There are dozens of diets available, and the information can be confusing. Here are some general guidelines to follow.
- Low-carb diets work, but they provide little fiber. The average American only eats 11 grams of fiber a day, and we’re supposed to eat 25-30 grams. The low-carb dieter probably eats much less than 11 grams. Not very healthy in our opinion.
- Low-fat works, and is healthy. In general, if you follow USDA food pyramid guidelines, you’ll be eating the right proportions. Fat has about 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have only 4 calories each. Also, low-fat dieters retain muscle mass better than low-carb dieters.
- Though protein seems good, be careful how you eat it: meat and dairy have lots of protein, but are usually high in fat. Some are low-fat. Learn to read labels, and don’t buy products that have more than 2 or 3 grams of fat per serving. Legumes (beans and peas) are high in protein and fiber. Just be sure they weren’t prepared “southern-style” – with a hunk of fat in the cooking pot. Glory foods brand of canned beans and peas have excellent flavor, yet they have practically no fat in them.
- If you eat low-fat or very-low-fat, you probably don’t need to count calories. But if you’d like calorie guidelines, most people lose weight rapidly while eating 1000-1200 calories a day (don’t eat less than this). If you work out for 30-60 minutes, add another 300 calories to your daily intake.
- Portion control is also important. Besides looking carefully at the kind of food you eat, make certain you don’t get too much of a good thing. Most brand-name healthy frozen meals have about 240 to 350 calories in them. If you wash the plastic containers they come in and save them, they can give you a good idea about how much of your home-made healthy foods you should dish out for your meals: just fill the container with your own food, and don’t eat more than what fits into it.