Whether a diet is actually a safe and effective weight loss program cannot be determined by trying to evaluate the promises of dramatic weight loss you find in print ads, on television and on the internet. You need to find a program that will help you to make life-long changes in your diet and exercise habits. Looking for such a diet program, you should look for these features:Satisfaction. The diet program you choose should consist of foods you like and can continue to eat for a life-time. If you choose a weight loss program that consists of foods you do not like, you may very well be able to follow that plan long enough to meet your weight loss goals. It is unrealistic, however, to believe that you can continue to eat foods you do not like for the rest of your life. In addition to looking for a diet on which you can eat foods you enjoy, you should also look for a diet that allows you to eat a wide variety of foods. If the diet is too limited (regardless of whether you like the foods you are allowed to eat), you will not be able to maintain your new eating habits for a life-time.
Good Nutrition. An effective weight loss program must consist of a diet that includes a sufficient amount of calories and supplies your body with the necessary nutrients to sustain eat long-term. Clearly, you can adopt a restrictive, non-nutritional, diet plan (such as the grapefruit diet, banana diet and other restrictive diets) and many of them are very effective at helping you shed the pounds. They are not, however, what we would consider safe and effective diets as they are not the type of eating programs you can maintain for the long-term. Many of these types of programs can cause health problems if they are followed for long periods of time. Also, if a diet requires that you take vitamin and mineral supplements to maintain your health, it should only be used short term and does not meet our criteria.
Flexibility. Plans that restrict certain food groups are also not the kind of plans that can be adopted for long-term eating changes. You want to find a plan that includes an assortment of foods from all the major food groups. A healthy diet will include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (including fish), low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated cooking oils. Some plans will also allow restricted amounts of complex carbohydrates as well as the once-in-a-while sweet.
Accessibility. Does the diet require foods that are unavailable in your area or are hard to afford? You will never be able to adopt a diet for lifetime use if it requires you to eat foods you cannot find or cannot afford. A safe and effective weight loss program will consist primarily of foods that you can readily find and that won't bust your budget.
Exercise.You want to find a weight loss program that incorporates exercise, even if it is just moderate exercise. Not only does exercise aid the actual weight loss but it will improve both your physical health as well as your mental outlook. The vast majority of people who have lost weight and kept it off more than a year are those who incorporated regular physical activity into their new lifestyle.
Be a tortoise. The most effective long-term weight loss plans are those that seek slow and consistent weight loss rather than those that stress losing large amounts of weight in the shortest amount of time. Diets whose goals are a pound or two a week are the diets that can be maintained for a lifetime. Obviously, faster weight loss plans work but if your goal is to keep it off rather than becoming a yo-yo dieter, you need to be a tortoise and not a hare. Sometimes fast weight loss is medically or socially necessary (think 20 year reunion or bridesmaid dress) but that isn't what we are talking about here. This discussion is solely concerned with a weight reduction program that you can maintain for life.
Adopting the criteria above will help you find a diet that you can incorporate into, and follow for, the rest of your life. Such a program really shouldn't even be thought of as a diet but as a change of lifestyle. We hope that the list above helps you to find your own safe and effective weight loss program.