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The best diet plans to lose weight healthily

With the dieting world full of conflicting messages, it can be difficult to know which diet is the right one for you.

Here, Dietitian and Spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association Chloe Miles helps demystify this year’s most talked about diet plans so you can decipher between the fads and the hard facts.

Slimming World
Get into the habit of swapping high-fat for low-fat foods while gaining the support of fellow dieters at weekly group meetings. This diet plan to lose weight aims to aid weight loss at a rate of 1-2lb a week.

Members are provided with a list of ‘free’ foods, which they can eat at will, and ‘syn’ foods, which are restricted but not completely outlawed. The idea is to persuade dieters away from high-fat foods without asking them to radically change their eating habits.

The expert says
“The selection of food on this diet plan is extensive, offering balanced meals which encourage an increased intake of fruit and vegetables.

The group classes offer dieters a space to support each other and share recipes, which keeps people motivation.

However, the diet doesn’t teach people about portion sizes or calories, meaning that people may struggle to keep the weight off in the long-term.

Also, the words ‘free food’ and ‘syn’ that are used within the diet plan can cause people to demonise particular foods or food groups, rather than looking at their overall intake.”

A ‘SmartPoints’ system that encourages a long-term positive relationship with food. Get your head around the system – which is based on a calorie controlled diet that allows you to eat limitless fruit and vegetables – and you’re good to go.

Weekly meetings reinforce positive behavioural changes; the marketing talks about losing up to 2lbs a week.

The expert says
“The plans are generally well balanced, no food is banned and points can be saved up so people can have a night out or a treat night.

Counting points may be time consuming, however. And if dieters don’t continue to watch their portion sizes and make a link between points and calories, they may regain the weight quickly.

People may end up being encouraged to buy Weightwatchers branded products that may be more expensive and not necessarily any better than other products.”

The diet that banishes acidic foods. The logic behind the Alkaline Diet is that by cutting out acidic foods commonly found in a western diet, you essentially reduce your health risks.

So, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, cow’s milk, certain meats and gluten are all out; in their place steps veg, raw food, nuts, alkaline water and green juices.

Weight loss is all but inevitable given the foods you are cutting out.

The expert says
“The healthy eating principles at the core of this diet – such as reducing sugar, alcohol and processed food and increasing vegetables – may result in weight loss.

However, the diet is based on a misinterpretation of the science and there is no evidence behind it. The body regulates your pH within a tight range and your diet is not going to significantly alter that.

Some more restrictive versions of the diet cut out entire food groups such as dairy. This reduces calcium intake and if maintained long-term, could lead to weakened bones.”

GM Diet
An extremely strict seven-day plan. The GM diet plan recommends drinking 12-15 glasses of water a day while cutting out alcohol, tea and coffee; and restricting your calorific intake from food.

On day one, you only eat fruit (not bananas). Day two, you eat vegetables, starting your day with a large baked potato. Day three, eat both fruit and vegetables but no bananas or potatoes.

On day four, you can eat up to eight bananas, three glasses of milk and a ‘GM wonder soup’ that consists of cabbage, onion and other green vegetables.

On the fifth day, eat two portions of lean protein (beef, chicken or fish) and six tomatoes. Day six you can eat unlimited protein and vegetables and on the final day you can enjoy unlimited fruit and vegetables and brown rice, but no protein.

The expert says
“This diet is very restrictive and you are likely to miss out on nutrients and feel dizzy, tired and faint. You may have to cut back on exercise; only very low intensity exercise is recommended such as yoga.

The rapid weight loss is unlikely to be true fat loss but water weight – which you will regain very quickly if you start eating carbs again.

You may lose some muscle which will reduce your metabolic rate in the long-term and you may find it harder to maintain your weight.”

South Beach
A two-week, low-GI diet, prioritising heart health. Three meals and two snacks a day consist of lean protein, meat, fish, poultry and some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats.

While there is no calorie counting or portion limits. There is, however, an exercise plan to follow.

The expert says
“The diet is based on low glycaemic index foods. Carbohydrates with a lower glycaemic index appear to release energy into the body slower and, therefore, prevent rapid energy spikes followed by a dip in energy.

The diet encourages three meals a day plus two snacks, which is good for sustained energy throughout the day.


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