Most popular diets are founded on similar nutritional principles. These principles include differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates, lowering net carb consumption, consuming healthy fats, and eliminating sugar. Of course, any good diet will also encourage eliminating processed food completely.
Although meal plans and specifications vary, these core principles drive the success of each diet. To be successful on any diet requires understanding these principles and how various foods meet the requirements (or not). In other words, you can’t just flip through a meal plan for one diet, see a broccoli dish, and expect to lose weight by eating broccoli. Doing so ignores other factors like cooked vs. raw broccoli, portion size, and carb count.
If you’re trying to lose weight and don’t know which diet to choose, understanding these nutritional principles will help regardless of which diet you commit to. Here’s a breakdown of these principles:
1. Differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates
According to the Mayo Clinic, carbohydrates are a macronutrient found naturally in plant-based foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Carbs are also added to processed foods in the form of starch and sugar. A third form of carbohydrate is fiber. The carbs found in vegetables are what your body wants, not the starchy carbs and sugar.
Most diets recommend limiting or eliminating starchy carbs and sugar because those carbs raise blood sugar. These foods include potatoes, bread, pasta, pastries, and other foods containing refined flour. This principle is essential for any diet to work.
Although they began as a clinical organization, the Mayo Clinic has developed a weight loss protocol to help people implement important nutritional principles. The Mayo Clinic’s program is one of the top 10 diets, right under South Beach and Nutrisystem. Their protocol doesn’t suggest completely eliminating carbs, but does recommend a lower amount and healthier sources of carbs. For example, replace potatoes with cauliflower, and eat fruits that nourish your body (like blueberries).
2. Lowering net carb consumption
In addition to the Mayo Clinic’s diet, popular low carb diets include Atkins, Paleo, Carnivore, and Keto. While they’re certainly not the same plans, they’re all designed to limit the intake of net carbs. Net carbs are calculated as total carbs minus fiber. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it’s essential to the body. Fiber is used as a prebiotic and converted to short chain fats the body uses for fuel.
Limiting net carbs is important for two reasons. First, it will train your body to burn fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. Burning fat for fuel is more efficient, and the process results in 40% fewer free radicals than burning carbs for fuel. Free radicals damage DNA, cell membranes, and proteins.
The second reason for limiting net carbs is to regulate your blood sugar levels. Regulating blood sugar isn’t just for diabetics; it’s actually a good way to reduce your risk of becoming diabetic.
Dr. Joseph Mercola warns that eating large amounts of carbohydrates causes insulin levels to rise. Lowering net carbs keeps insulin levels stable. Insulin is a fat storing hormone. Higher insulin levels cause the body to store more nutrients in fat cells instead of using them. If high insulin levels are sustained long enough, they will remain high even while fasting. This problem often leads to insulin resistance, which is Type 2 Diabetes.
3. Consuming healthy fats
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Unfortunately, this myth has made people afraid of eating foods their body needs to thrive. It also created an entire low-fat industry that actually makes people fat. Naturally nutritious foods are stripped of their nutritional content and filled out with carbohydrates and sugar, making them low-fat or nonfat.
Trans fats are the enemy, but polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good for you. Some say saturated fats are somewhere in the middle. Avoiding all fats deprives the body. The ‘good’ fats help the body absorb vitamins and minerals, build cell membranes, cell exteriors, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. Fat plays a crucial role in blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
4. Eliminating sugar
Diets like Keto and Atkins require the elimination of sugar almost entirely, and don’t advise eating much fruit. However, not all fruit contains sugar. Avocado, for example, contains zero carbohydrates and is safe to eat on keto and the Atkins diet.
Knowing these principles gives you freedom
Once you learn these basic principles, you can go on any popular diet without having to rely on a meal delivery plan. If you’ve been hesitant to start a diet because you don’t know which one will work, now you can choose a plan based on how it actually works.
Article Submitted By Community Writer