Every year, almost half of us go on a diet to try and lose a few kilos and many people are more or less permanently dieting. There are so many diets out there that it can be difficult to decide which one to try. For a weight loss diet to be effective, it must provide you with all the nutrients you need while remaining relatively low in calories. And to be sustainable, it also needs to satisfy your appetite. You’re unlikely to stick to a diet for long if you’re feeling hungry all the time.
While many diets might work, the secret to success is to find one that you enjoy and that you’ll be able to follow over the long term. Here are some of the most popular diets that are proven to work.
The tough but effective Dukan diet can produce rapid weight loss and is a favourite of the slender Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. This diet is based around a high protein, low carb eating plan and is organised into 4 “phases”.
Thanks to its reputation as being a quick way to lose kilos, the popularity of the keto diet with celebs such as Kim Kardashian has skyrocketed in recent years. It works by forcing the body into ketosis, a state when it burns ketone bodies as fuel rather than sugar from carbohydrates.
Ketone bodies are produced by the liver from stored fat. To achieve ketosis, you must consume only very small amounts of carbs, fewer than 50g per day. Foods eaten at every meal include both unsaturated and saturated fats, as well as protein. Low carb vegetables such as salads and greens are allowed but must be calculated as part of your daily carb allowance. For example, a serving of broccoli contains around 6 g of carbs. Most fruits tend to be high in carbs but you can eat small amounts of berries.
While the keto diet has been promoted as a healthy way to lose weight, it comes with some risks. Because it’s high in saturated fats, it is liked to high levels of “bad” cholesterol. And because there is so much fat and protein in the diet, it can increase the strain on the liver and the kidneys.
The Paleo diet involves eating as our ancestors did long ago before farming was invented. While we can’t know exactly what their diet consisted of, the advice is to avoid all processed foods, ie anything that looks as if it could be made in a factory.
You should base your diet around organic whole foods, such as meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables, healthy oils, red wine and fruits. Avoid grains, legumes, sugar, most dairy (although some dieticians allow butter and cheese), processed products and artificial sweeteners.
An eating plan for life rather than a diet for rapid weight loss, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy choice for reducing the risk of heart disease. Base your meals on plenty of salads, fruit, vegetables, grains, fish and olive oil, as well as small amounts of meat, poultry and cheeses.
With the 16:8 diet, also known as intermittent fasting, you only eat during an 8 hour period in any 24 hours. The idea is that this naturally restricts your calorie intake and also gives your digestive system a rest. You can time your meals to suit your timetable, for example, have a late brunch at 11 am, a light snack mid-afternoon and dinner at around 7 pm. For quicker weight loss, you should also calorie-count your meals.
There are so many diets to choose from but it’s advisable to choose one that’s been proven to be successful. What really matters is that you can sustain the diet for weeks, months or even indefinitely, so your choice ultimately comes down to your lifestyle and preferences.
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