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DASH Diet Meal Plans: How They Work

Written on February 2, 2012 at 9:01 am , by

dash diet book

Photo courtesy of dashdiet.org

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

When you think of weight loss, the DASH diet might not be the first plan that comes to mind. Afterall, it was designed to help individuals lower their blood pressure and not necessarily their calorie intake, right? Well, yes and no. Although the DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure, it can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

This diet was recently named the best overall diet for health by US News and World Report. That’s because it’s balanced, relatively simple to follow, backed by scientific research, and generally safe to put into practice. From fruits and vegetables to lean meats and low-fat dairy, this meal plan correlates well with the USDA MyPlate recommendations. Many of these foods are lower in calorie and rich in important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber.  A few more things to know about DASH diet meal plans:

-An individual should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day. With the more stringent or low sodium plan, no more than 1500 milligrams should be consumed on a daily basis.

-Followers must go easy on fats, oils, sweets, and added sugars. Depending on how many calories you need to function each day and how
physically active you are, the amount of these and other components of your diet vary.

-Instead of utilizing special foods or counting calories, the emphasis here is more on servings and portion sizes. In general, those following the DASH diet should aim for 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables a day, 6-12 servings of whole grains, 2-3 servings of low-fat or no-fat dairy, less than 6 servings of lean meats, poultry and fish, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, 4-5 servings of legumes, nuts, and seeds, and no more than 5 servings of sweets per week. Alcoholic beverages should also be limited to no more than two drinks for men and one drink for women each day.

Not sure what a serving looks like? ChooseMyPlate.gov has a few excellent resources to help you identify what a serving size is for each food group. It varies depending on what type
of food you are eating and it can be tricky to keep all your serving sizes straight, but in general:

A serving of fruit = 1 cup
A serving of vegetables = 1 cup
A serving of whole grain= 1 ounce
A serving of protein = 1 ounce
A serving of dairy = 1 cup

The DASH diet might be for you if you’re looking to improve the nutritional quality of the way you eat. It is often associated with improved blood pressure maintenance; however, weight loss can also result from the dietary modifications taking place!

More from Diets in Review:

DASH Diet’s Marla Heller Suggests it May Not be Sexy, but it Makes Sense

Most Popular Diets of 2011


Diet Face-Off: The Most Popular Diets of 2011

Written on December 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm , by

Happy Woman on Scale

Photo by iStockPhoto

By Brandi Koskie for DietsInReview.com

Each year, every web site and publication comes out with their year-in-review lists, including the best and worst of everything from movies and fashion to Twitter trends and songs. DIR’s list includes the most popular diets of the year. Stick to what you know, right?

For the past four years there have been a few mainstays on the list, like Nutrisystem, Medifast, and Jillian Michaels. This year we saw newcomers from celebrity-endorsed weight loss plans, like Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison, Suzanne Somers’ Sexy Forever (with a forthcoming cookbook), and the rumored Dukan Diet of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

While the complete list of 20 includes the fads and the fantastic, there are a few that can be deemed most popular. According to DIR’s readers, the most popular diets of the year were:

17 Day Diet and 17 Day Diet Meal Plan
It’s the first time in DIR history that Weight Watchers hasn’t filled the top spot. After selling a million copies this year, as well as a 17 Day Diet Workbook and a version in Spanish, everyone from Dr. Phil to your favorite aunt was talking about Dr. Mike Moreno’s diet and fitness plan. It’s a four-cycle plan that integrates nutrition and fitness is a manageable way that sets you up for life-long success. The book was number one and the complementary meal delivery program, fulfilled by Bistro M.D., took position three.

Weight Watchers
With Jennifer Hudson singing the brand’s praises and a complete re-engineered plan called PointsPlus, Weight Watchers was a mainstay in the lives of many this year. It’s one of the most flexible weight loss programs out there, using the points program to let users make their own choices about food and exercise. Eating nutritionally dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will fill you up and keep you within range; however, a chocolate cake splurge or day without exercise could quickly deplete your point stock, not to mention progress to goal.

Jillian Michaels Online
She may have left Biggest Loser, but Jillian’s presence over the fitness industry reigns supreme. Her daily appearances as a co-host on The Doctors no doubt helped raise the visibility of her no-nonsense and highly effective workouts. Subscribers to her online program will find meal plans and nutrition guidance, customized workout plans, a support community, and much more. You can supplement your work there with any one of her books, DVDs, or other products.

TELL US: Did you try a diet this year? Did it work and why or why not?