I often get into arguments with people over diets. Yet I realize t is hard to change someones opinion on a diet they have started because its something they have convinced themselves is going to totally change their life forever. The fact is that practically every diet test for long term success has about the same five year success rate of 5%. The other fact is that this is contrary to the immediate short term results that dieters often get their new plan and believe if they lost three pounds a week the first month, they will do that every week.
Don't even get me started on all the things people think DON'T have calories; like alcohol. I once talked to a personal training client who after reviewing her food journal and workouts for the last month and not lost any weight. Knowing she was a female in her twenty's I said point blank, "Your food journal is incomplete. Based on your profile you'r either not put candy or alcohol in the journal." She looked at me and said, "Alcohol has calories?" Good grief. Turns out she had four long island ice teas, three times per week. But wasn't including it because she thought it didn't have calories, it was like water or diet coke.
Regardless, after putting down almost every diet, people ask me about what diets work. I could include a few that I believe can do the job but here is the real secret. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. Ready? You. Don't. Need. A. Diet.
There it is. You don't need to diet to lose weight and eat healthy. You need to watch what you eat, eat in moderation, eat a variety of food but you don't need a diet plan. You really don't ever want a plan that restricts what you can eat by saying, NO this, NO that. For example, a diet soda has zero calories so go ahead and drink it, right? But you should already know that artificial sweetners make your body crave real sugar, which is why it is hard to drink just a small amount of diet soda. Now you know why you reach for the Big Gulps and 44 ouncers. Did you know that although it has about 15 calories a packet, a 16 ounce unsweetened ice tea with 2 sugar packets will completely satisfy your sugar craving and make you feel less thirty? The point is, do not dismiss a real food because it has a few calories as opposed to a processed chemical additive that has none.
As a rule of thumb, I first teach people to listen to the voice in their head. You know the voice. The one that says, "Put that down...You've had enough already...Not the smarted food choice you're making." Listen to that voice, obey that voice and you can eliminate between 250-500 calories a day.
Read labels. I know, cliche'. But don't read them trying to remember what to avoid on your specific diet. I tell people that the healthiest choices usually have the fewest ingredients and create a variety of food that allow you eat really good, unrestricted foods for a lifetime. (More on that below). I tend to preach a five ingredient rule but sometimes find that seven is most realistic. I know, five to seven ingredients seems like a lot. Caveat. Don't count dyes, don't count the 'less than 2%' ingredients, don't count the internal ingredients of an ingredient in spite of it healthiness. Meaning you grab a V8 and the #1 ingredient is a Juice and then in parenthesis it lists six different fruits, you're going to be okay. If the item is Wheat and then in parenthesis it lists a few different types of their wheat compound, you will be okay. What you are looking for is a food that has five primary ingredients.
One food I use as an example is peanut butter. PB may be the most versatile food on the planet, plain or added to just about anything. Everyone loves it. It is a caloricly dense food and filling. A stick to your ribs food. It can be a dozen ingredients full of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives or one ingredient, a pressed nut. Of course there is also all kinds of nuts being used now like hazelnuts, almonds and so forth. Keep the ingredients low and you cannot go wrong. Another example is crackers, generally forbidden on restrictive programs. Did you know a Triscuits has only three ingredients but a Wheat Thin has about ten.
Of course I am talking about individual food choices, not respective of serving size which is what you should be watching on your own or have monitored by an educated professional nutritionist or trainer. When it comes to combining foods into a meal the rule still applies to the individual foods but not the overall meal. What I mean is that a vegetable soup (canned or homemade) could have a dozen separate ingredients, just make sure each one is less than five ingredients.
There are of course holes in my approach and this conversation would lead into a several follow up conversations regarding the psychology of why a person eats what they do, how they eat it, when they eat it and the process of redirecting their food profile on a regular basis for several months. But the fact is the same, eat as healthy as you can, don't over eat, exercise to create a daily calorie deficit and build a faster metabolism. Real food is always preferred to processed.
And oh yeah, diets suck. The vast majority of people who try a diet fail. diet that tells anyone to eat less than 1,000 per day, spend money on their supplements as opposed to OTC, avoid something, tells you its for your blood type, eye color, is pure marketing crap.