Choosing the Right Weight Loss Program For You

With the countless diet plans floating around, choosing the best one for you can be as hard as choosing the right car. Before you do commit to a diet plan there are some things that you have to learn.

First of all most of the commercial diet plans out there fall into two distinct categories: those that restrict your calorie intake or restrict you to certain foods. Second most diets target your dream of fast results but you should be aware that you’ll most likely gain back the lost weight within weeks. There are no shortcuts to losing weight and generally only the combination of a healthy and well balanced diet with physical activity can guarantee you success.

You should consult with your physician first before you embark on a weight loss program. You should find out if your weight is affected by a medical condition. Then gather as much information as you can about the program. How much does it cost? Does it carry any risks? What are the typical results? Here are some important points that your diet plan should have:

A healthy eating plan that reduces calories but doesn’t restrict you to specific food groups

Tips to increase your physical activity

Tips on changing your lifestyle

Slow and steady weight loss. You should lose from 1 to 2 pounds every week.

A plan to keep the weight off after you’ve lost it.

Types of Diets

Fixed-menu diet. A fixed-menu diet provides a list of all the foods you will eat. This kind of diet can be easy to follow because the foods are selected for you. But, you get very few different food choices which may make the diet boring and hard to follow away from home. In addition, fixed-menu diets do not teach the food selection skills necessary for keeping the weight off. If you start with a fixed-menu diet, you should switch eventually to a plan that helps you learn to make meal choices on your own, such as an exchange-type diet.

Exchange-type diet. An exchange-type diet is a meal plan with a set number of servings from each of several food groups. Within each group, foods are about equal in calories and can be interchanged as you wish. For example, the "starch" category could include one slice of bread or 1/2 cup of oatmeal; each is about equal in nutritional value and calories. If your meal plan calls for two starch choices at breakfast, you could choose to eat two slices of bread, or one slice of bread and 1/2 cup of oatmeal. With the exchange-type diet plans, you have more day-to-day variety and you can easily follow the diet away from home. The most important advantage is that exchange-type diet plans teach the food selection skills you need to keep your weight off.

Prepackaged-meal diet. These diets require you to buy prepackaged meals. Such meals may help you learn appropriate portion sizes. However, they can be costly. Before beginning this type of program, find out whether you will need to buy the meals and how much the meals cost. You should also find out whether the program will teach you how to select and prepare food, skills that are needed to sustain weight loss.

Formula diet. Formula diets are weight-loss plans that replace one or more meals with a liquid formula. Most formula diets are balanced diets containing a mix of protein, carbohydrate, and usually a small amount of fat. Formula diets are usually sold as liquid or a powder to be mixed with liquid. In addition, formula diets do not teach you how to make healthy food choices, a necessary skill for keeping your weight off.

Flexible diets. Some programs or books suggest monitoring fat only, calories only, or a combination of the two, with the individual making the choice of both the type and amount of food eaten. This flexible type of approach works well for many people, and teaches them how to control what they eat. One drawback of flexible diets is that some don’t consider the total diet. For example, programs that monitor fat only often allow people to take in unlimited amounts of excess calories from sugars, and therefore don’t lead to weight loss.

It is important to choose an eating plan that you can live with. It would be useless and ultimately wasteful if you paid an obscene amount for the diet only to abandon it in the third week or so. Just remember the general guidelines and you can be assured of a steady weight loss.