We’ve looked at some of the top trending diets and reviewed them to see if they are truly effective and safe.
The Paleo Diet - Eat like a caveman
Also known as the caveman diet, the paleo diet consists of foods that may have been eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors before the development of agriculture. Think meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Cereal grains, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes and salt and any processed foods are not included in the diet.
Summary: The Paleo diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet with no ‘official’ guidelines, which means there are various interpretations.
Verdict: Eating less processed food is an excellent start to improve health and lose weight, while the absence of calorie counting and its flexibility makes it a simple diet that is easy to stick to. However, there are no accurate records of our paleolithic ancestors’ diets and so the diet is based on educated guesses, plus there is no evidence to back any of the health claims associated with the paleo diet. It is also important to remember that eating large amounts of red meat is contrary to current health advice on meat consumption and it is not a sustainable choice considering the environment. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggest eating no more than 18 oz. (0.51kgs) of red meat per week to reduce the risk of cancer. Including whole grains, legumes and dairy as part of your food choices will help to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
The DASH Diet - Cut the salt
The DASH diet has been endorsed by large medical organisations for many years. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition with a high prevalence in the GCC region. The diet aims to lower sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day and also, increase the intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Summary: The DASH diet recommends a low-sodium, low-fat meal plan which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds.
Verdict: The DASH diet was developed through research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. Since its development, it has had various improvements guided by further research. Studies have recorded its effectiveness in reducing blood pressure and the risk of many diseases including cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes. It is a good way to have a healthy and balanced diet.
Weight Watchers - Count points not calories
The Weight Watchers weight-loss plan works through a points system, giving different foods values based on protein, carbohydrate, fibre and fat content. Every day you are given a points allowance, which can be used on any foods you wish, if together they do not exceed the daily allowance. There are no limits on the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat. Weekly meetings and weigh-ins provide extra support and motivation to encourage long-term weight-loss.
Summary: Weight Watchers is a points-based calorie-controlled diet with significant motivational support
Verdict: No foods are banned, which means you can eat what you want but in moderation. Some people find the points system a lot easier than counting calories. However, working out the points system can be just as time consuming. Having a support system has been proven to help motivate and educate people trying to lose weight in a healthy manner. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of using WeightWatchers as a tool for weight-loss.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, which has been used to control seizures in children with epilepsy for decades. However, it is increasingly being used for weight-loss. It is also calorie controlled diet which intend to improve satiety.
Summary: A specialised high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, sometimes prescribed by a physician for certain conditions.
Verdict: There have been numerous clinical studies to test the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for weight-loss. Many have reported the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet including a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index (BMI), triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, while increasing the level of HDL cholesterol.There are also some studies suggesting that the diet may be useful in the treatment of cancer, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, cardiovascular and neurological syndromes, although research is yet to confirm the diets therapeutic effect. And as per Clinical Dietitian Victoria Pena- Acuna, the therapeutic effect is very well known in children with epilepsy but the evidenced isn’t strong in adults. It is very difficult to implement and sustain in the long term: needs very throughout planning and it is not very social diet.
No matter what weight loss plan you try, it is important to begin with small and sustainable changes, discuss your diet with your physician or dietitian first, and most importantly maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity.