Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend an estimated $33 billion on weight loss products. Researchers at UCLA say 80 percent of dieters will gain back the weight within just two years. While this statistic is discouraging, the bigger question is, should your diet goals be solely focused on weight loss? “When we hear diet, most people assume weight loss is the goal,” said Felica Stoler, a registered dietitian nutritionist, exercise physiologist and author of “Living Skinny in Fat Genes.” “While weight loss is a bonus, there are some diets out there that can score you many long-term health benefits too, and those are the ones that I recommend, so the focus is on health and longevity, not on the scale alone.”
Some diets that do more than help you drop weight have the potential to do things like increase your lifespan, improve brain function, or even aid in major disease prevention. “It really comes down to incorporating a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain over your lifetime and there are diets out there that can kick start that for you,” said Stoler. “Once you have incorporated these healthy eating habits into your life and they become part of your regular day, you will not need to buy weight loss products or attempt a risky weight loss plan because your overall health will be better.”
Stoler shares with Mark Alyn three top diet plans recommended by registered dietitians and nutritionists that are designed to kick start a healthy lifestyle and reap more benefits than just weight loss to maintain a stronger and healthier version of you:
The Fasting Mimicking Diet gives you the same health benefits of prolong fasting but it’s more sustainable to do over the recommended 5 days because the stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting. You will likely drop weight with this diet, but the other health longevity benefits are so profound that TIME magazine named Longo as one of the 50 most influential people who are transforming health care. Benefits of prolong fasting include protection of lean body mass, maintaining healthy levels of metabolic markers and increased circulation of stem cells. Currently the only Fasting Mimicking Diet available is called ProLon (www.prolonfmd.com), which has been clinically shown to result in an average of 5-8 pounds of fat loss without losing lean body mass in the process.
Flexitarian Diet: If you can’t be a fulltime vegetarian, the Flexitarian Diet gives you a little wiggle room. As the diet may imply, it encourages people to eat vegetarian most of the time but doesn’t require cutting out meats entirely. The term “flexitarian” was coined by a registered dietician who wrote the book, “The Flexitarian Diet,” with the position that if you can’t become a full-time vegetarian, there are still a lot of health benefits in becoming a part-time vegetarian. Yes, you will likely lose weight being a flexitarian, since vegetarians weigh about 15 percent less than non-vegetarians according to studies published in Nutrition Reviews, but there are also other health benefits. With a focus on healthy plant proteins and other whole, minimally processed plant-based foods, eating flexitarian may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, however most of this research is done on vegan and vegetarian diets so you may need to be a little flexible with the expectations of your health outcomes.
MIND Diet: This diet is a two-for-one diet that combines two diets that are highly recommended by registered dieticians; it’s a mix of the DASH and Mediterranean diet. Sure, you may lose some weight but the idea behind the MIND diet is that you will protect the brain and potentially curb cognitive decline that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The crux of the diet is to eat from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine; and to avoid foods from five groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweets and fried or fast food. In a study conducted at Rush University, the MIND diet was the most effective diet compared to the DASH and Mediterranean diet at reducing Alzheimer’s disease by 35 percent during the study period. Researchers noted that, unlike the other two diets studied, even moderate adherence to the MIND diet brought about significant reduction in dementia risk.
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