Category: Weight Loss Programs

The Low-FODMAP Diet

The Low-FODMAP Diet

If you suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), you might have heard about the Low-FODMAP Diet.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are poorly absorbed complex and simple sugars found in certain foods.
It is thought that these sugars ferment in the gut and cause IBS symptoms like bloating.

The Low-FODMAP Diet is a elimination diet to avoid those foods that cause the problems for the patients.

These foods can be vegetables like onions, brassica, garlic or pulses, fruits like apples, pears or stone fruits, wheat and other cereals and dairy products that contain lactose.

Even though research indicates that this diet helps with IBS, it is not a diet for everybody. It can be very restrictive and you should always be monitored by your GP to make sure you don’t miss out on important nutrients.

So the Low-FODMAP Diet might help with IBS, but it certainly is not a weight loss plan for everybody.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

Do you like seafood as well as veggies, legumes, fruits, nuts seeds, olive oil, herbs, spices and from time to time a good glass of red wine?

Then the Mediterranean Diet should be just right for you.

It is based on the principles the diets of the Spanish, French and Italians share. You can eat as much as you want of the above mentioned foods, eat poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation and keep red meat and sweets for special occasions.

A big part of this Mediterranean Diet is being physically active.

As the people living around the Mediterranean Sea are known for being healthy and having a long life, this Mediterranean Diet is meant to keep you healthy. This includes heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention and control.

Basically the Mediterranean Diet is not quite a diet but more of a lifestyle that includes healthy food as well as physical activity.

You might not lose weight rapidly but certainly discover the health benefits of a healthier choice of foods and being physically more active.

The DASH Diet

The DASH Diet

Well, DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is a diet developed by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The DASH Diet provides you with free plans on how many calories you should eat according to your age and activity level. Those calories should mainly come from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Also included are low fat dairy, lean meats, fish and poultry as well as nuts and beans.

This certainly is a healthy approach as you can basically choose yourself what you want to eat. As long as you stick to the the diet plan, that is.

The DASH eating plan originally was developed to lower your blood pressure and is recommended as a healthy eating plan for everybody. The whole family can take part.

So the DASH diet not only claims to be healthy but also promises a weight loss.

If you are interested in trying out another diet that promises not only weight loss, but also health benefits, you should get yourself the book and give it a go.

The Slimming World Diet

The Slimming World Diet

Another diet I want to look at is the Slimming World Diet. It is again a diet that combines an unique diet plan with group support.

It promises on the website that you will never go hungry again as you will be able to eat as much as you want. And you won’t need to worry about counting calories or weighing your food.

Slimming World and the original diet were created in 1969 by Margaret Miles-Bramwell and the fact that it’s still around can only mean that it works for quite a few people.

The idea behind the Slimming World Food Optimising plan is quite simple. If you want to lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you use up.
You can eat as much as you like from a list of free foods. Those are pasta, vegetables, lean meats, fish, potatoes, fruits, rice. These foods are meant to make you feel full faster and for a long time.

You can then choose a limited amount of healthy extras. Those are foods that are either rich in fibre like wholemeal cereals or wholemeal bread or rich in calcium like milk, cheese or yoghurt.

And you can also choose between 5 and 15 so called syns (synergies) a day. They are biscuits, cakes, crisps, alcohol etc.

There are three different diet plans to choose from. And if you don’t fancy going to group meetings every week, you can instead become an online member.

The pros of this diet are certainly that no foods are off limit and the variety on offer is even family friendly. And in addition to the diet plans you get a Body Magic booklet to help you increase you activity levels.
The cons of this diet to my mind are the lack of education about calories. So once you come off the diet you might struggle.

But that seems to be the problem with all the diets anyway and this one at least seems to be easy to follow, without having to buy shakes and snacks. And vegetarians can easily do it too.

The Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet

Created in the 1970s by the French general practitioner Dr. Pierre Dukan, the Dukan Diet is another low-carb diet that promises rapid weight loss.

The good thing about this diet certainly is that you don’t have to weigh foods or count calories and you can even eat as much as you want of certain foods.

This diet though for sure is something no vegetarian would ever choose as during the first phase you are supposed to eat mainly animal protein.

The whole diet is divided into four phases. The first is the Attack phase and you can eat as much animal protein as you want. You can choose from lean meats, eggs and non-fat dairy, have 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran every day and drink 1.5 litres of water. The length of this phase depends on how much you want to lose and can last up to 7 days.

The second phase is the Cruise phase. During this phase 28 non starchy vegetables are added every other day. And the oat bran intake is increased to 2 tablespoons.

The third phase is the Consolidation phase in which more foods are added again. Meats such as pork and lamb, low sugar fruit, bread and cheese. You can also include starchy vegetables and even celebration meals in which you can eat whatever you want, once or twice a week.

The last phase is the Stabilisation phase in which you can eat whatever you want, if you stick to eating 3 tablespoons or oat bran every day, eat only protein foods on a Thursday, walk for 20 minutes every day and never take lifts or escalators.

This diet might indeed lead to a rapid weight loss, but are the amount of animal protein and lack of vegetables really healthy. I think I’d rather see a diet with more vegetables and added lean meats and fish as a base. I mean aren’t we told these days that to much meat is no good and we should rather have 10 than just 5 of our daily fruit and veg?

The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 Diet

The Intermitten Fasting Diet or Fast Diet or as it is better known the 5:2 Diet allows you to feast for 5 days and then fast for two.

Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? But how does the 5:2 Diet really work?

Eating normally for 5 days a week is indeed pretty straight forward but restricting yourself to 500 calories for women or 600 for men is probably pretty hard. It doesn’t matter which days you choose to fast as long as they are non-consecutive.

As not much is known so far about the long-term effects of the 5:2 Diet but the NHS guidelines state that the side effects can be sleeping difficulties, bad breath, irritability, anxiety, dehydration and daytime sleepiness.
You can of course prevent the dehydration by drinking lots of water and you should indeed do so as it will certainly make you feel less hungry.

And apart from all the downsides, the 5:2 Diet does seem to work as research showed that doing this diet is as efficient as a calorie restricted diet.

And diet can actually bring health benefits too according to the NHS guidelines. They are an increased lifespan, protection from diseases such as Type 2 diabetes or cancer and improved cognitive function and protection against conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

So if you want to put up with two days of hunger and misery per week, just give it a try. But before you consider doing the 5:2 Diet, you should have a word with your GP as it might not be a good idea for pregnant women or people with diabetes.

The Slim Fas Diet

The Slim Fas Diet

Well, the Slim Fast Diet. I can remember I’ve tried it about 25 years ago. So this is indeed a weight loss concept that has been around for a long time.

But how does it actually work?

You pick 3 snacks a day, either fruit and veg or a Slim Fast snack, you have two meal replacements like a shake, a Slim Fast meal or a Slim Fast bar. And last but not least you have a balanced meal with 600kcal. You also drink 2 litres of water and have a lot of exercise every day.

This certainly is a diet plan for those who want to lose weight quickly without having to think too much about what to eat. They can just choose form what is on offer and buy the products.

To me it seems more like weight loss by all means. Bars with lots of sugar instead of healthy vegetables? Not quite my idea of a healthy diet. And what if you don’t like the shakes, bars, snacks and meal replacements? And what about the costs? Wouldn’t it be cheaper and even more satisfying to prepare your own healthy food. It might be more time consuming, but for sure a lot healthier.

The Slim Fast Diet might be a way to kick-start your weight loss, but does little to actually educate you about how to change your eating habits and live healthy.

And what do you do once you have reached your weight loss goal? If you don’t stick to the shakes and stuff you’re most likely to put weight on again in no time.

I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my days drinking shakes and eating meal replacements. Even though I must admit, that losing weight just by drinking a few shakes instead of eating meals is tempting because it is easy. But on the other hand I remember that 25 years ago the shakes were horrible and I didn’t like them very much and even though they were quite filling, you were hungry again in no time.
Looking at the list of ingredients of the shakes, I’m not surprised any more. Second on the list is maltodextrin, a filler which has a high glycemic index, even higher than table sugar, and spikes your blood sugar. Maltodextrin can actually be dangerous for people with diabetes symptoms of insulin resistance. And as soon as your blood sugar levels drop you are hungry again. And chocolate bars with lots of sugar as a snack? Not really my idea of a healthy diet.

I’d rather eat a proper meal made of healthy veg and lean meat and be satisfied for hours than eat snacks and meal replacements.

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is a diet that basically sticks to the foods our caveman ancestors were either hunting or gathering.

So meat, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, leafy greens, seeds and fruit. Which means of course no processed foods like pasta or sweets.

This diet is based on the idea that our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t suffer from the same diseases we have today and generally lived a healthier life. And it can also be explained with the fact that our digestive system hasn’t evolved as much as we have and is still more suited for a hunter-gatherer diet.

So by removing the foods that are at odds with our health like dairy, starches, sugar, alcohol, we’re supposed to not only be healthier but also lose weight. For some people it is good enough that studies have shown that with the Paleo Diet blood lipids have improved and pain from autoimmunity is reduced.

A benefit of this diet certainly is that you increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And as the carbohydrates in the Paleo Diet are of a low glycemic index, the diet will help prevent hypertension, undesirable blood cholesterol and Type2 diabetes.
The Paleo diet is also a slightly alkaline diet which helps reduce the symptoms of osteoporosis, kidney stones, stroke, asthma and insomnia.

Certainly all very healthy but with the limitations a bit boring too. Especially as wholegrain, dairy and legumes are banned.

I think I would certainly try it for a while to see if I notice a change with some health issue and then decide if I keep going. Weighing up the pros and cons so to speak. At least I wouldn’t have to count calories with this diet.

But I doubt this Paleo Diet is suited to be a permanent lifestyle change. It might be wiser not to just copy the diet of our paleolithic ancestors but also their activity levels. Or just eat a little bit less of our diet and have a lot more physical exercise.

If you would like to try it yourself, here’s a book that might help you.

The Weight Watchers Diet

The Weight Watchers Diet

Weight Watchers is certainly one of the most popular slimming programs ever. Not only millions of people just like you and me have joined the meetings but also celebrities like Patsy Kensit, Gregg Wallace, Natasha Hamilton.

So what is Weight Watchers all about and why is it so successful. Is it because of the company when you join the meetings or is it because no food is off limit as long as you stick to your Points allowance?

I mean there must be a reason why people spend considerable amounts of hard earned money to lose their excessive pounds.

The Weight Watchers diet is more or less a reduced calorie, low fat diet and two different plans to choose from. You can stick to the Points Plan where every food has a certain number of Points and you can eat whatever you want, as long as you stick to your daily Points allowance.
Or you choose the Core Plan and eat from a list of core foods with no limit on quantity and an additional weekly Points allowance for treats.

So instead of counting calories you’re counting Points and not only that, you first have to figure out the different Points values of the foods.
If you attend a meeting or do Weight Watchers online, your Points allowance is based on your weight, height, age, gender and level of activity.

The advantages of this program certainly are that you can eat whatever you like as long as you don’t go over your Points allowance. The Core Plan is a bit more restricted in the choice of food though. And if you go to meetings you will meet others who have the same desire to lose weight, which might be some extra motivation.

On the other hand, even though you don’t have the hassle of counting calories, you do have the hassle of counting points. And you could even gain weight if you stick to the Core Plan and eat large amounts of the foods from the “free list“.

So you can certainly lose weight with Weight Watchers, but also money if the program doesn’t suit you in the end. But it can be a good foundation for healthy long-therm eating habits.And if you want to be successful after Weight Watchers, you’d better make a connection between the Points system and calories.

How the Atkins Diet works

How the Atkins Diet works

I will start with the Atkins Diet, as I think most people have heard of this low carb diet.

As a cardiologist Dr. Atkins was of course concerned about his patients weight and designed this low carb diet to help them lose it and keep it off. Many of them had previously struggled with other low calorie diets.

Our body requires two types of fuel, carbohydrate and fat. And many low calorie diets that people struggle with are still high in carbohydrates, that our body turns into sugars.
And this makes our blood sugar levels rise and when they drop again we get hungry again. The body does not only store the excess sugar as fat, but when the blood sugar levels drop again, we feel hungry and tired. We are craving more carbohydrates.

Dr. Atkins idea was to limit the carbohydrates so that the body burns fat, including the body fat. You have constant energy levels all day long and even though you might intake more calories as with a low calorie diet, you still lose weight without feeling hungry.

The first two weeks of this diet with the lower carb intake are pretty hard though, and some people feel tired and dizzy during this time.

In the second phase more carbs are slowly added again for dieters to find their best carbohydrate balance. The third phase is meant to fine tune the carbohydrate intake so that dieters reach the weight they’ve been aiming for and maintain it for at least for 4 weeks.

After that dieters are meant to continue with this diet for as long as they want to keep their weight down.

The Atkins Diet all in all seems to guarantee a rapid and fairly healthy weight loss, but sticking to the low carb approach might be hard for some people. And abandoning this fairly strict diet might lead to a rapid weight gain.

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