Many Diet Plan Options, but Only One That Is Scientifically Proven to Work Best
The world is full of diet plans. Some sound crazy, others too hard, and most just sound like someone is trying to sell you something. It can be difficult to sift through all of this noise to find what diet plan works best. Fortunately there is actually only one clear and simple answer to this question. There is nothing fancy or complicated involved, just some simple basic rules about what kinds of food to eat to help you lose weight and stay healthy.
Our bodies may be extremely complex, but there is no magic pill or secret formula that will let you skip the simple wisdom that you need to eat healthy every day. A healthy diet involves eating unprocessed or barely processed foods in the right quantities.
That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.
Let’s take a look at what you need to eat to keep the pounds off and start feeling great every day.
The Basic Food Groups for Healthy Eating
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and whole-wheat pasta
- Starch vegetables, such as corn, potatoes and yams
- Legumes, such as peas, beans and lentils
- Lean dairy, such as non-fat dairy milk, fortified soy milk and non-fat yogurt
- Lean protein, such as skinless white poultry, plant proteins and lean red meat
Healthy Servings of Quality Food
As long as you are eating the right amounts from the above food groups, you really can’t go wrong with your diet. Let’s take a further look at the number of daily servings from each group and some examples of serving sizes.
Five or more daily servings of complex carbohydrates:
- Whole grains, such as oats, whole wheat, rye, barley, brown rice, millet and quinoa
- Starchy vegetables, such as yams, potatoes and winter squashes
- Legumes, such as peas, beans and lentils
One serving is 1/2 cup after being cooked. A whole-grain bread serving is 1 ounce.
Try to avoid refined grains (white bread, etc) as much as you can.
Five or more daily servings of vegetables:
One serving of veggies is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 full cup raw. Try to eat a variety of different colored veggies to get the full range of essential vitamins and nutrients that they contain. The more veggies that you eat, the more full you will feel on less calories, which eliminates the need for boring and annoying calorie counting. A large amount of vegetables in your diet will lead you to naturally eat fewer calories and help get in the right mindset for long-term and healthy weight-loss or maintenance.
Four or more daily servings of fruit:
One serving of most fruits is what will fit in the palm of your hand. Eat only fresh or frozen fruits that have no additional sugars. Do not drink fruit juices, as these are loaded with added sugar. Eating a lot of fruit is another great way to feel full and fight off cravings without having to count every calorie that you eat.
Two daily servings of dairy:
For your daily dairy intake, just try to eat non-fat whenever possible. Beyond that, it is just a matter of adding some cheese or yogurt to your breakfast or lunch. Here are some popular dairy servings:
- Non-fat milk (1 cup)
- Non-fat cheese (1/2 cup)
- Non-fat yogurt (3/4 cup)
Unfortunately, some people cannot process most dairy foods. If this is the case, there are many dairy substitutes to choose from. When deciding on a dairy substitute, be sure it contains protein, vitamins B-12 and D, and calcium. Most people choose soy, almond, and rice milks as popular and healthy alternatives. Also check to make sure that your dairy substitute doesn’t contain a bunch of unnecessary sodium, sugar or saturated fats.
Three to six ounces of cooked protein per day:
For most people living a healthy and active lifestyle, less than six ounces of cooked protein is more than enough for their daily dietary needs. However, the big issue with protein is the quality of the meat that you are eating. Many meats are high in fat and cholesterol, which you do not want to eat regularly. Below is a simple list of the types of meats from best to worst. If you are really committed to healthy eating, try a meat-free diet, and get your proteins from legumes instead of meat.
- Best: Fish that are rich in omega-3, such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, trout and herring. If you’re eating canned fish, be sure to select the low-sodium brands
- Good: Other fish and mollusks (oysters, clams, etc).
- Satisfactory: Poultry (no skin), crustaceans (shrimp, crab, etc) and game meat (venison, bison, etc)
- Poor: Beef, veal, pork, goat and lamb. When you do eat these red meats, try and choose cuts that are below a 30% fat ratio
Ideally you should eat from the Poor section no more than once a month and from the Satisfactory section no more than once a week.
If you enjoy eggs, you can eat up to two egg whites daily. If you are replacing meat with eggs, then you can eat up to seven egg whites daily. Do not eat the yolks, as they are extremely high in cholesterol.
What to Drink
When it comes to drinks with your meals and throughout the day, it’s best to keep things simple. You don’t need to drink much during the day, just for digestion and when you feel thirsty.
- Water, which can be plain or mineral
- Cocoa, but no more than two tablespoons each day
- Herbal teas, such as rosehips, peppermint, and chamomile
A little caffeine is actually good for the metabolism, but don’t overdo it. Try not to exceed 400 mg of daily caffeine, which is the amount found in 32 ounces of coffee or 64 ounces of tea. Try to drink black or green tea instead of coffee because tea has many additional health benefits that coffee does not.
A Simple Diet That Will Leave You Feeling Great
It is unfortunate that there is no secret diet or magic pill that will allow you to eat what you want while staying slim and healthy. However, eating healthy really is its own reward. Once you get into the habit of eating the right foods in the right amounts, you will never look back to your cookie and potato chip stuffing days with longing. You will feel so good from following these simple dietary rules that you will be excited about finding new healthy foods and recipes.
All it takes is the will to improve your life, so get out there, eat healthy and live well.