So you think you've tried every diet under the sun, until you overhear a conversation at work or enquire about a colleague’s odd lunch selection, when you discover a diet that you've not tried yet but they're raving about it. So before you throw in the towel and ditch that last attempt to drop a dress size or two, see whether you've tackled these Top 10 diet plans. We bring you the low down on what's best for each plan, what's involved and you can decide which diet plan is best suited to you. Don't worry of you try one and fall off the bandwagon, just pick another and see how you go. One plan doesn't suit all so don't be afraid to do something that's right for you.
1) Slimming World
Slimming World’s weight loss plan encourages you to swap high-fat foods for low-fat foods that are naturally filling. You choose your food from a list of low-fat foods they call 'Free Foods', such as fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meat, fish and eggs, which you can eat in unlimited amounts. There’s no calorie counting, no foods are banned and you’re still allowed the occasional treat. You can get support from fellow slimmers at weekly group meetings and follow an exercise plan to become gradually more active. The plan is designed to help you lose about 1lb to 2lb a week.
No foods are banned so meals offer balance and variety and are family-friendly. The portion size from each food group will vary depending which plan you follow. The 'Body Magic' booklet they provide gives ideas to help you raise your activity levels. Meeting as a group can provide valuable support.
Slimming World doesn’t educate you about calories. Without having learned about calories and portion sizes, you may struggle to keep the weight off in the long term when you come off the programme. To find your nearest Slimming World group or to find out more visit www.slimmingworld.com/losing-weight/the-big-difference.aspx#sthash.B7aMUhAz.dpuf
2) Weight Watchers
The WeightWatchers plan is based on the ProPoints system, which gives a value to foods and drink based on protein, carbs, fat and fibre content. It is essentially a calorie-controlled diet where you get a personal daily ProPoints allowance, which you can use how you like. There’s no limit on the amount of fruit and most veg you can eat. You also get a weekly ProPoints safety net in case you go over your allowance, and an individual exercise plan. The weekly meetings and confidential weigh-ins provide support and extra motivation to encourage long-term behaviour change. The plan is designed to help you lose up to 2lb a week.
No foods are banned so you can eat and drink what you want providing you stick to your points allowance. The ProPoints system is easier to follow for some than calorie-counting and less restrictive than other plans. This is because it introduces a safety net of points, which can be saved up for a special occasion, such as a night out, a small amount of alcohol or treats.
When you begin, working out the points system can be just as time consuming as simply counting calories. Some people feel pressured into purchasing WeightWatchers branded foods. To find out more visit www.weightwatchers.co.uk
The LighterLife weight loss plans combine a very low-calorie meal-replacement diet with weekly counselling. With LighterLife Total, for people with a BMI of 30 or more, you eat four 'food packs' a day, consisting of shakes, soups, mousses or bars, and no conventional food. LighterLife Lite, for those with a BMI of 25-30, involves eating three food packs a day plus one meal from a list of approved foods. You stay on the plans until you reach your target weight. The meal plans can lead to very rapid weight loss and you’re advised to see your GP before starting. How long you stay on the diet depends on how much weight you have to lose.
The counselling can help you understand your relationship with food, so hopefully you can make lasting changes to keep the weight off for good. With the meal replacements, there’s no weighing or measuring, so it’s a hassle-free approach to weight loss.
Initial side effects of the diet can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting down on carbs and fibre. Surviving on a strict diet of shakes and soups and other meal replacements isn’t much fun and can feel socially isolating. For more information visit www.lighterlife.com
4) Rosemary Conley
Rosemary Conley’s Diet and Fitness plans combine a low-fat, low-GI diet with regular exercise. You can follow her recipes or buy from her range of calorie-controlled ready meals and snacks. You’re encouraged to eat food with 5% or less fat, with the exception of oily fish, porridge oats and lean meat. A network of local Rosemary Conley clubs offers weekly exercise classes, support and motivation. You learn about calorie counting and portion size, which can help you sustain your weight loss beyond the programme. The diet is designed to help you lose a stone in seven weeks. How long you stay on the plan depends on your weight loss goal.
The programme is based around calories, with a focus on cutting fat. The 'portion pots', which are used to measure foods such as rice, cereal, pasta and baked beans, teach you about portion control. Physical activity is an integral part of the weight loss plan, with exercise sessions suitable for all ages, sizes and abilities offered at their weekly classes with trained leaders.
Some low-fat products aren't necessarily more healthy because they can still be high in sugar and calories. It is unrealistic to expect people to go out with their portion pots and, therefore, portion control may be more tricky away from the home. www.rosemaryconleyonline.com
The Atkins diet is a low-carb, high-protein weight loss programme. You start with a low-carb diet designed for rapid weight loss. This lasts at least two weeks depending on your weight loss goal. During this phase, you’re on a protein, fat and very low-carb diet, including meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, some veg, butter and oils. In contrast to the Dukan diet, Atkins allows unlimited fat and some veg, such as peppers, cucumber and iceberg lettuce, during phase one. During the next three phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual, and regular exercise is encouraged. More carbs, fruit and veg are introduced to your diet with the aim of working out what your ideal carb intake is to maintain a healthy weight for life. Phase one is designed to help you lose up to 15lb in two weeks, reducing to 2lb to 3lb during phase two.
You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating. The diet also encourages people to cut out most processed carbs and alcohol. With its diet of red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise, it’s one of the few diets out there that appeals to men. You lose the fat on your tummy, tush, hips and elsewhere, all without hunger
Initial side effects can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting out carbs and fibre. The high intake of saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease and there are concerns that a lack of fruit, veg and dairy products and a high protein intake may affect bone and kidney health in the long term. Visit www.atkins.com/Home.aspx
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