Balanced Plate Method
Paulina Lee, a Registered Dietitian in Sugar Land, Texas, and founder of Savvy Stummy, a wellness program designed to support gut health, notes that the Balanced Plate Method can be an easy way to add variety to your diet. “Instead of counting calories or tracking macros, just fill your 9-inch plate where half the plate is vegetables, a quarter of the plate is lean protein, and a quarter of the plate is starches,” she explains.
According to Lee, this eating pattern is sustainable, realistic, and effective for long-term weight loss. “Not to mention, rounding out a meal with fiber, protein, and healthy fats will keep you fuller longer, which can reduce between-meal snacking and other cravings,” she says.
A review of 23 studies concluded that portion control plates, which incorporate the same guidelines of the balanced plate method, could help people who are overweight and obese or with type 2 diabetes support weight loss. The review also found that portion control platters have been linked to several positive dietary behaviors, including increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Gisela Bouvier, registered dietitian and owner of Gisela Bouvier Nutrition in Punta Gorda, Florida, recommends the Mediterranean diet, noting that it can support weight loss and overall health. According to Bouvier, the Mediterranean diet “encourages the intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like nuts and seeds, and lean proteins.”
One study found that both menopausal and premenopausal women experienced significant fat loss when following a low-calorie, Mediterranean-style diet. In fact, the women lost an average of nearly five pounds of body fat over the course of the eight-week study, even with minimal aerobic exercise.
Inspired by the traditional diets of Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has also been linked to a long list of health benefits beyond weight loss, including improved heart health, improved brain function, and longer lifespans. Also, unlike other popular diet plans, it is easy to follow and doesn’t have any strict rules like counting calories.
However, while no foods are technically off-limits, some should be restricted, including red meat, processed foods, refined grains and added sugars. Other parts of the diet often include staying active, sharing meals with family and friends, and drinking red wine in moderation.
The volumetric diet is an eating plan that encourages the consumption of foods with a low calorie density, such as fruits and vegetables, to promote satiety while reducing calories. The diet, detailed in a book by nutritionist Barbara Rolls, categorizes foods according to their calorie density and provides guidelines on what foods should make up a well-balanced meal.
“What people like most about a volume-based approach is that it makes you feel like you can eat a ton — without having to constantly think about ‘restrictions,'” says Jaclyn London, a New York-based nutritionist.
London also points out that the volumetric diet has no food restrictions and is easily customized to suit your needs and preferences. Plus, it can even help improve your relationship with food. “By emphasizing plants, volumetry encourages a change not only in what you eat, but in how you think about what you eat,” she says.
A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that foods with a lower energy density improved appetite control, reduced cravings, and increased satiety in overweight or obese women, all of which may contribute to weight loss.
The DASH diet, also known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, was originally developed to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. However, according to London, the diet “can be both an overall healthier eating style and a smarter approach to weight loss.”
The plan recommends filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with legumes, nuts, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy. Meanwhile, foods high in added sugars or saturated fat, including red meat or whole dairy products, should be limited, and the plan recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. The DASH diet also includes guidelines on how many servings of each food group you should enjoy each day.
Many of the foods recommended in the DASH diet are low in calories but high in important nutrients like fiber and protein, which can be beneficial for weight loss. Additionally, limited foods, including foods high in added sugars, have been linked to weight gain and obesity when consumed in excess.
“With this plan (and indeed any great diet) it’s important that the diet tells you what to eat without overemphasizing one important nutritional component,” says London. In addition to supporting weight loss, London also notes that the diet contains several key nutrients to support heart health, including omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium.
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