Finally, free diet plans that really work, based on the best and most recent scientific research and proven to work for the average guy or gal.
There are two diet plans that I feel good about recommending. One is for temporary but rapid weight loss and one is life-long, sustainable, and very healthy.
Studies have shown that people on a low-carbohydrate diet consistently lose weight faster and show better heart-healthy numbers—such as tryglycerides and cholesterol—than those on other diets. That is counter-intuitive, even strange, to researchers and scientists alike, but the results are consistent.
You will find more information on this temporary weight-loss diet plan on the low carb diets page, but I do need to tell you one very important thing here.
The reason that I recommend low-carb diets as a temporary weight-loss plan is because they are going to be temporary whether you want them to be or not. The same studies that show that low-carb diets are remarkably effective and healthy even though that makes little sense to nutritionists also show that almost no one stay on them. After one year, almost ever low-carb diet plan follower abandons the plan and gains all their weight back.
Very bad. I recommend low-carb diets for weight loss, and I recommend staying on such a diet for no more than six months.
My recommended life-long, free diet plan is based upon an AARP diet they called "The New American Diet," which I found in the December, 2012/January, 2013 issue of AARP magazine (AARP=American Association of Retired People). I'm three and one-half years too young to be an AARP member, but a friend gave me the issue because of a great article on leukemia, a blood cancer that I am now a survivor of.
The article on the diet is even better, full of advice that I already know to be true, but also full of results of recent studies showing the advice is even better than I thought. The advice is good for younger people as well.
The law says that I have to tell you that I get a commission on Amazon sales. I do not recommend or advertise books because I can get a commission on them. I recommend books because they are worthy to be recommended.
The article can be found here. I recommend it straight up. That link will open in a new window. You can both click it and finish this article.
So if AARP has this perfect and free diet plan, why would you want to stay here on this page, too?
Because no one is going to show you how to tell reliable research from unreliable research like I will. My Christian history book on the Council of Nicea has given me a reputation among local writers for research and finding sources. I was asked to write an article on research for Southern Writers' Suite T blog, which was the only 2-part guest blog they have published. Virtually every review of my book on Amazon or off has noted the research and wondered how I found all the information and ancient sources I provide.
The answer? Long years of paying attention and following up references. I know who's advice stands the test of time and whose advice catches attention like a fire in a frying pan, flashy, but dangerous and needing to be put out as quickly as possible.
Below is my review of the AARP's "New American Diet" and why you should follow their advice. I am going to only address the less obvious parts of their diet. Advice like "eat more fruits and vegetables" is so obviously true that it's senseless for me to comment on it. (Do see my comments on low-carb diets in reference to fruit.)
I am just going to touch on some subjects covered in AARP's free diet plan, the "New American Diet." If you click that link I just gave you, their article, with a link to a week worth of recipes, will open in a new window or tab, and you can go to it after you read the review and recomended additions.
On my diet tips page, I speak against this advice ... sort of. For some reason, some people do really well eating two meals a day, one mid-morning and another around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.. I've heard several success stories from people who ate like that, and BL (Before Leukemia) it worked really well for me, too.
An example was the guy that Subway featured as part of their advertising for several years. He ate lunch and dinner at Subway, the only food he ate for at least a year, and he dropped from 420 pounds down to 185 pounds.
The problem is, if you have children like I do, eating meals at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. is really not an option. When mom serves dinner at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., allowing the family to have a life in the evening, dad really needs to be there, too.
If you're going to eat dinner at a more normal family time, it is good to eat a good breakfast. Believe it or not, it's a key to not eating late at night, and everyone agrees that eating late night snacks or meals is a sure-fire way to get fat. To this day, I am not sure whether it affects your metabolism or is just evidence of bad eating habits, but in almost every case a person who stops eating after 7 or 8 p.m. every day will lose weight.
The breakfast that works is high in protein. A good breakfast that includes only high-grain cereal and fruit is excellent for helping you concentrate mid-morning and do a better job at work, but it is not nearly as good for suppressing hunger the rest of the day. According to Prevention Magazine and personally tested out by me and several friends, a breakfast high in protein and calories will prevent mid-afternoon sleepiness, too. It works like a miracle.
What's funny is that when I read Prevention Magazine, I thought, "An Egg McMuffin™ fits the bill perfectly." I began having two Egg McMuffins™ on the way to work every day. That afternoon lull disappeared.
The "New American Diet" recommends an egg sandwich made by yourself accompanied by fruit, not one made by MacDonald's. So do I.
Whoo hoo! The verdict is in. Coffee is good for you. I know nutritionists have been back and forth over that for decades, but over this last decade large, reliable studies have not only shown benefit, but they have shown "dose-related" benefit. Very important factor.
"Dose-related" means that the more coffee you have, the stronger the effect is. "Dose-related" is evidence of a cause-effect relationship rather than just two effects that happen to be related.
Let me explain that by giving you the results. Coffee helps to reduce diabetes and prostate cancer on a dose-related basis. If you drink one cup of coffee a day, you reduce your risk of diabetes by 7%. If you drink four cups of coffee a day, you reduce your risk of diabetes by 4 times that amount, or about 30%. The same is true of prostate cancer.
The opposite idea, where research shows a non-dose-related effect, would be say, vitamin pills. People who take vitamin pills live longer than those who don't. The problem is, people who take vitamin pills also smoke less, eat better, and in general live a healthier lifestyle. So, it's more likely that their lifestyle causes them to both take vitamin pills and live longer than that the vitamin pills are causing them to live longer. If there were a dose-related effect, so that those who took two vitamin pill lived even longer than those who took one, then we might conclude a cause-effect relationship, where the vitamin pills actually cause the longer life. (In other words, no one actually "knows" that vitamin pills are good for you, just that they seem to be part of a healthy lifestyle.)
Okay, back to coffee.
One of the best places to verify news claims is at PubMed. Unless you're a scientist or have been reading the articles there for years, you may find the articles hard to read (or even obtain). The abstracts (summations of the research written by the researchers) are there, though, and these are much easier to read than the actual articles.
Here, for example, is an abstract on a study concerning caffeinated vs. decaffeinated coffee for protection against diabetes. It's from just last week, and by now the protective effect of coffee against diabetes is assumed in this research. The only question is whether caffeine plays a role. The conclusion? "In this multiethnic population, regular, but not decaffeinated, coffee intake was much more protective against diabetes in women of all ethnic groups than in men."
Sorry, ladies, it appears you have to drink caffeinated coffee to get the protective effect, and caffeine has its side effects. There is the risk of addiction, causing headaches if you don't drink coffee every day. (In my case, the headaches are so bad that they cause vomiting. I limit myself to one caffeinated cup a day.) Lots of caffeine can make your heart go through episodes of racing, which cannot possible be good for you. I've experienced that, and it can be terrifying.
On the other hand, drinking up to three caffeinated cups of coffee may not have any negative effect in pregnancy, though that study says further research is needed.
I'll conclude by telling you that I found a 2006 study that questioned the benefit of coffee in combating diabetes, but only because "the underlying biological mechanisms have yet to be elucidated." Since then, though, the effects have been verified in studies repeatedly, including, for example, this January, 2013 study.
I personally have opted for 2 or 3 cups of coffee per day, only one of which is caffeinated, due to its protective benefits against diabetes, prostate cancer, and Parkinson's disease.
I have read over and over about the benefits of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which can be found especially in fish fat.
I don't think any of us doubt that fish oil (fish fat) is good for you. AARP's New American Diet recommends eating fish because of the omega-3's.
What all these recommendations for fish oil neglect to tell you is that it is very easy to get fish with almost no fat whatsoever. No fat means no omega-3's!
There are some low-calorie, low-fat fish, like whiting or tilapia, that may be good for you, but which are not going to provide you with much, if anything, of omega-3 fatty acids. To ensure that you get the fish oil you want, you may want to opt for fish oil pills or make sure you consume high-fat fish like salmon. Even salmon, though, comes in farmed and wild varieties. I think the farmed generally has more fat. Check the labels. In the case of fish, more fat is better. No fish is as high calorie or as high in fat as beef, but beef fat is (probably) not good for you.
The New American Diet recommends snacking often, though what they mean by that is two snacks a day, one between breakfast and lunch and one between lunch and supper.
This one's pretty obvious. If you show up at a meal too hungry, you will be very prone to overeating.
It should be obvious that it is preferably to snack on a piece of fruit or something healthy, not a Snickers&trad; bar. (Eat your Snickers&trad; bar right after a run, long walk, or 30-minute moderate to intense exercise session. For about 90-minutes after a moderate to intense exercise session the cells in your muscles will be trying to restock their glycogen. You can actually overstock on glycogen in the muscles during that time period, which will make both recovery faster and tomorrow's exercise session better.
Your ramped up metabolism during that 90-minute period will also consume the excess sugar. Having a Snickers™ bar, which includes nuts, will cause the sugar to enter your bloodstream slower than say, a 3 Musketeers™ bar.
The fact is, if you check calories, sugar, and fat, most "power" bars and some "granola" bars are no better than a Snickers&trade bar, and if they have no fat to slow the sugar absorption, then they're worse.
That said, an apple, or even two apples or an apple and another piece of fruit, is even better. The fiber in the fruit will slow the sugar digestion.
Yoghurt may be even better because it provides good bacteria for your stomach as well as protein. Also it's a dairy product, which is important because ...
I have read this repeatedly, not just in the New American Diet. I have not analyzed the research behind it, but I can tell you that it was cited in "Nutrition News in Focus" by the former editor of Nutrition, a peer-reviewed journal for nutritionists.
I don't think anyone knows why people who have three servings of dairy a day maintain a lower weight than those who don't, but it happens without our understanding it.
If you're lactose intolerant, I'm sorry. Dairy is really good for you.
Of course, some people are gluten-intolerant, but whole-grain wheat is really good for you, too, which leads me to a comment on low-carb diets ...
The New American Diet recommends whole grains. I will have longer articles on these two subjects soon, but here is some true, well-backed by research advice on two popular modern diets.
This is a diet based on the myth that we evolved to eat as hunter-gatherers. Discover magazine has an article dispelling that myth in their April, 2013 issue. It may be available online. You can search for "Why the Caveman Diet is a Myth" to find it. Basically, the point is that the diet is based on assumptions and wishful thinking about the evolutionary past of humans.
The paleolithic (or caveman) diet is based on the idea that we should eat only what does not need to be cooked. It does not forbid cooking, but it does forbid eating what can't be eaten without cooking, limiting us to meat and vegetables, almost no grains.
As it turns out, humans have been cooking and grinding grains for at least 100,000 years, so the advice is not based on any real evolutionary past.
Note: For an interesting response to the Discover article, see "Did Cavemen Eat Bread?."
Low-carb diets have a lot of scientific evidence to recommend them ... if you're only going to diet for one year. In fact, if you go on a low-carb diet you are only going to diet for one year. By then, almost everyone gives up on the diet, and most gain all their weight back.
Low-carb diets consistently defeat other diets in studies for weight loss and for risk factors for heart attack despite the fact that they are high in saturated fat and low in fiber. It's a surprise to every researcher and doctor. The former editor of Nutrition journal who used to produce a newsletter called "Nutrition News in Focus," seemed irritated at the findings and complained that there was no explanation for the results, but he reported them as accurate anyway. I read that perhaps 10 years ago, and reports have consistently confirmed that since.
Nonetheless, whole grains and fiber are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer, the #2 cancer killer behind lung cancer. They are also associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Further, not all low-carb diets are like the Atkins diet. Some low-carb diets, every bit as effective as almost-no-carb diets, allow at least a couple hundred calories of carbohydrates each day, which can be gotten from fruit and breads that are high in fiber.
If you are trying to lose weight, low-carb diets are an excellent option, backed up by scientific research. However, I recommend you get those 200 calories of carbs daily and make sure that they are high-fiber carbs.
I also recommend that you get off the low-carb diet within six months and get on something more sustainable, like the New American Diet promoted by the AARP.
The article in AARP magazine says that chewing gum releases hormones that "signal your brain that you are full."
Interesting. What I know is that dentists recommend sugar-free gum, not just over gum with sugar in it, but also over no gum at all. Chewing gum causes your mouth to salivate, helping to kill germs, but apparently xylotol, an ingredient in some sugar-free gums, is good for your teeth, too. I'm not sure why, but Reader's Digest had an article asking 50 dentists for their best advice for readers. Many of them recommended sugar-free gum with xylotol, despite the fact that each dentist was only given a paragraph of space to make recommendations.
That editor of Nutrition journal that I keep referencing pointed out that even the few calories burned by chewing gum add up to a couple pounds across the course of a year!
The New American Diet has a seven-day recipe plan. I know that some of you will find sticking to a diet easier of you follow it, but I don't recommend it for the long run.
Maybe you're not like me, but I have food that I like, food that is okay, and food that I don't like. I have a much easier time sticking to a diet if I'm eating food that I like. Knowing myself, I recommend what I do myself. I learn the idea behind a diet, and then I choose my own meals that fit the requirements of the diet.
My father is from Hawaii. I grew up eating a diet that is somewhat oriental. I like rice. I eat it with almost every meal except breakfast. One of my favorite meals is tomato soup with rice in it. I have made adjustments to what I grew up on. I eat only brown rice, not white rice, and the tomato soup my wife and I buy is organic. A cup of tomato soup with a cup of brown rice is very filling and is only 300 calories. It fits every requirement of the New American Diet, and it is very low-calorie.
You may eat a more American diet than I grew up with, but I'm sure you have favorite foods. Some of them may be so bad that you have to give them up. I love ramen noodles, but unless I can find some non-packaged noodles, I might as well be eating poison. They're out the door, even as a snack.
Others, though, are perfectly acceptable, and will fit into your diet better than food prescribed by some outside source for the general population.
Not only that, but taking the time to learn why the New American Diet, or any other diet, recommends something or why it works, will educate you and help you resolve problems if you are unable to stick to a diet. I am sure that we all realize that sticking to a diet is as much or more of a problem than finding a good diet.
It's probably fine to start with their recommended diet plan for a couple weeks or a little longer. However, you should be learning the idea behind the diet plan and adjusting the menu to fit your own tastes. That will have everything to do with sticking to the diet, and the idea is to have a diet that will last forever.
Finally, I will add that it is a diet that is good or bad, not foods that are good or bad. The occasional failure or purposeful deviation from a diet just because you want a break are neither evil nor bad. In fact, an occasional treat, or even binge, may be therapeutic, restoring your motivation when you are feeling overly austere.
Remember sticking to a diet long-term is more important than carrying out religiously for a short time.