Do You Know the 6 Types of Diet for Sleep Apnea?

Because most people who suffer from sleep apnea are overweight, an important part of treatment is losing that excess body fat. There are many popular diets out there, but a few have considerably more scientific validity than others. Some may also be better suited to different lifestyles than others.

In order to help you determine the best method for you, here’s a closer look at the major types of diets:

Low-Fat Diet

low-fat-foodsThis diet is based on the fictitious idea that eating fat automatically makes you fat. Because fat is calorically dense, however, reducing dietary fat can enhance weight loss. Generally, dieters shun animal fats as much as possible, leaving vegetable oils as their primary fat source. Low-fat diets allow practically unlimited consumption of fruit, vegetables and carbohydrates. In fact, proponents of these diets recommend that 60 percent or more of your daily calories come from the carbohydrate food group.

Many people on this type of diet seek foods that are labeled as being low-fat or fat free. Unfortunately, these products often use a large amount of sugar or starch to make up for any textural failings caused by fat removal. A food’s fat content is almost always indicative of high carbohydrate content. Veganism and vegetarianism are two diets that are often very low in fat. Despite the lack of favorable scientific evidence, low-fat diets remain extremely popular.

Pros Cons
  • Fewer calories means more weight loss
  • Rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • Reduced risk of certain cancers
  • It’s less expensive
  • May actually cause weight gain
  • Emerging research indicates that low animal fat intake and high vegetable oil intake is hazardous to health
  • Low-fat means high-carbohydrate
  • Risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiency
  • Increased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Low-Carbohydrate Diet

These diets seek to achieve fat loss by reducing carbohydrate intake to 20 percent or less of total daily calories. In some variations, things like bread, pasta and potatoes are forbidden initially in order to make the body start burning its fat stores for energy rather than sugar. After a period of time, these foods may be added back into the diet in limited amounts.

Certain fruits, non-starchy vegetables, meat and fat are allowed without limit. There is an abundance of research showing that this sort of diet is effective for both losing weight and treating or preventing many common health problems. Low-carbohydrate diets have become very popular in recent years and roughly 18 percent of Americans are on one. Examples include the Atkins diet, the Zone diet and the paleolithic diet.

Pros Cons
  • Leads to healthier blood sugar levels, preventing further weight gain
  • The body more readily burns fat stores and dietary fat for energy
  • More energy, improved mood
  • Decreased risk of some cancers
  • Discourages consumption of sugar and other refined carbs, therefore improving all areas of health
  • Possibility of excessively low carbohydrate intake, causing fatigue and low blood sugar
  • Most low-carb diets require strict adherence, which can be tedious
  • Alcohol is often not acceptable on these diets, especially liquor

Low-Calorie Diet

Because excess weight can be caused by consuming too many calories, it makes sense that reducing them would assist weight loss. On these diets, people often decrease their daily caloric intake to the bare minimum. This is roughly 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. The types of foods that can be eaten aren’t strictly limited, but followers should aim for things that offer the greatest ratio of satisfaction and nutrition to calories.

These diets, when combined with exercise and maintained indefinitely, have been found to be quite effective. However, most people who try calorie restriction do so only for short periods and do not usually include physical activity. When calories are first reduced, rapid and dramatic weight loss common. After a few weeks, the body detects the relative absence of calories in the diet as starvation and slows metabolism accordingly.

This is often referred to as a plateau. Any further weight loss after this point is very difficult to achieve without aid. After caloric consumption returns to normal, dieters often regain the weight they lost and then some. Examples include the Okinawa diet and the CRON diet.

Pros Cons
  • Good for quickly losing a few pounds
  • Some studies suggest that calorie restriction can increase lifespan in humans
  • Saves money on groceries
  • Weight loss isn’t permanent
  • Maintaining minimal caloric intake strains the heart and nervous system, especially when exercise is included
  • Fatigue, mood swings and unstable blood sugar are common
  • Scientific evidence of increased lifespan is so far inconclusive
  • Often results in muscle wasting
  • Most of the weight lost consists of water and muscle mass, not fat

Detox Diet

Detoxification diets are practiced under the belief that certain substances in the body are the cause of excess weight. These often include food colorings, preservatives, heavy metals, artificial flavors and flavor enhancers. This sort of diet can involve fasting and may also include the elimination of problem foods.

The idea is that this strict dietary regimen causes the body to burn its own fat stores, releasing the trapped toxins into the system where they can be eliminated. There is virtually no scientific evidence to support this theory and the popularity of the diet is quite low. The most familiar examples of detox diets are water and juice fasting.

Pros Cons
  • Help dieters to quickly shed a few pounds
  • Actively discourages the consumption of junk foods, which can lead to weight loss on its own
  • Encourages proper fluid consumption in the case of water or juice fasting
  • Questionable effectiveness and benefits
  • Potentially dangerous, especially for those with pre-existing nutrient deficiencies
  • May lead to weight gain after the diet is over

Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarianism is widely considered one of the best ways to lose weight because it limits the consumption of animal products. Most animals products are calorically dense, making them favorable for gaining weight. Vegetarianism allows for carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables in unlimited quantities, as well as the possibility of milk and eggs (ovo-lacto vegetarianism).

There have been a lot of studies into this sort of diet, many of which have shown a more favorable average body weight among followers. According to statistics, as many as 7.3 million Americans eat a vegetarian diet. Veganism, a more extreme form of vegetarianism, forbids any animal products whatsoever.

Pros Cons
  • High in fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • Obesity and many cancers are less common in vegetarian diets
  • People frequently report that a vegetarian diet quickly becomes boring and bland
  • Usually high in soy, which disturbs the body’s delicate hormonal balance and suppresses thyroid function
  • Deficiency in essential certain proteins, vitamins B12 and B1 and fat-soluble nutrients is common
  • Rich in vegetable oils, which are now being shown to be damaging to health
  • Encourages excessive carbohydrate and insufficient protein consumption

Raw Food Diet

Raw foodism espouses the consumption of foods that have not been refined, heated above 116 degrees Fahrenheit or otherwise heavily processed. Some people even go so far as to consume raw meat, but this isn’t recommended. According to raw foodism practices, processing destroys nutrients and alters food’s chemical structure, eventually causing poor health. Raw foodists consume a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, raw cheese and milk, yogurt, fermented vegetables, raw honey and raw nuts.

Much like detox diets, raw food diets remain minimally popular, although there has been a slight increase in interest in recent years. It’s widely considered to be very time-consuming and restrictive. Raw foodism can be considered an extension of the paleolithic diet because it is based on many of the same principals. In fact, the two are often practiced together.

Pros Cons
  • Many foods contain more nutrients in their uncooked state
  • Less time is spent preparing food
  • Discourages consumption of pre-packaged, mass-produced foods that can cause illness
  • An abundance of live enzymes and probiotic bacteria promotes healthy digestion
    • Eating some foods raw, like eggs and meat, may be hazardous
    • Many vegetables must be cooked in order to make them digestible and their nutrients available for absorption
    • Such a diet is very restrictive, making meals out with friends and family impractical
    • Raw meat is very difficult to chew and digest
    • Deficiency in calories, B12, protein, calcium and iron may result

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