If you are on a diet to lose weight then there are many DIY options out there but it is often difficult to choose which one to choose and to know which diets are safe. I've personally sifted through some of the most popular diets to give you an up to date list of what works and what doesn't, what's safe and what isn't. If you like what you read, please leave a comment!
The Atkins diet, created by Robert Atkins, is a very carbohydrate restricted approach to dieting. The lack of carbohydrates in your diet lowers your insulin levels. When your insulin levels are low your body goes in to a state called ketosis, which is when your body uses lipase (fat) as a source of fuel because the muscle and liver energy levels are low.
There is a common misconception that followers of the Atkins Nutritional Approach are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of proteins and fats. In actual fact, dieters are recommended to eat just enough protein to feel full.
Pro's: You don't always feel hungry on the Atkins diet. You're not restricted to a certain amount of calories like most other diets. Weight loss occurs quickly.
Con's: Weight loss is often short lived. Eggs, bacon and chicken get boring after a while. Too much ketosis, the burning of fat for fuel, can lead to ketoacidosis (keto-acid-osis). Ketoacidosis is excess production of ketones that insulin can't get rid of which puts the body in a highly acidic state.
Should I do the Atkins diet?: I would never recommend this diet to a client. Ever. Temporary weight loss, probably caused by a reduction in water does not justify the risks of this diet. Ketoacidosis, meat, eggs an d fish everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.... no thanks.
The Zone Diet
"Feeling alert, refreshed and full of energy?" That's 'The Zone'... apparently. On the Zone Diet you don't eat any more or less calories than you normally would, you just eat them at a certain protein carb and fat ratios. This perfect ratio is said, by Barry Sears, author of the Zone diet, to promote a perfect metabolic state.
30% protien, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrates. This perfect ratio focuses on slow digesting carbohydrates, healthy fats and a protein intake that is specific to your age, gender and lifestyle.
The whole diet is based around controlling your insulin levels. The Zone diet approach is to think of the your food intake as a hormone regulator as opposed to a calorie boost.
Pro's: The diet promotes good eating habits. It's easy to follow. You think of your body in a different, healthier light. You get plenty of good fats. You get a better understanding of how foods affect your body.
Cons: There is no scientific research to justify Sears' claims, even throughout the whole of his book. The diet doesn't consider fibre and caloric density of foods. Some things that Sears says is OK, like high fat ice cream, might not be OK for people with health issues.
Should I do the Zone diet?: If you struggle with ratios then the Zone diet might be right for you. It's certainly not as controversial as the Atkins diet and it's definitely healthier. The 40-30-30 ratio is really easy to follow so you don't have to walk around with a food diary.
Intermittent Fasting is a well researched method of dieting. Michael Mosley, a medical journalist for the BBC, tried the intermittent fasting diet for a Horizon episode. The programme was based around research involving a certain type of mouse. The mouse had been engineered to produce low levels of a certain type of hormone, IGF-1.
The low levels of IGF-1 contributed to extremely low occurrences of age related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Low levels of IGF-1 are also linked to prolonged life.
There are three main ways to do intermittent fasting. Alternate day fasting (ADF) is a well researched method that involves one day of normal calorie consumption follow by a restricted calorie intake on the next day.
Another way to do intermittent fasting is the 5:2 method. Five days of normal eating and two days with a calorie restricted diet. The final method; 16 hours of fasting versus 8 hours of eating in a single day.
Pro's: There are many ways to incorporate IF to suit your lifestyle. Intermittent fasting has been linked to positive hormonal and body fat changes. You can eat normal, even on calorie restricted days.
Con's: Fasting days can be brutal. ADF is impractical.
Should I do Intermittent fasting?: Current research on humans is still lacking, especially with regards to the long term effects. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this diet to a client but if extreme measures were needed then I might suggest it.
The Slimming World Diet
The Slimming World diet has proven to be one of the most popular diets out there. Why? It works. It's easy to follow and you don't go hungry.
The diet is based around two days; a 'green' day and an 'original' day. On green days you are encouraged to eat plenty of whole foods like rice, pasta, legumes, vegetables, grains and pulses. On red days (original days) you are allowed fruits, vegetables and grains as well as lean meats, milk, cheese and 'healthy extras'.
This sounds like heaven but Slimming World still promotes weight loss through calorie restriction. This calorie restriction is mainly enforced through 'syns'. Syns are a daily allowance of bad or unhealthy foods and drink. The amount of sins you have per day depends on your goals.
Pros: The diet is very structured. It promotes healthy eating habits without feeling restricted. You get support from consultants. Slimming world provide you with a maintenance plan once you've achieved your goals.
Cons: The diet gives you a lot of responsibility making it easy to over eat so you have to be really willing to work hard.
Should I use The Slimming World diet?: This diet is perfect if you have plenty of time to plan meals. It's balanced and healthy provided you work hard enough. I would recommend this diet to someone who was self disciplined but just needed a bit of direction.
The Weight Watchers Diet
The Weight Watchers diet is a points based system that allocates 'pure points' to different foods. The points are based on the nutritional value of the food and every Weight Watcher has a certain number of points per day based on how much weight they want to lose.
The support provided by Weight Watchers drives the success of this diet. That and the weekly weigh in which gives dieters more of an incentive to lose weight.
Weight Watchers is almost like being part of a club, as you regularly meet with people who have similar goals to your own.
Pro's: Weight Watchers provides dieters with a lot of support. Weekly weigh ins really contribute to your success. Weight loss is achieved at a sensible rate. You meet like minded people. You become more food conscious and educated about what you're putting in to your body.
Con's: The points based system can be a little overwhelming for some people. The points based system can get addictive leading to poor nutritional choices. Sticking to this diet forever would be a challenge, even for the most self disciplined.
Should I do the Weight Watchers diet?: If you have a lot of time on your hands and you're happy to get pro-active and really learn about good nutritional decisions then this diet is recommendable. It's also good to meet like minded people and get plenty of support from consultants and fellow dieters.
The GI Diet
The GI diet (glycemic index) is actually bordering on being called a lifestyle. It's a different way of eating as opposed to the structured 'eat this, eat that' methods that most diets enforce.
Making better food choices is the main aim of the GI diet. Foods that are low on the glycemic index are picked for their ability to make you feel fuller for longer.
Consumption of low GI foods has also been linked to better HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) in the blood, as well as positive influences on insulin levels.
Pros: Massive health benefits from using the GI 'lifestyle'. Easy to follow once you're nutritionally educated. You're not constantly bombarded with hunger pains. The GI diet is a long term approach to healthy living, not a quick fix.
Cons: Your ability to control portion sizes will affect the efficacy of the diet.
Should I use the GI diet?: I would highly recommend this to anybody struggling with weight or low energy levels. The GI diet is the type of plan you don't necessarily have to fully incorporate straight away. You can make gradual changes to your nutritional intake. It's easy to follow and there are great health benefits if you can control portion sizes.
There are many types of detox diets but they all have a similar role; to 'cleanse' the body of harmful substances such as alcohol, pesticides, food additives and saturated fat.
The duration of the detox diet depends on the type or brand of detox you go for but almost all of them involve lots of green tea, organics fruits and vegetables, juices and water.
Detox diets are very restricted, short term and nutritionally imbalanced. Detox diets are dangerous to be frank.
Pros: Rapid weight loss. Participants will normally increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Cons: Detox diets are often short lived. They're impractical. They leave you malnourished. There's no long term solution. There's no support or advice following completion.
Should I use a Detox diet?: Long term... No. This is a quick fix that doesn't last. The Detox diet is like replacing a broke headlight with a sellotaped on torch. Inefficient, time consuming and effectively useless in the long term. Short term... yes, but it must be done right! Contact us for your FREE detox diet!
Detoxing is only good if you're severely ill with gastrointestinal issues. Speaking of which, detox diets often cause high amounts of flatulence (which you deserve for doing it).
Jenny Craig Diet
The Jenny Craig diet uses a three-pronged approach to managing your health. Exercise plans to burn calories, nutritionally sufficient meals to provide you with the right amount of energy to promote a calorie deficit and counseling to help you understand you relationship with food.
Members of the Jenny Craig programme are provided with set meals that are nutritionally balanced, portion controlled and delivered to your door. You just add your own fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy produce.
Pros: All meals and snacks are nutritionally balanced, portion sized and delivered to your door. The food is real. The diet is an educational process that teaches members the importance of portion sizes and balanced diet.
Cons: You have to buy your own fruit and vegetables. The Jenny Craig diet is not a long-term plan.
Should I use the Jenny Craig diet?: If you’re a bit food lazy, really bad at managing your diet and a poor cook then the Jenny Craig diet be the solution to your problem. It’s not a long-term solution and it’s expensive but the educational advantages of the diet make up for the cost.
The Fitness Rooms Blog is put together by some of the leading personal trainers in Harrogate.