Is it really possible to lose weight in a healthy way while still eating delicious food?
With so many different diet plans available, from Mediterranean, Vegan, Low Carb, Keto etc etc, there’s got to be one that will work for everyone.
Maintaining a healthy weight is key for good health, but it can be hard to know how best to change your diet to achieve your goal.
Quick weight loss isn’t recommended as it can be both dangerous and unsustainable, and It’s always worth consulting NHS guidelines, or speaking to your GP to check what a healthy weight range is for you. They can also check for any underlying medical conditions that may be causing excess weight gain. Once you’re given the all-clear to change your diet, eating a balanced diet with plenty of wholegrains, vegetables and fruit is the best way to reach and maintain a suitable BMI.
Let’s take a look at 5of the most popular diets out there including their pro’s and con’s;
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting (IF), where you eat normally for 5 days a week and fast on the other 2.
Evidence on the effectiveness of the 5:2 diet is limited when compared with other types of weight loss methods.
- Sticking to a regimen for 2 days a week can be more achievable than 7 days, so you may be more likely to persevere with this way of eating and successfully lose weight.
- Two days a week on a restricted diet can lead to greater reductions in body fat, insulin resistance and other chronic diseases.
- The non-restricted days don’t mean unlimited feasting. While you don’t need to be as strict about your calorie consumption, you still need to make healthy choices and be physically active.
- There’s a risk that your restricted eating days may not be nutritionally balanced.
- Skipping meals could make you feel dizzy, irritable, give you headaches, and make it hard to concentrate, which can affect work and other daily tasks.
- Other reported side effects are difficulties sleeping and daytime sleepiness, bad breath and dehydration.
If you choose to follow this diet, it’s vital for your health to avoid nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and overeating on non-fasting days.
Never attempt to delay or skip meals if you’re pregnant, have had or are prone to eating disorders, or have diabetes.
The Dukan Diet
The Dukan diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet. There’s no limit to how much you can eat during the plan’s 4 phases, provided you stick to the rules of the plan.
During phase 1, you’re on a strict lean protein diet. This is based on a list of 72 reasonably low-fat, protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy.
Unlike the Atkins diet, Dukan’s phase 1 bans vegetables and seriously restricts fat. The next 3 phases of the plan see the gradual introduction of some fruit, veg and carbs, and eventually all foods.
The aim is gradual weight loss of up to 2lb a week and to promote long-term weight management.
- You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating.
- It’s a very strict and prescriptive diet, which some people like.
- It’s easy to follow, and you don’t need to weigh food or count calories.
- At the start of the diet, you may experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea from cutting out carbs.
- The lack of wholegrains, fruit and veg in the early stages of the diet could cause problems such as constipation.
- The diet lacks variety in the initial phases, so there’s a risk you’ll get bored quickly and give up.
The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, consists of foods that can be hunted and fished (such as meat and seafood) or gathered (such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices).
It’s a regime based on the supposed eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Palaeolithic era, before the development of agriculture, around 10,000 years ago.
That means cereal grains including wheat, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes – as well as anything processed or with added salt – are strictly off the menu.
There’s no official “paleo diet”, but it’s generally seen as a low-carb, high-protein diet, with some variations on carbohydrate and meat intake.
- The paleo diet encourages you to eat less processed food, less high-fat and high-sugar foods (such as cakes, biscuits, crisps), and more fruit and vegetables.
- Reducing your consumption of high-calorie foods will reduce your calorie intake and help you lose weight.
- The diet is simple and doesn’t involve calorie counting. Some plans are more flexible, which can make the diet easier to stick to and increase your chances of success.
- There are no accurate records of the diet of our Stone Age ancestors, so the paleo diet is largely based on educated guesses, and its health claims lack any scientific evidence.
- Most versions of the diet encourage eating a lot of meat, which runs counter to current health advice on meat consumption.
- Many versions ban dairy products and wholegrains, which form part of a healthy, balanced diet. Unless it’s for a medical reason, there’s no need to cut out whole food groups from your diet.
- Cutting out food groups without careful substitution can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
- The paleo diet can be expensive. For example, it advocates eating only grass-fed meat.
New Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The theory is that by starving yourself of carbohydrates, your body will start burning fat for energy.
During the first phase of the diet, designed for rapid weight loss, you’re on a protein-rich diet, with no restrictions on fat, and a daily carb allowance of 20 to 25g.
During the next 3 phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual, and regular exercise is encouraged.
More carbs are introduced to your diet with the aim of working out what your ideal carb intake is to maintain a healthy weight for life.
Phase 1 is designed to help you lose up to 15lb in 2 weeks, reducing to 2 to 3lb during phase 2.
- You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating.
- The diet also encourages people to cut out most processed carbs and alcohol. With its diet of red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise, it’s one of the diets that appeals most to men.
- Initial side effects can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting out carbs, and potential for lower fibre intake.
- The high intake of saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease, and there are concerns about the recommendation to add salt.
South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet is a low-glycaemic index (GI) diet originally developed for heart patients in the US.
There’s no calorie counting and no limits on portions. You’re encouraged to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, and follow an exercise plan. People who have more than 10lb to lose start with phase 1.
This is a 2-week rapid weight loss regime where you eat lean protein, including meat, fish and poultry, as well as some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats.
Low-GI carbs are reintroduced during phases 2 and 3, which encourage gradual and sustainable weight loss.
- If you can avoid phase 1 and start on phase 2, there are fewer dietary restrictions in the rest of the plan than some other popular diets.
- After phase 1, the diet broadly follows the basic principles of healthy eating. No major food groups are eliminated, and plenty of fruit, veg and low-GI carbs are recommended.
- The severe dietary restrictions of phase 1 may leave you feeling weak, and you’ll miss out on some vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- You may initially experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation.
If there’s a diet plan that you always turn to when you need to lose some weight, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below
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