The dish on dieting
The formula for losing weight is simple: Eat less and move more. But doing it, actually changing our eating habits and incorporating exercise, can be hard. The options when it comes to dieting are endless. Navigating which diet works best can be enormously overwhelming. Preeti Gupta, MD, of Bayhealth Family Medicine, Milford, works with patients on weight loss. She helps explain the pros and cons of various trending eating ideologies.
THE PALEO DIET
Sometimes coined the “caveman” diet, the Paleo eating structure is primarily made up of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Paleo diets exclude dairy and grain products and all processed food.
“This is essentially a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet,” said Dr. Gupta. “These types of diets are good for losing weight, but patients with any health issues, especially kidney, heart or liver problems, need to consult a physician before starting this type of diet.”
It’s important to remain hydrated, especially when just beginning new eating habits. It’s also important to be “all in” with this type of eating style.
“I always tell my patients, if you want to try something like Paleo or Whole30, you have to be all in,” said Dr. Gupta. “If you’re sometimes following this diet, but sometimes eating carbs on the side, you will not lose weight.”
While many people will see results with a paleo approach, ultimately, this diet may be difficult to make permanent.
“This type of diet may be difficult to maintain long term,” said Dr. Gupta. “Eating this way may feel very restrictive for people.”
Vegan is another buzzword in the diet world. Vegan diets exclude all meat and animal products. When it comes to weight loss, Dr. Gupta says people on a vegan diet need to watch what they eat.
“Vegan diets still allow for a lot of carbs and other foods that can be high in calories,” said Dr. Gupta. “If you are not watching what you eat, especially how much, there is a chance of weight gain.”
Because the vegan diet excludes meat, anyone taking this approach may not be getting enough B12. Dr. Gupta says over-the-counter supplements are a good option to replace the vitamin.
“Ultimately, people will choose a vegan diet because of lifestyle choices,” said Dr. Gupta. “You can still lose weight going vegan, but it will be more moderate as opposed to be a big weight loss.”
One of the most popular, and arguably the healthiest, diets out there is the Mediterranean diet. This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats.
“This is the diet I recommend most often to patients for weight maintenance,” said Dr. Gupta. “This is a truly well-balanced diet that is high in antioxidants and typically satisfying for people.”
The Mediterranean diet is also recommended for people with certain health conditions who want to lose weight. “This is the diet I recommend to patients with cardiac issues, diabetes, or high blood pressure,” said Dr. Gupta.
“This diet is also great for our aging population. Overall this is a diet I think people can stick with for a long time.”
Nowadays there are many cleanses or detoxification options on the market. Dr. Gupta says be wary of all of them, and don’t consider them good options.
“Cleanses or detox diets are not healthy,” said Dr. Gupta. “While it may be tempting to lose five pounds in a week, if you are not doing it the right way, by eating better and exercising, you will not keep it off.”
If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to be mindful of your habits in the kitchen. Incorporating exercise will further help your goal. It’s also important to evaluate overall weight loss goals.
“People who are overweight are dealing with a lifelong problem,” said Dr. Gupta. “The only way to make lasting changes is to really look at your lifestyle and identify long-term improvements.”
Dr. Gupta suggests everyone use a food journal, no matter which diet they choose. And always remember weight loss is very personal, and everyone is different.
“Not every diet will work for every person,” said Dr. Gupta. “Think about shoes. Not every shoe fits every foot. Do what works best for you.”
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gupta, call 302-430-0867. Call 1-866-BayDocs (229-3627) to be matched with a Bayhealth doctor.