Constant dieting may not be the best way to maintain weight, but chances are you've been on one (or two, or a few!) at one point in your life. And that can mean a lifetime of dieting failures, but there's always something to learn from your attempts. Here are some lessons learned from those fad diets.
- Steer clear of empty calories (Low-carb diet): Low-carb diets like the Atkins or Dukan diets can be hard to maintain and aren't always the healthiest eating choices to make, since you're at risk for eating too much saturated fat in lieu of nutrient-rich (but also high-carb) produce like carrots. But what a low-carb diet does teach you is to rely less on refined carbs like breads and crackers, too, which can be the source of many empty calories for lots of people.
- Stick with whole foods (Paleo diet): Processed foods aren't exactly waist-line-friendly, so the Paleo diet's focus on fruits, veggies, meat, and anything else our foraging ancestors could get their hands on is a healthy principle. While grains and dairy may be off limits, Paleo dieters fill up on fresh produce and lean proteins.
- Keep your heart healthy (Mediterranean diet) There's a reason why those living on the Mediterranean coast are so happy; their diet has been proven to help people live longer. As a diet craze, people turn to the Mediterranean diet to lose weight with its focus on fresh foods and low-calorie seafood, but the benefits of the diet, which is full of healthy fats found in fish, nuts, and olive oil, include lowering your risk of heart disease and brain aging.
Read on for more lessons learned from popular diets.
- Vitamins are essential (Juice diet): Going on a juice-only diet isn't exactly sustainable, but one good note from buying into the cleanse craze? You may be drinking far more vitamins and minerals found in fruits and veggies than you'd normally be getting, since juices pack a large volume of produce in one glass. Note, however, that while juices give you many nutrients, you'll miss out on all the belly-blasting fiber found in whole vegetables, which many people don't get enough of anyway.
- Support helps (Jenny Craig): Sticking to a healthy eating plan takes lots of discipline — we are, after all, conditioned to gravitate toward high-energy-containing foods. One of the Jenny Craig program's main principles is having a consultant to keep you on track. Having a diet buddy can help you get through those times when you just want to give in, and not only that, someone who's also making healthy choices won't be the one to tempt you when you go out to eat by ordering a plate of fries while you go for the salad!
- Certain foods keep you more full (Volumetrics): The main principle when it comes to the Volumetrics diet is reasonable — go for foods that give you more bang for you buck when it comes to calories (after all, who doesn't want to eat more and weigh less?)
- What you eat matters (Weight Watchers): The Weight Watchers program is popular for a reason: it's less of a diet and more of a lifestyle, where foods are assigned points based on calories and nutrition. This simple points system can be a lifesaver when it comes to weight loss, but no matter what, reminding yourself (and quantifying) that having a snack of fruit is better for you than that cookie is an important skill to keep.
What smart lessons have you learned from your diet history?