Drop pounds with the DASH Diet

As the WellMASS Weight Loss Challenge begins to be rolled out at agencies across the state, I thought it might be helpful to share some diet and exercise options that you may not have previously thought about.  As I mentioned awhile ago, the best “diets” out there are not really diets at all, and according to U.S. News & World Report, which ranks diets annually based on their effectiveness in helping you lose weight and prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and their safety, nutritional value, and ease of use, one diet comes out on top time and again:  The DASH Diet.  DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and was created to help people manage their high blood pressure.  However, it’s also consistently ranked as the best eating plan for weight loss, for one main reason:  it shuns processed and convenience foods in favor of whole foods that are as close to their natural states as possible.  Processed and convenience foods are often loaded with excess sugar, salt, and saturated fat and are major sources of empty calories.  By cutting out these foods and focusing on “real” foods with beneficial nutrients like unsaturated fat, fiber, and lean protein, you’re more likely to feel full and satisfied, on fewer calories.

The DASH Diet was created by the National Institutes of Health, a government entity, which means it can be downloaded and followed free of charge.  The diet recommends the following daily combination of nutrients:

Total Fat:  27% of calories
Saturated Fat:  6% of calories
Protein:  18% of calories
Carbs:  55% of calories
Sodium:  <2,300 mg
Fiber:  >30 g

These nutrient recommendations can be obtained by eating the following each day:
6-8 servings of grains (at least half of which should be whole grains)
4-5 servings of veggies
4-5 servings of fruit
2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products
6 ounces or less of lean meats
2-3 servings of fat or oils (choose mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fats)
4-5 servings of nuts (per week)
5 servings of sweets (per week)

Both the nutrient and serving recommendations are based off of a 2,000-calorie diet, so make sure to adjust up or down based on your calorie needs.  By sticking to this “diet” and limiting your intake of processed food and instead focusing on getting your recommended servings of each food group from unprocessed, natural sources, you should feel full and satisfied after each meal, without consuming too many calories.  Processed and convenience foods may be tempting, but in the long-run, they’ll make you hungry well before your next meal, may pack on extra calories, and aren’t worth sabotaging your weight loss goals.

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One response

  1. […] cholesterol and high blood pressure. Previous posts have focused on treating high cholesterol and high blood pressure with food.    While it’s important to be aware of the many treatment options available to you […]

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