From Mediterranean diet to intermittent fasting, five healthy ways to lose weight

What most people fail to realise when getting excited about a new diet is the sustainability factor, but it’s clearly the most important one.

Myupchar July 09, 2020 14:21:14 IST
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From Mediterranean diet to intermittent fasting, five healthy ways to lose weight

Ask anybody who’s tried to lose weight through a new diet and maintain it for the long haul, and you’ll know that it’s no easy feat. You can pick a diet that you’ve heard is extremely effective, stick to it religiously for a few months, but maintaining most of these diets for years and years is next to impossible.

A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2018 explains that while a lot of these diets gain immense popularity among young people, they’re often extreme,  especially when it comes to carbohydrate and fat intake.

So, they might lead to sudden and extreme weight loss, but also health issues due to an unbalanced diet and sudden weight gain because of non-sustainability in the long run.

Healthy diets: a match made in weight-loss heaven

What most people fail to realise when getting excited about a new diet is the sustainability factor, but it’s clearly the most important one.

A study published in the Medical Clinics of North America in 2018 points out that long-term weight management can be challenging given the interactions between our biology, behaviour and the increasingly obesogenic environment we live in.

The most effective solution to this issue is to pick a diet that’s naturally sustainable, includes all possible micro- and macronutrients your body needs to maintain immune response, strengthens your resolve to follow through and prevents relapses to binge-eating habits. Believe it or not, there are a few diets that provide this perfect match of nutrition, disease prevention and weight management in the long run.

1. Plant-based diet

It’s not necessary that you go completely vegan, just a vegetarian diet is effective enough for sustained weight loss, and many studies have proven this time and again. One study published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology in 2017 explained how a plant-based diet is very effective in lowering your body mass index and weight in the long run.

Another study in Nutrients in 2019 explains that a plant-based diet leads to sustainable weight loss because it is low on the calories, high on nutrient density and satiety, boosts insulin sensitivity and improves gut health.

This diet is also linked with lower risks of heart disease and cancer. The only disadvantage of this diet is that because it mostly excludes animal products, nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids have to be supplemented. This can be easily overcome naturally if you choose a flexitarian plant-based diet which depends predominantly on plant products, but also includes fish and eggs for the remaining nutrients.

2. Low-carb diet

“Low carb diet can lower insulin levels in the body, help reverse insulin resistance in PCOS and pre-diabetes and it is beneficial for weight loss as well,” says Akanksha Mishra, a clinical nutritionist and certified diabetes educator associated with MyUpchar. A study in Current Diabetes Reports in 2013 explains that carb consumption is the main reason behind post-meal glucose spikes, and can lead to weight gain and diabetes among other issues.

Inversely, reducing carb intake can lead to improved metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Another study published in BMJ in 2018 indicates that a low-carb low-fat diet can increase energy expenditure, and this metabolic effect can make sustained weight loss a possibility.

It’s important to remember that low-carb does not mean no carb. Complete exclusion of any nutrient, even carbs, cannot be sustained for a long time because carbs are strongly associated with satiety.

“For sustainability, you have to switch your simple carb to complex carb or protein-rich options, like switch wheat chapati with soya flour, pearl millet or black gram chapati. With this type of change, you will not miss your favourite foods and can follow this diet in the long run.”

3. Mediterranean diet

You might have heard about the diet Italians and Greeks follow and how it leads to longevity, indicating a reduced risk of diseases. “The Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets to follow for the lifetime because it’s beneficial for heart health, obesity, and chronic disease because of the large portions of food being healthy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains,” Mishra says. “This diet completes all the nutritional requirements of the body and satisfies the taste buds as well, and that is why it is easy to stick in the long run.”

But does it also contribute to weight loss? Studies suggest it does. One study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2016 suggested that the Mediterranean diet results in similar weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor level reduction as low fat and low carb diets do. Another published in Nutrients in 2019 indicates that this diet pattern if introduced and adhered to during childhood years, can lead to lifelong prevention of unnecessary weight gain and obesity.

4. DASH diet

Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean meats, and cut off salt, red meat, added sugar and fat: that’s what the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet insists on. Just like the Mediterranean diet, DASH is not an exclusively weight-loss diet. “As a healthy eating pattern, DASH diet helps lower blood pressure, prevents or reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney disease and keeps your weight under control,” Mishra explains.

A study in Liver International in 2018 found that consumption of a DASH diet for at least eight weeks can lead to weight loss and reduction in triglycerides, inflammation, etc. However, if you are prone to low blood pressure, reducing salt intake excessively can have a negative impact on you. It’s best to consult a doctor before starting this diet.

5. Intermittent fasting

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in early 2020 found that metabolic switching through intermittent fasting can help lose weight and prevent other diseases in the long run. And this is not the only study in recent years that underlines the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss, because switching between periods of fasting and eating ensures satiety, boosts metabolism and detoxifies the body too.

The only problem with this diet strategy is managing cravings during fasting periods and reining in the cravings to eat anything available or unhealthy during the eating periods.

For more information, read our article on How to lose weight fast and safely.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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