There are endless amounts of diets out there that claim to help you lose weight, but how do you know which one is best? Aimee Joseph reveals the secrets behind four of the most popular diets du jour and asks the all-important question… Do they really work?
The Dukan Diet is a protein-based diet created by French doctor Pierre Dukan and has been around for over 30 years. The Dukan Diet seems similar to Atkins but it’s initially a lot stricter. The diet involves four phases: the ‘attack’ phase where you consume nothing but protein, and which is low in fat (a small amount of oat bran is allowed daily); the ‘cruise’ phase, similar to the attack phase but some vegetables are allowed; the third is the ‘consolidation’ phase where more foods are introduced, including a wider range of vegetables and some types of fruit; and lastly, the ‘stabilization’ phase which involves eating a normal healthy diet, but having one day a week where you consume nothing but protein
You can lose up to 5kg (10lb) during the attack phase – recommended for two to 10 days – depending on how long you do it for and how much weight you have to lose. The attack phase kick-starts your weight loss and you become motivated by seeing results quickly, encouraging you to continue with the diet. Once you get past the initial hunger, eating a high level of protein actually increases your level of satiety due to ketones produced in the body, meaning your appetite reduces dramatically. If you follow the plan and reach the stabilization phase, you’ll find that healthy eating has become a lifestyle, and having a protein-only day helps sustain your weight loss.
Although ketones have a positive effect on hunger levels, there are some nasty side effects. Bad breath, fatigue, constipation, and nausea are fairly common during the attack phase. You are also quite limited in terms of what you can eat, so the attack phase can be very difficult to get through. If you give up too soon, you’ll likely end up bingeing on carbs due to its restrictive nature.
The 5:2 diet is one of the newer diets and sounds simple enough. Eat what you want five days of the week and only take in limited calories for the other two: 600 calories for men, 500 for women. The simplicity and popularity of this diet are due to the fact that you can eat pretty much what you want five days a week. With no restrictions on the types of food you can eat, it has mass appeal to those who wish to lose weight without following too many rules. Ben Affleck and Benedict Cumberbatch are both rumored to have tried the 5:2 diet.
Most find the 5:2 easy to follow as they only feel like they’re on a diet two days of the week. There have been numerous studies on the positive effects of very-low-calorie diets, with reports suggesting that you can live longer, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer whilst also improving cholesterol levels and blood sugar control. Interestingly, anti-aging effects have also been reported, due to the diet’s potential effect of lowering levels of the hormone-insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).
Sometimes, it can be hard to schedule in the low-calorie days due to work and social commitments. It can also lead to a dangerous binge-starve cycle, where you end up over-eating on your ‘normal’ days due to feeling hungry and deprived on your restricted days. There is a danger here that you could become trapped in a vicious cycle, especially if you have had problems with food control before.
Blood Type Diet
The author of ‘Eat Right 4 Your Type,’ Peter J. D’Adamo, claims that the food we eat reacts chemically with our blood type, and therefore those with different blood types require a different diet. By following this diet, your body is supposed to digest food more efficiently, lose excess weight, boost energy, and even help prevent heart disease. ‘My Name is Earl’ star Jason Lee has reportedly been a follower of this diet.
Type O blood:
High-protein diet: lean meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Restricted grains, dairy, and beans.
Type A blood:
The meat-free diet based on fruit and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains.
D’Adamo says people with type A blood have a sensitive immune system, so should eat fresh and organic foods only.
Type B blood: More restrictive diet of green vegetables, eggs, certain meats, and low-fat dairy. Avoid chicken, corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, and sesame seeds.
Type AB blood: Most restrictive of the four. Eat tofu, seafood, dairy, and green vegetables. Avoid caffeine and smoked or cured meats.
The Blood Type diet appears to make sense, as our bodies react differently to medicines, so eating for your own blood type may have a positive effect on weight loss and boosting general health. This diet is ideal for those who dislike counting calories, and as the diet followers are encouraged to eliminate all processed foods and to buy meat, poultry, seafood, and other produce in as close to its natural state as possible, it’s a very healthy diet to follow.
There seems to be a lack of evidence as to whether our blood types actually determine how foods chemically react with our bodies. A review article in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ found that scientific studies do not support the Blood Type Diet.
The Paleo Diet is the closest to being a non-fad diet. Also known as the ‘caveman’ diet, it’s all about eating what our ancestors ate, in as natural a state as possible. This means anything we could hunt or find – meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional vegetables, fruits and seeds. This also means anything processed or that comes in a box is out of the picture. The Paleo diet advocates a high-protein, low-carb diet. Mathew McConaughey is apparently a big fan of Paleo eating.
The Paleo diet is as natural as they come, meaning it’s an extremely healthy diet to follow, with simple guidelines. You will lose weight quickly and have more energy due to the lack of processed sugar. Consuming only nutrient-dense food, your skin, hair, and nails will be at their best.
A Paleo diet can be time-consuming due to the need to plan and prepare meals and exclude the abundance of processed foods that are more readily available nowadays. And buying a lot of meat can get expensive. A low-carb diet can make you feel drained of energy, especially if you like to undertake intense exercise, so unless you eat lots of healthy fats from nuts and seeds, you may find it hard to work out.