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What are the Characteristics of Diets That Work?

Diets that work involve healthy eating patterns and lifestyle habits that are sustainable in the long-term. Healthy weight loss programs also set realistic goals that involve gradual weight loss. Diets that work generally involve a combination of well-balanced meals, calorie reduction, sufficient exercise, adequate sleep and stress reduction.

One of the most important characteristics of diets that work is adequate nutrition. Diets that involve severe calorie reduction, extensive juice fasts or eliminating one or more food groups lead to feelings of deprivation. Healthy diets include adequate servings from all major food groups.

An effective weight loss program emphasizes eating regularly. Skipping breakfast is a common behavior of dieters. The misconception is that by eliminating the first meal of the day, fewer calories will be consumed. In reality, skipping breakfast often leads to late morning snacking on high-sugar and high-fat foods. It also creates excessive hunger, resulting in eating larger lunches and dinners.

Diets that work limit the intake of high-fat and sugary foods. These foods are generally higher in calories and do not provide adequate nutrition. Eliminating or lowering the intake of cookies, potato chips and ice cream, for example, reduces overall caloric intake and leaves room for consuming foods with greater nutrition.

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A healthy weight loss program emphasizes the importance of exercise as well. A regular fitness regimen helps to burn fat and build muscles. A daily workout consisting of at least a half hour of aerobic exercise and strength training can help increase the metabolism and burn fat.

Diets that work also stress the importance of eating slowly and savoring the flavors of food; rushing through meals can make it easier to consume larger portions. It takes about 20 minutes for the body to alert the brain that a person is full. Eating slowly and taking time to enjoy food allows the body the time it needs to feel satiated without consuming too much.

Characteristics of diets that work also include stress reduction techniques and adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation causes hormonal changes that increase the appetite and reduce the body's ability to feel satiated. In addition, experiencing high amounts of stress can often lead to emotional eating, which tends to involve binge eating. Sleeping eight hours each night and engaging in stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help increase the likelihood of staying on the diet.

Diets that work comply with realistic weight loss goals as well. Extreme weight loss goals are hard to achieve and generally result in discouragement. Depending on the present weight, losing 10 pounds in a week may not be realistic. Setting a goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week, however, is generally reasonable and achievable.

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