With all the fad diets out there, it can be hard to decide which one is worth the time and effort. We take a look at the top five most popular diets and break them down — so you don’t have to.
1. Low-Carb Diet
Dr. Robert Atkins introduced the most well-known low-carb diet, the Atkins diet, more than 20 years ago and its popularity skyrocketed. It promises quick weight loss while allowing you to eat all the eggs, meat, dairy products and fats you want. This diet does have benefits, but it can also be dangerous.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, registered dietitian and FoxNews.com contributor, said to make sure you get servings of whole grains in your well-rounded diet.
“The secret to eating carbs and shedding pounds is eating high-fiber carbohydrates. Fiber is the zero calorie, indigestible component of carbohydrates. The more fiber a food contains, the less digestible carbohydrate there is,” she said.
Contrary to what a low-carb diet may tell you, carbs are not the enemy. The problem most Americans have is not that they eat carbohydrates, but that they eat far too much, according to Zuckerbrot.
Zuckerbrot said not only are carbs safe to eat while dieting, they may be essential.
“High-fiber carbs adds texture, bulk and chewing satisfaction, which aids in consuming fewer calories yet still feeling full. Choose whole grains breads, cereals, fruits vegetables, and legumes to fill your tank without gaining weight,” she said.
If your diet consists strictly of high-protein foods and no carbohydrates, you may experience some serious health problems, like high cholesterol, kidney damage, and osteoporosis.
2. Detox Diets
Lasting anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks, these diets often cut out entire food groups in an effort to cleanse the body of harmful toxins that build up from foods we eat. Most detox or cleanse diets have rules, which include eating mostly fruits and vegetables and increasing water intake with the hope of increasing elimination and purifying the body. It’s like Drano for your digestive system.
Many dietitians don’t support the use of detoxification diets simply because in most cases they’re nutritionally inadequate.
Zuckerbrot said she thinks it not unreasonable to be concerned about byproducts floating around in our bodies from the foods we eat, but there is a right and a wrong way to cleanse your body:
- A safe cleanse shouldn’t last more than 2-3 days;
- Make water your only beverage;
- Get rid of caffeine, alcohol, meat and added sugar;
- Take a multivitamin.
3. Mayo Clinic Diet
A team at the Mayo Clinic developed a weight-loss plan that promises a "common sense" approach to shedding pounds—and is considered by dietitians and doctors alike to be one of the most successful.
The diet includes eating a healthy breakfast every day, like egg whites or low-sugar cereal, and eating at least four servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Choose your meats with the least amount of fat possible, and limit your daily consumption of meant to about 3 ounces a day. Include whole grains in your meals, and like almost all diets, cut out alcohol and added sugars.
The Mayo Clinic Diet also insists on at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain a healthy metabolism.
4. The Zone Diet
The Zone diet dictates that all meals be arranged according to the following ratio: 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 30 percent protein.
The Zone is a regimented but balanced diet, not unlike certain dietary plans endorsed by The American Diabetes Association.
“The goal of leading a healthy lifestyle has to come from a variety of well rounded foods in a daily,” Zuckerbrot said.
One problem with the Zone Diet is it takes a lot of math, research and planning to make sure you get it right. Many dieters who undergo this plan sign on with the help of a dietitian.
Although the Zone may be cumbersome, it isn't nearly as restrictive as Atkins. So if you're the kind of person who is likely to quit a diet if you feel deprived of something, this one might be your best bet.
5. The South Beach Diet
This diet was created by Miami cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston, to help his patients maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight.
The main point of the South Beach Diet is to eliminate the types of carbohydrates and fats that can lead to weight gain. The diet distinguishes "good" carbohydrates from "bad" carbohydrates, and purports that by cutting the bad carbs out of your diet, lowering your body's levels of cholesterol and insulin, ultimately leading to weight loss.
“To maintain good nutrition and fullness, you need complex carbohydrates. Thinking all carbohydrates make you fat is a myth,” Zuckerbrot said.
The diet consists of three phases, which initially restrict certain foods and then restore them to your diet.
The general consensus from dietitians about the South Beach Diet is that it can be a good way to lose weight in a healthy way initially, but dieters may have a hard time keeping it off if they don’t stick with it.
Low carb, high protein, low fat...so many diets to chose from could turn your good intentions into even more weight gain. We take a look at which diets give you the best chance of shaving off the pounds