Diet Tips and Strategies

People looking for diet tips and strategies will find a boatload of weight loss tricks and tips that may seem impossible to sort through. A quick web search for the term “diet tips” spits back over 30 million results, making searches for diet and diet strategies some of the most common on the Internet. Television is another vast compendium of diet strategies — commercials for weight loss products, gym memberships, diet foods, and other weight loss strategies are a dime a dozen. So many people are interested in losing weight, advertisers can’t help but try to cater to this ever growing population.

According to the CDC, nearly 70% of Americans are overweight to some degree. Some of us are a few pounds heavier than we should be, still others are best described as “morbidly obese”. No matter the degree to which a person is overweight, good diet tips and strategies are key to keeping off the excess pounds. Maybe you’ve tried trendy diets in the past (cabbage soup, cookie diets, Adkins, etc) and found them impossible to stick to or just plain ineffective. The good news is that medical research in the field of weight loss is big business, so innovations in weight loss tricks are common. The key to knowing what diet tips work and which ones are a bust is doing your research. Believe it or not, there are plenty of effective and safe means of losing weight that are reviewed by doctors and approved by the FDA.

Modern Weight Loss Tricks

When hunting for a diet strategy, remember the old adage that there’s nothing new under the sun. People have been using certain substances to aid weight loss for hundreds of years. Though it may seem that an obsession with being thin is a contemporary quirk, weight loss tools have been with us as long as humans have walked upright. As far back as 3000 years BCE, substances like vinegar and honey have been used to promote weight loss. Hippocrates, he of the famous doctor’s oath to “do no harm”, discovered the weight loss properties of vinegar hundreds of years before the modern era. Samurai warriors in Japan have used similar methods for even longer. In other words, 20th century man is not the first to try to shed pounds.

Diet fads come and go. Who can forget the anti-carbohydrate craze of the late 90s and early 00s? You couldn’t so much as eat a piece of toast in public without dirty looks, and grocery store shelves were cleared of bacon and other processed meats. Still other fad diets have since been proven downright dangerous — rumors that the death of Dr. Adkins (creator of the Adkins diet) was due to his uber-popular diet have not been outright confirmed, but his own heart troubles seem obviously tied to his protein-heavy diet plan. How do you know if a new trend in dieting is safe?

Here’s five “moderN’ diet tips and strategies that have been analyzed by medical professionals and weight loss coaches alike. There’s no “magic bullet” for losing weight, but these five tactics have lots of science to back them up.

Blood type diet — First conceived by a British physician and herbalist, the blood type diet suggests that a person’s “ideal diet” could be tied directly to their blood type. According to proponents of the blood type diet, our bodies ability to digest and process certain foods depends largely on our blood chemistry. Not just about weight loss, the blood type diet promises a general boost in health, a kick start to your body’s natural sources of energy, and even a longer lifespan. Even more promising to people struggling with their weight, people on the blood type diet claim they see results in a manner of weeks. There’s something very modern about a “personalized diet plan” — everyone wants to be a unique snowflake. But it does make sense that diet tips that work for one person may not work for another.

There’s more to the blood type diet than simply knowing your type and following the diet, but in general blood type A individuals should eat as vegetarian as they can stand, blood type B people survive best on a variety of meats, grains, dairy and veggies, type ABs should depend on fish for their protein, while type Os need as much meat-based protein as they can get. For more information on the blood type diet, check out the book “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Peter D’adamo

Olive oil diet — The National Cancer Institute discovered the so called “olive oil diet” by accident. A study of breast cancer survivors and their diets showed, much to the surprise of researchers, that those survivors who ate an unusually high amount of olive oil lost weight more rapidly than those who didn’t — the best news is that these women were also able to keep the weight off for an unusually long period of time. The National Cancer Institute was testing its own low fat diet on female survivors of breast cancer and discovered that their own diet was far less effective than a high-fat olive oil and plant based diet. A stunning 80 percent of women who ate the plant-based olive oil diet lost more than 5 percent of their original weight. The NCI low fat diet showed results in just 30 percent of women, meaning the olive oil diet was almost three times as effective. How did the study work? NCI offered participants in the study both their own low fat diet and the olive oil diet and allowed the women to pick the one that they preferred. Most women in the study chose the higher-fat diet based on olive oil, reportedly because the food tasted better, was cheaper to prepare, and required less time in the kitchen. If you’re looking for diet tips and strategies that also make less of an impact on your checking account, the NCI olive oil diet is right up your alley. You can find more info on this diet in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Women’s Health, and more info online at miriamhospital.org

Sleep and weight loss — Doctors and nutritionists have known that losing weight and keeping it off has as much to do with getting a good night’s sleep as eating fewer calories. That’s why the “sleep diet” is not exactly new. However, a concentration on proper rest for people looking to lose weight is currently trendy, thanks in part to a recent CDC study that showed people who get less than seven hours sleep a night are exponentially more likely to be obese. This is how fad diets go in and out of favor — some new study or research appears that reinforces what we already knew about health and people incorporate it into their bag of weight loss tricks. Adding this trick to your regimen is easy enough — make sure you sleep for at least seven hours every night. How can you do that? Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool enough for rest, try not to watch television or surf the web for at least half an hour before bed, and consider asking your doctor about supplements and vitamins to encourage better sleep habits. We all know sleep is important for brain functions — think how you felt after your last all-nighter — but now there’s even more proof that eight hours of shut-eye is good for your waistline as well.

Food journals — If you’ve spent any time at all researching weight loss, you’ve read about food journals. This is another tactic that is not exactly “new”. Keeping track of what you eat is a trick used by dietitians and doctors for years. What is new about food journals is the impact of social networking and the Internet. Social networking sites like Facebook are great for food journals, and allow for extra features than a plain old handwritten journal. Posting pictures of your lunch on Facebook will keep you honest about your caloric intake, and while that kind of public sharing may not be up your alley, there are plenty of ways to use the web for private food journals. A friend of mind opened a photo-sharing account and kept a private photo album of every meal he ate for a year. You better believe that at the end of that year, he was more informed about his own food habits (and able to keep track of what foods led to weight loss) than any other time in his life. The evidence in favor of web-based food journaling is not just anecdotal; the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry is hard at work on a report on the impact of social media on weight loss, with food journals occupying a significant portion of the report. Want support losing weight and keeping a food journal? Websites like fitday.com and mycaloriecounter.com provide free tools and support in your effort to fit into your favorite pair of jeans.

Cash for weight loss — If someone were paying you to get your Body Mass Index into the “typical” range, would you be more likely to pass up that extra serving of ice cream? Insurance companies and private industry hope the answer to that question is an immediate “Yes”. Americans are known for “voting their wallet”, siding with a political candidate based on a notion that said candidate will save them money, and purchasing products in mass quantities based on even the smallest price drop. In other words, the way to a person’s heart may be through their greenbacks. A program affectionately known as “cash for chunkers” is currently underway in England. The National Health Service in England is reporting good success with financial rewards for weight loss, this according to the Daily Mail. This is no tax incentive or hidden financial reward — the “cash for chunkers” program pays its participants $60 for every pound lost. The results? Most participants lost some weight, with average weight loss at about 14 pounds. A payout of $800 would tempt even the sweetest tooth. Good news for Americans — you don’t have to be part of the Commonwealth to enjoy money for your smaller waist. Private insurance companies are experimenting with similar programs, though most of the American efforts at paying for weight loss come in the form of lower insurance premiums and tax breaks. Let’s hope the British cash-based program catches on across the pond — who among us couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds and gain a few bucks? Your specific weight loss method doesn’t matter for this kind of incentive, which means more people will be encouraged to participate. A diet of cabbage soup may work for one person, while your personal weight loss tricks don’t involve cabbage at all. With “cash for chunkers”, both of you would enjoy the same weight loss incentive.

When you come across a weight loss trick that works for you, the important thing is to make sure it is healthy. Don’t jump into any diet tactic without talking to a doctor — I cannot emphasize this enough. There are plenty of fad diets and “diet pills” on the market that can do more harm than good, and this has been true throughout history. New diet tips and strategies usually smack of an older weight loss trick. Rarely is there a major dieting “breakthrough” that doesn’t have some history to support it — such is the nature of human beings. We want to be thin.

Weight loss tricks from the past seem scary or downright cruel to us today — stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphetamines were once acceptable means of dumping the pounds, and those ridiculous “exercise belts” that shake and rattle your tummy into submission were at one time the height of diet technology. These methods may seem wrong, but even archaic and dangerous weight loss tricks have some truth to them. Amphetamines will cause you to lose weight (and some doctors still rely on this method, albeit it in a much more controlled fashion) and some people still swear by the anti-fat powers of vibration . . . just look for the “shake weight” commercials on a TV near you.

The best weight loss tricks are those that are easy to implement, safe for your body, and effective for your personal weight loss goals. Whether you use food journaling, financial incentives, or good old fashioned calorie counting, be sure to test the progress of your diet strategy and use your friends and family for support.