Want to lose weight? There are so many things to consider when choosing a diet plan. How much weight do you want to lose, and how quickly? What do medical experts think of the diet? Will shopping, food preparation, and exercise take up a lot of time? Will the diet fit in with your family’s lifestyle and eating preferences? What supports are available to you?
Here’s an overview of some of today’s most popular diets, which should help you answer these questions.
WeightWatchers is a diet plan that has stood the test of time. Generally considered by medical experts to be a healthy way of losing weight, it takes a holistic approach to weight loss. No foods are banned, but you do have to follow a points system, which involves assigning points to everything you eat and staying within a daily points limit. Exercise is a key aspect of the program — the more you exercise, the more points you can consume. When you join, you are encouraged to attend weekly meetings, which provide support and advice. WeightWatchers produces a widely available range of low-cost food products, and the Web site provides plenty of recipe suggestions, advice, and support.
The Zone Diet centers around the principle of balancing your hunger hormones by eating a specific ratio of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates. The Zone Web site is comprehensive — it provides good resources, and it’s free to join. It encourages dieters to buy specific Zone food products and to supplement these with grocery store purchases. The Zone is not the easiest plan to follow, however, as you’ll need to do a lot of careful planning, shopping, and cooking. Also, experts are divided on the validity of the science, and on the long-term health consequences of this diet.
The Atkins Diet is the first and probably the best-known of all the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. Atkins has been shown to be effective in terms of weight loss, but again, medical opinion is divided on the long-term health risks. The plan can be quite restrictive, especially in the first phase, when you eat hardly any carbohydrates at all. Atkins produces a range of snack products, but you cook your own main meals, using suggestions from their very detailed and comprehensive Web site, or from one of the many publications.
South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet was created by a cardiologist to help heart patients lose weight. Similar in many ways to Atkins, it limits carbohydrates and has a restrictive first phase, aimed at eliminating cravings. Exercise is a key part of this diet, which uses a three-phase approach: Eliminate Cravings and Kick Start, Lose Weight Steadily, and Maintain for Life. The Web site is excellent: you’ll get daily meal plans and recipes, a fitness program, you can consult online dietitians, and it’s free to join. You can buy South Beach food products, but, again, these may be expensive.
SmartDiets is a dieting system based on a revolutionary concept: not every person’s body can lose weight the same way. The majority of weight loss systems in place today have one plan and one plan only. Unfortunately, only a percentage of the population can lose weight and keep it off with each one of those methods; it simply does not work for everybody. With SmartDiets, no two diet plans are the same. Their system gets to know the dieter and their diet needs so that they can create the best weight diet plan for the dieter’s specific needs.
The Mediterranean Diet advocates healthy fats, whole grains, and vegetables, and limits red meat. It involves home cooking and a healthy lifestyle, and it is refreshingly free of branded food products, calorie counting, and jargon. It is a diet that promotes good health, but you may not see the same weight-loss benefits that a more restrictive diet might give you.
Volumetrics promises that you will never be hungry:
It suggests that if you eat lower-calorie foods, you can have larger portion sizes. The focus is on foods that are fiber- and vitamin-dense, and there is a big emphasis on exercise and keeping a food journal. And the good news, besides the fact that you won’t be hungry, is that nutritionists and other medical experts are almost universal in their praise for this one.
These are just a few of the many diets out there. Still unsure about which one to choose? Have a more detailed look at the individual Web sites, and don’t forget to ask your doctor’s opinion.