Summer is Here: Are You Fit? Check Out These 6 Popular Diets
Summer has finally arrived in the southern hemisphere. Many people, especially in Brazil, use the last months of the winter and the spring to start preparing physically to wear speedos or bikinis on the beach. More hours at the gym and a dietary change are in order if you wish to keep fit and healthy. Cariocas – the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro – are particularly obsessed with looking good when they put on scanty clothing, as outdoors activities play a huge part in the entertainment agenda of that beautiful city.
However, with the end-of-the-year holidays, people go to family, friends and work celebrations, and the amount or food and drink consumed during the festivities skyrocket. In the social networks, all you read about are people regretting their excesses at a party they went to the previous night, and asking for advice on how to get back in shape. Also, as expected, many of us have weight problems that predate the holidays, as we waited till the last minute to prepare for the summer or never did it. So, we are still many pounds above what we’d consider ideal. For the late starters and those who hate working out, here’s a list of the most popular diets to lose weight followed worldwide. I hope it helps you get started.
Weight Watchers. Created in the 1960s by a housewife who had lost weight and was afraid of not sticking to the newly acquired healthy habits, the Weight Watchers’ key words are exercise, diet and support. Followers count on a network of supporters to help them through the process of losing weight, having access to advice and information on how to keep fit and healthy. They are now a huge organization with branches throughout the world. Dieters can attend meetings physically or online.
Atkins Diet. The main objective of this diet is to promote a higher intake of protein and reduction of carbohydrates to keep the insulin levels in the body down. If the insulin levels are high, the body will not burn weight, as it will tend to store energy, mainly in the form of fat. Many restaurants in the US keep a separate Atkins Menu for followers, given the popularity of the diet at the beginning of this century. Created by the cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins to control his own weight problem, the diet was used to help his patients afterwards. The first book written by Atkins on the diet was published in 1972, and it is called Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution.
The Zone Diet. This diet recommends an intake of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 30% protein for every meal. The idea is to control your weight through the consumption of good quality carbohydrates and healthier fats - found in olive oil, nuts and avocado. As with the Atkins diet, the plan is to keep the levels of insulin in the body low. The diet claims to take into account our genetic make-up and was created by Dr. Barry Spears.
The South Beach Diet. Designed by the cardiologist Arthur Agatston M.D. and dietician Marie Almon in the 1990s, the diet initially had the objective of helping patients avoid heart disease. Only afterwards, it started to be used as a way of losing weight. According to their official website (http://www.southbeachdiet.com), the diet is developed in three phases:
"Phase 1: Eliminate Cravings, Rapid Weight Loss, only 14 days; phase 2: Eat a Variety of Delicious Foods, Reach Your Goal Weight; phase 3: Maintain Weight Loss for Life! "
Vegetarian Diet. Although there are many kinds of vegetarian diets, they all basically eliminate animal products from the meals. If you are not a vegan, you may eat eggs, dairy or honey, though. Many people who are vegetarians do not think of their diet only in terms of keeping fit and healthy, but they are also concerned about animal rights and the sustainability of life on the planet. Studies indicate that vegetarians seem to have lower weight, have fewer diseases and live longer.
Mediterranean Diet. This diet is supposed to copy the natural eating habits of people who live in places such as Crete, Greece and southern Italy. It consists basically of eating small amounts of red meat; fish and poultry in moderation; not more than 4 eggs a weeks; a lot of vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, cereal and seeds; cheeses and yogurt; olive oil is also an important component in the diet, and the consumption of red wine – in moderation – is encouraged. About 30% of the diet consists of fat (with saturated fat not going above 8% of the total intake).
Of course, I would not recommend anybody to start any of the diets above before consulting a doctor or a specialist. I myself did Atkins for a couple of months in the past and my blood pressure went through the roof! Besides, it did not take me long to regain all the lost pounds when I stopped it. On the other hand, after consulting a professional nutritionist last year, I achieved one of my best results ever in terms of losing weight: she prescribed a balanced and personalized diet which I was able to follow easily. She educated me to eat more healthily. It kept me fit for more than a year. Now, however, I need further and urgent reeducation, I’m afraid!!