Which Diet Works?

Every year a “revolutionary” new diet captures the headlines, claiming to be able to help us lose weight and feel healthier. There is no magic way to lose weight and the healthiest, safest and ultimately easiest way to lose weight and stay slim is to eat a balanced diet including fibre, while cutting down on sugary and fatty foods.

Many people, however, turn to one of these diets. While some are based on sound nutritional principals, others are deficient in certain nutrients and are not balanced. Let’s have a look at some of them.

The Atkins Diet
A low carbohydrate and high protein diet that is high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. You can expect to lose up to 8lbs (3.6kg) in the first week, but this is mainly water. Once you start eating normally again the weight will come back and usually with more on top! This diet could be dangerous for anyone suffering from kidney disease.

The BBC Diet
A sensible diet that advocates less fat and sugar and more fibre and exercise. The guidelines include how to make the healthiest choices on the three-meals-a-day plan.

The Beverly Hills Diet
A low calorie diet which relies heavily on exotic fruit such as pineapple, papaya, and mangoes, eaten in a certain order on specific days. Deficient in many nutrients including protein.

The Hip and Thigh Diet
This low fat diet provides between 1000-1500 calories per day. Forbidden foods and menu options are listed. Dieters are advised to include foods from certain groups, and take a multivitamin supplement whilst on the diet.

The F-Plan Diet
The first book to come out extolling the virtues of high fibre foods when dieting. Based on 1000-1500 calories per day, the F-plan diet is low-fat and nutritionally well balanced. But anyone not used to a high-fibre diet may experience excess flatulence.

The Grapefruit or Mayo diet
This diet consists of unlimited amounts of meat, fish and eggs as long as half a grapefruit or some grapefruit is eaten with every meal. The diet claims that the grapefruit “burns fat” – which is untrue. The diet is potentially unbalanced and is high in saturated fats and cholesterol.

The Meatabolic Diet
This diet is based on low-fat, low sugar and high-fibre foods yielding 1000-1500 calories per day. The diet also contains a daily programme of vitamin and mineral supplements which it claims maximises the metabolic rate.

Very Low Calorie Diets
These diets are usually based on fluid preparations which are the dieter’s sole source of calories and nutrients, although some have added solid foods such as muesli bars. These diets can cause the body’s metabolism to drop below normal. This means that when the dieter resumes normal eating, the weight not only returns but is also more difficult than ever to lose. These diets do not encourage healthy eating habits which lead to a more gradual but permanent weight loss. Very low calorie diets should only be used by the seriously overweight, and they should not be used by anyone for more than three weeks.

The Hay Diet
This diet was devised by an American doctor, William Howard Hay, to fight digestive problems such as ulcers. Many people have claimed dramatic improvements in their heath after adopting the Hays diet, but medical proof of its effectiveness is limited.

The diet recommends that carbohydrates should not be eaten with high protein foods or acid fruits ( such as apples, pears and oranges) at the same meal. The major part of the diet comprises vegetables, salads and fruits. Only small quantities of fats, proteins and starches are eaten. All starches must be obtained from wholegrain products. Apart from digestive disorders, the diet also claims to help people suffering from arthritis and food allergies.

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