Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention the word “diet” to me. Typically, when we hear that word, we automatically think of one of the numerous diets out there that are promoted for weight loss, among other things.  

The definition straight out of Merriam-Webster Dictionary simply defines diet as the food and drink regularly consumed. This definition holds true even when someone’s diet consists of restricting foods.

I feel as if one of the worst things you can do is to restrict anything. We all know what happens when you tell someone “You can’t.” They usually end up doing it regardless and even more. This goes the same for foods as well, from what I have seen.

You have to treat food as fuel and ensure you are getting enough for your personal self and the level of activity that you perform, as well as your personal goals, which may include weight loss or health and wellness.  

As I have said before in previous articles, nutrition can be very complex at times and much more than just eating this and not eating that, although that’s a good start. The saying “Calories in, Calories out” is not very accurate in my opinion. You could have a diet of 1,500 calories, but consume foods that have little to no nutrient density. Or, you could have a solid diet of 1,500 calories with delicious and nutritious foods, not food products. Consider that 1,500 calories of fruits, nuts, plenty of vegetables and lean meats will go a long way. If you’re eating 1,500 calories and burn 500 calories a day, you should lose 1 pound a week, according to the math, as 3,500 calories is equal to 1 pound of fat. It doesn’t mean you are losing weight the right way or even on the right path to being healthy, which should be a goal of good nutrition. Because each of our bodies differs greatly, so much more is involved with weight loss, not just having a caloric deficit. Since we are on the subject of food and diet, remember 1 gram of protein has 4 calories; 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories; and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories.  

Let’s get back on track with the dreaded word of “diet.” WebMD lists 96 different diets for health and weight loss, and U.S. News rates the top trending plans based on short- and long-term weight loss, ease of following, nutrition, safety and performance as a diabetes/heart healthy diet.  

With that, I have done a small peer-based questionnaire to see what the first diet is that comes to mind. Surprisingly enough, there were several repeats and they were all on the list of the top U.S. diets. The ones I found to be mentioned the most were rated as follows by U.S. News: No. 26 (Atkins), No. 17 (South Beach), No. 21 (Zone), No. 28 (Paleo) and No. 3 (Weight Watchers.) Check out http://health.usnews.com for more information.    

We all know nutrition plays a major part in weight loss and overall health. If you do want to lose weight, but have trouble sticking with one of these programs or general healthy eating, I would like to suggest that you just pay more attention to the foods and drinks that you consume.  

I’m not trying to say any of these diet programs are ineffective; I am simply trying to encourage healthy eating habits. I invite you to record what you eat for an entire week. Be honest with yourself. I would then like you to do a little research and figure out how many calories you’re eating each day as well as the nutrition value. Are the foods you consumed nutrient dense or are you consuming empty calories?

I understand change is hard and sticking with something is even harder. It typically takes 30 days to make a habit. Give it a shot. If you don’t want to dismiss certain unhealthy, or bad food items from your daily food intake and replace them with delicious, nutrient dense foods, just try to eat less of whatever it might be; maybe just try cutting it in half for a start.  

Who knows, you may find yourself not even wanting it at all.     

Tyler Morrison, BS, is a Certified Fitness Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist at Urban Health & Fitness, Total Fitness, and Crossfit Galveston. 

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