's
so-called fat-burning enzymes. Calories typically are limited to
fewer than 800 a day, although some versions require that you eat
until you are full. Grapefruit has no fat, is low in calories and
sodium, and is packed with vitamin C. But the very low calories
and deficits in protein, fiber and several important vitamins and
minerals can make this diet dangerous.
What could be
simpler? Eat as much cabbage soup as you want for seven days and
you'll lose 10 to 15 pounds. Other foods, too, are prescribed during
the weeklong program, including potatoes, fruit juices and some
vegetables. The only problem is that cabbage soup proponents report
feeling lightheaded and weak because the diet is too low in protein,
vitamins and complex carbohydrates. You may lose weight, but you'll
probably be too queasy to enjoy it.
Fad diets like
these and others promote quick-and-easy weight loss. You may lose
the weight quickly and relatively easily on them, but you'll gain it
back. Fad diets don't offer a permanent, healthy solution to the
problem of obesity.