Low-carb diets may improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglyceride values slightly more than do moderate-carb diets. That may be due not only to how many carbs you eat but also to the quality of your other food choices. Lean protein (fish, poultry, legumes), healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and unprocessed carbs — such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products — are generally healthier choices.
The South Beach Diet, while mainly directed at weight loss, may promote certain healthy changes. Research shows that following a long-term eating plan that's rich in healthy carbohydrates and dietary fats, such as whole grains, unsaturated fats, vegetables and fruits, can improve your health. For example, lower carbohydrate diets with healthy fats may improve your blood cholesterol levels.
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The Mediterranean diet might help you lose weight. While some people fear that eating a diet like the Mediterranean diet that is relatively rich in fats (think olive oil, olives, avocado and some cheese) will keep them fat, more and more research is suggesting the opposite is true. Of course, it depends on which aspects you adopt and how it compares to your current diet. If, for instance, you build a "calorie deficit" into your plan – eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max or burning off extra by exercising – you should shed some pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.
An important emphasis of the South Beach Diet is controlling hunger by eating before it strikes. To that end, the South Beach Diet includes three different phases. (3) Phase 1 is one week long and aims to “reset your body” to help burn fat and increase your metabolism, as well as reduce sugar and starch cravings. Phase 2 is for steady weight loss, where you add in good carbs to your diet. Phase 3 is the weight-maintenance phase, where you learn to maintain your new weight without deprivation or hunger, according to the South Beach Diet website.
Fresh fruits and vegetables naturally contain between five and 10 times more potassium than sodium, and Stone Age bodies were well-adapted to this ratio. Potassium is necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work properly. Low potassium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke — the same problems linked to excessive dietary sodium. Today, the average American consumes about twice as much sodium as potassium! Following a Paleolithic diet helps to remedy this imbalance.
Gabbi Berkow, MA, RD, CDN, CPT, is a Paleo advocate. She maintains the whole, unprocessed foods the diet recommends are low in calories, are high in nutrients, provide the fuel the body needs, and are the kinds of foods humans have evolved to easily digest. However, she doesn't agree with the blanket recommendations that everyone needs to eliminate dairy, grains (in particular, those containing gluten), and legumes, unless they have a medical condition that warrants it (eg, celiac disease or dairy allergy). In addition, Berkow says, "Dairy in particular is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, so cutting out dairy can make it harder to get enough of these nutrients."
Most people in the Mediterranean eat a balanced breakfast within one to two hours of waking up, which starts their day right by balancing blood sugar when it’s at its lowest. They then typically eat three meals a day that are filling, with plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Many people choose to have their biggest meal mid-day as opposed to at night, which gives them the opportunity to use that food for energy while they’re still active.
The diet has three stages, and gradually increases the proportion of carbohydrate consumed as it progresses while simultaneously decreasing the proportions of fat and protein. It includes a number of recommended foods such as lean meats and vegetables, and has a concept of "good" (mostly monounsaturated) fats. It makes no restriction on calorie intake, includes an exercise program, and is based around taking three main meals and two snacks per day.