Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Rating Low-Fat Diets for Seniors


The Choose to Lose Diet for Seniors

The Choose to Lose Diet has been lauded by many healthcare professionals as one of the most sensible diets on the market. Learn more about this plan below.

Quick Take

  • A balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods
  • Encourages fresh foods but makes great allowances for convenience foods
  • Allows occasional splurges
  • Encourages exercise
  • Not just a weight-loss diet but a healthy eating plan for life

This Diet Is Best For

Anyone who wants to be as well informed as they can about what they put on their plate. This is a diet plan that could benefit anyone of any age, and it will certainly help people over 50 fend off debilitating, age-related diseases. This is a detailed, practical guide to good nutrition.

Who Should Not Try This Diet

Those who are looking for a "secret formula" for quick weight loss or for promises of extended life and extraordinary fitness

The Premise

The Goors have been writing about eating a healthy diet for approximately 20 years. The Choose to Lose series, billed as a "food lover's guide to permanent weight loss," tells you everything you need to know, and more, about eating healthy and losing weight. Taking the opposite tact of many diet books, Choose to Lose encourages carbohydrate consumption, as long as most of it comes from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

The focus of the diet is fat: finding it, counting it, and budgeting it. It explains how to plan your own personal fat budget, read food labels, ferret out the fat in the foods you eat, fat-proof your home, eat out healthfully, and switch to healthy fats. They encourage dieters to keep a food diary, at least in the beginning, to learn about their own food habits and to reveal their weaknesses.

One of the reasons the book is so long is that it provides a comprehensive food table with the nutrient content of each food, plus discussions of everything, literally, from soup to nuts. The information tells dieters what's good (low fat, high-fiber, and most nutritious), what's bad (high fat, low-fiber, empty calories) and how you can plan your new diet to keep some of your favorite foods on your weight-loss menus.

The Rationale

While some diets focus on limiting carbohydrate intake, the Goors' plan focuses on limiting fat intake, especially saturated fat, since fat is the most concentrated source of calories in the diet and saturated fat is linked to heart disease. The diet plan has no gimmicks or hooks; it's a no-nonsense approach to good nutrition that has withstood the test of time. Fat intake is limited but not excessively restricted, and the diet even allows for an occasional high-fat splurge.

The goal, say the Goors, is not to think of Choose to Lose as a diet but as an eating plan for life. Foods are clearly divided into groups according to how much of them you can eat. The diet also provides examples of "before" menus and then shows better "after" alternatives. Follow the guidelines of their plan, say the Goors, and over time you will adjust your taste buds to a lower fat diet without having to greatly restrict your food choices.

Eating on the Choose to Lose Diet

The Goors' diet provides more information about specific foods than most other diets, and it gives a week's worth of sample menus and recipes. More than 250 of the book's pages are devoted to food tables that give the calorie, fat, and saturated fat content of foods. You'll find brief, informative sections on such foods as bread, potatoes, cereals, chicken, seafood, popcorn, and pretzels, just to name a few.

A typical day's menus might include oatmeal and whole-wheat toast with jelly, cottage cheese, strawberries, and skim milk for breakfast; chickpeas, whole wheat pita, a tangerine, carrot sticks, and orange juice for lunch; tortilla soup, chicken, green beans, rice, squash, cauliflower, nonfat yogurt, and blueberries for dinner; and nonfat yogurt and popcorn for snacks during the day.

Total calories: 2,300. Guidelines are provided for cutting calories to 1,500 to 1,600 -- the minimum they recommend. Supplements are not recommended. Follow a balanced diet, they say, and supplements shouldn't be necessary.

What the Experts Say

Information is power, and the Goors' plan provides dieters with power over their diets and, ultimately, their health. The diet plan goes hand-in-hand with what most experts currently recommend.

It's a diet high in complex carbohydrates -- mostly from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes -- with limited fat intake, most of it from healthy fats such as olive oil. Though it's not billed as such, the diet is in line with dietary recommendations for reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

If you follow the Goors' plan, using the recommended calorie adjustments, it should allow you to lose weight successfully. You get a lot of variety and choices on this diet, which also offers much-needed guidance for keeping the diet balanced and realistic. One chapter is devoted to exercise, which they sum up as "Eating Right + Exercise = Perfection."

Calorie quota: The basic diet in the sample menus provides about 2,300 calories a day, which would accommodate an average man or an active woman. But it also provides information on ways to reduce the calorie count to between 1,500 and 1,600 without sacrificing good nutrition.

Yes: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, variety, patience

No: High fat foods, especially foods rich in saturated fats; junk foods; fast foods; absentminded snacking

Other similar diets: Richard Simmons, Weight Watchers

In the next section, learn how to fight fat over forty!

To learn more about senior health, see: