Which is the best diet plan for weight-loss?

REVIEW OF SOME THE MOST POPULAR DIETS THROUGH THE DECADES

In this article, we review some of the most popular diets, going back all the way to the 60’s with the Cabbage Diet and finishing off with my one-on-one programme. Let’ have a look at what works and what doesn’t!

THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET:

Created in the 1950’s the Cabbage Soup Diet gained popularity in the 80’s. As the name indicates, this diet revolves around eating a diet made exclusively of cabbage soup for a week.

The goal: losing weight in a very short period of time. While on this diet you are allowed to eat two other low-calorie foods such as low-fat yoghurt/milk and a fruit/veggie.

No one has ever studied the efficacy of this diet and although it is likely that participants will lose weight; however, the likelihood that they will gain weight afterwards and put on some extra few pounds is also very likely. That’s because the body adapts by lowering metabolic rate and as a result it burns less calories than it used to.

Advantages:

  • You slim down very quickly
  • You can eat cabbage soup whenever you want :/
  • It’s a cheap diet

Disadvantages:

  • Most of the weight lost comes from water
  • Metabolic rate goes down, burning less calories daily as a results
  • Weight loss is temporary
  • Depletion of important nutrients: vitamins and minerals; healthy fat and proteins
  • This diet is monotone (cabbage soup all day) leading to frustration
  • Quick fix
  • Focuses solely on diet

WEIGHT-WATCHERS DIET (WW)

The WW diet has been around forever (or it feels like so)! Created in the 1960’s, it has become the most popular diet plan worldwide. WW does not promote strict calorie deficit and encourage their member to make slow and steady progress instead. Dieters are being given points which go up when foods coined as “healthy” are consumed and down when foods coined as “unhealthy” are consumed. The downside to this is that categorising food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ could be detrimental and doesn’t promote a healthy relationship with food.

Advantages:

  • Hundreds of recipes available
  • A sense of community                
  • 24/7 chat support

Disadvantages:

  • Daily tracking of calories
  • Time-consuming
  • Does not offer support with food craving or other emotional issues that may affect weight
  • Focuses solely on diet while all other aspects of health are ignored
Most diets focus on calorie restrictions and tracking

SLIM FAST DIET (SF)

The Slim Fast diet was created in 1977, starting with products such as shakes serving as meal-replacement and expanding in the 90’s with meal-replacement bars.

Clinical studies have shown that weight-loss was observed while on the SF plan. However, this was in relation to short term results and the SF plan didn’t perform as well in terms of keeping the weight-off.

On their website Slim Fast claims that the programme is “clinically proven to help you lose weight fast.” This is the first red flag! When coming across a diet claiming that they can help you lose weight fast … don’t stop and run towards the opposite direction! Fast!

A diet that is based on shakes and bars is in NO WAY sustainable for both your physical and mental health. You need to eat a diversity of food and food groups that will provide you with all the nutrients you need in order to thrive.

If you are a food-lover, drinking shakes instead of eating real meals can feel pretty depressing and boring. Moreover, it may not be satisfying at all and could make you crave certain food you would not normally fancy. This plan isn’t recommended if you already have a difficult relationship with food.

Below is the list of ingredients you will find in their Slim Fast Rich Chocolate Shake:

fat-free milk, water, sugar, cocoa, canola oil, and other ingredients

Fat free – less fat is often equal to more sugar!

Sugar – empty of nutrients, pure calories that do not provide anything to your health.

Cocoa – pure cocoa will provide you with iron and magnesium, however it is not indicated whether this is pure cocoa.

Canola oil – what for?

This shake is in no way nutritious and cannot substitute a healthy meal. It is best to eat a complete meal made of veggies, healthy fats and proteins.

Advantages:

  • No need to worry about cooking that much
  • Get you quick results

Disadvantages:

  • Many essential nutrients are lacking
  • High in processed food
  • Weight comes back up
  • Calorie restrictions which can lead to low mood, frustration and feeling of deprivation
  • Could lead to unhealthy habits around food
  • Does not focus on healthy/ long-term weight-loss
  • Can lead to eating disorder
  • No personalised support, you’re left on your own

THE PRITIKIN DIET (PD)

Born into the late 70’s The Pritikin Diet promotes a healthy lifestyle which was unheard of at the time. While most other diets would focus on food, the Pritikin diet encourages its members to combine healthy eating along with a workout routine. It put emphasis on the mind/body connection and promotes a life with as little stress as possible.

The PD recommends to consume a diet rich in complex carbohydrates which are high in fibres while reducing the amount of fats. Processed foods are allowed on the diet but limited to only a small amount. Other foods such as meat and processed oils are to be consumed on rare occasions. The PD promotes a diet that is rich in nutrients while avoiding processed foods that can lead to all sorts of disease, including obesity.

In regards to exercising, the PD puts emphasise on cardiovascular exercises: 30 – 60 minutes, 6 days a week. However, cardio acts as a type of stressor on your body and too much of it could create a hormonal imbalance. During a cardiovascular session your body starts releasing cortisol (the stress hormone), too much cortisol in the blood can lead to fat storage. This is basically your body trying to protect you against a perceived threat. Moreover, your body will soon become used to doing the same amount of cardio, day after day, leading to energy being converted into fat. Why? Your body is very smart, it knows that tomorrow the same cardio session will be performed and that energy will be required! Your body’s solution? Saving the energy for that next session. The result? Fat storage in places you don’t want and primarily in the abdomen.

Advantages:

  • This diet focuses on nourishing the body with nutrients
  • It puts emphasis on the mind and body connection
  • Exercise is a daily practice
  • Easy to follow for vegetarians and vegans

Disadvantages:

  • Likely to feel guilty when indulging in food that are labelled “unhealthy”
  • Too much cardio that could lead to hormonal imbalance
  • Very low-fat diet leading to frustrations
  • Fats are to be avoided (healthy fats too). This is a shame since a diet comprised of healthy fats has been shown to bring positive results for overall health and weight-loss
  • The large amounts of restrictions make this diet hard to follow
  • The Pritikin Longevity centre is inaccessible for most people because of its cost and location

THE ATKINS DIET

The AD wants you to reduce carbs to a minimum and focus on proteins and fats instead, doing this until you find the perfect amount of carbs that will help you lose weight and keep it off. This diet is popular for villainising carbohydrates! On the other hand, fats are “safe” to consume, even the fatty cuts of meat!

Carbohydrates have had quite a bad rep over the last few years with some people cutting them out of their diet altogether. Diets such as the AD are certainly one of the main reasons for that! However, simply eliminating carbohydrates from our diet can be damaging to our health. Did you know? Carbohydrates are pure fuel for your brain and body.

Atkins is divided into 4 phases, during the first phase which is called ‘induction’ (lasting 2 weeks), the amount of carbs you consume is kept to a bare minimum (under 20 grams per day = 1 tbsp). It is easy to lose weight during this phase but bear in mind that this will mainly be water weight.

During the 2nd phase, which is called ‘balancing’, you can start adding more leafy greens to your meals as well as more nuts.

During the 3rd and 4th phase, called the ‘fine-tuning’ and ‘maintenance’, you can uptake your amount of healthy carbs while avoiding the highly processed ones.

The first phase can be difficult to follow as it is hard to consume such a small amount of carbs. Plus, you’ll be lacking some essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibres. Once the induction phase is over, you’ll start reintroducing sources of carbs which could see your weight come back up or plateaued. It’s important to remember that all carbs are not created equal.

There is a huge difference between simple and complex carbs in the way in which your body processes them. Simple carbohydrates are sugars which are quickly digested causing a spike in blood glucose. They are typically highly processed and are often referred to as ‘empty calories’ as they are deprived of nutrients. Whereas complex carbohydrates are made of fibre and starch. As a result, they take more time to be digested keeping you full for longer and keeping your energy level balanced. You will need to avoid both simple and complex carbs during the first 2 phases of the AD. Complex carbs will be reintroduced but at a very slow rate.

Advantages:

  • No need to count calories
  • Higher proteins = reduced appetite
  • Your body uses fat for energy

Disadvantages:

  • High amount of animal products
  • Difficult to follow for vegans and vegetarians
  • Lacking in some essential nutrients
  • Restrictive
  • Not a long-term approach/difficult to keep up
  • Focuses solely on diet with all other aspects of health being ignored
  • Digestive issues and bloating can occur due to the higher number of proteins and fats consume

THE DUKAN DIET (DD)

The Dukan Diet was created in the 1970’s by French general practitioner Pierre Dukan. It became very popular in the year 2000 with the release of the book the Dukan Diet. The Dukan Diet focuses on proteins while removing all other food groups during the first phase (with the exception of oat bran), veggies are slowly reintroduced during the 2nd phase while fat must be avoided at all time!

One Polish study shows that women on this diet consumed around 1,000 calories per day which is far below the recommended amount of 2,000 calories. Such a small amount of calories will make it extremely difficult to keep the weight off once going back to a non-restrictive diet, this is because the body will hang onto any calories it gets.

Although consuming more proteins reduces the appetite, it isn’t realistic to eat a diet made entirely of proteins! Healthy sources of carbohydrates should be added alongside in order to make it sustainable in the long-term.

The avoidance of fat is not based on any scientific studies either. Most studies on weight-loss have actually shown that a diet higher in both proteins AND fats while being lower in carbs lead to weight-loss. Moreover, the DD does not provide enough fibres which helps sustain a healthy weight-loss and healthy microbiome.

It is important to note that a high protein diet can create excess acid in the blood, forcing the bones to extract calcium and decreasing bone density as a result.

Advantages:

  • If you like diet gelatine this diet is for you!

Disadvantages:

  • Extremely restrictive
  • Risk of hormonal imbalance due to low-fat
  • Hard to sustain weight-loss in the long-term

THE hCG DIET

This diet claims to be able to help you lose up to 1 kg … per day! Any weight loss of more than 2 kilos a week is considered unsafe! This diet is extremely dangerous!

There are 2 rules to follow on this diet:

  • Eat a diet of about 500 calories per day
  • Have hCG hormone injections

hCG is a hormone produced in early pregnancy, it promotes the healthy growth of the foetus. Proponents of this diet claim that this hormone helps with weight-loss when in fact it would be the extreme calorie deficit that would lead to weight-loss.

One study on patients who were given a placebo along with the extreme calorie deficit shows that the patient lost the same amount of weight than the other group who were given the hCG injections + extreme calorie deficit.

hCG is believed to reduce appetite! However, it has been proven that hCG does not reduce hunger in any shape or form.

Advantages:

  • None!

Disadvantages:

  • Dangerous to both your physical and mental health
  • May cause feeling of depression
  • Any food you consume after this so-called “diet” will lead to weight-gain

ONE PLAN FITS YOU

Tracking all the food you eat and counting every single calorie that passes through your mouth feels … EXHAUSTING! This is not a diet you can (or want to) stick to in the long term and certainly not a diet that works!

One Plan Fits You is not a diet! It is a programme I have created to help you decrease cortisol levels, while adopting the habits and ways of eating that will help you reach your ideal weight.

I believe that this is a journey not a destination and that journey needs to be SUSTAINABLE and above all ENJOYABLE. It shouldn’t feel frustrating or else it will be very difficult to sustain.

This 90-day journey will help you understand what your body truly needs in order to reach your ideal weight. I can already tell you that hours at the gym and calorie restrictions are not part of the equation!

I work together with my clients on my 7 pillars of health. From the food you eat, to the sleep you get, the stress and anxiety you feel, as well as your hormonal health, nothing will be left out! Reaching your ideal weight isn’t just about the food in your plate, at least not if you are looking to create a long-lasting change.

Advantages:

  • Your body doesn’t feel restricted and is able to lose weight at a steady pace
  • No calorie restrictions or tracking
  • All aspects of health are being addressed (sleep, diet, stress, hormonal health, exercise, habits, hydration)
  • Full support from your certified holistic nutritionist
  • Learn to cook meals that are both nutritious & delicious
  • Improve both your mental & physical health with EFT sessions
  • Learn to have proper form when it comes to exercising (with access to a personal trainer)

Disadvantages:

  • It will take longer than diets which promise fast results
  • You will have to assess your current habits, the ones holding you back
  • Inner work is required for a lasting change to occur

Reach your ideal weight, feel confident in your body & joy in your mind.

Source: https://www.healthline.com