Diets Dissected


Are you doing the Dukan, Atkins or Cabbage Soup diet? If so you will be in good company, last year 2.6 million people started diets on New Years Day, yet within ten days 92% had fallen off the diet bandwagon. We take a look at the most popular diets, and see if there is any truth in the weight loss they promise.

 The Atkins Diet:

What you’re allowed: Low carbohydrate, high fat and protein foods e.g. Bacon, egg, steak and cheese.

Science: The body preferentially uses carbohydrates as energy, when you stop giving it carbohydrates the body uses your existing fat instead.

Widely criticised by the scientific community because foods high in fat increase cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease.

Does it work? In a US study people on the Atkins Diet lost weight quicker in the first three months than those who ate a balanced diet and exercised more, however later on in the year the results were reversed with the people on the Atkins putting on weight because of the high fat content.

Also be prepared for… Bad breath, tiredness, dizziness, constipation, nausea and insomnia.


The Cabbage Soup Diet:

What you’re allowed: Cabbage soup and plenty of it e.g. not really anything but cabbage soup.

Science: Lowers calorie intake to near-starvation rates.

Does it work? It mainly looses water which although will make you look lighter on the scales as soon as you drink something will put the weight back on. Also by reducing the calorie intake to such low levels science shows the body will actually try and hold onto remaining fat because of survival instincts in the body.

Also be prepared for… Bad wind, dizziness and tiredness.


The Dukan Diet:

What you’re allowed: It depends – it’s a four stage diet. Basically just protein some days with other food groups being introduced the longer you persist with it e.g. fish, egg whites and chicken.

Science: Restrict carbohydrates so use fat sources, similar to Atkins diet but you arent allowed fatty foods and so reduces the chance of additional weight gain after several months of being on the diet.

Does it work? Believers say yes, science says the weight loss is more likely to be because of the reduced fat content in the diet.

Also be prepared for… Bad breath and a dry mouth especially in the early stages.


Meal Replacement Plans:

What you’re allowed: Two to four shakes, soups or bars a day depending on the brand e.g. special vanilla shakes and soup.

Science: Each brand has slightly different mixtures in its replacement food stuffs but all are low calorie and designed to fill you up for longer than conventional food, especially the shakes because a liquid fills the stomach for longer than the equivalent individual food items. Put simply it’s just a way of reducing calorie intake so you get energy from your fat stores.

Does it work? Reducing calorie intake will always help reduce weight but this diet is not sustainable or cheap.

Also be prepared for… An overdraft – to pay for all the branded items, and boredom because of your restricted meal choices.


Diet Pills:

What you’re allowed: Three diet pills a day combined with a low fat diet e.g. Diet pills and salads.

Science: The chemical it is made from, Orlistat, prevents the enzyme which digests fat in the intestine from working, this reduces the fat uptake from your diet. When combined with a low fat diet the pill allows minimal uptake, whilst the diet means the body burns it’s fat reserves.

Does it work? Studies have shown it aids weight loss, however it is important to remember that the pills are to be taken in conjunction with a low fat diet, which also helps weight loss. However if you cheat and have fatty foods diarrhoea is common, as the fat passes straight through your body.

Also be prepared for… Constipation, bad wind and an overdraft (costs over £1.50 a day nearly £50 a month).


Eat Sensibly, Exercise More:

What you’re allowed: Everything in moderation.

Science: Simple eat a more balanced diet so you get the good bits of all the food groups, and exercise more to loose any additional calories consumed.

Does it work? Yes! Most scientifically researched and proven out of all. It is also credited with reducing rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and helping you live longer.

Also be prepared for… Hard work – it’s not easy doing the right thing and fitting the right amount of exercise in but it’s the best way to avoid crazy fad diets and live a longer life.

So if you’re trying to shift a few inches this year science says dont do faddy diets! Not only does each fad diet require you to consult your doctor to prevent you putting yourself in danger but to eat a balanced diet and exercise more, has the simplest diet rules of the lot, and comes without a side serving of horrible side effects.


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