Different Diets That Work
How to Lose Weight – Eating and Diet Plans
Before we look at specific plans to help you lose weight, let’s establish a few weight loss rules.
Rule #1 – Know your enemy. Understand why you gained weight in the first place. Was it binge eating? Lack of exercise? Understanding what causes your weight gain is half the battle.
Rule #2 – Base a diet plan off your specific needs. If you are a big night time eater, then plan more of your daily calories for later in the evening. If you’re not a breakfast eater, don’t force yourself to eat breakfast. Work with your current eating habits, don’t fight against them.
Rule #3 – A diet plan should be a reasonable eating lifestyle. A fad diet is not a wise choice. You want to adopt a new “eating lifestyle”; something that you will stick with (and add calories too to maintain weight) once the weight loss is over.
Rule #4 – Remember how to eat. Debates rage over high-protein, low-carb and vegetarian eating lifestyles, but there is one this most nutritionists agree upon: choosing whole foods and setting aside processed foods is the way to go. Keep dieting simple. Choose the whole foods you enjoy – fruits, veggies, protein sources, etc. Eating doesn’t have to be complicated; we simply have forgotten how to eat. Focus on nutritious whole foods as the base for your diet plan.
Rule #5 – Don’t rush the process. Remember that you are embarking upon a lifestyle change, and not a 6-8 week diet program. Remain patient and focus on fostering new eating and exercise habits. Don’t go to diet and exercise extremes all in the name of quicker results.
Rule #6 – Perfection is not a reasonable goal. Bad days will happen. Instead of getting depressed when they do, plan a day or two each week into your diet that allows for a few extra calories. This way if you get a craving for ice cream or tortilla chips, you can have a bit – within reason – and still remain on your diet.
Rule #7 – Don’t punish your body with exercise. Exercise is good. It helps with overall health, and improves our quality of living. When you hit the gym, train with these goals in mind. There is no need to punish your body with an excessive amount of physical activity. Balance is key.
There are just about as many ways to lose weight, and diet plans, as there are books in a library. The following methods are time tested, and generally considered the most reasonable choices in the fitness and nutrition industry. Please do research on each of these plans to help find out which one is right for you.
Diet Plan #1 – Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is fast (no pun intended) becoming “the” method for getting ripped and shredded. The premise is simple…you eat nothing for 16 to 20 hours each day, and then eat the totality of your daily calories during a 4 to 8 hour window.
This window could consist if one, two or even three smaller meals and/or snacks. It really doesn’t matter, to be honest. Meals, and the fasting period in general, should be structured to best fit the individual’s lifestyle and needs.
If you are a binge eater, or love to eat big night time meals, it may be best to limit your feeding window to only 4 hours per day. This way you can work with your current eating habits, feel satisfied, and fall asleep at night without feeling hunger or consumed by food cravings.
Intermittent Fasting “Rules”:
Fast 16 to 20 hours each day.
Eat mostly clean, whole foods.
Structure a 4 to 8 hour feeding window that suits your eating habits. You may eat as frequently as needed during this period, as long as you are not overeating calories.
Notes: Because you are free to eat whatever types of whole or clean foods that you like, intermittent fasting is rather flexible and easy to adhere to. With that said, take some time to Google “healthy recipes.” Having plenty of tasty recipe choices is never a bad thing.
Diet Plan #2 – The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet is an intermittent fasting variation that existed prior to the modern rise in popularity of Lean Gains. When on the Warrior Diet, you alternate between carb heavy and protein heavy meals. You are also allowed a very minor amount of nuts, seeds, light proteins or low glycemic fruits/veggies during the underfeeding (fasting) window.
Warrior Diet “Rules”:
Fast approximately 20 hours per day.
Alternate between carb-heavy and protein-heavy eating days.
Small snacks are allowed after the big meal, but within reason.
You can eat a very minimal amount of seeds, nuts, light proteins and/or low-glycemic fruits/veggies during the underfeeding window.
Notes: Despite allowing for a minimal amount of daily grazing, the Warrior Diet is a tad bit more restrictive than pure intermittent fasting. Because of the cycling between heavy carb and protein meals, meals must be planned to a minimal degree.
This will get easier over time, certainly, as you develop habits. With that said, for many people the Warrior Diet will not work well as a lifestyle choice because of the alternating carb and protein meals.
Diet Plan #3 – Low Carb Diets: Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet
These are many different types of low carb diets that advocate slight dietary variations on the same low carb theme. The main thing to know about low carb eating is that you want to focus on eating whole, nutritiously dense foods.
Most low carb diets allow you to eat whatever you want, within reason. Obviously binge eating is never a good idea, but with low carb diets the advice is generally “eat until satiety, and when hungry, eat again.”
Many people can lose weight eating this way. With junk food out of the equation, and high fats added to the equation, you are likely to feel a greater degree of satiety. That said, monitoring calories during weight is still a wise thing to do.
Paleo Diet “Rules”:
Eat when hungry.
High fat, moderate protein, low to moderate carbs.
No limits on saturated fats.
Eat all the veggies you want.
No grains, including corn and corn products.
No legumes, including peanuts, peas, etc.
No refined sugars (including high fructose corn syrup).
No dairy. Some allow allow butter and heavy cream.
Starchy tubers are an area of disagreement. Some say yes, others no.
Atkins Diet “Rules”:
Note: This is for the “induction” phase, or first 2 weeks. For more information on the Atkins diet please click here.
Eat plenty of protein foods.
12 to 15 grams of carbs from veggies.
Up to 3-4 ounces of cheese.
No trans fats.
Eat plenty of cold water fish.
Olive oil is recommended.
Avoid corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
No margarine unless it is free of trans fat.
No sugar or processed flour.
Splenda is ok.
No grains, or anything made from grains.
No fruit juice.
No diary products except for butter and heavy cream.
No starchy veggies, including potatoes, beets and corn).
No nuts until after induction.
After induction you are allowed:
Up to 1-2 ounces of nuts.
Coconut milk, almond milk.
Diet Plan #4 – Simple Calorie Reduction
While calorie reduction is a cornerstone of most weight loss programs, simple calorie reduction often has very few rules. You determine an appropriate amount of calories per day, and eat whatever you want as long as you do not exceed your limits.
Obviously, it makes little sense to eat only junk foods or processed foods. Consider the following to be guidelines, rather than rules.
Simple Calorie Reduction “Guidelines”:
Do not use a starvation-style diet.
Eat mostly whole foods that are nutritionally dense.
Try to balance your macronutrient intake on some reasonable level – protein, carbs and fats.
Don’t adopt an eating lifestyle that will be hard to maintain after your diet is over.
Diet Plan #5 – Anabolic Diet
The Anabolic diet was developed by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale. The goal of this eating approach is to build muscle while burning fat, and was set up to allow a natural lifter to achieve quality gains. By eating the right foods at the right times, the Anabolic diet is said to maximize your anabolic hormones, helping you to maximize your efforts in the gym.
Anabolic Diet “Rules”:
High protein, high fat, carb cycling.
During the week you eat proteins, fats and veggies.
During the weekends you eat lots of carbs.
General rule is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 18 to determine your calorie intake.
Start the program with 12 days of fats and protein only, and no carbs. Follow this with 2 carb days.
No carbs days include 40% protein, 60% fat, and 25g carbs maximum.
High carb days include 15% protein, 25% fat, 60% carbs.
Note: It will take a while to adapt to this style of eating. At first you may feel foggy or lethargic.
Diet Plan #6 – Zone Diet
The Zone diet is a popular weight loss system created by Barry Sears. The main focus on this weight loss system is on eating proteins, carbs and fats in a balanced manner. The purpose of doing so is to balance your hormones, preventing your insulin from getting to high or low, and glucagon levels too high.
Barry Sears has made the claim that a 30 to 40 ratio of protein to carbohydrates places your body into “The Zone”, which works to keep insulin and glucagon levels where they need to be. Sears also claims this ratio is both heart-friendly and works as a natural anti-inflammatory.
The obvious question becomes: how does this help us lose weight? The answer: lower carbs and better food choices. While the Zone Diet is not extremely low carb, Sears does not believe that a low fat and high carb diet are good for the waistline. He also believes in nutritional balance. Therefore, The Zone Diet advocates lower carbs rather than minimal carbs.
In addition, the fact that you are making better food choices will help with the weight loss process. By reducing junk food and high glycemic carbs you should start to see a change in your body composition and an improvement in your health.
Zone Diet “Rules”:
Use a 40/30/30 macronutrient ratio.
40% of your calories from carb intake.
30% of your calories from protein intake.
30% of your calories from fat intake.
High glycemic foods are limited.
You do not eat fewer calories, just better calories.
Note: The Zone Diet book details a method of structuring your eating plan. Space constraints prevent us from adding more detail regarding how much food to eat per day, and when to eat it.
Diet Plan #7 – Dukan Diet
Originating from France, the Dukan diet is protein rich weight loss plan developed by doctor Pierre Dukan. Though Dukan had been promoting this style of eating for 30 years, it did not catch fire in the dieting industry until the release of his book The Dukan Diet. Sales of this book currently exceed 10 million copies.
The Dukan diet consists of four phases: attack phase, cruise phase, consolidation phase and the stabilization phase. You are also provided with a list of 100 allowed foods.
Dukan Diet “Rules”:
The attack phase – you are allowed to eat as much as you want of 72 protein rich foods over the course of the first 2 to 7 days. Expect to lose some weight during this phase simply because you are not eating carbs and junk food.
The cruise phase – 28 approved veggies are added as options. Expected weight loss is about 2.2 pounds per week.
The consolidation phase – fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods are introduced back into your diet, as part of 2 celebratory meals per week.
The stabilization phase – you are allowed to eating freely within a certain set of rules.
Diet Plan #8 – Carb Cycling
The cycling of carbs, and along with it calories, has been around the muscle building realm for quite a long time. This style of eating usually involves some form of rotation between low carb days, moderate carb days and heavy carb days.
Many carb cycling diet approaches keep fat and protein intake consistent on a day to day basis. By doing so, calorie intake is also rotated as carb intake is rotated.
The following are not rules, but rather suggestions.
Carb Cycling “Suggestions”:
Men: try and eat at least 160 to 180 grams of protein per day. Women – try to eat 100 to 120 grams of protein per day.
On low carb days avoid high glycemic fruit, starchy veggies, grains, legumes, sugar and flour. Try and limit your carb intake to 25 to 50 grams.
On moderate carb days consume about 0.8 grams to 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.
On high carb days consume about 2.0 grams to 2.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.
Fat intake should be around 20-30% of overall average daily calorie intake.