DASH Diet

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been placed at the top in the rank of best diets for seven years in a row. The best thing about this diet is that, in addition to weight loss, it provides a lot of health benefits, and I mean A LOT. This is due to the fact that this diet was initially intended to help people fight high blood pressure, and has proven later to benefit diabetics and people with heart problems.

So, if you follow this diet, you can help yourself bring your blood pressure to the normal level, avoid diabetes or considerably lower the amount of medications you take or improve your condition to the point where you don’t need to take any more drugs, and, of course, lose weight.

What is the main focus of the DASH diet?

While the DASH diet was initially designed for addressing the issue of high blood pressure, its creators decided to focus mainly on the amount of salt people consume daily, because it affects blood pressure in a very detrimental way, i.e. excess amounts of salt increase blood pressure.

Another concern of the DASH diet creators was insufficient amount of valuable substances that people consume with modern fast eating lifestyle. Thus, this diet will encourage you to have longer groceries shopping and cooking healthy meals.

At the same time, eating out might be limited for the reason that meals we usually get at the restaurants and the like are rich in salt, unhealthy fats and sugar. When you cook on your own, you know exactly how much salt you add to your dishes and can easily monitor its amount.

Does the DASH diet provide for any restrictions in the calories you can eat daily?

The authors of the DASH diet provide very precise indications on the required eating scheme for people of different ages and lifestyles. It means that your normal daily caloric value depends on your age and level of activity.

Based on age and activity level, women need the following amount of calories daily:​

Sedentary​

  • 19-30 y.o. – 2000 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 1800 cal
  • 51+ – 1600 cal

Moderately active​

  • 19-30 y.o. – 2000-2200 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 2000 cal
  • 51+ – 1800 cal

​Active

  • 19-30 y.o. – 2400 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 2200 cal
  • 51+ – 2000-2200 cal

Based on age and activity level, men need the following amount of calories daily:​

Sedentary​

  • 19-30 y.o. – 2400 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 2200 cal
  • 51+ – 2000 cal

Moderately active​

  • 19-30 y.o. – 2600-2800 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 2400-2600 cal
  • 51+ – 2200-2400 cal

Active​

  • 19-30 y.o. – 3000 cal
  • 31-50 y.o – 2800-3000 cal
  • 51+ – 2400-2800 cal

​So, now I know how many calories I can consume during the day. What’s next?

At this point, you are approaching the number of portions for each food group that you can eat, depending on your allowed daily caloric value. For example, people, in whom this number is 1600, should make up their menu for the day out of the following amount of foods servings:

  • Grains (mostly whole grains) – 6
  • Vegetables – 3-4
  • Fruits – 4
  • Fat-free/low-fat milk and dairy – 2-3
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish – 3-6
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes – 3 per week
  • Fats and oils – 2
  • Sweets and added sugars – 0​

If your allowed daily caloric value is 2000, you should consume the following number of servings of different foods:

  • Grains (mostly whole grains) – 6-8
  • Vegetables – 4-5
  • Fruits – 4-5
  • Fat-free/low-fat milk and dairy – 2-3
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish – 6 or less
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes – 4-5 per week
  • Fats and oils – 2-3
  • Sweets and added sugars – 5 or less per week​

If your allowed daily caloric value is 2600, you should consume the following number of servings of different foods:

  • Grains (mostly whole grains) – 10-11
  • Vegetables – 5-6
  • Fruits – 5-6
  • Fat-free/low-fat milk and dairy – 3
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish – 6
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes – 1
  • Fats and oils – 3
  • Sweets and added sugars – 2 or less​

As you can see, the system opts for a healthy nutrition that includes all food varieties, and just limits some of them in quantity. It is very similar to the Mediterranean diet principles, yet it was still considered slightly better due to the lower amount of salt it suggests consuming (1500-2300 mg sodium/day).

Any other important aspects I should know about the DASH diet?

Of course, you already know, what is one of the important things you need to keep in mind, when using any diet for weight loss. That is correct, increased physical activity. We just can’t do without it, especially if we remember again that this diet should help us reduce cardiovascular risks, and we know that active lifestyle is a must for a healthy heart muscle.

While we are regarding the DASH diet as a weight loss tool, our goal is to reach a calories deficit, so either you lower the amount of calories you consume or add in physical activity. Second option is always better for a weight loss progress. Since you already will reduce the caloric value of your daily menu, which will help you lose weight on its own, adding up at least 20-40 minutes of activity of any kind will help you boost the weight loss even more.

What results can I achieve on DASH diet for weight loss?

Since the DASH diet has proven that it can promote a healthy weight loss, the book about its weight loss version is available on Amazon for $5.98 (Kindle eBook) and for $15.08 (hardcover). The book can really help you get higher results, since it includes recipes of meals, daily menus and even shopping lists. However, you can keep to the principles of the DASH diet with a reduced caloric value and lose weight with the aid of your imagination.

We have reviewed an episode of TODAY show, where two contestants were keeping to a diet they chose, and one of them decided to go in for the DASH diet for weight loss. Her results were absolutely fantastic, while she confessed that she did not have to suffer from hunger. Cravings were the only problem, since you have to strictly limit the amount of salt and cut the sugary junk food.

The explanation of the DASH diet author that was present in this show episode explained the main direction that people should follow while being on the DASH diet. Ms. Marla Heller said that it is important to adjust the portion sizes that will work best for each individual and allow him lose weight while not feeling hungry at the same time. It is a very important process during the first weeks of dieting in DASH style.

The contestant managed to lose 17 pounds (7.7 kg) in a month and gained a serious motivation to continue eating DASH strictly for the rest of her life or at least until she reaches her healthy weight. Let’s face it, such results can inspire each of us to keep to the eating system that helps us lose weight steadily and reduce our risks for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well.

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