Obesity and weight gain is a problem faced by many these days. The reasons for it being irregular food habits, lack of sleep, poor lifestyle, binge eating, eating junk, and lifestyle diseases like PCOD, thyroid, etc.
The key to weight loss is following a routine and the principle of whether you want to lose 50 kilos or 5 kilos. Our body weight is directly proportional to the amount of food we consume and the amount we use to burn that energy in daily activities. If the calorie intake is more than the number of calories, you burn it will lead to weight gain over a while.
There are many healthy weight loss tools and diet plans available that will help you to lose excess weight. One such method is by following the DASH diet. It has been ranked by US News& World Report as a top diet to follow for cardiac health and weight loss.
What is the DASH DIET?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and stands out from other fad diets that restrict food and intake of calories without any reason. The DASH diet emphasizes on dietary changes and has flexible nutritional advice.
This is what makes it so different and popular amongst nutritionists, doctors, and dieticians all over the world.
This diet was primarily followed to treat people suffering from hypertension.
The Dash diet food options focus on fruits, veggies, low fat or fat-free dairy, lean meat, whole grains, and poultry. It targets and abolishes junk foods, packaged foods, carbonated drinks, sugary drinks, and red meat, as consuming this in excess has shown a direct link to poor heart health in past studies.
It reduces the salt intake and works excellent for people suffering from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or with people with a history of heart disease.
Types of DASH Diet
There are two types:
1. Standard Dash Diet
- A diet that reduces sodium intake to 2300 mg per day.
2. Lower Sodium Dash diet
- It reduces sodium consumption to 1500 mg per day.
- Requires 6-8 whole grain servings
- Requires few servings of meat, fish, and poultry
- Requires 4-5 veggies
- Requires four servings of fruits
- Three servings of fat-free dairy products
- Three servings of healthy fats
The reason why the DASH diet is successful is that it focuses on increasing vegetable and fruit intake. It includes whole foods in the diet that are rich in potassium low in sodium, which helps to regulate blood pressure.
Dash Diet For Weight Loss
If you have been asked to follow the DASH diet, it is likely because of your blood pressure. Most people with high blood pressure are also required to lose weight. It is said that your body weight is directly proportional to the blood pressure indicating that if you exceed your body weight, it might cause a spike in blood pressure.
Some studies have linked the DASH diet to be effective in weight loss.
The DASH DIET controls the calorie intake and also cuts down sugary food, carbonated drinks, food rich in fat, which automatically reduces the extra consumption of calories and makes you lose weight. Some may also have to work on lowering intake consciously.
To lose weight with the DASH diet, it is required that you follow a calorie deficit diet.
Myths associated with the DASH Diet
DASH Diet cant be approached
Most people are of the assumption that meals related to the DASH diet are cooked from scratch. The whole foods mentioned in the diet doesn’t imply fresh produce. You can opt for less processed foods and no canned salt veggies. You can plan your meals and cook in batches. You could assemble the ingredients that go together to prepare a meal and pre-cut the vegetables and store.
DASH diet must be followed intermittently
The reason why most people are apprehensive about following the DASH diet is that they think they might work or do nothing at all. The truth behind the results of following the DASH diet is it must be followed for a long time. It won't yield effective results if followed for a few days and then going back to the old lifestyle. This diet promotes healthy living. Make small changes that help in living a healthy life.
DASH diet only focuses on lowering the sodium intake
False. It is a misconception. While the DASH diet aims to reduce sodium intake, it also focuses on increasing the potassium intake in the body. If the DASH diet is followed strictly, it boosts your magnesium, calcium, potassium, and fiber intake. All these nutrients protect the heart and also reduces the risk of other diseases.
This happens so as the diet reduces all the unwanted junk, sugary, unhealthy fats, and carbonated foods that provide long term benefits.
DASH diet can only be effective for people with high blood pressure
The lack of knowledge has led people to believe that the DASH diet is only meant for people with hypertension, as this talks about a low sodium diet. However, this diet can be followed by anyone after doctors' approval as this improves the overall health of the body, aids weight loss, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
Research says that people who followed the DASH diet had reduced the risk of cardiac diseases, diabetes, and some cancers.
Research says that 90% of Americans exceed the daily allowed sodium limit, which is 3500 mg, which over a while takes a toll on the body.
A sample plan of a DASH diet for a week
Here is what a diet plan for a week would look like
- Turkey meatloaf – 3 oz
- Baked potato topped with sour cream. You can add some low-fat cheese.
- Whole wheat roll – 1
- Thoroughly cooked spinach
- One fruit
- Omelette made with white egg and topped with onion and bell peppers
- One whole-grain toast
- Lettuce wrap salad with tuna
- 4 oz fluke or halibut, ½ cup brown rice, and asparagus 1 cup
- One fruit
- Oatmeal with honey and dried fruits
- Blueberries ½ cup
- Strawberries ½ cup
- Pita bread stuffed with fresh pepper, shredded carrot, shredded lettuce, hummus, and no black salt beans
- Chicken grilled and served with ¼ cup zucchini
- One fruit
- Whole grain toast with jam
- Plum -1
- Pasta salad with whole wheat pasta topped with bell pepper, onion, chopped cucumber, 1 tbsp olive oil
- Honeydew melon 1
- Tilapia served with 1 cup of green beans and cauliflower
- One fruit
- Fruit salad made with banana, apple, melon, berries with walnuts and fat-free yogurt.
- Bran muffin 1
- Chicken wrap – chicken breast, chopped apple, low mayonnaise salt, ½ tsp curry powder in a whole wheat tortilla
- Steamed baby carrots
- 250 ml of fat-free milk
- Whole wheat spaghetti with no salt marinara sauce
- Green salad with low-fat Caesar dressing
- Whole wheat roll and 1 tsp olive oil
- Trail mix using raisins, pumpkin seeds, 22 unsalted pretzels, and 2 tsp sunflower seeds
- Whole wheat bagel with no salt peanut butter
- Orange 1
- Fat-free milk 2 cups
- Spinach salad with 4 cups spinach, sliced pear, mandarin oranges, diced almonds, and 2 tsp wine vinaigrette
- Ten no salt wheat crackers
- A small sourdough roll with 1 tsp olive oil
- Berries with mint leaves
- Vanilla low sugar wafers
- Oatmeal with cinnamon powder
- Whole wheat toast with trans-free margarine
- Fat-free meal – 2 cups
- Pecans- 1/3 cup
- Pineapple- 1 cup
- Yogurt- 1 cup
- Raspberry juice and sparkling water Spritzer\
- One peach
Other Benefits Of The Dash Diet
Boosts heart health
The Journal of American Heart Association in 2019 stated that women who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and strictly followed the DASH diet had lesser chances of cardiac disease compared to women who didn’t add fruits and vegetables to their diet.
The Current Hypertension Reports say that when a weight loss regime is teamed with exercises, the DASH diet helps in developing insulin resistance and helps to control Type 2 Diabetes.
Lowers Blood Pressure
As this diet completely reduces the intake of salt, it shows that people who can stick to this diet for long will see an effect on their cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well.
Reduces risk of other diseases
A healthy heart boosts better oxygen and blood supply throughout the body. It helps in the functioning of a healthy kidney, manages diabetes, and improves eye health.
The Clinical Nutrition states the Dash Diet prevents kidney disease and chances of stroke as well.
Weight loss is a gradual process, and it may not happen overnight. A diet also takes a while to show its effects, but it is important to reap the benefits of any diet; it must be followed diligently for some time. The Dash Diet benefits are not unknown, and it is believed that making small dietary changes in food and life will help to develop better healthier habits.
Henna is a wellness lifestyle writer. She loves sharing her thoughts and personal experiences related to natural remedies, Ayurvedic, yoga, and fitness through her writing. She currently writes for How To Cure. She can connect with others experiencing health concerns and help them through their recovery journeys through natural remedies.