Weight management is an ongoing health concern for most Americans today. Losing extra weight or keeping weight off is challenging and can be a constant source of frustration. Today, there are many programs that claim to aid in weight loss and weight maintenance, but not all of them are safe or effective. Listed below are brief overviews of three common weight loss programs that have proven successful for many people. Keep in mind, however, that each of these has its drawbacks, and no one program is perfect for every person. Any program needs to be customized to fit the individual, and you should always discuss any weight loss plan with your doctor before beginning.

Weight Watchers (and other prepared food programs)

Weight Watchers has been one of the longest standing successful weight loss programs available. The program has undergone many overhauls and changes, but the basic philosophy is still intact and effective: accountability and support, healthy lifestyle choices, and commitment to long-term habit changes.

Weight Watchers is a great program for those who need accountability and structure. However, the major pitfall is that Weight Watchers does not steer clear of processed foods and makes ongoing allowances for junk food. The program does encourage healthy eating, which is commendable, but the dieter must choose to stay away from the processed packaged food available as snacks and treats.

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is structured to eliminate grains and other inflammatory foods that are not compatible with optimal health. By eating low-carbohydrate, grain-free, high-protein, and high good-fat foods, the body is free to release excess weight held by inflammation and excess refined sugars and grains.

This has been a highly successful nutrition plan for many people, as it encourages dieters to eat fresh, whole foods such as vegetables and lean meats. The downside is that not all individuals can handle a high-animal-protein, high-fat diet. Although it has many merits, each individual considering the Paleo Diet must talk to his or her doctor about any challenges a high-fat and high-protein diet might cause him or her specifically.

The HCG Diet

The HCG Diet is a medical plan for safe and quick weight loss. The program includes a low-carbohydrate, low-fat, and limited-calorie diet with the addition of the hormone HCG. HCG helps suppress the appetite while mobilizing fat stores to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

The main benefit of this plan is the immediate loss of large amounts of weight in a short time period. The challenge is that it is a highly structured diet that must be followed diligently to maintain the weight loss.

Each of these plans simply has a different philosophy to encourage weight loss and a different way of structuring a nutrition plan to meet health goals. But throughout each of these diets, certain principles remain constant: eat fresh, whole foods including plenty of produce, limit processed foods and excess carbohydrates, drink plenty of water, sleep well, watch stress levels, and exercise regularly.

 Shannon Sinsheimer is a naturopathic doctor with Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568.2598.

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