How to Find a Diet That Fits Your Lifestyle

Three Parts:Starting a DietPicking the Right Diet for YouAvoiding Unsafe Diets

The weight loss and dieting industry is huge and offers consumers a large variety of dieting programs and products. If you're interested in losing weight or following a new diet, there are many, many options for you to try. While a variety of diets seems like a great idea, it can be difficult sorting through each type of diet to find one that will fit best into your lifestyle. If you are following a program that's too difficult, too expensive or not enjoyable, you probably won't stick with it long term. Find a program that you'll truly enjoy and be able to stick to long-term so you can meet your weight loss and health goals.

Part 1
Starting a Diet

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    Define your goal. Before you can decide what type of diet is best for your lifestyle, you'll want to define your weight loss and health goals. This will help you decide what type of diet will or will not work.
    • Be specific in your goal making. These types of goals are best because you provide yourself with a lot of information. Include the what, when, where and how of your goal.[1]
    • Also be realistic with your goal. For example, it's not realistic to want to lose 10 pounds in a week. However, it is realistic to aim for 1-2 pound weight loss per week.[2]
    • A good example of a goal would be: I want to lose 10 pounds in total by the end of two months. I'll aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week to help me reach my goal.
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    Start a food journal. A food journal is a great thing to start prior to following a diet. It'll help you visually see where you can make changes in your eating habits and where you do not want to make changes.[3]
    • Keep a food journal for a few days (include both weekdays and weekend days). Note everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Also, be specific with the portions and brands.
    • Take some time to review your food journal. Circle, star or highlight areas where you think you could make changes or improvements. These items can be turned into goals and give you some insight into what type of diet you should follow.
    • When listing out things you should change, be honest with yourself regarding how likely you are to change them. For example, if you are thinking you should cut out carbs like bread, rice or pasta but these foods are a big part of your culture or are favorite foods, completely avoiding them may not be realistic for you.
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    Talk to friends and family members. Since weight loss and dieting is so prevalent in society, you can get a lot of information from others regarding different diet programs and their success rates.
    • Talk to family members or friends about different diets they've tried in the past. They'll give you the inside scoop on diets they've tried.
    • Ask: what was the easy part of the diet? What did you find to be the hardest part? Was it an expensive program? Did it require you to buy special foods? Does it require you to take extra supplements?
    • Finding out the answers to these questions prior to starting or purchasing a diet can be immensely helpful.
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    Talk to your doctor. Another excellent source of information for weight loss will be your doctor. Talk to your physician about your goals and desire to lose weight and ask for some advice.
    • Ask your doctor about any specific diets you've been considering and whether or not they will be safe or appropriate for you.
    • Many doctors and their offices also offer in house weight loss programs. These are usually supplemented with meal plans and regular visits to the office for follow-up.
    • Also consider meeting with a registered dietitian. These nutrition and weight loss professionals can design a custom diet and meal plan for you or assist you in following a commercial program.

Part 2
Picking the Right Diet for You

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    Start simple with a low calorie diet. One of the most common and simple types of diets to follow is a low calorie diet.
    • A low calorie diet is simple to follow and requires minimal equipment or products. In addition, it's flexible regarding the types of foods you can include and the type of meal pattern you choose.
    • Low calorie diets are great for those who want something easy to follow and don't mind keeping a food diary on a daily basis. However, if you don't want to count calories or track them on a regular basis, this may not be the program for you.
    • Start a low calorie diet by cutting out about 500 calories daily from your typically intake. This results in about a 1-2 pound weight loss per week.[4]
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    Try a low-carb diet. A very common type of diet is a low-carb diet. There are many commercial programs and general guidelines that limit carbs to help induce weight loss.
    • A low-carb diet limits foods like grains, fruit, starchy vegetables and diary foods.[5] The amount of restriction depends on the exact diet that you follow.
    • Low-carb diets are popular as they generally result in quicker initial weight loss and can result in improved blood sugars in those with diabetes. They also don't rely on a food journal or daily counting to follow. You just restrict or limit certain foods and that's it.
    • Low-carb diets do come with some drawbacks - mainly the side effects of limiting carbs initially. You may feel a little light headed, get a headache or feel fatigued.[6] In addition, following a low carb diet long-term may result in nutrient deficiencies if you're avoiding a large quantity of foods.
    • If you get a lot of enjoyment out of eating carbohydrates, don't want to deal with any side effects or are not interested in quicker weight loss, a low-carb diet may not be for you.
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    Follow the Mediterranean lifestyle. Another eating plan that has gained some popularity is the Mediterranean diet. However, this diet is actually more of a lifestyle than a traditional weight loss diet.
    • The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans, nuts and seeds). The main source of protein is seafood and legumes. Foods like red meat and dairy are not eaten on a regular basis.[7]
    • Many people enjoy this type of diet as they can enjoy a glass of red wine, include a variety of healthy and satisfying fats (like olive oil, olives, nuts and avocado) and can still include delicious whole grains.[8]
    • This diet focuses on many plant-based foods instead of protein. If you enjoy eating protein or feel more satisfied eating higher amounts of protein, the Mediterranean diet may leave you feeling a little unsatisfied.
    • This diet is great for those that not only want to lose weight, but also want to improve heart health and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.[9]
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    Consider the Paleo diet. A very new diet trend is called the Paleo diet. This eating pattern is based on what was believed to be the type of eating that humans followed during the Paleolithic era.[10]
    • The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, focuses on meat and poultry, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It restricts dairy products, beans and lentils and grains.[11]
    • The Paleo diet will be great for those who enjoy eating large quantities of protein, won't miss dairy products or grains-based foods and do not want to have to count or track points or calories.
    • However, the Paleo diet won't work for those who don't not like low-carb diets or eating larger amounts of protein.
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    Use a meal replacement diet plan. Another type of diet plan to follow is a meal replacement program. You can find these in your local grocery store, online and even through your doctors office.
    • Meal replacement diets focus on using high protein bars, shakes and occasionally other products to help you lose weight. Depending on the program, you might replace every meal and snack or just 1 or 2 meals.[12]
    • Meal replacements typically result in quicker weight loss (though when you stop, you're more likely to gain the weight back), require little to no meal planning, counting or tracking and don't require you to prep or make healthy foods.
    • Meal replacement plans are incredibly simple and easy to follow. However, if you enjoy cooking or eating a wide variety of foods, these programs may not work for you. It's easy to get bored or fed up with the lack of variety and "real food" with these programs.[13]

Part 3
Avoiding Unsafe Diets

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    Be on the lookout for "fad diets." In the midst of even the best types of diets, there are some diet programs that are not considered safe or effective for weight loss. Avoid these at all costs.
    • Fad diets or crash diets are those that are trendy and promise large quantities of weight loss in short periods of time. They often sound much too good to be true.[14]
    • Fad diets generally use unreliable research and claims to get consumers interested in their plans or products.
    • These types of diets are usually unbalanced, do not require you to participate in physical activity and are not sustainable long-term (and generally result in weight re-gain).[15]
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    Avoid diets that require you to take supplements. Some "diet programs" are only supplements, pills or powders. They do not involve any diet or lifestyle changes.
    • Although it may sound like a great idea to be able to lose weight without making any diet or lifestyle changes, these types of diet supplements are considered unsafe and can even harm you.[16]
    • In addition, these supplements may interfere with your medications or current health conditions.
    • Unfortunately, you cannot lose weight safely or effectively without changing your diet, adding in physical activity and change your lifestyle.
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    Skip juice cleanses or fasts. Some diets that have become more popular recently are juice diets, juice cleanses or fasts. These are also considered unsafe and are not recommended.[17]
    • These types of diet rely solely on liquid - no solid foods - to help promote weight loss. They are also very low calorie, very low fat and are low in a variety of essential nutrients.[18]
    • Many side effects include dizziness, fatigue and reduce weight loss. If a diet suggests only drinking fluids for weight loss, avoid the plan.


  • Regardless of what type of diet you choose to follow, always talk to your doctor before starting to make sure weight loss is safe and appropriate for you.
  • You may want to try a few diets before settling on one specific program.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Maintaining Diets