What’s the best diet for not only losing weight, but keeping it off, too? It’s not a carb-free diet, or the Atkins diet, and it doesn’t involved absorbing trendier notions about eating according to one’s blood type. The most effective eating plan is simple: it’s one you can follow over the long-term, says one expert.
During a recent lecture at the Harvard School of Public Health, Eric Rimm, associate professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH and director of the Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology, considered the pros and cons of the health and diet landscape, particularly as it exists in popular culture.
His lecture, entitled ‘Deconstructing Popular Weight Loss Diets‘, examined the efficacy of popular diets such as the low-fat eating trend or high protein diets. According to Rimm, while trendy diets can offer results such as weight loss and reduced cholesterol, they also have a high recidivism rate meaning they’re nearly impossible to maintain over a lifetime.
More importantly, he argued, many of the fats excluded in a low-fat diet are beneficial to one’s overall health. High protein diets aren’t without drawbacks either: over time they can increase inflammation in the body.
Eating a diet that is varied, simple and realistic may be the most effective lifestyle choice a person can make, Rimm suggested.
Said Rimm: “There’s no perfect diet. Adherence to the diet one selects rules the day.”
But that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t adopt an eating strategy based on a few essential principles — principles Rimm set out in his lecture.
Here are some of his guidelines:
1. Customize your diet to your cultural background and overall preferences. The more your diet suits you, the more likely you are to follow it.
2. Avoid processed foods. And try and eat mostly whole foods with minimal processing.
3. Eat an array of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.
4. Eat good fats (olive oil, canola oil) and avoid bad fats (trans fats).
5. Add fish to your weekly protein consumption (up to twice a week).
6. Moderate alcohol consumption.
What’s the most consistent part of your healthy diet?