At the start of every year, the US News and World Report assembles a panel of experts to rate the best diets, based on scientific evidence, nutrition recommendations and good old common sense.
The lists of best overall and best weight loss diets is exhaustively thorough and well worth reading. But even if you don't sign up to a particular eating plan, there's nevertheless plenty to learn from factors shared by the top five weight-loss diets:
1. Weight Watchers diet: Follow this classic diet and you'll be limited to a certain number of "points" you can eat every day. High nutrient foods generally have less points, while low-nutrient foods have more.
2. Volumetrics diet: Pioneered by Penn State University nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, this diet favours foods that less energy dense — that is, those lower in calories.
3. Jenny Craig diet: Another classic diet that limits calories by putting members on tight meal plans, then gradually teaching them how to make smarter and more nutritious food choices.
4. Vegan diet: Sayonara, foods that come from animals — regardless of whether or not the animal survives.
5. Flexitarian diet: A less extreme version of veganism and vegetarianism, flexitarianism (aka semi- or weekday vegetarianism, reducetarianism or lessetarianism) is rooted in plant-based foods with allowances for animal products.
They're varied and balanced, not punishingly restrictive
Any weight-loss diet has to be a little restrictive: to lose weight, the number of calories you burn as energy has to be higher than the calories you eat, which means eating less food.
But not drastically less food, because an eating plan that cuts calories too much isn't sustainable. You need to eat enough food to keep off hunger, and take a flexible approach that factors in occasional splurges and restaurant visits.
Weight Watchers is focused on sensible portions of sometimes foods, while Volumetrics encourages smart swaps rather than cutting favourite treats: for example, homemade pancakes made with whole-wheat flour, raspberry sauce and fresh fruit.
Even Jenny Craig, which restricts newcomers to prepackaged meals and snacks, makes allowances for small portions of desserts to manage cravings. All top five diets permit alcohol in moderation.
The takeaway: don't stop eating your favourite foods. Instead, try to eat them less often, in smaller portions, or made from more nutritious ingredients.
They're focused on the long term
Fad diets usually promise fast weight loss, and there's a reason those promises sound too good to be true.
Rather than guaranteeing you'll drop 10kg in a week, the top rated weight-loss diets are focused on slow-and-steady progress: they typically suggest you'll lose up to 1kg per week, a rate considered safe by most health experts.
They focus on whole foods, not cutting out entire food groups
Obviously veganism and (to a lesser degree) flexitarianism are exceptions, but in general the top weight-loss diets don't forbid entire food groups.
Instead of cutting things out, the diets mostly embrace whole foods — that is, those that have been minimally processed, with a particular focus on vegetables and fruit, as well as whole grains, non-fat dairy, and lean meat. (And the diets don't rely on exotic or expensive superfoods — their ingredients are things you can source at a regular supermarket.)
That focus on whole foods and the nutrients they deliver mean that, for the most part, the diets conform to government diet recommendations. The exception is veganism, which can meet nutrition targets but demands a little extra planning to do so. (Click here for some advice on how to do that.)
They demand a bit of hard work
Starting one of the best weight loss diets doesn't mean you'll lose weight. They're not miracle cures, and while they all share a simple premise — reduce calories, fat and portion sizes — that can be difficult to put into practice.
Weight Watchers adherents must count points. Volumetrics requires "lengthy meal preparation" and mental gymnastics to understand its energy density concepts. Vegans might find it tough find a decent meal when they eat out with friends.
Ultimately, the best diet is whichever one you find easy to follow, delivers you results, and you can stick to over the long term.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was found that people who to travel for work more often than usual, are more likely to suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression. Apart from this, they are also more likely to smoke and may also have trouble in sleeping. As per the findings of the study, the number of nights away from home for business travel was directly linked with poor behavioural and mental health. However, few changes in the daily diet can play a significant role in boosting your mental health and could also reduce anxiety to a great extent.
Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants which have numerous benefits to provide. Berries including raspberries, strawberries and even blackberries are all a good source of vitamin C which can help in combating stress to a great extent.
Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Cashews are an excellent source of zinc and having a handful of them every day can be quite helpful.
Dark chocolate is a great source of healthy antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids which are particularly known to lower the blood pressure, ultimately making you feel calmer.
Stress and anxiety can make you feel lethargic and can impact the immune system to a great extent. Garlic is one food which is packed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body.
While it does contain caffeine, green tea also has amino acids which act as a brain booster. Having green tea in moderation can enhance the mental performance to a great extent.
People swear by the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet for plenty of reasons—they say it can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you lose weight. But now one Reddit user says the ketogenic diet helped fight his depression, too.
Under the title “Depression is gone,” Redditor willilikeit writes, “Six months on keto. Have lost 40 pounds. But the best result is how I feel. I've gone from waking up with dread and fighting suicidal thoughts off and on most days, to feeling energetic, positive, and only a rare, passing, suicidal thought. It is night and day! Omg. Thank you for all of your posts and support!"
Several other people said in the comments that they experienced similar results with ketogenic diets. “So true, I sleep less, wake up ready for the day instead of dreading it. I have energy and want to actually do things now. So glad you feel it too!” Sea_Hag wrote. “I’m right there with you,” writes EffectedCat. “I don’t constantly think of how much I suck or constantly ask what I’m going to screw up today. …Anger and sudden emotional outbursts have dramatically decreased and everyone around me can notice the difference in my mood. This diet has changed my life.”
DOES THE KETO DIET REALLY FIGHT DEPRESSION?
It actually might, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. “Your diet can absolutely have an effect on your mood,” she says. “Many studies have shown a clear link between diet and a person's state of mind.” The keto diet in particular may cause certain bodily processes that can help fight depression, she says.
I Tried It: Keto Diet
Here’s how it works: For some reason, when you're on a ketogenic diet, your body produces more GABA, a major neurotransmitter that helps the brain function properly, says Wider. When GABA levels are low, you’re more at risk for anxiety and depression. When they’re high, it may help stave off depression, she explains.
But, as plenty of Reddit users are quick to point out, just because the keto diet may help to fight depression, that doesn't mean that it's an end-all, be-all cure or is more effective than medication or therapy for treating depression.
Plus, weight loss may also help relieve symptoms of depression, especially if one of the reasons a person is depressed is linked to being overweight. After all, no matter the eating plan that you follow, being at a healthy weight is consistently linked to better sleep and cheerier moods.
Still, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, it’s really best to talk to your doctor to find the best plan for you when it comes to both your depression and your diet.
A new study finds that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is tied to a lower risk of heart disease and death compared to drinking no coffee at all. Coffee consumption is also associated with a lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.
On the downside, however, drinking coffee may be linked to a very small increased risk of fracture in women and may be associated with some harms if consumed during pregnancy.
For the study, a research team led by Dr. Robin Poole, Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the University of Southampton in the UK, with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, conducted an umbrella review of 201 observational studies as well as 17 studies that had collected data from clinical trials across all countries and all settings.
The findings show that coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease, with the greatest reduction in relative risk of death at three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers.
Coffee was also tied to a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver.
Finally, the researchers also found beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Drinking more than three cups a day was not associated with harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.
The included studies used mainly observational data, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee consumption.
Many of the included studies may have adjusted for factors that may be associated with both the health outcome and with coffee drinking, such as smoking. This was not comprehensive and varied from study to study. The authors can therefore not rule out the effect of such factors on the apparent harmful or beneficial associations.
The authors conclude that coffee drinking “seems safe within usual patterns of consumption, except during pregnancy and in women at increased risk of fracture.” And they call for robust randomized controlled trials “to understand whether the key observed associations are causal.”
In a linked editorial, Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says that until it can be proven that coffee intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease — and people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.
Furthermore, coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, “and these may independently contribute to adverse health outcomes,” Guallar said.
However, even with these warnings, “moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population,” he said.
The research is published in the journal The BMJ.
With Thanksgiving nearly here, it's a good time to point out that more than an estimated 10 percentof Americans (over 33 million people) eat their holiday meals at a restaurant. So it's no wonder that so many national restaurant chains stay open to serve up some turkey and pie to patrons.
Whether you're too busy to plan a feast for your loved ones or you simply want to take a well-earned holiday off from all the preparations, here's a list of some of the most popular restaurants open on Thanksgiving. Just be sure to check with your restaurant beforehand because hours will vary by location.
by Liz Moody MBG Sr. Food Editor
1. The fountain of youth may be found in chocolate and red wine, according to science.
New research out of the United Kingdom found reservalouges (compounds similar to reservatrol) can prompt old cells to start diving again, turning aging cells into younger-looking cells. More research is needed, but this can have huge implications on the science of aging. We'll cheers to that! (Medical News Today)
2. There's a new type of diabetes—type 3, diabetes of the brain—that's been linked to Alzheimer's.
A new study out of the National Institute of Aging shows that high brain glucose levels, also known as type 3 diabetes, could be a glucose metabolism malfunction that eventually leads to Alzeheimer's disease. Just in case you needed one more reason to lay off the sugar, move regularly, and keep hormones in balance. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
3. You might want to add extra mushrooms to your next pizza order.
According to a new study out of Penn State University, mushrooms have large amounts of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione, both of which have anti-aging properties. "What we found is that, without a doubt, mushrooms are highest dietary source of these two antioxidants taken together, and that some types are really packed with both of them," said Robert Beelman, a professor of food science and director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health. (Penn State News)
4. If you want to prevent back pain, work out.
According to a new study, people who exercise are 33 percent less likely to develop lower back pain than those who do. And if you already have back pain, all hope is not lost: The same study found that regular exercise reduces the severity of back pain. (Reuters)
5. Denver's rooftops are going green.
In the local election this week, the city voted to pass a measure requiring all large new buildings to be built with solar panels or rooftop gardens for shade. Other major urban centers like San Francisco, New York, Paris, and London have recently passed similar initiatives. (ABC News)
6. China is cleaning up its act.
The amount of sulfur dioxide, an air pollutant produced primarily by burning coal, in China's air has fallen 75 percent since 2007, thanks in large part to fining polluters. However, the country still has work to do cleaning other chemicals like CO2. (Yale Environment 360)
7. The former co-CEO of Whole Foods is betting big on food waste.
Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, has joined the board of directors of FoodMaven, a company that aims to reduce food waste by taking surplus food from grocery stores and selling it to restaurants. "FoodMaven is going straight at the growing challenge of food waste and has created an imaginative and innovative market-based approach to using more of what we produce," says Robb, adding that he's excited to help the company grow. (The Gazette)
More than 160 million people in the U.S. drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, and many of them use sugar, cream, flavored syrups or other calorie-laden additives in their drinks of choice.
A new analysis reveals just how much Americans are adding to their caloric intake by spicing up or sweetening their coffee or tea.
The data in the research suggest that more than 51 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee and nearly 26 percent drink tea on any given day.
Roughly two-thirds of the coffee drinkers and one-third of the tea drinkers put sugar, cream, flavorings or other calorie-rich additives in their drinks.
“Many people prefer drinking coffee and tea with sugar, cream, half-and-half or honey,” a researcher said.
“These add-in items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value.”
Milk products add a bit of calcium to the diet, but the amount – 22 milligrams per day, on average – is negligible. The daily recommended calcium intake is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams, depending on one’s age and pregnancy status.
Those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other substances to their coffee.
More than 60 percent of those calories come from sugar, with fat accounting for most of the rest of the extra calories consumed.
Tea drinkers tend to add fewer calorie-dense substances to their tea if they add anything at all, the analysis found.
“Compared with adding nothing to one’s tea, drinking tea with caloric add-ins increased daily caloric intake by more than 43 calories, on average, with nearly 85 percent of those added calories coming from sugar,” the author said.
The daily intakes may seem small, but the extra calories every day can add up to extra pounds.
“Our findings indicate that a lot of coffee and tea drinkers regularly use caloric add-ins to improve the flavor of their beverages, but possibly without fully realizing or taking into consideration its caloric and nutritional implications,” he said.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only eat one food the rest of your life, pizza wouldn’t be a bad way to go. But if you're trying to lose weight, it's definitely not the obvious choice.
However, according to the New York Post, one New York City chef (and Naples, Italy native) dropped nearly 100 pounds by, among other changes, eating a pizza for lunch every day. Which begs the question: Can eating a slice a day really help you shed pounds?
“Monotony has its advantages when it comes to weight loss,” says Jennifer McDaniel, R.D. She says some research has also found that eating the same thing day after day can lead you to want to eat less of it, while variety can spark appetite even when you're full. A limited menu, therefore, can be less tempting and simpler to plan—at least for a while. (Hit the reset button—and burn fat like crazy with Women's Health's The Body Clock Diet!)
“If weight loss is your goal, sometimes repetition can be helpful,” agrees Brigitte Zeitlin, R.D. “Some studies have shown that consistency can help when it comes to changing habits. For example, if you are trying to lose weight and never eat breakfast, then eating the same thing every day for breakfast can make the new morning routine easier to get accustomed to instead of trying to think of seven different breakfasts for the week.”
But as far as long-term sustainability and health, the experts are more skeptical. "Eating any food every day won't net you all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally," says Zeitlin. "We are not meant to eat foods in isolation, we are meant to eat a variety of different foods so that we obtain the various amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients our bodies require to maintain a healthy life. So, eating just pizza (or just any one item) every day is not a healthy, sustainable diet." After all, we’re omnivores, and our bodies require a variety of nutrients that aren’t all found inside a delivery box. More to the point, boredom is a total diet killer. But if you want to give the slice-a-day diet a try, there are a few ways to pack your pizza with more nutrients and fewer calories.
Customize. Homemade pies will almost always be lighter on grease than delivery styles, says McDaniel. But many chains now offer thin and whole-wheat crusts, leaner meats, and a larger variety of vegetables.
Downsize. Here’s a sneaky way to control your portions: scale down your size. If you usually get a large, go for a medium. People tend to eat the same number of slices so you’ll trim calories without trying. Another tip: Have the pie cut into more slices so each is smaller.
Veg out. More sauce, less cheese is a good start. Then, when it comes to toppings, opt for fiber- and vitamin-rich veggies instead of fatty meats.
Supplement your slice. A traditional piece of pizza is not nutrient dense, so it takes more slices to fill you up, which adds up in calories and sugar which can contribute to weight gain, says Zeitlin. With no fiber or protein, you have nothing to really fill you up and keep you full. So pair your pie with a salad or other fiber-filled option.
Have you ever found yourself sipping a glass of milk and thinking, “Hey, this would be so much better if it were fizzy and, I don’t know, maybe … pink?”
No matter, carbonated milk the color of a sunset may soon be a supermarket-shopping option anyway.
Arla, a giant Scandinavian dairy company (it’s one of the world’s largest dairy-product producers), is set to introduce a drink it is describing as “sparkling fruit and milk” in hopes of turning it into the next big beverage trend, the Telegraph reports.
The fizzy milk, first announced a year ago, will make its debut in the United Kingdom, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates ahead of a worldwide rollout.
Arla is apparently hoping it will boost a sagging milk industry, as the rise of non-dairy almond, soy, rice and coconut “milks” increasingly encroach into the territory traditionally traversed by cow’s milk alone. (You could say they’re mooooving in, but I won’t. Oh, wait — unless that counts?)
Arla believes the bubbly beverage, part of a new lineup that includes a tea-milk drink and a protein energy drink, could be a big hit. The company is targeting sales at 700 million euros (more than $824 million U.S.) by 2020, according to the Local.
The carbonated-milk concept faces some headwinds, though. Consumers have repeatedly rejected similar drinks — including one launched by soft-drink maker Britvic (Tango Strange Soda) in 2003 and another by Coca-Cola (Vio) in 2009, neither of which managed to stick around. (Actually, Vio, while unsuccessful in the U.S., may still be a thing in India.)
But maybe at this point the world is a bit more ready for milk that is blush-colored, sparkling and a little fruity? We’re pretty into our kefirs and drinkable yogurts, after all.
A quick trip through the drive-thru for a $1.29 cheeseburger and a $1 iced tea seems like a hunger stopper and a less expensive alternative to a salad or grilled sandwich.
We often use the excuse that healthy food costs more than junk food. It makes me angry that I pay more to eat a healthier food than I'd pay for a warm cheeseburger, but why?
A meta-analysis study published in the British Medical Journal in December 2013 found diets rich in vegetables, fish, fruits and nuts costs about $1.50 more per day than unhealthy diets of processed foods, meats and refined grains.
The study was based on the most comprehensive examination to date comparing prices of healthy foods and diet patterns versus those that are less healthy. Researchers evaluated the differences in prices per serving and per 200 calories for particular types of foods, and prices per 2,000 calories for overall diet patterns. Prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit comparison.
Researchers credit the low costs of unhealthy diets on food policies that focus on inexpensive and high-volume commodities that lead to “a complex network of farming, storage, transportation, processing, manufacturing and marketing capabilities that favor sales of highly processed food products for maximal industry profit.”
For the most part, it is easier to grab a sandwich for a quick meal on the run. I found you can buy vegetables, fruits and lean meats for lower prices if you check out the grocery ads, and I also began frequenting Aldi for an affordable selection of veggies, too.
After seeing an ad, I recently grabbed two watermelons at Fresh Thyme for and incredible $1.98 each. To my amazement, I left with a full cart of fresh vegetables and fruits that all were discounted.
Has the health industry finally realized that in order to eat better, we must consider the cost? Are studies finding we need to learn to eat healthier on a budget?
Healthline.com offers these clever ways to eat healthy foods on a budget:
• Plan your meals ahead.
• When you shop, stick to your grocery list and shop only on the outer part of the store to avoid the aisles with processed food.
• Buy whole foods such as cheese blocks to shred yourself, or cans of beans to smash.
• Stock up when there are sales, and compare ads.
• Replace meats with proteins such as legumes, canned tuna or eggs.
• Shop for produce that is in season.
• Pack your lunch
After discovering a fresh-food haven and combing through the ads, I found there is no excuse not to try to eat better, regardless of time constraints and trying to save money. I now grab a salad mix, cucumbers, peppers and a protein and throw together lunch at work. If I am on the run, I munch on veggies and try to wait until I can sit down for a meal.
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