A dieting plan is a strategy or blueprint for reaching your weight loss goals. Dieting plans differ from nutrition programs, which teach you how to adopt healthy eating habits that lead to sustainable weight loss.
Choose a diet based on whole foods that limits processed food, such as frozen dinners and cakes. Eat lots of vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.
Eat fewer calories.
Eating fewer calories when you’re on a diet is necessary for weight loss, but doing so can be difficult. The key is to find a plan that you can stick with for life by picking foods you enjoy and limiting highly palatable, high-calorie foods such as sugary drinks, alcohol, and fatty or salty foods. Choosing foods that are low in calories but pack a nutritional punch is also important.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and salt but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Try to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. All kinds of fruits and vegetables count, including fresh, frozen and canned. Try new foods when shopping, and keep a bowl of cut up fruit on your kitchen counter.
Eat less fat.
Many diet plans focus on reducing fat intake. For example, the Ornish and Pritikin diets recommend less than 30% of calories from fat. The MyNetDiary diet plan sets a default target of under 25% for its Premium Low-Fat diet. You can also customize your fat target. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat (animal fat and some plant oils) you eat, as well as trans fats. Choose lean meats and skinless poultry, and limit egg yolks.
Eat more protein.
Protein can help prevent muscle loss as you lose weight, and it can boost your metabolism by burning more calories when digested. It also helps reduce hunger and cravings.
Choose “complete proteins” — those that contain all the amino acids your body needs. These include meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. Plant-based protein sources include beans, nuts and seeds.
Keeping canned tuna or salmon, chicken breast or turkey in your pantry makes it easy to add more protein to your meals and snacks.
Eat less sugar.
A diet low in sugar helps prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay. It also reduces the risk of other chronic diseases and conditions.
Reducing sugar intake includes eating fewer processed foods, eliminating high-sugar beverages and condiments, and cutting out snacks that contain added sugar. It also means learning how to read nutrition labels to look for ingredients your body treats the same as sugar.
Many people find it easier to stick with a lower-sugar diet if they shop and prepare healthful food ahead of time.
Eat more whole grains.
A diet rich in whole grains is known to lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and digestive cancers. The MyPlate guidelines recommend at least six 1-ounce servings of grains a day, with half of those being whole grains.
Choose whole grain flours and pastas, such as brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, freekeh, barley, spelt and amaranth. Add cooked whole grains to salads to add a chewy texture and health-promoting nutrients.
Eat less meat.
A diet low in meat can reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. It can also help save money on your grocery bill and cut down on waste.
Try replacing some of your meat with beans, whole grains and other healthy plant foods. Start by adding one meal a week that is vegetarian or vegan, then gradually increase the number of meatless meals until you are eating mostly plants.
Eat more fish.
Research shows that eating two to three servings of fish a week lowers your risk of heart disease, depression and cognitive decline. It also provides key nutrients, like DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid that’s important for infants and pregnant women).
Start with milder fish such as tilapia or cod, baked or broiled with light toppings to cut calories. Or try a seafood salad, Dijon-apricot salmon or even a shrimp sandwich on a whole grain bun.
Eat less dessert.
Eating dessert can be part of a healthy diet, but it must be done in moderation. If you eat a small treat each day and focus on nutrient-dense ingredients like bananas, chocolate, and popcorn, it can help you stay within your daily calories for weight loss or maintenance.
Anticipate situations where you might be offered a dessert and practice turning them down in advance. Doing so will help you feel less off-guard and better able to control your portion size.