Dietary Plans: A Simple Definition

Dietary Plans: A Simple Definition

According to World Health Organization, in 2010 there were over 1 billion overweight adults worldwide with 400 million adults who were obese (Fock 2013). Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, and cancers (prostate, colorectal, endometrial, and breast). Obese people may present to the gastroenterologists with gastroesophageal reflux, non-alcoholic fatty liver, and gallstones. It is important, therefore, to recognize and treat obesity.

The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended (Fock 2013), although in a small number of cases, genetics and diseases such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, depression, and use of medications such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants are responsible for fat accumulation in the body.

There are so many diet books available in the popular press (Tangney 2005). Because of the extensive news coverage and often conflicting cautionary statements about diet plans to counter weight gains, more attention must be paid to the safety and the efficacy of such diets. The data are truly limited with respect to sustainability of the commercial weight loss programs and popular diets.

To lose weight, an energy imbalance must be initiated through either activity or dietary means (Tangney 2005). If no increased activity is planned, the food energy consumed must decrease. A calorie spent or consumed is still a calorie. All dietary plans designed to promote weight loss will restrict energy consumption either unintentionally or intentionally through planned satiation. 

Many popular weight loss diets provide quick weight loss, since they are simple to follow in the short-term (avoidance of specific food groups), but difficult to adhere to long-term (Tangney 2005). An examination of the attrition rates and, wherever possible, adherence to diet and physical activity behaviors (if required for the program treatment) is also needed.

The main treatment for obesity is dieting, augmented by physical exercise and supported by cognitive behavioral therapy (Fock 2013). Calorie-restriction strategies are one of the most common dietary plans. Low-calorie diet refers to a diet with a total dietary calorie intake of 800–1500, while a very low-calorie diet has less than 800 calories daily. 

These dietary regimes need to be balanced in macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals (Fock 2013). Fifty-five percent of the dietary calories should come from carbohydrates, 10% from proteins, and 30% from fats, of which 10% of total fat consist of saturated fats. After reaching the desired body weight, the amount of dietary calories consumed can be increased gradually to maintain a balance between calories consumed and calories expended. 

Regular physical exercise enhances the efficiency of diet through increase in the satiating efficiency of a fixed meal (Fock 2013), and is useful for maintaining diet-induced weight loss. A meta-analysis by Franz found that by calorie restriction and exercise, weight loss of 5–8.5 kg was observed 6 months after intervention. After 48 months, a mean of 3–6 kg was maintained.

Dieticians should consider the risk factors associated with foods when developing diet patterns (Mertz 1994). Caution should be taken in prescribing foods which contain vitamins and minerals that have potential deleterious effects when taken in high amounts. Planning for nutrition intervention measures should include exploring the risk effects of nutrients when designing dietary plans. This approach to nutritional risk reduction prevents imbalances and deficiencies resulting from the antagonistic reaction of nutrients against each other.

The human race has evolved and developed during many millennia while consuming a mixture of available foods (Mertz 1994). This is proof for the most basic fact of nutrition: Except in a few localized geochemical environments, the consumption of a mixture of freely available foods is consistent with survival, reproduction, development, and, most probably, good health. 

Although the possibilities of combining these foods are almost unlimited, in most cases it is a balance of all their ingredients that has ensured our survival (Mertz 1994). Against this background we must weigh the benefits and risks of nutrition interventions. None of these are completely risk free, because all affect dietary balance in some way. A dietitian's most important responsibility is to be aware of dietary interactions that can arise from drastic interventions and to translate diet-health recommendations into diet patterns in which balance is maintained or affected to the least possible degree.

Keto – or ketogenic – (Salau) diet describes a type of dietary observance that is based on the process called “ketosis”. Ketosis simply refers to a situation whereby fat is used for energy – upon being turned to ketones by the liver – in the absence of sufficient carbohydrates to drive the body’s metabolic activity. Keto diet has a combination of foods with high fat, low carbohydrate, and enough protein. 

Paleo diet hinges on the consumption of foods in their natural, unprocessed state (Salau). So, if keto diet is aimed at high-fat foods, paleo diet concerns eating meals with lesser fat thus keeping caloric consumption as low as possible. In essence, someone hoping to go paleo will consume more whole grains, foods with high protein content, fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts. Besides weight loss, adhering to this type of diet will help promote cardiovascular health, and even tackle issues evolving cholesterol and blood sugar. 

When you hear about a flexitarian diet, then you can think of “flexibility” as the dietary plan does not come with any rigid rules or stringent observances (Salau). I am always tempted to say that a flexitarian diet is part-vegan and part-other diets – definitely not for those religiously devoted to the vegetarian lifestyle. A person going the way of a flexitarian diet will be looking to have meals with whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, plant protein, and vegetables, and then add some meaty stuff – plus a bit of other processed grocery items. But while you may be indulging in those processed foods, you should remember the reason for a dietary plan – weight loss – and not get overly indulged.

DASH is the acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (Salau); this should give you an insight into how beneficial this type of diet will be for cardiovascular health – and that’s not all as DASH diet is also notable for its weight-loss advantages. Although it is not originally designed as a weight loss diet, a good number of persons that have stuck to it have reportedly lost some pounds considerably. DASH diet hovers around eating veggies, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains in good supply while having lesser quantities of foods [and condiments] like fatty foods, red meat, salt, and added sugars.

Mediterranean diet could readily register as a “top choice weight loss diet” as it factors in all that is needed for a balanced healthy meal while promoting weight loss (Salau). This diet is common among the people of Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc – hence the tag “Mediterranean”. The diet circles about whole grains, nuts, veggies, fruits, and fish – and maybe a little bit of wine to go with it. Furthermore, one can take consumables like eggs, dairy products, red meat, and added sugar in small proportions – not necessarily though. The Mediterranean diet greatly promotes overall wellness, even as it helps you to maintain healthy body weight.

MIND diet is a blend of both Mediterranean and DASH diets – and that’s how the acronym came about (Salau). This type of diet is directed at reducing or eliminating the intake of unhealthy fat to embrace the consumption of healthy, fresh grocery items. As such, MIND diet is planned around foods like whole grains, legumes, berries, olive oil, veggies, and wine. This sort of diet contributes to healthy body weight and also promotes mental well-being.

WW, which was previously known as “weight watchers”, is strictly set aside for weight loss purposes (Salau). For WW diet model, points are usually allotted to various types of foods and drinks, and these points will always vary based on the fat, fiber, and calories that particular food contains. So, WW diet is not necessarily about you strictly pairing one food with another it doesn’t restrict the intake of any class of food. It follows that anyone observing this dietary plan must act to consume food within a specific daily point limit to attain and sustain the desired/healthy body weight. Subscribing upon subscribing to any of the WW diet plans – for a fee – you will get some education about different food choices, and how to regulate meal portions for sustainable weight loss. You will also be able to keep track of your food and beverage intake while you’re on the platform.

Whole30 diet is aimed at what you do consecutively within 30 days (Salau). Specifically stating, individuals following this dietary plan are expected to cut off added sugar, legumes, grains – whole grains inclusive – alcohol, and dairy products. It is believed that the body will go into a reset mode by adhering to this plan, and this ensures weight loss. However, the fact that the Whole30 diet has been reported to cause nutritional deficiencies and some metabolic disorders creates a major cause for concern.


Tangney, Christy C., Kristin A. Gustashaw, Teresa M. Stefan, Cheryl Sullivan, Jennifer Ventrelle, Chris A. Filipowski, Andrea Domas Heffernan, Jacqueline Hankins, and The Writing Group for the Clinical. "A review: which dietary plan is best for your patients seeking weight loss and sustained weight management?." Disease-a-Month 51, no. 5 (2005): 284-316.

Fock, Kwong Ming, and Joan Khoo. "Diet and exercise in management of obesity and overweight." Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology 28 (2013): 59-63.

Mertz, Walter. "A balanced approach to nutrition for health: The need for biologically essential minerals and vitamins." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 94, no. 11 (1994): 1259-1263.

Salau, Adeyemi. "Weight loss according to different diets."

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