What's the best diet?
Brian Hawkins, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine specialist with Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: Which diet is more effective, Atkins or South Beach?
Answer: Truly, the most effective diet is not a fad diet, such as Atkins or South Beach, but rather a balanced diet of small portions of fat, protein and carbohydrates. When you begin a diet by taking out a particular type of food, it strains different parts of your body and can cause you to crave that particular food more so than you would have if you just changed your portion size.
When trying to make a healthy lifestyle change, the best way to do so is to evaluate the amount of calories you take in vs. the amount of calories you spend during the day. Most healthy weight loss plans recommend a limited amount of calories based on your current diet. There are books available that can give you the calories of everything you eat—including fast food—or you can visit online sites to get calories counts that will help you keep track during the day.
Once you figure out where your current calorie count is, I recommend you sit with your physician or a registered dietitian to figure out a diet that will keep you satisfied, yet enable you to lose weight.
Starting any diet is difficult and depriving yourself of specific types of food just makes it harder to stick to for a regular basis. By eating different foods, just at smaller portion sizes, you can continue to eat the foods you enjoy but still lose weight.
Other tips I give to patients include no late night eating – after 7 p.m. your body does not have time to use its metabolism to expend calories. Take a brisk walk first thing in the morning—just this burst of activity will help to boost your metabolism throughout the day which will help curb appetite. Also, increase exercise to approximately 30 minutes three to four times a week.
Before you start any diet and exercise changes, contact your primary care physician for a complete physical. If you have a hard time losing weight without relying on dramatic fad diets, it might be a health issue you are not aware of. Your physician can provide you with key figures, such as your Body Mass Index and other measurements that will help you track your progress more effectively.