Why You Must
In recent years, the shake diets have become quite popular for weight loss and they have often been promoted through pharmacies (places where you expect people to know better!). In the initial phase, they recommend people to replace their breakfast and lunch meals with meal replacement shakes (which happen to be poor quality products loaded with high glycemic index sugars and cheap protein), and then consume only one whole-food meal a day. Let's face it, any diet that severely reduces your calorie intake is going to help you lose weight initially, but not forever!
On these programs your body quickly realises that it is being starved and immediately kicks in the 'Anti-Starvation Response'. This results in your metabolism dropping like a stone in order to accommodate for the reduced calorie intake, which also means further weight loss becomes more difficult. Your body also starts tearing down your precious muscle mass (and other lean tissues) to be used as a fuel source. A loss of lean tissue also helps to slow your metabolism down even further since lean tissue is one of the most metabolically-active tissues in the body.
These approaches to weight loss definitely do not follow the basic concepts of healthy eating plans and therefore should be avoided at all costs no matter how compelling their marketing is. Nevertheless, they continue to get countless numbers of people signing up for their programs year after year simply because they promise quick and easy weight loss and that is what many people are looking for, a quick and easy weight loss solution. However, these approaches are not the best for their health or for their long term fat-loss goals!
This is the most important characteristic of any healthy eating plans. It must be a long-term, sustainable approach to nutrition; something you can follow for the rest of your life. If it doesn't fulfil this criteria right from the start then it is definitely not something you want to follow at all. Of course, the shake diets are definitely not long term, sustainable approaches to nutrition so they should be avoided.
Sustainability also mean that the healthy diet plan should include normal, every day foods that you currently eat and enjoy. There should be no need to eat 'special foods' or eat differently than you currently do. Of course, you may need to make some slight modifications to your current eating habits like, reducing your portion sizes, ensuring you have 'complete meals' or limiting your intake or certain foods, but overall you should not have to eat very differently at all.
A healthy diet plan should also provide you with plenty of variety in your food choices. This will ensure you provide your body with a wide range of nutrients to optimise your body's functioning. Having variety in your diet also ensures you never get bored, which may occur if you're eating the same foods every day. In saying that though, you don't want to have too many options. The people who get the best results from their weight-loss efforts generally eat the same sorts of foods every day with only a few variations. Nevertheless, it is important to try and include as many different foods as possible, perhaps over a 3-day cycle. In particular, include a wide range of different fruits and vegetables. This will ensure you provide your body with the range of nutrients that come from these different foods.
Another characteristic of a healthy eating plan is the fact that they emphasise eating 'natural foods'. This means foods that have had very little processing or packaging. It is best to eat foods that are as close to the way Mother Nature made them as possible. This means that they also require very little preparation. Sure, if you want to lightly steam your vegetables or lightly grill your steak before having your meal, then fine. Always keep in mind though that the majority of your food should be as natural as possible.
This is another area where the shake diets don't work. Whilst some shakes may be okay for the occasional snack, they should definitely not form the foundation of healthy eating plans. Also, you often find with these weight-loss programs that after you go through the initial phase and then move on to the 'maintenance phase', they recommend you to consume all of their pre-packaged snack bars, soups, meals and shakes. Whilst these options may be convenient, they certainly don't teach people how to eat correctly for the long term. Therefore, they are certainly not recommended, except for the occasional snack (perhaps 5 out of 35 meals in a week), in healthy eating plans.
These are the 3 main characteristics of healthy eating plans. Of course, there are many other characteristics that are important as well but these 3 are the fundamental principles that all healthy eating plans must follow. If the plan you are considering using doesn't fulfil these 3 basic criteria to start with then don't even waste your time following it in the first place!
If you would like to discover all the principles you need to lose all the weight you want and get in the best shape of your life, get a copy of my e-book, Look Good Feel Great! It contains all the information you will ever need.
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