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How to choose the right diet for you

Red Deer fitness trainer gives tips on how to weed through the hundreds of choices

You’ve tried a couple diets with little to no lasting success.

Your friends and co-workers swear by what’s worked for them, but you have yet to find what works for you. From South Beach or 17-Day to Cabbage Soup or Sugar Busters, the options for weight-loss programs are endless. But you don’t want to waste your time on diets that are unhealthy or impossible to continue long-term, so how do you narrow it down?

If you’re in the market for a new weight loss program, there are a few things to consider when trying to narrow down your options.

Consideration 1: your needs. There’s no one diet that works for everyone. You have to find a program that meets your specific needs. One need that may help rule out some options is your budget. Many diet plans require upfront and ongoing costs for membership, clinics, meals, supplements or support. Make sure your finances can handle associated costs and fees.

Another need is your own personal history with diets. Consider what you liked or disliked about the diets you tried in the past and then compare those pros and cons to other diet programs you’re considering now.

Do you need ongoing support, motivation, and encouragement or do you prefer to tough things out on your own? If you need support, would online support work or is in-person better?

And finally, are there health conditions that need considering? Food allergies, heart disease or diabetes may influence the diet you choose.

Consideration 2: your safety. While fast weight loss is tempting, it’s not likely to last or be safe.

The most successful weight loss is done slowly and steadily. Unless done under the supervision of your doctor, plan to lose half a pound to two pounds a week. Beware of super low calorie diets, fasts (if you aren’t educated on the topic), or mysterious supplements that promise great results but can cause malnutrition, dehydration, a misguided metabolism and loss of muscle.

Research the history, credibility and risks associated with any diet you’re considering.

Who created the diet and are there scientific studies to back their claims? What are the credentials of the staff supervising the program? Could the diet in any way harm your health?

Consideration 3: your lifestyle. Don’t expect lasting weight loss from any diet you can’t continue forever. The diet may indeed help you reach your weight loss goal, but as soon as you return to your former diet, the pounds will creep back on.

You may even see extra pounds afterward. In order for a diet to be truly successful, it requires long-term exercise and eating habit changes, so look for a weight-loss program you can fit into your lifestyle.

The plan you choose should include a variety of foods and allow an occasional indulgence. It should also encourage balanced nutrition from all food groups and not push an abundance of extra supplements. Only commit to a plan if you like the foods it offers and can eat them for years to come. And if your program doesn’t include any type of exercise, keep looking.

Consideration 4: your goals. Your goal is to lose weight, so will the diet help you get there? It’s good to know how much weight the average person typically loses after one year and how long they keep it off once they’ve completed the program.

You want to choose a plan that will help you reach your short and long-term weight-loss goals. Anything less will only be a setback.

Why is it so hard to differentiate between fad diets that will leave you unhealthy and overweight in the end and those that will help you reach your long-term goals? Because every year, fad diets get created every day. Healthy eating choices and exercise, the tried-and-true method of losing or maintaining weight, however, never change.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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