When it comes to weight loss, there's no lack of diets promising fast results. Trendy diets pop up left and right, with no telling how long people will stick to them, or how effective they will actually be.
A recent survey from REBEL, the Philippines’ #1 Health and Fitness app from Erwan Heussaff and Nico Bolzico, showed that 81% of the respondents have tried some type of diets to lose weight, but 74% said there were no visible results. REBEL brought in their in-house registered nutritionist and dietician Jo Sebastian to help break down the truths behind four of the most common diets and to share general guidance on losing weight.
Intermittent fasting or ‘IF’ is one of the most common phrases in the dieting world right now. So what exactly is it? First of all, it isn’t really a diet, but rather an eating schedule that involves consuming food for a period of time, for example, 8 hours and then fasting for the remaining 16 hours (not eating anything). The general concept is that by eating one less meal, you’ll decrease overall calorie intake which can lead to weight loss. There are also other potential benefits that have been shown in animal studies such as improvements in insulin sensitivity, help with cholesterol and gut health, as well as increases in human growth hormones.
So is it for you? It depends! If it can fit with your overall lifestyle, then you can try and see what works for you. It’s always important that when you do finish your fast and eat, you’re getting a wide range of nutrients. Also, be mindful of binging, even if you’re only eating for 8 hours of the day, if you eat more calories than you need this won’t result in weight loss. Finally, it isn’t advised for pregnant and lactating women, and those with diabetes, eating disorders, and acid reflux, among others.
The Ketogenic or ‘Keto’ Diet
‘Keto’ as it’s commonly referred to is a very low-carb diet that if followed correctly will get your body into a state of ‘ketosis’ and so that your body starts using fat as its main energy source vs. carbohydrates. A keto diet typically minimizes or even eliminates bread, rice, oats, pasta, starch, and some fruits and veggies and usually consists of your calories coming from 20% protein, 75% fat, and just 5% carbohydrates. Its benefits can include better blood sugar control for some and an increase in the satiety of meals.
A ketogenic diet can work for quick weight loss, many people find that reducing consumption of carbohydrates will reduce water weight in the first few days, but in the long run weight loss is dependent on the total energy balance equation of calories being consumed and being used. While there are advocates for this particular diet, it can be lacking in many nutrients; certain fats chosen can increase the risk of heart disease; and strictly following the diet can cause obsessive behaviors around eating.
The No-Rice Diet focuses on substituting rice with other carbohydrate sources, or by loading up on protein and fat in place of rice. Especially here in the Philippines there can be a fear towards rice, but is this rational?
Eliminating carbohydrates such as rice can help improve blood sugar control and is great for those with PCOS and diabetes, and those experiencing pulmonary diseases like COPD. It isn’t however a magical tool for weight loss, and a balance of nutrients is still needed for those who choose to follow this diet. Remember there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods if they are consumed in moderation. Also try not to get too hung up on white vs. brown rice; the most important factor is the volume--remember to serve appropriate portion sizes!
There is a rising trend with people following vegetarian diets, which exclude animal-based products like meat, seafood, chicken and vegan diets which go further and exclude eggs, and dairy products. There are also other kinds of vegetarian diets that fall under this umbrella term too, like: ovo-vegetarianism (can consume egg), lacto-vegetarianism (can consume milk), and ovo-lacto-vegetarianism (can consume egg and milk).
Depending on one’s chosen food sources, a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. While it can be good for overall health, proper education on healthy substitutes and sources of protein and iron is vital. A common mistake here is taking out animal products in one’s diet without finding proper protein, iron, and vitamin B12 substitutes, which leads to nutritional deficiencies in the long run. Those who subscribe to this type of diet do it for either health reasons, environmental advocacy, or both.
Whichever diet you choose to follow, the most important factor for weight loss is achieving a calorie deficit and being consistent. Diets can fail if they are too complicated and not followed. Sebastian suggests that instead of taking out certain food groups from our diet, we should focus on incorporating healthy products like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, unsaturated fats, and water. And when it comes to starting any diet, longevity and sustainability should be considered.
“The best diet for you is the one that best fits your available food sources, and the lifestyle that you have,” she says. There is no need to remove certain food from our diet, but rather, we should take everything in moderation instead.
For ideas on meals that are equally healthy and delicious, the Eat section of the REBEL app has just what you need. From a wide assortment of local favorites, fish, chicken, and veggie recipes, to videos on the basics of nutrition, you’re sure to stay informed and inspired to cook up something yummy and nutritious in the kitchen.