Originally Answered: Is the "heavy-lunch-no-dinner" diet a good diet to lose weight?
To answer your question simply, no. Instead you should eat smaller portions but 5-6 times per day. This keeps your metabolism at maximum and allows you to burn calories easier. Here's some further facts that may help you:
Let's start by clarifying a couple of things:
1. weight is not the best indicator of your health (because muscle weighs more than fat, two people of the same height can weigh the same and be drastically different in terms of health).
2. Body fat percentage is a true indicator.
3. Fat is burned by reducing overall caloric value.
4. If you burn more than you consume, you will lose fat (lower body fat percentage)
5. If you exercise and strength train, you can burn more calories and replace fat with muscle which will allow you to burn calories even when you rest.
If you are trying to lower your body fat percentage there are literally hundreds of ideas out there. In my opinion, the best way, which has been proven time and time again, is a two part method: Eat right and exercise. First, exercise is a no-brainer. You have to burn more calories than you take in for exercise to be considered exercise. How you do it is worth another answer all to itself. So, that brings us to the Eating Right part. If you understand how your body works, you've got a head start on the world. Food is fuel for the body. Once you've accepted that concept as more important than the idea that food is entertainment, then the rest will be relatively easy. If you are American, and I assume you are, the Nutrition Facts label that you find on all foods bought in the U.S. are the next thing you need to understand. Go grab something from your kitchen (i.e. jar of peanut butter or a bag of chips...anything with a nutrition label). OK, yeah you need vitamins and minerals and all that. But focus on these three items: FAT, PROTEIN, and CARBOHYDRATES.
Let's take these one at a time:
FAT is basically divided into good fats and bad fats. The body needs good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturateds). You'll find these in stuff like olives and avocados where the bad fat is minimal if not nonexistent. The bad fats are your saturated and trans fats that you'll find in meats and oils. If you are trying to lose weight, keep these to an absolute minimum. My suggestion (based on a 1500-2000 calorie diet) is to limit yourself to no more than 15g of saturated fat per day. This is hard to do if you're used to eating fast food. It's also hard to do if you drink whole milk, eat cheese (even the 2% variety), and eat fried foods. All of these are high in bad fats. The good news is that you can substitute your diet to eat the very things you like to eat but with better ingredients. If you eat cheese, buy fat free. If you drink milk, buy skim. Slowly take yourself down from whole milk or 2% to 1% before going skim/fat free if the transition is too radical to do all at once. If you eat a lot of ground beef, use the extra lean variety (96% fat free/4% fat), or substitute lean ground turkey instead. Do whatever you have to do to get the bad fat grams down to less than 15 per day.
PROTEIN: The building block of nutrition (aside from your vitamins and minerals) is protein. You need it strengthen your muscles and it will be essential with your exercise routine. Without protein, you can't build muscle tone or lean body mass. And guess what? Just having lean body mass (muscles) allows your body to burn more calories even when you are sleeping. Therefore, you are able to lose weight (bad weight, that is) just by sleeping. But, you have to exercise!! Don't forget that. You can find foods that are high in protein but also high in saturated fat, so be careful. Stick to poultry (chicken, turkey), fish (tuna is a great source), and beans. Don't fry your meats because if you do, you just added a bunch of bad fat to your otherwise healthy protein filled meal. Instead, grill, broil, or bake. You can do this! Don't forget to exercise to exponentially reap the rewards of consuming protein.
CARBS. In my opinion, the no-carb diet is crap, because you need carbs for energy, especially because you are exercising! That's right, you can't forget you are supposed to be exercising. The trick is choosing the good carbs. You'll see on your nutrition label Total Carbohydrates and Sugars. Sugars should be kept to a minimum and should be avoided within hours of going to sleep. The calories associated with them get stored (for energy) but are not easily burned when it comes time to burn them. Therefore, it's harder to lose the weight associated with them. That's why it's not good to eat lots of candy, cookies, and ice cream that have a lot of sugar. The other kinds of carbs (complex carbohydrates) are essential. You can get these from grains and potatoes. Good stuff!!
Now that you have a brief understanding of these three nutrition components, time to get to it. Not as easy as it sounds? That's because, you're human. If you treat your body right (and I mean very right, by limiting your saturated and trans fats, limiting your sugar carbs, and eating plenty of protein), then you deserve a day when you can eat whatever you want. The body has cravings and you should be able to fulfill these cravings IF you can stand to wait until the end of the week. I call this one day of decadence your cheat day. After 12 weeks of exercising and eating right in this manner, you'll get to the point where you don't even crave the bad stuff anymore.
For more on this method, I encourage you to check out www.bodyforlife.com. The principals I wrote about are spelled out in greater detail there. Consult your doctor before drastically changing any diet or exercise routine. Good luck!