Posts tagged ‘Atkins’

March 23, 2012

How can you know what works?

by Zen Gray

I love “before” and “after” pics, don’t you?

Jennifer Hudson before and after.

Personally, I think Jennifer Hudson looks stunning either way but her weight loss is definitely impressive. And how did she go from a size 16 to a size 6 after having a baby? She worked out with a trainer (Harley Pasternak) and learned portion control (Weight Watchers) —  a pretty solid weight-loss strategy.

I’ve tried many diets, exercise routines and supplements over the years and here’s how I’d sum up a few of the diets (exercise and supplements to be reviewed in future blogs):

Atkins -Low carb, no fat restriction, works fast, makes you a little crazy and you smell. Must maintain a low carb lifestyle and doesn’t allow for deviation, vacation or holiday eating. Even the carbs on the “maintenance” phase seem too low for anyone who exercises, but it does say you can adjust carb intake based on your activity level. Lots of Atkins food products with chemicals and sugar alcohols out there. (My stomach reacts poorly to sugar substitutes.)  Not sustainable.

Zone Diet – Low carb but higher than Atkins, focuses on a diet of 1/3 low-fat proteins and 2/3 fruits and veggies, effective for weight loss. Sustainable – and there are food delivery services using the zone philosophy so if you can afford it, it’s a good choice.

South Beach – Very similar to Zone Diet, also created by a doctor, controls cellular inflammation and hormonal response in the body using three phases of carbohydrate intake (you get the most carbs on the phase 3 maintenance part of the diet). It works.

Weight Watchers – I haven’t tried this personally, but my clients that do WW and train with me at least two times per week see great results. I hear they have several plans available but essentially you assign “points” to your food and you’re allowed a certain number of points per day. I believe their philosophy used to be purely calorie-based, but I’m happy to hear that they now allocate points to foods based on the protein-carb-fat ratios and nutrient content. I love that they are community-based and you can have weekly check-ins to help stay accountable. Clearly, Weight Watchers works (see Jennifer Hudson above).

Perricone Diet – A diet created by an anti-aging specialist and dermatologist. It’s all about decreasing inflammation and there are loads of high-priced skin care products to accompany this diet philosophy. I tried the diet AND the products and I lost weight but the products had too much oil in there for me as I was still under 30 at the time and my skin probably wasn’t as dry as most aging skin. Expensive but effective and if I didn’t already love my skin care lines (Arbonne and Kiehls), I’d try it again since I’ve been 29 for over ten years now.

Lean Cuisine – If this is your go-to diet food and it works for you, then great. However, the only benefit I see to these frozen meals are portion/calorie control. Almost all of the choices have wheat in them but they are pretty tasty. Doesn’t help if you’re trying to control hormonal response (i.e. not eating too many carbs). Not great if you’re trying to back off on wheat (gluten) or dairy, but certainly better than a Big Mac. I’ve noticed a lot of sodium in these and hard-to-pronounce ingredients, too. OK, if you just need to replace your usual large portion and/or fast food lunch.

Eat Right For Your Blood Type: This diet takes a more evolutionary perspective to eating: your blood type determines what foods are absorbed best by your body. Since I’m Type O (the oldest blood type – “the Hunter”), I’m supposed to eat plenty of lean meat, vegetables and fruits but avoid dairy and grains since those didn’t become a human staple until agriculture was developed. It’s kind of fascinating and I enjoyed reading the book. I’ve been told to eat this way by more than one holistic doctor, however, I’ve also been told that nothing is healthier than a vegan diet. So, who is right? I don’t know. I lost weight on this diet pretty easily but I can’t vouch for the effectiveness for the other blood type recommendations.

Paleo Diet: Essentially, this diet goes along with my Type O diet but insists that everyone will do well eating lean meat, veggies, fruit and nuts. Again, no grain or dairy. It works for me.

Jillian Michaels –  Master Your Metabolism: This is a book and not necessarily a diet but Jillian has certainly changed her old tune of “calories in, calories out”– which I’m glad to hear. It’s all about balancing your hormones. She’s one of the first celebs to address the importance of eating organic food and explaining what all the “food” and chemical additives are doing to our hormones; which is causing the weight gain so prevalent in the US. Tons of helpful, yet alarming, information. And yes, it works… but it can be pretty confusing and overwhelming.

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss: I love this book, this diet and this author. This guy has made himself the guinea pig for over ten years of diet, exercise and supplementation experiments. Ferriss records all his info and gives you the basic explanation as well as the in-depth “geek” version of why his plan works. The other thing I LOVE about his plan is the once-a-week binge day… which does have rules but you do get to eat AS MUCH AS you want and WHATEVER you want. Heaven, right? I can’t tell you how much I really appreciate the mental break of eating whatever I like once a week… as long as I follow the rules exactly the other six days of the week. The trick is to NOT CHEAT during those six days and people have a tough time with that. I highly recommend this book… not only for the effectiveness but for entertainment value.

OK, I realized after I started writing this blog that I have more diets that I could write about and no doubt someone will point out another effective strategy.

However, my point is: There are many effective diet strategies! (Hooray, right?!!!)

Some diets offer a “quickstart” option (typically, super low-carb) and others are more long-lasting with more flexibility. I’ve found that if I stick to a diet for three weeks and DON’T see or feel a change, then it’s time to switch. But honestly, I’ve lost weight on almost every diet I’ve tried. The key is to see if you can stick to it.

And how do you know if it’s working? Take measurements and/or check your body fat percentage as well as check the scale. If you’re exercising, you’ll put on weight first before the pounds come off… and you might think that you’re not making any progress when, in fact, you’re making great progress with your fat loss.

Do you have a favorite diet plan you’d like to share? Then let’s talk, dahling.

Ok, ironically, it’s time for me to dash off to see The Hunger Games

Until next time,

~Zen