There is nothing like the start of a New Year and nothing like a celebrity endorsement to encourage us to sign up to the latest diet in town. Many such plans leave us exhausted and disillusioned with precious little loss on the scales to reflect the torture we’ve put ourselves through.
So here is a round-up of the top five diets to avoid, and the top five that have stood the test of time and definitely worth giving a go. By eliminating the ‘bad’ diets and embracing a ‘good’ one that suits you, it’s possible to turn previous failures into future success.
Each year, The British Dietetic Association gives their view on the very worst of the diets doing the rounds. For 2018, topping the list comes the Breatharian Diet. Similar to Madonna’s alleged Air Diet when you pretend to eat the food on the plate in front of you
but instead ‘fill-up’ by gulping air, true Breatharians believe that you do not need food or drink and can sustain yourself on air and sunlight alone.
Second place goes to the Biotyping Diet, which singer Boy George reportedly cited as helping his weight loss. Based on choosing foods to suit one of their six different hormone types (each reflecting a part of the body where you deposit fat, like your stomach or hips), it relies heavily on supplements and pseudo-science. You can lose weight on it, but only because the complex rules mean you end up eating less food and doing more exercise than usual.
The Gluten-Free Diet as advocated by Gwyneth Paltrow comes in as the British Dietetic Association’s daft diet number three. While clearly an essential dietary step for anyone with coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity, there is no credible evidence that giving up gluten without good dietary reason leads to weight loss per se.
With the burgeoning range of gluten-free cakes and biscuits on the market, it is clear that gluten-free does not mean calorie-free!
In at number four is the Alcorexia Diet, also known as the Drunkorexia diet. Followed allegedly by many a top model, it is where you eat very few calories in food, and ‘save’ them instead for binge-drinking. Not surprisingly, this diet comes with a-big-thumbs down from any serious health professional.
And finally, in fifth place comes last years’ number one diet disaster, the Dukan Diet. With Jenifer Lopez said to be a big fan, the British Dietetic Association admit it ‘works’ and you will lose weight on it, but point out that in 2013, its author Pierre Dukan was banned from practicing as a GP in France. With its associated side-effects of lack of energy, constipation and low mineral intakes, it is a diet worth avoiding if you value your health.
When it comes to the ‘good guys’ of the slimming world, my top five spring easily to mind. Each works and each is safe. The secret to their success is choosing the one that suits you best.
The Weight Watchers diet allows you to restrict calories by counting points, or ProPoints, to be precise. It is based on science and is carefully planned to be nutritionally safe but really flexible. By tracking your daily food intake and physical activity, learning your danger zones and creating healthy routines, Weight Watchers leads to around a two-pound loss each week, which can be achieved by signing up to the internet version or by going to your local club each week.
Based on a system called Food Optimising, instead of telling you what you can’t eat, the Slimming World club concentrates on what you can eat. You don’t weigh, count points or monitor every mouthful, but eat from a list of delicious foods, some of which are unlimited. As well as allowing you to set your own weight loss targets, Slimming World offers an empowering support system, which looks after your mind as well as your weight-losing body both on-line and within clubs, which you can sign up to attend on a weekly basis.
If you prefer to slim by yourself with the help of a book as a guide, then the F-Plan diet is for you. It is sensible, balanced and tasty, and allows you to take things entirely at your own pace. Devised in the 1980’s by ex-slimming magazine editor Audrey Eyton, it is a classic high-fibre, low-fat, calorie-controlled eating plan (you can eat between 850 – 1500 calories a day depending on your starting weight), and is pretty much what us nutritionists promote today as a classic balanced diet.
As well as losing weight on the F-Plan Diet, you may well help to lower your bad cholesterol in your blood, balance blood sugars and even possibly reduce your risk of bowel cancer. An all-time classic, the F-Plan style of eating that helps you eat more fibre is a great all-rounder, which gives results time and again.
Also known as the 5:2 diet, Intermittent Fasting is not my favourite weight loss plan. However, the limited research that has been done on the diet suggests that it eating normally for five days and then cutting calories to just 500 (600 for men) for two days of the weeks, helps weight loss. It may also help to lower bad cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels.
However, if you are border-line on certain mineral intakes like iron (and a large proportion of women in the UK are), then I would suggest taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement if you want to make this your diet of 2018.
The Cambridge Plan and Lighter Life both meet guidelines for clinical excellence and are proven to be safe and effective, if you are fit to embark on them in the first place.
Offering fast and effective weight loss, good very low-calorie diets are a great choice if you have several stone or more to shed and want fast but safe results and don’t mind the idea of swapping several if not all meals for shakes, soups and fortified snack bars.