5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Diet

Amanda Cauchi, January 16, 2017
5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Diet

Everyone, at least once, has considered and tried a diet. Diets are useful for both weight loss and healthy living. Although diets are beneficial, there are multiple things to consider before starting a diet. Take a look at five considerations to take!

1. Consult your doctor

It is always a good idea to consult your doctor about changes you would like to make, especially when following special diets. Even though dieting is a healthy habit, it can also be harmful depending on the particular diet and your individual health. So diets may be high in foods with certain ingredients that you might have to avoid because of a certain medical condition.

Sometimes, medication can come into play too. Your doctor will know if the particular diet that you want to start is right for you or not. Also, your doctor can provide you with practical suggestions and information to help you as you diet. Consider asking your doctor some questions before going for a visit.

  • Are there any education brochures you can take home?
  • Should you get your waist circumference measured?
  • Are there dietitians, physical trainers, and other specialists in the local area who could help you?
  • Can he or she measure your BMI (we embedded a calculator for your convenience) and how does it correlate with your health status?
  • What changes can you make in your lifestyle to strengthen your health?

2. Establish good eating habits

Establishing good eating habits is a no brainer when thinking about starting a diet. It's not like you can keep going with the daily treats and sugary drinks, right? However, so much more goes into establishing healthy eating habits than switching the brownie out for carrots. Take a look at some things you would have to consider when establishing healthy eating habits.

  • Eat whole foods instead of processed foods
  • Deciding if a cheat meal is acceptable and when
  • Portion your meal sizes to meet your needs without overfeeding yourself
  • Limiting or setting how frequently you will eat in a day
  • Buying healthy alternative food to replace junk foods and sweets
  • Drink more water instead of sodas and juices

3. Start with the lowest calorie deficit

This dieting method is ideal for people who want to lose ten to thirty pounds, although it is not the best choice when trying to fight against obesity. If you don't know what a calorie deficit is, it is a weight loss technique that involves burning more calories than what is consumed. For dieting purposes, you would eat less by getting rid of junk foods like empty calories or strictly portion.

Restricting calories can lead some negative effects like a decreased metabolism, muscle loss, decrease in anabolic hormones and so on. This is not a huge concern when you are not trying to lose a significant amount of weight or follow the calorie restriction for a long period of time, which is why calorie deficits are not ideal with obesity weight loss. However, if you do decide to set one, there are a few things to do before getting started.

  • Place your focus on your body measurements instead of the total weight of your body
  • Make your goals realistic for your weekly weight loss, such as half a pound to a pound per week
  • Consider increasing the deficit when you hit a plateau but be mindful to not go over a quarter of your maintenance level calories
  • Find out your maintenance calorie intake and your basal metabolic rate

4. Remember muscle and water weight

Sometimes, despite how well you may follow your diet, you may find yourself stuck in a rut; unable to drop the numbers on the scale. Worse, you might have actually gained a few pounds. Do not panic or start limiting what you eat even more! Your weight loss hiccup can be due to water retention and muscle growth.

Water weight is lost and put on very quickly. Half and possibly more of the weight you lose in week is water. Just as quickly as it drops, it can come right back. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important to stay hydrated. Since you cannot go without hydration, water weight is always going to be present, sweated out, and drank back in again.

If you are working out while you diet or follow a diet that can contribute to muscle growth, your growing muscles are going to account for extra weight. This is also another reason why looking at your total body weight is not always the best way to calculate and judge your weight loss. Even if you did not get the numbers you wanted, would you rather be over your desired goal with muscle or fat?

5. Decide if you are going to incorporate exercise with your diet

Exercise and physical activity are terrific tools for losing weight and can conveniently work with dieting to optimize your efforts towards your goal. Not to mention, physical activity benefits many other areas of your health. There are simple life choices and habits you can change to assist you in incorporating physical activity,

  • Increase your current activity's length or intensity
  • Skip elevators by taking the stairs
  • Limit computer, TV, and video game times
  • Take on extra household chores
  • Be active during a vacation
  • Use a pedometer to determine your physical step count
  • Park in the farthest part of the parking lot to make yourself walk
  • Perform exercises or use machines while watching TV
  • Walk for nearby errands

Think Before you Diet

Dieting can be a healthy experience for weight loss and healthy transitions. However, there are some things to consider before starting. These considerations include speaking with a doctor, establishing eating habits, beginning with a calorie deficit, not forgetting water retention and muscle weight and possibly exercising. With careful thought, you can determine the best diet for you!

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