Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Feeling a bit out of whack after six weeks of roasted turkey with all the fixings, peppermint hot chocolate and every Christmas cookie Santa’s elves cooked up? So are most of us, and our scales definitely show it. Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions—according to online statistics portal Statista, 45 percent of Americans made it theirs at the beginning of 2018—but research shows us these lofty goals are pretty much doomed to fail. So how do we make this year different? When it comes to weight loss, everyone is always talking about the hottest trend in dropping those pounds. Here’s some of the most talked-about topics when it comes to losing weight these days.
One of the most popular new trends, intermittent fasting focuses on abstaining from food for a certain number of hours a day or day of the week. There are several different varieties (see Page 20 to explore them). This plan can theoretically lead to improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports, but a lot of this is still being researched.
This eating plan gets its name from those who live in Mediterranean countries like Greece. According to the Mayo Clinic, main components of the plan include eating plant-based foods (such as whole grains), replacing butter with olive oil and limiting red meat to only a few times a month by opting for more fish and poultry. Past research has shown that this lifestyle leads to better overall health—especially heart health, the Mayo Clinic reports—along with a longer lifespan.
Promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Pressure Institute, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is meant to prevent high blood pressure by mixing lean protein and low-fat dairy with produce and whole grains. According to Time, which noted DASH tied with the Mediterranean plan for the best overall diet in 2018, those following this plan limit saturated fat, sugar and salt. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, DASH gives its followers flexibility so they can eat what works best for their bodies while not feel deprived, CBS News reports. There's also plenty of research to back this plan up.
Get a (dining) room
Research shows that doing other things while you’re eating, such as watching TV, playing on your laptop or even cracking open a book, often leads to overeating. Instead, Medical News Today suggests sitting down to eat—preferably at a table—and eating your meal slowly, taking time to chew your food thoroughly. Not only will you enjoy it more, you’ll also be less likely to overeat.
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, focuses on severely restricting carbs while upping your protein and healthy fat intake. According to Forbes, the idea behind this plan is to limit your body’s storage of sugar, so you burn more fat. Men’s Health notes that only 10 percent of your daily intake can come from carbs if you’re on keto. This tough-love diet isn’t for everyone, but Forbes reports those with chronic conditions have been known to experience improvements in their overall health and a reduction in symptoms.
Named after the Paleolithic era (2.5 million to 10,000 years ago), the paleo diet is all about eating like our ancestors did. In other words, those on the paleo plan fill their plates with proteins, fruits, veggies and healthy fats. They ditch all forms of dairy, grains, refined sugar, flour and processed foods. People often prefer paleo for its simplicity—if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you don’t—but the lack of carbs can be challenging for athletes and people working highly physical, endurance-based jobs. And while paleo might help you lose weight, there are no long-term clinical studies on its benefits and risks, the Mayo Clinic notes.
The Taco Cleanse
Quality not quantity
A February study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who cut down on sugar, refined flours and high-processed foods while focusing on vegetables and whole grains lost more weight in a year than those who counted calories. Turns out it might be less about how much you eat and more about your quality. So don’t worry whether you eat three 800-calorie meals a day or six 400-calorie ones (according to Healthline, there’s really no difference). Instead, focus on protein, which keeps you feeling full for longer while providing an energy boost. And stock up on fiber—another food that’s filling without creating muffin tops. Another way to keep the hunger goons at bay? Healthy fats such as nuts, avocado and salmon.
“Eat the rainbow”
While you shouldn’t run out and gorge yourself on an entire salad bar, vegetables are essential when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. They have fewer calories, are packed with vitamins and other nutrients, and also fill you up. When it comes to picking out your veggies, follow this simple advice: Eat the rainbow. Aim to put a variety of colors on your plate. There’s plenty of options, from red cabbage and beets to carrots and kale.
Change the blueprint
Here’s the thing. When it comes to weight loss, there’s no magical fix, and when done right, it’s anything but fast. Instead, it’s about adopting new habits that promote a healthier lifestyle. With that, the numbers on the scale drop at a slow and steady pace. Don’t try to lose 100 pounds in six months. Aim for 10 pounds, then another 10 and another. Setting smaller goals lets you achieve something more quickly, and, as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains, nothing motivates us quite like success.
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.