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Top 10 Diet Plans for 2017

Science

Yearly resolutions are often committed to eating healthier and more quality food in order to shed off some extra calories and fats incurred over the holidays. While it is important to stick to a diet, it should be kept in mind that not all diets are created equal. Sadly, most of the ones that gained hype over the years are not the most effective ones.

The US News and World Report ranked 38 eating plans for its annual list. The ranking was based on different criteria including the ease and convenience to follow the diet plan, its effects on weight loss (both short- and long-term), its nutritional value and safety, and its ability to prevent noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. The costs associated with the diet plans and its compatibility to work out programs have not been however considered.

The ranking involved the audience and expertise of a panel of nutritionists and dieticians. Below is a list on which diets made it to top 10.

US News And World Report Top 10 Diet Plans

No. 10 (TIE): Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian diet made it to top 10 in 2017 from top 13 in 2016. This diet has fairly simple instructions- no meat allowed. Vegetarian diet replaces meat with more vegetables, making you feel fuller all at once.

No. 10 (TIE): Ornish Diet

Ornish Diet, developed by Dr. Dean Ornish, has been ranked one of the best for heart health. This diet considers food on a certain “spectrum.” According to Dr. Ornish, some foods are healthier than others- specifically, the less processed the food is, the healthier it is.

Ornish diet gives emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a small portion of fat containing omega-3 fatty acids.

No. 10 (TIE): Jenny Crag Diet

Jenny Craig diet has gained popularity due to its celebrity spokespeople like Kirstie Alley and Mariah Carey. This diet uses weight-control counselling and efficiently prepared meals which can be delivered or picked-up at any of its Jenny Craig locations.

No. 8 (TIE): Volumetrics Diet

Developed by Penn State University nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, Volumetrics diet categories food based on density. Less dense foods with high water content (soups and vegetables) are preferred over cookies, butter and pizza.

No. 8 (TIE): Fertility Diet

Fertility diet, named as one of the easiest diet to follow, aims to help women who are having difficulties getting pregnant. This diet is developed by Drs. Walter Willet and Jorge Chavarro of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The meal plan involves 10 science-backed steps to aid in boosting fertility in women. The steps highlight on more vegetable proteins and oils. It also emphasised on drinking a glass of whole milk. Fertility diet suggests intake of a multivitamin containing folic acid.

No. 8 (TIE): Weight Watchers Diet

The Weight Watchers diet has been ranked as the best diet for weight loss. It has attracted attention through US News and World report rankings in 2017. The company switch to its Beyond the Scale Program.

“The way we think about it is that we used to have a very narrow focus on weight, and now weight is one of things we focus on but it’s not the only thing,” said Gary Foster in an interview Time magazine in 2015. He is also the Weight Watchers’ chief scientific officer. “The consumer sentiment is, ‘I still want to lose weight, but I’m thinking about in a more holistic way,” added Foster.

No. 4 (TIE): TLC Diet

TLC diet stands for its mantra involving therapeutic lifestyle changes. This diet prioritizes lowering cholesterol levels, among many others. It gives emphasis on eating less food with saturated fat (chicken skin, cheese, butter). It encourages more intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, skinless chicken and low-fat dairy products.

No. 4 (TIE): Mayo Clinic Diet

Mayo Clinic Diet has been developed by a research group in Rochester, Minnesota. This diet is about breaking bad habits and replacing them with better and healthier habits.

The first part of the diet (which lasts for 2 weeks) involves losing 10 pounds because of new habits, according to the diet.

The Mayo Clinic Diet has its own food pyramid that involves fruits and vegetables at the bottom.

No. 4 (TIE): Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian diet is developed by Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian. The diet is focused on being vegetarian while not giving meat intake up completely. It introduces the addition of “new meat” in the diet like tofu, lentils, nuts, beans, and eggs.

No. 3: Mind Diet

The MIND diet lands on the top 2 last year. It emphasises on foods for the brain, with focus on the types that prevent neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH Diets. It focus on the aspects of the mentioned diets that involves the brain.

Berries, olive oil, dark leafy vegetables and its are some staples of the Mind Diet. This plan based on large-scale studies that identified nutrients needed to prevent cognitive decline.

No. 2: Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has been named as the best plant-based diet among the 38 diets considered, according to the US News and World Report. It is also considered as among the easiest to follow.

Based on the diet common eaten by countries along the Mediterranean Sea, this diet mostly consists of fruits and vegetables, fish and whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat.

No. 1: DASH Diet

The DASH diet, which means Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension, has been considered as the best diet for 7 years in a row.

Hypertension has been identified as a common condition in the US. DASH diet addresses this problem by focusing on lowering abnormally high blood pressure. The meal plans focuses on lowering sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day and below. It also encourages eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

“The DASH diet is really a safe plan for everyone,” said Angela Haupt to Business Insider in 2016. Haunt is the assistant managing editor of health at US News World Report. “There’s nothing exciting about it, and that’s what makes it a good plan. It’s not some fad diet making outlandish claims that you can’t rely on,” she added.

The DASH diet has also been considered as the one of the best heart-healthy diets, best diet for healthy eating, and best diet for people with diabetes.


TAG diet plans, Ornish Diet, Jenny Crag Diet, Volumetrics Diet, Fertility Diet, Weight Watchers Diet, TLC Diet, Mayo Clinic Diet, Flexitarian Diet, Mind Diet, mediterranean diet


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5 Diets, Week 1: How we did on Whole30, Weight Watchers, Buddha’s Diet and more

Five Washington Post staffers have each embarked on a different 30-day program to change our eating habits. Last week, we each outlined our diet of choice, explaining the whys and hows — along with our expectations of the challenges to come. Every week this month, we’re updating you on our progress, including our obstacles, stumbles and victories. We’re sharing daily food diaries and, of course, reports of any weight loss.

Whole30 | Weight Watchers | Buddha’s Diet | Souper ‘Cleanse’ | Offseason reset

Whole30

Kendra Nichols is on Whole30 this month. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

My Whole30 started inauspiciously, with the realization (a couple days in advance, thankfully) that I’d scheduled a dinner with friends for Jan. 1 at Dangerously Delicious Pies. Although it’s possible to eat out while doing Whole30, pie is not really an option — it gets strikes for both dairy and grains, and probably added sugar. I hadn’t yet done my big weekend grocery shopping trip, so I changed our plans, added some steaks to the grocery list and had the friends over to eat at my coffee table. I tried a Brussels sprouts recipe with pistachios and spices from the new Whole30 Cookbook, which made enough for leftovers. My friends were kind enough to bring over a compliant fruit salad, and everybody was happy (and full).

When they left my apartment, I got out the slow cooker, despite having plenty of food left over. This is going to be my secret weapon for fighting cooking fatigue. I made a ton of pulled pork overnight, and it lasted much of the week — lunches, dinners and even a couple breakfasts. (Note to self: Try to avoid so much repetition.)

But the slow cooker has been the extent of my brilliant planning so far. Getting rid of my sugar cravings is much more important to me than weight loss, but I still meant to weigh myself before starting (remembered on Day 3). And my lack of preparation just continued on my first big grocery shopping trip. Here are a few mistakes I’ve made, and how I intend to improve over the next few weeks:

Not doing my research before shopping: I spent way too long poring over labels at Safeway because I wanted sugar-free sausage. Hint: If you want to know which brands of a particular food are compliant, just Google it. (I did this several times on my phone in Safeway. It was a long shopping trip.) If the answer isn’t in the Whole30 forums, there’s probably a blogpost out there. I ended up going with Hatfield ground chorizo. It was great.

Not being careful with “compliant” brands: There’s a whole industry out there full of Paleo and Whole30-compliant foods. But not every brand sells only compliant foods. I learned this when a very helpful Tessamae’s rep informed me that the dressing I’d had on my spinach salad had soy in it. Here’s the ridiculous part: It was in the name of the dressing. I just really wasn’t paying attention! Lesson learned.

Using Whole30 as an excuse: More than once I skipped the gym because I told myself I had to get home and cook. Not okay! More weekend prep is in the works.

Being afraid to eat out: Sure, pies were never going to happen. But I also skipped a couple of weekday outings because they involved alcohol (not allowed) or bar food (probably not allowed). On Day 6 I didn’t have much of a choice; it was a friend’s 40th birthday dinner, and I wasn’t going to miss it. I ate a late lunch maybe two hours before our reservation so I wouldn’t be starving, and then went to the restaurant, hoping for the best. Luckily I found one entree that was completely Whole30-friendly: lamb, carrots and fennel. I skipped the wine and dessert and just enjoyed the company.

— Kendra Nichols

Pulled pork, sweet potato, spinach, peppers (Kendra Nichols/The Washington Post)

Monday

Breakfast: Eggs, chorizo, peppers
Lunch: Pistachios and carrots while making dinner
Dinner: Steak, sweet potatoes, dukkah-encrusted Brussels sprouts, fruit salad

Tuesday

Breakfast: Eggs, chorizo, peppers
Lunch: Steak, sweet potatoes, spinach salad, dukkah-encrusted Brussels sprouts
Pre-workout snack: Almonds, banana
Dinner: Pulled pork, broccoli, carrots, snap peas

Wednesday

Breakfast: Pulled pork, half a baked sweet potato, spinach and peppers
Lunch: Pulled pork, half a baked sweet potato, spinach and peppers
Snack: Banana and almonds
Dinner: Pulled pork, broccoli, carrots, snap peas

Thursday

I forgot to keep track. This is why I’m not doing Weight Watchers. Good luck, Tom!

Friday

Breakfast: Eggs and broccoli slaw
Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with lots of veggies and lemon herb dressing
Dinner: Chile Lime Chicken Burger from Trader Joe’s, Tessamae’s barbecue sauce (no bun), some sort of vegetable I don’t remember

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggs and broccoli slaw
Snack: Lara bar
Lunch: Ground beef and dukkah-encrusted Brussels sprouts
Dinner: Lamb, carrots, fennel

Sunday

Breakfast: Eggs, ground beef, peppers
Snacks in lieu of lunch: Pistachios, banana, carrots
Dinner: Chicken breast, green beans,
curry butternut squash soup

Weight Watchers

Food critic Tom Sietsema is on Weight Watchers this month. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

The first week of January loomed like one long obstacle course. For at least a decade, my new year has always started with a breakfast of beans, greens, biscuits and country ham. Would I have to ditch a favorite tradition? The same day, friends invited me over for a casual supper of burgers, crab cakes and barbecued pork. Should I bring no-fat cottage cheese to eat? On the horizon were at least six restaurant meals, a couple of plane trips and a friend’s 40th birthday party in San Antonio.

I would have felt defeated before I even started Weight Watchers had it not been for an introductory 30-minute chat with Eve S., a program coach based in Northern California who originally shed 90 pounds on the diet. When I told her I was a food critic with little control over how most of my meals were prepared, and also partial to late-night snacking, Eve could sympathize. “I can walk to wineries,” she said.

Jan. 1 was easier than I thought it would be. I ate a relatively lean slice of regular ham with less than half of a small homemade biscuit, making a point to fill up on black-eyed peas and collards splashed with hot sauce. I took a long walk instead of eating lunch, which allowed me to eat a plain hamburger patty, half cups of Caesar salad and coleslaw and a couple glasses of wine at the party. (I briefly considered trying some cupcakes that looked good, but a second glass of cabernet sauvignon won out.) To ease temptation, I sought out a room away from the buffet and bar and concentrated on listening to fellow guests rather than what my mind thought my stomach needed. Unlike at restaurants I review, I wasn’t required to eat a range of food in someone’s home.

Among the things that attracted me to Weight Watchers were its point system, the reality I could eat anything in moderation and the relative ease with which a person can track food intake and activity online. After filling out a questionnaire, I learned I had 36 points a day at my disposal. While no food is forbidden, some favorites became foes once I started doing the math. A bagel at the airport would set me back 12 points. I opted for a pre-flight breakfast of an apple and coffee. Grape Nuts (6 points per 1/2 cup) are off my list until February. Until then, raw almonds (4 points for 28 nuts) will have to satisfy my fondness for things that go crunch. I really wanted a margarita with a recent Tex-Mex spread, but at 17 points, almost half my daily allotment, I realized the drink wasn’t worth giving up refried beans, tortilla chips and guacamole (8 points total if I ate in moderation).

My restraint has its limits. On the night of my friend’s birthday party, guests sat down to a five-course dinner that started with an open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres (Hello, Manhattan! Hello, meatball and deviled egg!) and continued with gnocchi, free-flowing wine and a fantasy in chocolate and hazelnut. I felt full for the first time all week — full of regret. “Track and move on,” I could hear Eve whispering to me the next day.

I’m making progress. Already, nightcaps at home have given way to 25-minute walks, and when the urge to merge with chips or other snacks hits, my response is to brush my teeth. For whatever reason, the ritual keeps me from mindless munching.

Today, I’m three pounds lighter than when I started. Thank you, Eve S. and Oral-B.

— Tom Sietsema

Broiled chicken in chili sauce. (Tom Sietsema/The Washington Post)

Sunday
Breakfast: Black-eyed peas, one slice ham, half biscuit, collard greens
Dinner: Caesar salad, one hamburger patty, coleslaw, two glasses of wine

Monday
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries
Lunch: Cod, shrimp cocktail, arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette, bite of cheese
Dinner: Trout, slice vegetable pizza, cocktail

Tuesday
Breakfast: Orange, almonds
Lunch: Five pieces salmon sushi
Dinner: The rough equivalent of kung pao chicken, two drinks

Wednesday
Breakfast: Grape Nuts, skim milk, banana
Lunch: Five pieces salmon sushi, apple
Dinner: Fluke ceviche, one bite of an empanada, grilled branzino, three bites of a sausage roll, roast chicken, churros, two glasses wine

Thursday
Breakfast: Greek yogurt, cantaloupe, boiled egg
Lunch: Apple, raw almonds
Dinner: Three bites of a charcuterie board, blood sausage, beet salad, Israeli couscous, piece flatbread cracker, one bite pork chop, two glasses wine

Friday
Breakfast: Grapefruit juice, oatmeal, tablespoon raisins
Lunch: Grilled salmon, three fingerling potatoes slicked with olive oil, apple
Dinner: Guacamole and chips, grilled shrimp tacos (hold the chipotle butter), refried beans, 1/4 cup rice, tequila shot

Saturday
Brunch: Smoked salmon, half bagel, guacamole, blueberries, one tablespoon home-made granola with yogurt
Dinner: Deviled egg, meatball, cocktail, gnocchi, endive-apple salad, two glasses wine, sea bass, chocolate cake

Buddha’s Diet

Joe Yonan is on the Buddha’s Diet this month. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

It was 6:55 p.m., I had scrambled to prepare dinner, and I had a dilemma: Should I scarf it down because “Buddha’s Diet” would have me finish all my day’s eating by 7 p.m.? Or should I follow one of the other important tenets, and eat slowly and mindfully?

I chose the latter. I figured Buddha would understand.

Here’s the main thing I’ve learned so far on this diet: You must think about your entire day. No more winging it. That 6:55 p.m. scramble happened because at 5:30 I had decided to go to the gym, not realizing until I got there and changed into my workout clothes that I would need to shorten my workout by half if I was going to dine in time. If I had planned, I would’ve simply gone to the gym earlier, with no rushing or scarfing required.

The truth is, I started this program the last week of 2016, so I could get a head start on our 30-day project. “Buddha’s Diet” wants me to spend at least two weeks eating within a 12-hour window (if breakfast is at 8 a.m., all eating must be finished by 8 p.m.), then two weeks at 11 hours, two at 10, and two at nine — and then to stay at nine hours until I lose my desired weight (25 pounds). But to make it to that nine-hour window before January’s end, I needed to start early and accelerate the plan.

Frankly, I found a 12-hour window so easy to manage, I spent just a week there, then skipped to 10. And now, just as nutritionist, writer and TV cooking-show host Ellie Krieger predicted, my trouble has mostly come in relation to exercise and socializing. I work out with a physical trainer once a week, at 9 a.m., and because I tend to get lightheaded when I exercise vigorously on an empty stomach, I ate two granola bars (mindfully, of course) 15 minutes before we started. I take a 9 a.m. yoga class another day, tried the empty-stomach route, and all was fine. My stomach was growling when I got up at 7:30, but I drank some tea, caught up on the news, and the feeling subsided within 45 minutes.

Evening workouts have been trickier. The day of a 7:30 p.m. yoga class, I ate breakfast at 7:45 a.m. and dinner by 5:45 p.m. I was fine during class, but afterward, I really wanted to eat. I wasn’t exactly hungry, just . . . craving. Tea to the rescue, once more!

As for socializing, I have turned one evening dinner-date request into a lunch, swapped after-work drinks for midafternoon coffee, and saved the rest for Saturday, my “cheat day.” Twice during the week, I ordered dinner at work because I knew I wouldn’t get home in time to meet my deadline. Between that and the brown-bag lunches, I’ve had more desk-bound meals than I’d like.

Thank goodness for my weekly cheat day. The first week, it was New Year’s Eve, when I hosted a small dinner party and wanted to eat (and drink) into the wee hours. The second, it was a regular Saturday, when my boyfriend and I went to Centrolina in CityCenterDC.

Even though the mice research at the heart of “Buddha’s Diet” showed that it’s more important when you eat than what you eat, I’ve been choosing healthful options and portions. Whatever the reason, I lost 1.4 pounds the first week and gained .2 pounds the second week, to put me 1.2 pounds down from where I started. I have one more week to get used to this 10-hour window before taking the big leap: shaving off another hour. Will I further delay my breakfasts so I’m not eating dinner so often at work? Probably.

This week, another hurdle looms: I’m going to Los Angeles. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s another time zone. Uh-oh.

— Joe Yonan

Roasting mushrooms. (Joe Yonan/The Washington Post

Sunday
Breakfast (9 a.m.): Matcha latte (with almond milk), cereal
Snack (12:30 p.m.): Matcha maca latte and two quinoa-oat energy bites from Calabash Teahouse Cafe
Lunch (1:30 p.m.): Kabocha squash chestnut soup with beans
Snacks (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.): Apple, orange
Dinner (6:45 p.m.): Brown and wild rice, roasted cabbage, sesame-roasted carrots, red pepper puree, feta

Monday
Breakfast (9 a.m.): Matcha, yogurt, banana, Kashi nuggets
Lunch (12:30 p.m.): Leftover soup with pinto beans, grain mix, cauliflower, romesco sauce, orange.
Snack (3 p.m.): Apple
Dinner (7:15 p.m.): Sweet potato, red pepper puree, fried egg, roast cabbage, sesame-roasted carrot. 1 ounce dark chocolate.
Tuesday
Breakfast (7:45 a.m.): Matcha latte, Kashi nuggets, yogurt, maple syrup
Lunch (12:45 p.m.): Vegetable stew with almond butter and avocado, cocoa cupcake with yogurt frosting
Snack (4:45 p.m.): Handful of vadouvan-spiced popcorn
Dinner (5:45 p.m.): Another serving of vegetable stew from lunch

Wednesday
Breakfast (8:45 a.m.): Two granola bars
Snack (11:45 a.m.): Black bean mole tamale
Lunch (1 p.m.): Brown and wild rice, pinto beans, roasted cabbage, romesco sauce
Snacks (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.): Pineapple tamale, matcha latte from A Baked Joint
Dinner (6:45 p.m.): Tofu wrap from Protein Bar

Thursday
Breakfast (10:15 a.m.): Matcha maca latte, quinoa-oat energy bites from Calabash Teahouse Cafe
Lunch (12:30 p.m.): Coconut chickpea and spinach soup, and vegetable samosa from Calabash Teahouse Cafe
Dinner (8:15 p.m.): Brown and wild rice, pinto beans, roasted mushrooms, sesame-roasted carrots

Friday
Breakfast (8:45 a.m.): Matcha latte, Kashi nuggets, yogurt, maple syrup
Lunch (12:30 p.m.): Spinach salad with sweet potato, smoked tofu, roasted cabbage, red pepper puree
Snack (3 p.m.): Apple
Dinner (6:45 p.m.): 3 veggie tacos from Rito Loco

Saturday (cheat day)
Breakfast (7:30 a.m.): Matcha latte, yogurt, banana, Kashi nuggets
Lunch (noon): Brown and wild rice, delicata squash, sesame-roasted carrot, avocado, hard-cooked egg, red pepper puree
Snack (2 p.m.): Apple
Dinner (8:30 p.m.): Negroni, mushroom polpettine with polenta and Parm, tagliatelle with mushrooms and cream at Centrolina

Souper ‘Cleanse’

Bonnie S. Benwick is on the Souper ‘Cleanse’ this month. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

I can understand why Soupergirl deflects notions of “detox” from this program, but at the same time — and without getting too indelicate — I’m feeling cleansed without the quote marks. Downright emptied.

My main goal was to reintroduce a healthy amount of vegetables into my diet, and that’s been met in the first week, 100 percent. Soup’s a successful delivery vehicle for such an effort, because it can be chunky or smooth, and because it’s filling — so filling that I haven’t been able to get through more than three of the four allotted pints per day. A couple of whole-food, plant-based daily snacks are suggested as well; for me, those have been hummus with Belgian endive leaves or grape tomatoes, and smashed avocado on whole-grain toast.

I prefer a savory breakfast over sweet, so digging into a 9 a.m. bowl of root veg soup with parsnips, pinto beans, sweet potato, tomato and onion posed no problem. There’s enough ginger in the evening’s pureed carrot miso option (Day 1) to make it taste different from the pureed ginger sweet potato (Day 6); and even if there weren’t, I have the means to tweak it.

The resolve to stay the course, plus the support of friends and WaPo Food readers, cannot be understated here. I think they are responsible for my not craving the cookies I’d have with tea after 10 p.m. There’s also the convenience factor I hadn’t considered: Having the soups packaged, labeled and delivered has meant I don’t have to think about it, or cook for it.

Speaking of the latter, my willpower was sorely tested when I had to prepare recipes for a photo shoot for upcoming One Pan and Sunday Supper columns in The Post Magazine. Ingredients were in my wheelhouse: Shrimp. A funky cheese. Chicken coated with bread crumbs made golden with a garlicky butter-lemon sauce. Where I might have downed at least a thigh or two for lunch and snacked on the shrimp until they were g-o-n-e, I gave away samples and limited my own tastings to a spoonful.

I wasn’t so perfect on the program’s two non-sequential two days off. I ate only when I got hungry on the first one, so the most substantial meal was consumed at night — the opposite of the Soupergirl plan. Still, it was a homemade stir-fry of sugar snap peas, rice and egg, which I managed to polish off by 8:30 p.m. On the second day off, scrambled eggs with onions and whole-grain toast felt like a holiday. Later, a basket of tortilla chips with guacamole plunked down in front of me proved irresistible, as did the promise of an appetizer-size order of sizzling steak fajitas.

I can say that I didn’t finish the fajitas and am sure my intake of chips was less than before the “cleanse.” Did I crave the crunch and chew more than the taste? Hard to say. Next morning, I felt a little guilty, a little fuller than I was used to, and ready for my black bean sweet potato chili at the start of Week 2.

Other tactical errors: I did not step on a scale Dec. 31, so I can only estimate any weight loss. And I have yet to slurp without spilling a drop or two on my desk or my clothes. Does vigorous scrubbing count as exercise?

— Bonnie S. Benwick

First bowl o’ the day. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Sunday
Breakfast: Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili; black tea
Lunch: White Bean Mushroom Kale Soup
Snack/dinner: Whole-grain toast with mashed avocado; Citrusy Carrot Sweet Potato Soup; black tea

Monday
Breakfast: Winter Root Vegetable Chili; whole-grain toast; black tea
Lunch/snack: Smoky Quinoa Butternut Squash Soup; handful raw almonds
Dinner: Carrot Almond Soup; 3 tablespoons plain hummus w/leaves from one Belgian endive; clementine; black tea

Tuesday (day off)
Breakfast: whole-grain toast w/mashed avocado; clementine; black tea
Lunch: Salad from the SoHo Cafe fixin’s bar (hard-cooked egg, romaine and spring mix lettuces, grape tomatoes, raw fennel, no dressing)
Dinner/snack: Sugar snap pea stir-fry with onion, white rice and egg; handful dark chocolate-covered almonds; black tea

Wednesday
Breakfast: Winter Root Vegetable Chili (w/scallions and splash of balsamic on top); black tea
Lunch/snack: Haitian Pumpkin Soup; handful of grape tomatoes
Dinner/snack: Winter Vegetable Soup; 2 spoonfuls almond butter; black tea

Thursday
Breakfast: Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili (pureed, with some lime juice); black tea
Lunch/snack: Curried Red Lentil Butternut Squash Soup; whole-grain toast
Dinner: Creamy Carrot Soup; 3 tablespoons hummus w/leaves from one Belgian endive; 2 clementines; black tea

Friday
Breakfast: White Bean Mushroom Kale Soup; black tea
Lunch: Barley Chickpea Butternut Squash Soup; handful of grape tomatoes
Dinner: Garlicky White Bean Soup; banana w/2 tablespoons natural peanut butter; black tea

Saturday (day off)
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs w/onion; whole-grain toast; black tea
Lunch: Arugula salad with hot-smoked salmon in it and a yogurt dill dressing; green tea
Dinner: Guacamole and tortilla chips; small order steak fajitas w/soft corn tortillas (2); black tea

Offseason reset

Adam Kilgore is doing his annual offseason reset this month. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

I have to start with a confession: My New Year’s diet didn’t start on New Year’s Day. I had traveled to Atlanta to cover the college football playoffs and an NFL game and woke up in a hotel bed Jan. 1. I didn’t want a false start, or to begin with the frustration of trying to find healthful food on the road, between assignments, on a holiday. So, I delayed takeoff.

I ate doughy, Mellow Mushroom pizza for lunch. I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and red wine for dinner. For breakfast at the airport, I ate a cheesy omelet with breakfast potatoes and white bread. And then I boarded a flight home and bid farewell to those kinds of foods.  

At home, on Monday, I got serious. I cooked panko-breaded chicken cutlets with a sauce of mushrooms, garlic, white wine and capers. I baked sweet potatoes, wrapped them in foil and stored them in the fridge, to deploy at various meals along the week. I marinated chicken thighs in Italian dressing Monday night, baked them Tuesday night for dinner and ate the leftovers all week for lunch, over kale or spinach drizzled with olive oil and almonds.

On Wednesday night, my wife wasn’t feeling well and wanted ramen. Which meant I would be eating ramen, too. The noodles would violate my prohibition on white pasta, so I adapted. I ordered miso vegetable ramen with a seasoned hard-cooked egg and extra cabbage. I slurped the broth and ate the vegetables — bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, onions, seaweed and scallions — and attempted to avoid the noodles. A few rogue strands found their way onto my spoon, but at the end I was left with a bowl of noodles and a full-enough stomach. (My wife left feeling much better.)

I ate only one other meal out, a bowl at Skwr for lunch, with a base of brown rice and kale, topped with eggplant spread, hummus, zucchini, carrot salad, pickled cabbage, radishes, tomato salad and red pepper sauce.

Otherwise, I made all my own meals. My breakfasts remained mostly static: cereal (either multi-grain O’s or ancient grain flakes topped with blueberries) with 2 percent milk. On Friday, I ran short of those staples. I ate what little oatmeal I had in the cupboard, topped with blueberries, and, in a pinch, finished off half a sweet potato from the fridge.

My alcohol consumption skidded to a halt. I didn’t tip one drink until Saturday afternoon, when I poured two glasses of rye over ice while watching NFL playoff games. Aside from that blip, I stuck with black coffee and water. 

I’m feeling great. I’m hungrier, for sure, but I can manage with big glasses of water and a handful of almonds here and there. I had a couple of low-frequency headaches, which I sure hope weren’t from alcohol withdrawal. (After the holidays, I’m not certain I can count out the possibility.) I’m remembering how good it feels for my body to process meals as fuel rather than wrestling with them and begging for mercy.   

One great part about starting a diet now is how quickly the just-added holiday weight melts away. I lost about six pounds, and the instant gratification provides encouragement to maintain healthy habits. I don’t expect weight loss to continue so rapidly, but looking at the scale in the morning offered validation, and a message: Keep going.  

— Adam Kilgore

Spinach salad with chicken thighs. (Adam Kilgore/The Washington Post)

Sunday
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Spinach salad, veggie pizza
Dinner: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, kale salad, red wine

Monday
Breakfast: Cheese and veggie omelet, potatoes, white bread
Lunch: Handful of almonds
Dinner: Breaded and baked chicken thighs, mushroom sauce, sauteed spinach, avocado

Tuesday
Breakfast: Multi-grain O’s, 2 percent milk, blueberries
Lunch: Spinach salad with almonds, pepper and olive oil, sweet potato
Dinner: Baked chicken thighs, kale salad, avocado

Wednesday
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and almonds
Lunch: Skwr bowl: brown rice, kale, assorted veggies, hummus, eggplant spread
Dinner: Veggie ramen without noodles

Thursday
Breakfast: Multi-grain O’s, 2 percent milk, blueberries
Lunch: Spinach salad with chicken thighs
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce, kale

Friday
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries, sweet potato
Lunch: Spinach salad with chicken thighs and almonds
Dinner: Homemade turkey burger with no roll, avocado, tomato, spinach and red onion

Saturday
Breakfast: Ancient grains cereal, 2 percent milk, blueberries
Lunch: Spinach salad with chicken thighs and almonds
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with tomatoes, sauteed spinach, sweet potato

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Best Commercial Weight Loss Programs Pair Diet with Exercise

Greatest improvement in metabolic syndrome (MetS) was seen in women involved in commercial weight loss programs that incorporated both diet and exercise, results of a small prospective trial indicated.

The randomized, controlled, 12-week trial of 133 overweight and obese women found that those who completed the Curves Complete 90-Day Challenge had the greatest reduction in MetS prevalence (35% versus 14%) when compared to other commercial weight loss programs, according to Claire Baetge, PhD, of the University of Texas San Antonio, and colleagues.

Published online in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, the researchers assigned participants to the Curves program — a combined diet and exercise regimen — or to one of three diet-based programs that advocate increased physical activity but with no specific requirement (Weight Watchers Points Plus, Jenny Craig At Home, Nutrisystem Advance Select). The study also included a wait-listed control group who were instructed not to change their diet and exercise habits for 12 weeks, after which they were given one of the four interventions.

“For many decades, despite the advocacy of nutrition and exercise as a means to improve health, lose and/or maintain weight, there seems to be an emphasis on either one or the other,” co-author Conrad Earnest, PhD, of Texas AM University in College Station, said to MedPage Today. “This holds true for commercial programs offering diet programs advocating exercise. Yet, the underlying assumption is that people will exercise or engage in physical activity on their own. Few do. Given the American College of Sports Medicine’s continued advocacy for ‘Exercise is Medicine,’ we decided to examine several commercial programs, only one of which provided a direct avenue for exercise.”

Compared to the control, participants across all intervention groups experienced significant trends for reductions for the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (P for trend=0.006), reduction in body mass (all P0.001), reduction in waist circumference (all P0.003), and drop in percentage of body fat (all P0.02). Absolute maximal cardiorespiratory fitness level improved the most among the Curves Complete group after 12 weeks (0.11 L/min; 95% CI 0.05-0.17).

Earnest said the team was not surprised by the results. “While negative caloric balance, regardless of means, will aid weight loss, the benefits associated from physical activity have benefits related to the act of physical exertion that are not mirrored by diet alone.”

The Weight Watchers program included a diet regimen, which involved a point system for measuring food intake. Weekly meetings were mandatory for the participants, while physical activity was encouraged, but not mandatory. The Jenny Craig program involved an online diet program, with meals provided. A goal of 30-minutes of moderate exercise over five or more day per week was highly encouraged for participants. The Nutrisystem program included a diet plan of prepared fresh or frozen meals, centered on the Glycemic Index. Exercise was encouraged, but not mandatory.

The Curves program included a diet regimen, involving caloric-intake measurement and guidance from the company’s diet book, and exercise was mandatory with supervised, 30-minute training sessions four times per week. (Curves International funded the study.)

All participants were tested at baseline and during three follow-up periods throughout the study, to measure for resting energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory fitness. Blood samples were collected to measure cholesterol, insulin levels, and other variables. Weekly physical activity logs, as well as dietary history were self-reported.

While all commercial weight loss programs evaluated in the study did yield significant weight loss for participants, the authors noted the Curves program, followed by Weight Watchers, were most effective at MetS risk reduction. Baetge and colleagues also noted that lean body mass was only maintained by the Curves program group, while the Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem participants actually showed slightly increased triglyceride levels by the end of 12 weeks. Similarly, the Jenny Craig group experienced a significant drop in protein consumption, below the recommended daily intake guidelines for sedentary individuals, yet maintained within the guidelines for physically active individuals.

Although the trial was keen to conduct analysis of several health outcomes, limits included a restriction of results to only the programs analyzed in the study, as well as small sample size across intervention groups.

Earnest told MedPage Today that combined diet-and-exercise programs are scarce and, while future research would be valuable, it’s unclear whether funding will be forthcoming. “These studies cost a lot of money and I don’t see commercial diet programs anteing up research funds to examine their programs in combination with exercise. I am, however, open to being surprised and am certainly willing to help them out should they desire to do so.”

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist’s 2016 guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity can be found here.

Curves International provided funding for this research. Earnest is a paid consultant for Naturally Slim and Catapult Health. No other relevant conflicts of interest were declared.

  • Reviewed by
    Henry A. Solomon, MD, FACP, FACC Clinical Associate Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
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Top Star Weight Loss Diets, From Kim Kardashian’s 70-Lb Low Carb To Oprah’s 40-Lb Weight Watchers

If you made a resolution to win your weight loss wars in 2017, consider getting the skinny on how some successful celebrity weight loss winners succeeded in their own battles of the bulge. From Kim Kardashian, who shed 70 pounds on a low carb high protein diet, to Oprah Winfrey, who’s been candid about losing 40 pounds with the Weight Watchers program, to Khloe Kardashian, who revealed the one food she gave up to shed 11 pounds in two weeks, several stars turned 2016 into their year for slimming down and flaunting the results.

Some diets have remained popular since first used by a celebrity. For example, those fond of protein might want to consider the Dukan diet, which Kate Middleton popularized when she reportedly used it before her wedding, according to the International Business Times. This weight loss plan takes dieters through four phases, from the “attack” phase (all about high protein) to cruise to consolidation, which includes two celebration meals weekly. The final stabilization phase focuses on maintenance.

Megan Fox and Lady Gaga both turn to 5-Factor Diet, which includes exercise combined with diet. These stars and others on the 5-Factor plan consume three meals and two snacks daily and exercise five days a week. The plan features one cheat day every week.

Oprah Winfrey proudly shared her 40-pound weight loss on Weight Watchers.
Oprah Winfrey proudly shared her 40-pound weight loss on Weight Watchers. [Image by Mike Windle/Getty Images]

Oprah Winfrey has been sharing her success with Weight Watchers, which is based on a points system, according to the Philadelphia Tribune. She eats all types of foods, including pasta and tacos, and also exercises to achieve her goal of a minimum of 10,000 steps daily.

“Weight Watchers is easier than any other program I’ve ever been on.”

Oprah also revealed that she considers Weight Watchers to be “a lifestyle,” terming the plan “a way of living that’s so freeing.” The talk show host also claimed that although it works even though “you never feel like you are on a diet.”

Kim Kardashian flaunts her 70-pound weight loss.
Kim Kardashian flaunts her 70-pound weight loss. [Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]

Like Winfrey, Kim Kardashian combined diet and exercise to achieve her weight loss success. Kim’s fitness regime plus low carbohydrate Atkins diet resulted in a 70-pound weight loss after she welcomed her son Saint West into the world, and Kardashian told People that she feels dieting is essential for weight loss success.

“I think dieting is so important to weight loss, whereas, I didn’t really ever think that before,” admitted Kim. “I thought, ‘Oh, I can work out, I can just eat whatever I want.’ But you have to work out all the time.”

Kardashian used the Atkins 40 weight loss plan, eating approximately 1,800 calories daily. But Kim insists that she does not feel deprived of her favorite foods, eating lots of protein.

“We eat a lot of fish and turkey.”

Kardashian’s “modified” diet includes snacks such as a trail mix with chocolate, which for Kim translates to “stuff that makes…you feel like you can live,” rather than “super restricted to anything.”

Kim’s sister Khloe Kardashian has shared that she dropped just one food to lose 11 pounds fast, reported Health.

“I went dairy-free for two weeks, and I lost 11 pounds.”

Khloe now sips only almond milk and admits that although she still loves cheese, she feels that she knows what works for weight loss for her body.

HEALTH

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on Dec 20, 2016 at 12:36pm PST

“I still love cheese, which is hard, but if I want to lose weight quickly, dairy-free is the way to go,” summed up Kardashian.

When it comes to the skinny on celebrity weight loss winners, Melissa McCarthy deserves credit for her 75-pound weight loss. McCarthy wowed her fans by following a high protein, low carb diet combined with a fitness regime, reported Foods 4 Better Health.

Melissa’s diet features a variety of protein, from eggs to turkey to fish, along with vegetables, selected fruits, and nuts. She reportedly sips green tea to boost her metabolism and drinks water with lemon. Her workout routine is just as varied, including everything from martial arts to jumping rope and rowing.

[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Buro 24/7]

Why You Should Eat Like A 2-Year-Old

I spent last Christmas in the U.K., with my aunt and cousins, including a not-quite-2-year-old cousin named Rawley. I’d been practicing intuitive eating for a couple years at that point, and while I knew my food issues weren’t 100% out the window, I was relatively confident in my ability to eat well. By that, I mean that I fed myself good, satisfying food, rarely ate far past the point of full, and didn’t let my whole self-worth get tied up in whether or not I had a second Christmas cookie. I ate food without all the food bullshit, in other words; I was simply beyond all that.

Nuh-uh. Sitting through one meal with a toddler reminded me what real, raw, unadulterated intuitive eating really looked like. That kid ate without bullshit. He wasn’t beyond it. It wasn’t even in his eyeline. He had me beat, by a mile. Not that it was a contest. I guess.

The phrase “eat like a 2-year-old” is often cited both in intuitive eating and in the diet world. Diet advocates often suggest eating like a toddler in order to lose weight (I refuse to link to it, but there is actually a plan out there called “The Baby Diet”). Intuitive eating coaches and RDs use it to remind people that, once upon a time, they were able to eat based on instinct and desire, and that food was totally divorced from morality and self-esteem. There was a time before the bullshit got hold of us when we just asked for (or demanded) the food we wanted, when we wanted it, and when we’d had enough, we simply stopped.

“More toast,” Rawley would demand each morning, sitting in his high chair. (Really, what he said was, “Moe toe,” but I’m going to translate from English-accented baby talk from here on out. Trust, it was adorable.) And someone would give him more toast.

“More kiwi.” Someone would peel a kiwi and place a few tiny pieces on his tiny tray table.

“Rawley, will you have some more pasta?” we’d ask. And he’d turn his face away and stick out his hand, waving it off like a bored emperor.

What he lacked in table manners, he made up for in this incredible power to eat or stop eating, regardless of what everyone else was doing or saying to him. He was never embarrassed or hesitant to ask for anything. He never looked at his empty plate and said, “Oh my god, I’m so bad. I need to start cleansing, like, yesterday.” When Rawley ate, he just ate.

This is why — loathe though I am to admit it — the intuitive eating coaches and the diet pushers can both be right about the effects of eating like a 2-year-old. We all have our own natural, “default” weight range, and if we ate with the same freedom and detachment as a toddler, we’d probably stay steadily within that range, until things like age, illness, or other outside influences changed it. We wouldn’t purposefully starve ourselves down below our default weight, nor would we binge ourselves above it. But it doesn’t follow that everyone who isn’t thin automatically would be if they adopted “The Baby Diet,” because not everyone is born to be naturally thin. That’s the big, fat gap in the diet advocates’ argument.

However, all of us would certainly benefit from the real perk of eating toddler-style. If someone could just get in your head and delete everything that everyone has ever told you about what and how you should eat, what might that life be like? Seriously, imagine a life where you wouldn’t struggle to choose between a carrot and a Kit Kat. You would hardly give it a thought, and if you did, that thought would only be, Do I want it? No worry, no checking your calendar to see if you had time to hit the gym later and make up for this “bad behavior.” You’d be free to choose with the full, instinctive knowledge that neither food was off-limits, and both would be available again, at any time. Never worrying, as you ate, about when you should stop, but simply enjoying with ease, knowing that you didn’t have to think about it, period. Your body and brain would chime in and let you know when you were done. At that point, you could just put it down, whether the food was finished, half-finished, or down to just one bite left.

It sounds simple, because it is. But the sad fact is that both food and life get a lot more complicated when you get older. Sadly, Rawley may grow out of his magical eating powers as he trades them in for magical adult skills, like using the potty and pronouncing the word “toast.” The more he understands of the world around him, the more dots he’ll connect when he sees us saying, “I’m so bad,” while staring at our empty plates. At a certain point, he’ll look at his own and wonder if that means he’s “bad,” too. The older he gets, the harder it will be to convince him otherwise.

Hard, but not impossible. Relearning to eat like a toddler, as an adult, requires practice, time, and, usually, some help. Personally, I think the best place to start is by picking up a copy of Intuitive Eating and using your magical adult powers of reading. “This is what intuitive eating is based on,” co-author Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD, told me, “that toddler’s desire to have a full range of foods.” The philosophy itself is very basic and tangible. The hard part is hanging on to it, remembering to eat like a 2-year-old when you’re living in the land of adults with all the neuroses and social conditioning and other bullshit that comes with that.

Adding more plant-based foods to your diet in 2017

Many of us pledge in the new year to take better care of ourselves with a better diet and getting more exercise. The next two Health Watches will help you get started on improving your diet and fitness.

Today’s Health Watch looks at the health benefits of adding more plant-based foods to your diet. The Dec. 31 Health Watch will help you start an exercise program in 2017.

Shifting more of your diet to plant-based meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes can provide significant health improvements for you. A growing library of nutritional research shows that if you make this change in what you eat in the coming year, you will be more likely to lose weight, keep it off and reduce your risk for developing many chronic diseases.

What is a plant-based diet?

A healthy, plant-based diet increases the nutrient-dense, lower calorie vegetables and fruits in your diet while reducing processed foods, oils and animal-based foods. The diet includes lots of whole grains, cooked or raw vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds and nuts. A plant-based diet is naturally low in fat.

Pursuing a plant-based diet does not have to be an all-or-nothing program. A slow, steady shift to eating more vegetables, whole grains, fruit and legumes and consuming less animal-based food provides many benefits to your overall health. The greater the shift towards plants, the greater the benefit.

What are some benefits of a plant-based diet?

Numerous studies have shown that plant-based diets can be especially beneficial for those with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders, cardiovascular disease and obesity. In some cases, people who maintain a plant-based diet are able to reduce the number of medications they take for a variety of chronic conditions. In general, the health benefits realized will be relative to the level of adherence to a plant-based diet and the reduction of animal products consumed. Eating a variety of plants is essential to obtain all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Check with your physician before shifting to a diet that is completely plant-based.

How do you shift to plant based diet?

Changing long-term eating habits is a big challenge with shifts in meal planning, shopping, preparation, cooking and restaurant choices. A few meatless meals each week is an effective plan to start your transition. Breakfast is often the easiest meal for shifting to a meatless menu, choosing whole-grain cooked cereals such as oatmeal mixed with walnuts, fruit and soy milk. Other choices could be pancakes made from a whole grain like buckwheat or a tofu scramble instead of eggs.

One method for shifting to a diet with less meat and more plants is redesigning your plate. Fill at least half of your plate with produce, grains, or beans, and downsize your meat serving. Aim for a four-ounce serving of meat, about the size of a deck of cards.

Where can people get help in learning how to shift to a plant-based diet?

Many people who come to the Cayuga Center for Healthy Living are referred by their primary care physician for health issues that improve with lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise. The initial visit includes a thorough medical and lifestyle history and physical examination with a health care provider. Based upon this assessment, goals are identified and a plan created for each person’s specific needs to improve their health through lifestyle changes. At CCHL, we use a variety of approaches to meet individual needs, from dietary counseling to exercise prescriptions. If a plant-based approach is pursued, the tools and support to make that transition are provided.

For patients in need of a very structured dietary approach, we offer a meal replacement program that includes weekly coaching sessions for weight loss and behavior change for long term success. As patients lose weight, they learn how to modify their behavior about eating, make better food choices and include regular exercise to improve their health.

Can a plant-based diet provide sufficient protein?

A plant-based diet provides plenty of protein from a variety of different foods. The most important issue is eating a wide variety of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Working with a health care provider who understands the plant-based approach is an important starting point, and can guide the transition to ensure balanced nutrition.

Donna Sandidge is the medical director of the Cayuga Center for Health Living. She holds board certification from American Board of Internal Medicine. She graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine and did a residency and a fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. For information on the diet and lifestyle programs at the Cayuga Center for Healthy Living, call (607) 252-3590.

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