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Popular Diets & Weight Loss Plans



- The Atkins Diet

One of the most popular low carb diet programs that was created by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins in the 1960s. It emphasizes on eating protein and fat but restricts carbs, which means you have a lot of food option. You can eat steak, eggs, butter, chicken, fish, lobster, cheese etc but you'll need to avoid sugary carbs like bread, pasta, pizza, rice, chips, cookies, french fries etc.

Efficacy and safety: According to Journal of Pediatrics high protein, low carb diets for weight loss is safe and effective, specially for severely obese people. Also according to this study, this diet causes you to eat less because it curbs hunger.

Low-carb diets are very effective in losing weight is because they can reduce your appetite. Another study from The Journal of Nutrition shows that low carb diets are also effective against belly fat.

- Paleo Diet -

This diet requires you to eat like a caveman or our hunter and gatherer ancestors. It's very restrictive since you can only eat food that can only be hunted or gathered meaning you cannot eat dairy, grains, cheese, and other processed foods. This diet suggests that most modern illness comes from eating of modern and process foods.

Paleo diet focus on fresh lean meats, fish, fruits, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healhty oils(coconut, olive). Processed foods are a big NO on this diet. Dairy, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, refined vegetable oil, and canola oil are also avoided for this diet.

Efficacy and safety: A study published by Diabetologiashows that paleo diet can help reduce waist circumference, and it also improves glucose tolerance. Another study posted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition say that paleo diet is also good for healthy individuals in reducing weight. As for the safety, since you are restricted to eat a lot of food, it can also lead to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies that are important for your bone. Also, saturated fats can increase the risk of kidney and heart disease. 

- Vegan Diet -

This diet requires you to eat only plants like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and food made from plants. Vegans don't consume foods that are produce from animals, which includes dairy products and eggs. Other foods derived from animals like honey, albumin, casein, whey, and gelatin are also not allowed.

Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism.

This diet is very effective in losing those unwanted weight, since you will be eating food that are rich in fiber and very low in fat. A journal from the International Journal of Obesity and Related MetabolicDisorders, shows that compared to meat-eaters vegans had lower body mass index (BMI). Nutrition Reviews also says that Vegan and Vegetarian diets are linked to people having lower body weight, lower incidence of certain chronic disease, and lower medical costs compared with non-vegetarian diets.

Another study from Diabetes Care concludes that vegan diet improved the glycemic and lipid control in subjects with type 2 diabetis.

Safety: If you are planning to be vegan you need to make sure that you get enough essential nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Calcium is essential for bone health. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is important for blood and nervous system. Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily those found in oily fish, can help maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. DHA helps in the formation of myelin to insulate our nerves and neurons. DHA also has a critical role in the development of the brain’s cortex, where we do all our most complex thinking.

Non-vegans get their calcium from consuming cheese, milk, and yoghurt. Vegans can get their calcium from broccoli, cabbage, okra, unsweetened soya, rice, oat drinks, tofu, raisins, prunes, and figs. Vitamin D can be acquired from exposure to sunlight, unsweetened soya drinks, and vitamin D supplements. Good source of iron for vegans are dark green, leafy vegetables, apricots, prunes and figs. As for vitamin B12, vegans can get it from breakfast cereals fortified with B12, unsweetened soya drinks, yeast extract and vitamin B12 supplements. Good source of omega-3 fatty acids suitable for vegans include flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soya, and walnuts. As for DHA, this fat can only be found in meat. Our body can turn alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 found in flaxseed oil and walnuts, into DHA, however it is not very efficient. So vegans and vegetarians should consider getting their DHA from supplements made from microalgae.

 - Low-Carb Diets -

This diet focus on eating meats, eggs, nuts, fish, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats and avoid food high in carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta, grains, sugary drinks, sweets, and junk foods. There are many types of low-carb diets, but they all involve shrinking carb intake to 20 to 60 grams per day. The main goal of this diet is to force your body to use more fats for fuel instead of using carbs as a main source of energy. When you are consuming very low carbohydrates, fatty acids are transferred into your blood and carried into your liver, where some of them are turned into ketones. Once this happened, your body will use fatty acids and ketones for energy since there are only few carbs.

Efficacy and safety: Low-carb diets, especially very low-carb diets, may result to greater short-term weight loss compared to low-fat diets according to this study from Lipids. A study posted by the New England Journal of Medicine also concluded that low-carbohydrate diet were able to give a greater weight loss compared to other conventional diet for the first six months. Low-carb diets is also considered to be safe according to this study.

Low-carb diets may also help prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease according to these studies(1,2,3,4, and 5).

Side effects of low-carb diets include headache, bad breath, weakness, muscle cramps, fatigue, skin rash, and diarrhea.

 - Dukan Diet - 

This diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and is divided in four phases. The first two phases is for weight loss and the next two is to maintain the desired weight. This diet is based on the assumption that counting calories is not the key to weight loss but protein. Since protein is very filling and slow to digest. Protein also has fewer calories for each gram of food compared to carbohydrates heavy foods. Proponents of this diet plan promise that if you follow this diet correctly you will lose 10 pounds in one week and never gain it back. French nutritionist Pierre Dukan created this diet back in 2000.

In the "Attack" phase you will need to consume lean protein with one and one half tablespoons of oat bran and drink at least six cups of water daily. Then you'll move to "Cruise" phase where you are allowed 32 specific vegetables to your diet on selected days, however, fruits are not allowed. The third phase is "Consolidation", here you can now eat unlimited quantities of protein and vegetables, one low sugar fruit, one portion of cheese, and two slices of whole-grain bread. Your aim here is no longer to lose weight but to avoid regaining it.  Also in this phase you can eat one or two servings of starchy food and one or two celebration meals (food you want to eat) each week. The last phase "Permanent Stabilization," here you are not expected to lose or gain weight and you're now relatively free to eat whatever you want, as long as you follow some rules, namely:

1. Every week you must have an all protein day just like in Attack phase.
2. Consume three tablespoons of oat bran every day.
3. Do 20 minutes exercise every day.
4. Use the stairs, you are not allowed to use the lift or escalators.

Efficacy and safety: This study done in Poland shows 51 women aged 19 to 64 years who followed the Dukan diet were able to lose an average of 15 kilograms after 8 to 10 weeks of dieting. They also found that there were some nutritional abnormalities on the subjects. Long-term Dukan diet may cause kidney and liver disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to the study.

 - Very-Low-Fat Diet -

This diet won't let you eat fats over 15% of daily calories to achieve health benefits and weight loss, that is 33grams of fat for a 2000-calorie diet. It focuses on vegetables and limits animal food products.

Efficacy and safety: One study which analyzes 106 subjects on a very-low-fat rice/reduction diet program lost at least an average of 63.9kg. Another study shows that this diet was able to help subjects with significant reduction in weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol in eight weeks.

However, this diet can cause significant fatigue, constipation, nausea, gallstones and diarrhea. It can also reduce your intake of essential fatty acid which performs many functions in our body.

 - HCG Diet - 

HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, this is a hormone they body makes naturally during pregnancy. It helps the embryo and fetus to develop. It is also use to treat fertility according to this study. This diet requires you to eat less than 500 calories a day for 8 weeks while taking hCG supplements. If you follow this diet you are allowed to eat twice a day. Each meal has to include one protein, one vegetable, one bread, and one fruit.

Efficacy and safety: Proponents of this diet claims that the hCG diet can achieve a weight loss of up to a pound a day. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. One journal from the International Journal of Obesity said that there are no researches that hCG hormone is effective in weight loss. A study published by the Western Journal of Medicine also shows that taking HCG has no effect on obesity.

HCG diet may cause muscle loss and may cause mood changes, fluid buildup in body tissues, enlarged breasts in males, and blood clots.

 - Zone Diet -

This is another fad diet that emphasize on limiting carbohydrate consumption to 35–45% of daily calories and protein and fat to 30% each. It was created by a biochemist named Dr. Barry Sears. In this diet you are encouraged to eat only carbohydrate with a low glycemic index (GI). The main goal of this diet is to reduce inflammation according to this journal. It target to maintain insulin levels within the therapeutic zone which is the reason it is called "Zone Diet."

In this diet you get three meals and two snacks daily. Meals consist of low-fat protein (fish, skinless chicken, turkey), carbohydrate (from fruits and veggies) and healthy fat (olive oil, almonds, and avocado). It treats food with high amounts of carbs like bread, pasta, grains, and other starches as condiments only and not a main part of the meal.

Efficacy and safety: A study from the American Journal ofClinical Nutrition shows that it results to a significant weight loss if done for six months. This study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition said that Zone Diet may improve blood sugar control, reduce waist circumference, and lower chronic inflammation in overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. This diet recommends avoiding certain fruits and vegetables which are healthy.

- Alkaline Diet -

It is also called the alkaline ash diet is based on the belief that different types of food have an effect to the pH balance of the body. It was derived from an osteoporosis related research called the acid ash hypothesis. According to this diet if you eat eat, wheat, refined sugar, and processed foods your body will release an acid that's unhealthy. If you eat more food that causes your body to produce more alkaline and less acidic you'll be healthier and you will lose weight.

This diet was popularized by Victoria Beckham back in January 2013 through a tweet. Alkaline Diet concentrates mostly on vegetables, fruits, soybeans, nuts, legumes and tofu. Foods to avoid that produce high concentration of acids are meat, egg, dairy, grains, junk food and processed foods. It also advises to stay away from alcohol and caffeine. This diet is mostly vegetarian and vegans since dairy is not allowed. It is also gluten-free, fat free and sugar free.

A pH level measure if something is acid or alkaline. If the pH level is 0, it is totally acidic, while a pH of 14 is completely alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral. Human blood pH level is between pH 7.35 and 7.45 by acid–base homeostasis mechanisms. Levels above 7.45 are referred to as alkalosis and levels below 7.35 as acidosis.

Efficacy and safety: According to a study from Journal of Renal Nutrition, alkaline diet may improve the overall health of people with kidney disease.  Since that most of the foods in the Alkaline Diet are healthy like fruits and vegetables and it also advocates staying away from sugar, alcohol, and processed foods, it can achieve a healthy weight-loss. However, the British Dietetic Association  warns that this diet can result in a less balanced diet and may miss out to other nutrient coming from prohibited food like essential fatty acids and phytonutrients.

 - DASH Diet - 

 It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this diet is supported and promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to stop and control hypertension. This diet is a long term approach to healthy eating with the purpose of treating and preventing high blood pressure (hypertension). This diet focuses in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. It also includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. Things to avoid with this diet are sweets, sugary-drinks, red meat, and added fats.

It also limits sodium intake and advice to eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Efficacy and safety: DASH Diet has been awarded as the best overall diet for eighth consecutive years by the "U.S. News and WorldReport". A study posted by the "Journal of the American College ofCardiology" monitored 412 adults with stage 1 high blood pressure on a combination of a low-salt diet with DASH diet and the result was a substantial decrease in systolic blood pressure. Patients who have the highest blood pressure achieved the greatest reductions.

 - The Flexitarian Diet -

This is just a more flexible vegetarian diet. It urge you to eat more fruits and vegetables, while it allows a moderate amount of meat and other animal products. If you want to be a vegetarian and you’re having a hard time to stop eating meat and other animal products, this diet will work for you. It was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables. Blatner said in his book "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life," you don't need to completely remove meat and other meat products to receive the health benefits that vegetarianism can bring.

Here's a guideline:

Beginner: 6–8 meatless meals/ 21 total meals each week
Advanced: 9–14 meatless meals/ 21 total meals each week
Expert: 15+ meatless meals/21 total meals each week

Efficacy and safety: Eating mostly fruits and vegetables doesn’t guarantee weight loss, but adding more of these food groups to your diet can help your health in many ways. Eating more fruits and vegetables, which tend to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free, can help prevent and treat various health conditions, which includes heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

A study published by the American Journal of ClinicalNutrition, monitored a total of 44,561 men and women living in England and Scotland and it has found that vegetarians had a 32% lower risk of heart disease, compared to non-vegetarians

- Weight Watchers -

Weight Watchers is a weight-loss program that was created by Jean Nidetch who's a housewife and who had been overweight most of her life. This diet program is about healthy living, eating the right food and exercise. It's a very popular program thanks to Oprah Winfrey who owns 10% stake in the company. It focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, fish, skim milk, lean meat, and foods high in whole grains and low in trans fats. In this diet you're not allowed to drink alcohol, sweets, and fatty foods. It recommended weighing food portions, and prohibited skipping meals or counting calories.

It's a subscription model program in which they offer weight-loss support, materials, tools, and coaching. It also provides weight-management program and a food plan.                

Efficacy and safety: A study published in the AmericanJournal of Medicine showed that people who are engaged in an intensive behavioral counseling program like Weight Watchers significantly loss more weight than those trying to drop pounds on their own.

 - Intermittent Fasting -

Intermittent fasting is a diet plan in which you cycle your body between periods of fasting and eating over a defined period. It’s currently gaining popularity for losing weight. You won't have to restrict foods that you eat but controls when you eat your meals. Intermittent fasting has been practiced from ancient times to this day. It's done for tradition, religion, or just a means to lose weight. This diet plan may give a lot of benefits if it is done right, you can lose weight, prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes and many other things.

Intermittent fasting is fairly easy to do. It is just a voluntary withholding of eating. You can start to fasting whenever you like, you can skip breakfast or lunch or dinner.

There are three intermittent fasting methods:

  1. Alternate-day fasting (ADF) - here there is one complete day fasting followed by a one complete day without fasting period.
  2. Whole-day fasting - in this fasting plan there's a one or two days fasting day per week, just like the "5:2 diet" in which you need to restrict eating for two non-consecutive days of the week.
  3. Time-restricted fasting - here you are only allowed to eat during a certain number of hours each day.  Just like the "16/8 method" which asks you to skip breakfast and restrict your daily eating period to eight hours and fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day.

Efficacy and safety: According to a study published by the Journal of theAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics, intermittent fasting improves metabolism and reduces the risk of obesity, obesity-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and chronic diseases such as diabetes on rats. They also stated that there are only little evidence that shows intermittent fasting can be harmful physically or mentally. The study also says that almost any intermittent fasting method can result in some weight loss. 

A research from the University of Alabama, states that early time-restricted feeding can improve insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and oxidative stress. It also curbs the appetite to eat at night which may facilitate weight loss. It also concludes that it can improve health even in the absence of weight loss.

There are a lot of scientific studies that suggest intermittent fasting is effective in losing unwanted weight especially if done right and combined with a healthy diet and exercise. However, people with medical condition like advanced diabetes, anorexia or others needs to consult their doctors before attempting to adapt intermittent fasting.


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