Which Diet Plan for Weight Loss?
The media is full of so many ways to lose weight, lots of strange and faddy diets that promise the earth and produce little if no real results. Trawling through all the information can be a job in itself.
It can be very confusing and difficult to know where to begin. It seems every month the experts have a new opinion on how we should eat healthy and often they contradict previous advice.
So, we thought we would look at some of the common diets and ways to lose weight and analyse the findings – read on for some surprising facts and some ridiculous diets you didn’t know existed just for the sheer hell of it.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet is based on the principle of intermittent fasting. Here you usually eat for five days a week and reduce your calorie intake dramatically on the other two days.
We look at the pros and cons.
It’s easier to stick to a restricted diet for two days a week than seven. If you don’t stack the two fast days together, you will feel rewarded when you move on to a typical day, again making it easier to implement.
If you stick to two days a week fast on a restricted diet, the results can lead to more significant reductions in body fat and noticeable weight loss.
The remaining five regular eating days are not unlimited feasting days – it would be easy to think that. While you don’t need to be as strict about your calorie consumption, you still need to make healthy choices and be physically active, and the temptation is to ignore those basic rules.
Also skipping meals could make you feel dizzy, irritable, give you headaches. And make it hard to concentrate, which can affect your work and overall productivity, which means it might be a weekend event and who wants a restrictive diet at the weekend?
The New Atkins Diet
The New Atkins diet works on the premise that it will turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The theory with this diet and several others that by starving yourself of carbs, your body will burn fat for energy.
During the first phase of the diet, you’re on a protein-rich diet, with no restrictions on fat, and a small daily carb allowance of up to 25g. During the next three phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual, and just as with all diets, regular exercise is encouraged.
You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating. The diet also encourages people to cut out processed carbs and all alcoholic drinks. With its diet of red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise, the diet appeals to rich food lovers.
Just as in the Dukan diet, the Initial side effects include smelly breath with a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, nausea and constipation. Plus the high intake of saturated fat and salt increases your risk of heart disease. So, not many cons, we would say.
The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet or the caveman diet only consists of foods that can be hunted and fished or gathered, so, meat and fish, eggs, nuts/seeds, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices).
It’s a regime based on the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era around 10,000 years ago – but don’t worry you can still go to the supermarket, you don’t have to take up hunting.
There’s no official “paleo diet”, it’s a media lead diet. Still, it’s generally seen as a low-carb, high-protein diet, with some variations on carbohydrate and meat intake depending on who is describing the diet.
The diet encourages you to eat less processed food, such as cakes, biscuits, crisps and sweets, and eat more fruit and vegetables. Reducing your consumption of high calorie processed foods will reduce your calorie intake and in turn, help you lose weight.
The diet in our opinion is a marketing ploy, there are no accurate records of the diet of our Stone Age ancestors, so the paleo diet is based on educated guesses, and its weight-loss claims lack any scientific evidence.
Most versions of the paleo diet available online encourage eating a lot of meat, which is counter to health advice on meat consumption right now. Also, many versions ban dairy products and whole grains, which form part of a healthy, balanced diet.
It can also be an expensive way to eat, and not everyone can afford grass-fed beef and organic products.
The Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet is based on the ideology that modern foods cause our body to produce too much acid. The idea is that excess acid in the body is turned into fat, leading to weight gain – but does acid turn into fat? There’s no evidence it does.
The diet involves cutting back on acid-producing foods such as meat, wheat and other grains, refined sugar, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods, which is positive and resonates through all the different diets.
By replacing those foods with “alkaline foods” will, in turn, reduce the body’s acidity levels. The diet translates into “eat plenty of fruit and vegetables”.
According to the NHS website, there’s no real evidence that you can change your body’s blood acidity or PH level through what you eat.
The diet contains plenty of useful advice, such as cutting down on meat, avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods much like in all the other diets we have looked at so far. The emphasis is on eating more fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and legumes (chickpeas, red kidney beans) and that has to be a good thing.
Your body naturally regulates its acidity levels, regardless of your diet. When cutting down on food groups such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, you will need to find calcium substitutes and other minerals that might be missing.
All this means getting to grips with what you can and can’t eat on a diet, and this can be time-consuming and laborious, primarily, until you’re used to it.
So what can be done that will aid weight loss and won’t be time-consuming and will offer a balanced diet?
Our investigations show it’s a combination of things that work and promote sustainable weight loss, which is the type of loss we require. So, in summary, the weight that comes off and stays off is the target.
The Dukan Diet
The Dukan diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet, much like the New Atkins and the Paleo diet. This diet also has an unlimited eating element during the plan’s four phases, but you must stick to the rules of the program.
During phase one, you’re on a strict lean protein diet. The Dukan diet is based on a list of reasonably low-fat, protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy, the items of food you would expect.
You follow the protein and low-fat plan an average of five days to achieve quick weight loss. Carbs are strictly off-limits, except for a small amount of oat bran.
Unlike the New Atkins diet, the Dukan phase one bans vegetables and seriously restricts fat. The next three stages of the plan see the gradual introduction of some fruit, veg and carbs, and then full reintroduction of all foods.
The long term aim is to lose weight gradually, up to 2lb a week and to promote long-term weight management. That sounds great.
You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating. It’s easy to follow as you don’t need to weigh food or count calories.
Apart from eating only low-fat, low-salt and high-protein foods, there’s no restriction on how much you can eat during your first two weeks.
At the start of the diet, you will experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, horrible tiredness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea from cutting out carbs, all of these side effects are nasty, to say the least.
The lack of whole grains, fruit and veg fibre in the diet will cause problems such as constipation, which is why you have bad breath. So it’s not a great diet at all.
The Weight Watchers Freestyle or Flexi Diet
The WeightWatchers Flex or Freestyle programme is based on the points system, which gives a value to all food and drinks based on protein, carbs, fat and fibre content. It’s a calorie-controlled diet where you get a personal daily points allowance, which you can use how you like.
The weekly meetings and confidential weigh-ins are compulsory (online in covid times) the meetings provide support and extra motivation to promote long-term behaviour change.
No foods are banned, so you can have whatever you want, providing you stick to your points allowance. The points system is flexible and has been made easier to follow than some calorie counting plans. There’s also online support with a mobile app containing a barcode scanner to help with shopping if you need it.
Working out the points system can be time-consuming and complicated than simply counting calories. There may be some pressure into purchase Weightwatchers-branded foods and products.
You may not want to “join in”, but this is a big part of the programme, so if you’re not interested in participating, this is not the plan for you.
The AI Weight Loss Diet
The AI (Artificial Intelligence) diet uses technology to fill what the plan decides are your body’s nutritional gaps. By pinpointing and eradicating nutritional deficiencies, this diet aims to suppress the need to overeat by eliminating cravings for unhealthy food.
The theory behind this is that the body craves food when low or out of balance nutritionally. By removing the deficiency, the food cravings disappear, and you naturally eat less food. A unique nutritional formula is followed for everyone. The formula is considered the holy grail for weight loss and kept under lock and key.
The unique artificial intelligence part of the diet makes the plan unique to the individual. Once you have filled in a simple questionnaire, the technology takes over and selects your meals for you. The diet continues with a three-stage strategy across eight days – fish-based meals over the first five days and then meat-based meals over the following two days, leaving a vegan or vegetarian meal on the last day.
What makes this diet even more unique if the way it aims for long-term behaviour change around eating. The AI actively seeks to create meal plans that a user will enjoy eating and is constantly suggesting new foods. The system learns and adapts from user feedback and the plan is recreated every 8 days.
The meal suggestions are tasty, filling, and are limited to a certain number of calories per day. The entire plan is unique to you and no-one else, so works to fix any nutritional deficiencies as well as promoting weight loss.
It’s the perfect plan for anyone who runs out of ideas because the menu is so verified. It’s also a great plan, taking the thinking and planning out of what to eat in a busy household.
The nutritional formula has been designed for rapid weight loss. You will see results in just one month regardless of what you have tried in the past. It is also the perfect plan to learn healthy foods you will enjoy eating and that alone promotes long term healthy eating habits. Expect the weight to stay off long term as you will never eat the same again.
The diet is very easy to stick to as the nutritional element stops food cravings and so weight loss becomes achievable with no noticeable discomfort. You will not feel like you are on a diet because it creates a total lifestyle change.
The diet plan restricts meat consumption and so may not be suitable for meat lovers. However, at the same time it promotes tasty, healthy meals which are better suited for weight loss. In theory you should not even notice the reduction in meat.
There is also a learning curve to cook new meals which you may not have tried before but this can be viewed as a positive as it will change your long-term eating habits for the better.
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