I just want to say up front that by no means is this article meant to encourage anyone to go on a diet, period. There should be no reason in the world that you should have to go on a diet other than you want to make a change in your life for you and no one and nothing else!
That being said there are some diets that are actually not as daunting as the word 'diet' makes them sound. The ones that give you a mostly balanced diet, encourage an active lifestyle and seamlessly fit into your lifestyle so that they're actually sustainable are the ones that you should be trying.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of diets out there that encourage you to eat a super low amount of calories, or completely zero carbs, or even diets where you only eat baby food!
These diets are extreme and you physically can't sustain that type of nutrition for longer than a few weeks because eventually your body is going to crave the nutrients that you aren't giving it, you'll end up breaking the diet and eating WAY more than you should and subsequently, gaining all the weight back.
Dieting becomes a vicious cycle but it really doesn't have to be! Here is a list of diet plans that are worth the hype vs. those that definitely aren't.
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-The "DASH" Diet
The DASH diet was ranked best diet of 2017 by doctors and nutritionists because it promotes a healthy lifelong approach to losing weight. It involves eating a diet composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, low or nonfat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats (fish and poultry), nuts and beans.
It breaks down the amount of servings you should be eating of each food depending on the number of calories you will be consuming. It's a great way to lose weight and sustain it for a lifetime.
-The "Baby Food" Diet
A lot of celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are rumoured to have lost tons of weight for their roles on this diet but I think it's pretty obvious why this won't work for the average person. This diet involves 3 or more days of eating only pureed baby food for every meal.
You will eat 14 jars of baby food for the first two meals which averages out to 1,000 calories and then one real meal for dinner but only a small portion of protein and veggies. The problem with this diet is that when you're eating liquids your brain doesn't pick up fullness cues so you'll be even more hungry even though you've actually eaten a good amount of calories.
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-The "TLC" Diet
The TLC diet stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes and is mostly recommended for people that need to lower their cholesterol but it also provides a great weight loss program as well. The program involves eating specific percentages of your daily caloric intake with an emphasis on low-fat foods.
This diet even factors in sweets and snacks as long as they're moderately low in fat and fit into your caloric intake!
-The "Air" Diet
This is probably the most insane diet trend that has ever come about. It involves eating nothing at all except water and salt-soup in a day. But wait for it, you can pretend to eat all those high calorie foods you really want by holding an empty fork up to your mouth and using your imagination.
I guess it's supposed to trick your body into thinking you've eaten those foods even though you haven't. This diet causes all sorts of problems involved with disordered eating like lowering your metabolism, muscle breakdown and an increase in leptin which doesn't allow your body to get a sense of fullness when you start eating again.
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-The "Mayo Clinic" Diet
The Mayo Clinic diet stresses a healthy lifestyle by promoting a meal plan that's actually sustainable and an increase in daily physical activity. Their advice on diet is that you eat a large amount of low calorie foods like fruits and veggies and a smaller amount of carbs, proteins, fats and sweets. In the first two weeks you'll learn 5 healthy habits, lose 5 unhealthy habits and then learn another 5 healthy bonus habits which will jumpstart you weight loss journey and will help you lose up to 10 pounds just in 2 weeks.
After this you'll learn how to sustain this for the rest of your life and will consistently lose 1-2 pounds per week until you've reached your goal. They recommend you perform at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Not Worth The Hype
-The "Low-Fat" Diet
This diet is very popular because it kind of makes sense. If you want to lose fat you should eat less fat. But that's not actually the case. Fat is a macronutrient and you actually need it in your diet, not in excess though. By eating low-fat foods all the time you'll end up turning to carbs to feel full.
You'll start eating more refined carbs like pretzels, white bread and rices, crackers and other snack-y foods that will quickly raise your blood sugar and leads to a crash. You'll then end up craving even more carbs and end up gaining weight.
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-The "Mediterranean" Diet
The Mediterranean diet is really similar to the Mayo Clinic diet in that it emphasizes eating plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes. They encourage lots of spices and Mediterranean recipes including fish and poultry but skipping unhealthy fats like butter and replacing them with healthy fats like olive or canola oil.
They also promote the health benefits of drinking a glass of wine at dinner and getting a good amount of exercise into your weekly routine.
-The "Apple Cider Vinegar" Diet
I don't know about you but I was seeing ads about this diet everywhere this year. It basically involves drinking a glass of apple cider vinegar mixed with cayenne pepper and honey three times a day, once before every meal. Although apple cider vinegar is said to have lots of health benefits and drinking it like this once in a while may actually be good for you, three times a day is way too much.
This most likely won't help you lose weight unless you're already eating a balanced diet and you'll end up with a very irritated digestive tract in the process.
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-The "Weight Watchers" Diet
The Weight Watchers diet is actually a great program that guides you to making healthier nutrition by using a points guide instead of calorie counting. How it works is foods that fill you up the longest cost the least amount of points and foods that are less dense in nutrition cost the most points. You'll have an allotted number of points for the day and you make your own food choices to try to remain within this point value.
The program offers suggestions for foods that will keep your point score low but you can basically eat whatever you want on the program. It allows you to learn how to eat healthy by guiding you instead of restricting you.
-The "HCG" Diet
This diet is honestly pretty dangerous for your health. It involves eating only 500 calories a day divided into two very small meals and injections or pills of the pregnancy hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin). Any diet below 1,000 calories is not recommended at all and is actually very dangerous. Plus, scientists haven't confirmed if the HCG hormone is safe to inject when you're already making it naturally.
All in all, this diet will lead to a dramatic drop in your weight but you will most likely regain it very quickly because it's extremely unsustainable.
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-The "Tone It Up" Diet
I've actually tried this diet and while I couldn't make it work in my lifestyle a lot people have found success with it and it's very clear why. It's run by two fitness trainers Karena and Katrina that have created a meal plan and daily workouts specifically for women.
Their Bikini Series is an 8 week program that lets you eat 5 meals a day plus a dessert on some days and daily workout videos that you can follow from the comfort of your own home. The reason it didn't work for me was because of all the meal planning and the amount of cooking/baking involved that I just couldn't keep up with. But if you love cooking then this plan is amazing and the community they've made is great for moral support along the way!
-The "Ear Stapling" Diet
Yup, this is actually a thing! This new theory among acupuncturists says that a certain area of the ear regulates your appetite. The procedure is basically like getting your ear pierced and the theory is that the constant pressure will be like a 'staple' in your stomach curbing your appetite and leaving you without the need to eat.
This procedure doesn't work, obviously, there's no science to prove that it does. It can also lead to serious infections and deformities that you'd probably rather live without.
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-The "Kinobody Fitness" Diet
This is the program I'm currently following and although it's mostly male-focused, he does have offer a female version of the program that shows real results! It involves intermittent fasting where you avoid eating for the first 4-6 hours after you wake up in the morning. This is said to have tons of health benefits but it's mostly a tool to help maintain a calorie deficit during the day.
That's the main goal of this program is to maintain a calorie deficit. Once you master this you move on to counting your macronutrients and making sure you're eating a balanced diet of protein, fats and carbohydrates. He also provides a really good weight lifting program for the gym that only involves going 3 times per week!
-The "Raw Food" Diet
This diet encourages eating a diet based mainly of raw fruits and veggies. Sounds great, right? Well, it actually isn't. This diet goes further than just increasing your fruit and veggie intake to say you can't eat any foods that have been cooked or processed in any way. It claims that cooking destroys nutrients in the food which actually isn't true in all cases.
This diet mostly involves a lot of juicing, blending, dehydrating and wasting of your precious time. The end result probably won't be worth it.
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-The "South Beach" Diet
This program is recommended as one of the best by doctors because it gives you a balanced diet that's sustainable after you lose the weight. It's basically a high protein and low-carb diet that involves eating lots of lean proteins like chicken and fish, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
You follow their meal plan guidelines to eat the kinds of foods that are promoted in the program and it teaches you how to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
-The "Blood Type" Diet
The Blood Type diet is based on the notion that certain foods react chemically with different blood types. So, O-type blood will eat diets made up of proteins, veggies and fruits but they avoid wheat and dairy. A-type blood will only eat vegetarian and B-type blood have to avoid chicken, corn, wheat, tomatoes, peanuts and sesame seeds.
This is definitely an interesting approach to weight loss but unfortunately, there's no scientific proof that cutting out foods based on your blood type has any effect at all on weight loss.
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-The "Jenny Craig" Diet
Jenny Craig is one of the biggest diet companies with over 500 centres all over the US. How the program works is you meet once a week with a consultant to keep you on track, you can choose from 100 menu items that are very similar to your favourite unhealthy foods and you eat 5x per day plus a snack of your own.
-The "Cookie" Diet
This one sounds really good because who doesn't love cookies? But these aren't regular cookies. The cookies in this diet are supposed to be made with a special hunger-fighting ingredient. You'll eat one or two cookies every two hours for a total of 9 cookies each day. Then you can have one 500-700 calorie meal of your choice.
This obviously isn't sustainable for your entire life. No one wants to be eating 9 protein and fibre packed cookies, that will obviously taste like they're packed with protein and fibre, everyday.
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-The "Volumetrics" Diet
The Volumetrics diet focuses mostly on eating foods that will keep you full for the longest. These types of foods are mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes and low-fate dairy.
It does allow you to occasionally eat fried foods and fatty meats, but very rarely. The diet promotes energy dense foods that can keep you full and maintain a balanced diet.
-The "Five Bite" Diet
This diet is exactly what it sounds like; eat whatever kind of food that your heart desires, but only 5 bites! The diet involves skipping breakfast and only eating 5 bites at lunch and 5 bites at dinner.
This is a highly unsustainable diet, obviously. Even if you take massive bites at each meal you'll only be able to consume 900-1,000 calories a day which is not healthy whatsoever.