The holidays have come and gone, but the figgy pudding and eggnog have elected to stick around (my waist, that is). New Year's resolutions are announced each year with great determination and are usually abandoned soon after, much to one's chagrin. This January, instead of resolving to "lose weight" or "get healthy," resolutions that are much too vague, take pen to paper, decide on a specific weight loss goal, and make it attainable. Here are some diets that can help you achieve your goal this time.
Diet: South Beach
How to follow: It's the "Good versus Bad" diet - eliminate the bad carbohydrates and fats from your daily consumption in three stages, each becoming more liberal. Daily exercise and snacking is encouraged!
Calories per day: No calorie counting here; just be sure to eat the right carbohydrates, right fats, and lean proteins.
Suggested results: Lowers the bad cholesterol (LDLs) and raises the good ones (HDLs) while reducing the amount of triglycerides in your blood, lowering blood pressure and sugar levels.
Good for you if: You want to kick up your metabolism and like to snack.
Diet: The Mediterranean Diet
How to follow: There are a number of variations to the Mediterranean diet (there are 16 countries bordering this body of water) but all have a combination that emphasizes more fruits, veggies, breads and cereals, potatoes, beans, and nuts while limiting consumption of dairy, fish, and poultry. Eggs and wine are consumed in low amounts. Olive oil is the primary source of good fat. Keep portion sizes small and get daily exercise.
Calories per day: To lose one pound per week, reduce caloric intake by 500 calories each day and/or increase physical activity.
Suggested results: Expect to lose five pounds per year and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Good for you if: You enjoy eating delicious fresh foods in smaller portions and a nice glass of wine, and can stand to live without red meat.
Diet: Jenny Craig
How to follow: Meet regularly with a weight loss and physical counselor at a local Jenny Craig Centre in order to completely change your lifestyle and eating habits. Not to worry if there isn't a Jenny Craig nearby, you can have phone meetings with your consultant! Initially, members eat the prepackaged and frozen meals created for Jenny Craig, then transition to creating meals on their own following the same principles.
Calories per day: Determined according to your calculated calorie level based on age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.
Suggested results: Loss of about one to two pounds per week can be expected.
Good for you if: You would rather have someone else cook your meals for a while!
Diet: Weight Watchers
How to follow: On the Momentum Plan, members follow the Points System-each food is given a number based on its calorie, fat and fiber content. To get to your weight goal, a total number of points per day will be allotted according to your height, weight, activity level, and age.
Calories per day: Based on the personalized Points System.
Suggested results: Average weight loss of one to two pounds per week.
Good for you if: You can't seem to break ties with your favorite not-so-healthy foods and like having a whole team of support.
Diet: The Zone
How to follow: A ratio of 40:30:30 for carbohydrates, protein, and fats respectively-this encourages your body to operate at a peak metabolic rate. Eating foods in this ratio combined with physical activity is best.
Calories per day: No calorie counting. Think protein the size of your palm and fill the rest of your plate with "favorable" carbs like veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains, and a small amount of "unfavorable" carbs like brown rice, pastas, and bread.
Suggested results: Lose weight and control hunger pangs.
Good for you if: You like to cook and really enjoy veggies. Great for vegetarians!
How to follow: Eat the meals and get some exercise, but be sure to get on the right system for you. Four categories for men and women include Basic, Silver (older individuals), Diabetic, and Vegetarian and provide portion-controlled meals for all meals and snacks. Meals are mailed to you and should be supplemented with fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy from a grocery.
Calories per day: Calculated according to your age, height, weight, gender, and lifestyle.
Suggested results: Loss of about two pounds per week will average.
Good for you if: You're often on the run-many meals are made to be able to travel with you. Every meal is taken care of when you order food online and you can tailor the menu to fit your specific needs.
How to follow: The Atkins diet is focused on restricting the consumption of bad carbohydrates in four different phases. The first stage, lasting two weeks, restricts the intake of legumes and other starches while allowing a generous ingestion of protein in the form of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and other low fat daily items. Alcohol is verboten.
Calories per day: Based on personal figures, a 500-750 caloric reduction is suggested.
Suggested results: A loss of five to 10 pounds in the first few weeks is not uncommon.
Good for you if: You love meat or want to lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time and plan on changing your lifestyle.
Diet: Take Shape for Life
How to follow: The Take Shape for Life diet involves eating five Medifast meals and one "Lean and Green" meal every day. The Medifast meals are quick and offer a number of flavors so you don't get bored. Working with a Health Advisor Coach, the system can help schedule a time frame for the amount of weight loss desired. The "5 & 1 Plan" calls for five nutritionally balanced Medifast meals and one meal that includes a single serving of lean protein and three servings of low starch vegetables or a salad (think one to two cups of lettuce with ¼ cup of toppings and one to two tablespoons of low fat dressing) every day.
Calories per day: 800-1000 calories per day as allotted and supervised by a doctor.
Suggested results: Weight loss averages about two to five pounds per week.
Good for you if: You are willing to say good-bye to carbs and alcohol-but only for a little while! This diet is only to be entered into under close supervision of a health care professional.