There are many types of diet plans for weight loss, so many it can become overwhelming.
One way to cut through the confusion is to classify the different types.
Low Calorie Diet Plans
Most diets that are designed to help you lose weight provide 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day. However, the number of calories that is right for you depends on your weight and the level of activity you engage in. When a diet plan allows this level of calorie intake in a day it is called a low-calorie diet and the weight loss is achieved by calorie counting and therefore limiting the number of calories you consume.
Ideally the calorie level of your diet should allow for no more than a one pound per week weight loss. Results are more visible after the first week or two because of the initial water loss.
It is important to remember that the recommended calorie level for each individual will vary depending on your age and weight, so you may need to eat more or fewer calories dependent on your own life style and circumstances.
To remain healthy and not feel lethargic whilst on a restricted calorie diet, it may be a good idea to take supplements that will help to keep you energized and full of vitality throughout the whole day.
Fixed-menu Diet Plans
A fixed-menu diet provides you with a list of all the foods that you can eat in an effort to lose weight. The advantage of this type of diet is that it is easy to follow because the foods you can or cannot eat have already been selected for you. This helps end the confusion of ‘can I eat this or not?’
However, the drawback of this type of diet is that food choices are very limited and this may therefore make the diet boring and hard to follow if, for example, you are away from home and do not have all the ingredients you may need.
In addition to this drawback, fixed-menu diets do not really teach you the food selection skills necessary for keeping weight off, and such skills are crucial when you have worked so hard at losing weight. Ideally therefore, if you start with a fixed-menu diet there should come a time when you switch to a plan that helps you learn to make meal choices independently.
Such a limited diet also poses the risk of limiting your unnecessary nutritional intake. In this scenario, nutritional intake refers to the essential vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that everyone needs in order to enjoy continued good health. A lack of essential nutrients can therefore mean that your weight loss efforts will be slowed down, rather than accelerated.
When you cut out certain foods, it is inevitable that you will reduce the amount of some nutrients in your diet as well. Food supplements could be the quickest and simplest solution to helping you maintain your diet and overall good health at the same time.
Exchange-type Diet Plans
An exchange-type diet is a meal plan that works with a set number of servings from each of the basic food groups and within the limits of each essential food group. Foods that are about equal in calories can be replaced with each other at your own discretion.
For example, from the starch category you could include one slice of bread or half a cup of oatmeal as each is about equal to the other in terms of nutritional value and calories.
In this diet scenario, if the meal plan recommends two starch choices at breakfast, for example, you could choose to eat two slices of bread or one slice of bread and half a cup of oatmeal. The choice is yours.
In the case of exchange-type diet plans, you can have more day-to-day variety and they are easier to follow even when you are away from home. However, the most important advantages of the exchange-type diet plans is that they teach the food selection skills you must acquire in order to keep the weight off once you have shifted it.
Prepackaged-meal Diet Plans
Pre-packaged meal diet plans require that you buy prepackaged meals. Such meals may help you to learn the appropriate portion sizes that you should be eating but the major disadvantage of this kind of diet is that it can be expensive.
Also, using this kind of diet it is questionable whether you could actually learn about proper nutrition and make intelligent meal choices for losing weight.
There is also the question of availability – the meal you want may or may not be available if you are out of town, for example. It may become difficult to lose the weight and then keep it off, which is always the biggest challenge.
Formula Diet Plans
Formula diets are weight-loss plans that work by replacing one or more meals with a liquid formula. Most formula diets are balanced diets in nature as they contain a mix of protein, carbohydrate, and usually a small amount of fat as well. Formula diets are usually sold as a liquid or as a powder that has to be mixed with a liquid to make a shake-like drink.
Even though formula diets are easy to use and do help short-term weight loss, many people easily regain the lost weight as soon as they stop using the formula. Note that formula diets do not teach you how to make healthy food choices. We have already established that being able to make healthy food choices is a necessary skill for keeping your weight off.
Flexible Diet Plans
Some diet plans suggest that you should be monitoring your fat intake or the intake of calories, or a combination of both fat and calories. In the case of flexible diets, the choice of the type of food lies with the individual and, because of this, such a flexible diet plan tends to work well for most people. This is because it allows for choice and freedom.
However, this diet plan is also flawed because it limits food intake of a particular food group only. For example, any diet plan that focuses only on cutting down the consumption of fat will allow people to take in unlimited amounts of excess calories from sugars and this pretty much guarantees that weight loss will never really happen.
Low Fat Diet Plans
Fat is recommended to be the lowest consumption food group because it leads to weight gain and because of its limited nutritional value. In a low fat diet plan, the number of calories obtained from your diet must be limited.
Using a low fat diet, only 30 percent of the calories consumed must come from fat, whilst on a very low fat diet plan, only 20 percent of calories must come from fat. In a typical low fat diet, meat, poultry and fish are not recommended.
The only dairy products allowed are fat free yogurt, milk, cheese and egg whites. Banned foods in the diet include all fats, seeds, nuts, refined carbohydrates such as white rice, sugar and white flour.
You are allowed to consume an unlimited amount of other food without measure, especially foodstuffs like fruits, vegetables and grains. However, modern research is increasingly skeptical about the claim that fat is the main culprit behind obesity and weight problems.
Restricted Flour and Sugar Diet Plans
This is also termed the no flour, no sugar diet plan and is a weight-loss program that reduces calories in your diet by eliminating flour-based and added-sugar foods. Foods that contain added sugar and refined flour are nutrient-poor, unlike foods which contain whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
The No Flour, No Sugar Diet cuts down on the so-called ’empty’ calories of refined carbohydrate-based foods. These also tend to be foods that are high in fats. The No Flour, No Sugar type diet also encourages a lifestyle that involves a selection of foods without significant sugar and refined flour content, based on the interpretation of food labels. No counting of calories is suggested or necessary.