Before I go into details of DASH Diet and how it can be beneficial for losing weight, it might be interesting to note that the prestigious US News website has declared the DASH diet as a the best diet overall. Thought it was not introduced as a weight loss plan, it certainly helps you lose significant weight because of its focus on healthy and nutrient rich foods.
DASH diet basically stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. As the name suggest, it was developed with the purpose of controlling hypertension in those with high blood pressure. Dash Diet is based on reducing sodium levels in the diet and also switching to healthy nutrients filled food rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium etc. You can reduce your blood pressure by up to 12 points and reduce heart health risks significantly over a period of time. Apart from lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet also has positive effects on your health and prevents diseases like diabetes, cancer and stroke etc.
The main emphasis of Dash diet is on reducing sodium intake. There are two types: Standard Dash diet and Lower Sodium Dash diet. You are allowed 2300 mg per day of Sodium on Standard diet and on Lower Sodium Diet, only 1500 mg per day are allowed. Those older than 51 years or having diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease must follow 1500 mg diet. American Heart Association recommends all adults to limit their sodium intake to 1500 mg a day.
How Does DASH Diet Work
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which contributed to developed of Dash Diet Plan, has published two books that detail how you can follow DASH diet. These books are in PDF format and cover information like how many calories you should be taking daily and which foods should provide these calories. The first book is 64 pages and the second book is 6 pages long.
What You Should Eat on DASH Diet
When you are following a Dash diet plan, the following food servings are recommended:
- 6 -8 servings of grains per day. These may be in the form of whole grain bread , serial, pasta and rice etc.
- 4-5 servings per day of vegetables and fruits. These include carrots, broccoli, greens, tomatoes and sweet potatoes etc. And fruits can be citrus, and other low fat fruits you like.
- 2-3 servings per day of dairy. Try to have low fat or fat free dairy like milk, yogurt etc.
- 6 or fewer serving a day of lean meat, poultry and fish. Because meat, even lean meant, has fats and cholesterol, therefore, try to cut back on your meat consumption When eating chicken, always eat it skinless. Try to eat grilled of baked meat and avoid frying of meat because it adds oil to the meat.
- 4-5 servings a week of seeds are required. Good sources are kidney beans, lentils, peas, almonds etc.
- 2-3 servings per day of fats. Fats are essential for providing vitamins and immune system. However, DASH diet ensures that you get less than 27 percent of your daily calorie requirements from fats. Saturated fats, which are the unhealthy fats, can only be 6 percent of your daily fats requirement.
- Less than 5 servings of sweets. DASH diet does not restrict you from having sweets. However, these should be in moderation.
Can You Lose Weight With DASH diet?
The answer is yes. Because you will be eating healthy foods, low in fats, therefore, you will surely lose weight. However, you can lose more weight by following the DASH diet if you follow a calorie deficit diet. This means reducing your calorie intake and increasing your calorie consumption by getting more active.
One should be clear that the DASH diet was not originally developed as weight loss plan. As sated above, its main objective was to control blood pressure by following a healthy diet. However, different medical researches have clearly indicated that following a Dash diet can have significant weight loss benefits. If you follow this diet with moderate intensity exercise of about 40 minutes a day, you can lose 20 pounds in four months.
DASH diet allows you to eat 2000 calories a day. But if you want to use this for losing weight, then you should aim at 1500 calories a day diet. It can surely be an effective part of an overall weight loss strategy.
It can be a diet which is easier to follow because it is quite generous in allowing you to eat your favorite foods (even sweets are allowed). Though you will have to cut back on your favorite salty, sugary and fat filled foods, but since you will not be asked to cut back on groups of foods, therefore, chances of sticking with Dash diet are higher than other diets.