The DASH Diet: Not Your Typical Weight Loss Diet

The DASH Diet: Not Your Typical Weight Loss Diet

(Last Updated On: April 19, 2019)

shutterstock_9190393What’s the best diet for losing weight? According to a recent ranking report released by U.S. News and World Report, Weight Watchers tied with the DASH diet for being the most effective diet plan for weight loss. Most people are aware of Weight Watchers and how it works, but fewer are familiar with the DASH diet. Doctors recommend this diet, not just for weight loss but to prevent and treat other health problems as well.

What is the DASH Diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and that’s what this diet was designed to do – lower blood pressure – and it works well for that purpose. According to some studies, following this type of diet can lower systolic blood pressure by as much as 14 points and diastolic blood pressure by as much as 6. That’s comparable to what you might get by taking some blood pressure medications.

The DASH isn’t just effective for lowering blood pressure; it also helps with weight loss. In one study, participants who followed this diet lost almost 12 pounds over a 2 month period without feeling hungry. The participants also experienced a reduction in their blood pressure, fasting glucose level and LDL cholesterol level, which bodes well for their health overall. Their HDL, the good form of cholesterol that protects against heart disease, went up. This makes it an ideal diet for diabetics and people who want to reduce their risk of heart disease.

What Are the Components of the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. Recommendations include:

Eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily
Seven to eight servings of whole grains daily
Two to three servings of low-fat dairy daily
Two to three servings of lean protein daily
Four to five servings weekly of nuts, beans, and legumes
Avoid sweets and high-fat foods.

Why Is This a Good Eating Plan?

The DASH diet is centered around whole foods and emphasizes fruits and vegetables and whole grains over refined grains. In many ways, it’s similar to a Mediterranean diet, a diet that’s considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. It’s not meant to be a weight loss diet, but because of its emphasis on low-calorie fruits and vegetables, people who follow it will likely shed pounds.

Other benefits of this diet are that it doesn’t skimp on protein. You can eat a lean source of protein at every meal when following this plan. This is important since research shows that diets higher in protein increase satiety and help to prevent muscle loss. It also emphasizes whole grains over processed ones. It’s a high-fiber, low-sodium, well-balanced eating plan that’s good for overall health.

The DASH diet really isn’t a diet since that implies a short term focus. It’s an eating plan that reduces the risk of a variety of health conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and, possibly, some types of cancer.

The Bottom Line?

The DASH diet is a fresh alternative to diets that focus on short-term weight loss at the expense of good health. It’s an eating plan that you can stick with for life not only to avoid weight gain but to be healthier overall. Combine it with regular exercise, and you have a winning plan for better health.


References: “DASH Diet: Not Just for Hypertension?” “DASH Diet May Substantially Lower Risk for CHD as Well as Blood Pressure”


Related Articles By Cathe:

Do Low-Fat Diets Impede Weight Loss?

Can a Diet Higher in Fat Still Be Heart Healthy?

Dieticians Rank Healthiest Diets for 2016

5 Reasons to Ditch Restrictive Dieting

Why There Is No “Best” Diet

Does Meal Frequency Have an Impact on Body Composition?

Is There an Ideal Macronutrient Ratio for Fat Loss?

6 thoughts on “The DASH Diet: Not Your Typical Weight Loss Diet

  1. Reading about the DASH Diet, I was astounded as to what comprises this diet. Who, at least women, can eat the servings they are talking about here? I know I couldn’t. My god, I’d walk around stuffed like a pig all the time. It is simply not possible!

  2. The amounts of food listed here are outrageous. This is very unrealistic. Who could consume all the foods suggested in the DASH food list?
    No way for this one!

  3. I recently went to the website and read up on it. The servings listed above were for men, the women’s servings were pared down. It still seems like a lot of food. However, many people are also confused as to what a serving is and in many cases, the serving size of a vegetable and/or a fruit is smaller than what you might think. A banana is actually two servings. I think depending on the size of an orange the same is true. Looking at what is listed above does seem impossible to consume, but I think it is not quite as bad as you might think once you really look into it. I think those are just guidelines.

  4. Karen, I think that’s true for most foods — the serving sizeis much smaller than many of us realize.

    Cathe, thanks for the article. I really enjoyed it. I would still like to know your thoughts on WW, especially since there has been a major change in the last year or so.

  5. I did Weight Watchers back when they weighed their food and lost about 40 pounds. When Weight Watchers went to the point system, I did not like that as much, because you could eat unhealthy and less food as long as you were in the point range. I then started working at Curves and trained to be able to teach women the correct way. The above amount of food is a little high for women, depending on their size…but women that think you should stay under a certain number of calories are fighting a losing battle. You need a lot of food to lose weight…”A LOT OF THE CORRECT FOOD!!” You should have 3-4 fruits a day, 6 proteins a day, all of the veggies that you want (if they are true veggies), 2-3 breads, 3 dairy and lots of water. I have controlled my sugar, lowered my blood pressure and have gone from a size 18 to a size 10 in a very healthy way. Good luck to all.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your
    efforts and I am waiting for your further write ups thank you
    once again.

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