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Discover 7 Of The Fastest Diets YOU Can Start Today!

“Dieting has never been so easy”

5:2 diet

Dukan diet

Paleo diet

New Atkins diet

Alkaline diet

Cambridge diet

South Beach diet

 

5:2 diet

The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting (IF) – where you eat normally for five days a week and fast on the other two days. On top of losing weight, fans claim the 5:2 diet can improve lifespan, brain function and protect against conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. However, evidence on the effectiveness of the 5:2 diet is limited when compared to other types of weight loss techniques.

One 2010 study found that women placed on a 5:2 diet achieved similar levels of weight loss to women on a calorie-controlled diet, and were also less likely to develop chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. A 2012 study suggested that the 5:2 model may help to lower the risk of certain obesity-related cancers, such as breast cancer. If you are considering it, you should first talk to your GP to see if it is suitable for you. Not everyone can safely fast.

Pros:
Sticking to a regimen for two days a week is more achievable than seven days, so you are more likely to persevere with this way of eating and successfully lose weight. Two days per week on a restricted diet can lead to greater reductions in body fat, insulin resistance and other chronic diseases.

Cons:
The non-restricted days do not mean unlimited feasting. While you don’t need to be as strict about your calorie consumption, you still need to make healthy choices and be physically active. Skipping meals could make you feel dizzy, irritable, give you headaches and make it hard to concentrate, which can affect work and other daily tasks. Other reported side effects are difficulties sleeping and daytime sleepiness, bad breath and dehydration.

Verdict:
The 5:2 is a simple way to reduce calorie intake. There are lots of versions of this diet, with some less safe than others. Many studies on intermittent fasting are short-term, involve small numbers of subjects, or are animal-based. If you choose to follow it, choose an evidence-based plan based on healthy, balanced eating and written by a dietitian, such as the “2-Day Diet”. It’s vital for your health to avoid nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and overeating on non-fast days. Never attempt to delay or skip meals if you are pregnant, have had, or are prone to, eating disorders or diabetes.

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Dukan diet

The Dukan diet is a low-carbohydrate (carb), high-protein diet. There’s no limit to how much you can eat during the plan’s four phases, providing you stick to the rules of the plan. During phase one, you’re on a strict lean protein diet. This is based on a list of 72 reasonably low-fat protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy. This is for an average of five days to achieve quick weight loss. Carbs are off limits except for a small amount of oat bran. Unlike the Atkins diet, Dukan’s phase one bans vegetables and seriously restricts fat. The next three phases of the plan see the gradual introduction of some fruit, veg and carbs, and eventually all foods. The aim is gradual weight loss of up to 2lb a week and to promote long-term weight management. There’s no time limit to the final phase, which involves having a protein-only day once a week and taking regular exercise.

Pros:
You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating. It’s a very strict and prescriptive diet, and some people like that. It’s easy to follow. You don’t need to weigh food or count calories. Apart from keeping to low-fat, low-salt and high-protein foods, there’s no restriction on how much you can eat during your first two weeks.

Cons:
At the start of the diet, you may experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea from cutting out carbs. The lack of wholegrains, fruit and veg in the early stages of the diet could cause problems such as constipation.

Verdict:
Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable and unhealthy. The Dukan diet isn’t nutritionally balanced, which is acknowledged by the fact that you need a vitamin supplement and a fibre top-up in the form of oat bran. There’s a danger that this type of diet could increase your risk of long-term health problems if you don’t stick to the rules. The diet lacks variety in the initial phases, so there’s a risk you’ll get bored quickly and give up.

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Paleo diet

The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, was Google’s most searched-for weight loss method in 2013. The diet consists of foods that can be hunted and fished – such as meat and seafood – and foods that can be gathered – such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. It’s a regime based on the supposed eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the paleolithic era, before the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago. That means cereal grains including wheat, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes and salt – as well as anything processed – are strictly off the menu. There is no official “paleo diet” but it is generally seen as a low-carb, high-protein diet, with some variations on carbohydrate and meat intake. Advocates say the paleo diet is a long-term healthy eating plan that can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other health problems. Most studies on the paleo-type diet are small, and more long-term research is needed to show conclusively whether or not it is as effective as some people claim. One 2008 study suggested that the paleo diet “could help reduce the risk of heart disease”. However, several limitations in the study meant it was not possible to say whether the paleo diet was any more effective than any other low-calorie diets.

Pros:
The paleo diet encourages you to eat less processed food and more fruit and vegetables. Reducing your consumption of high-calorie foods will reduce your calorie intake and help you to lose weight. The diet is simple and doesn’t involve calorie-counting. Some plans go by the “80/20” rule, whereby you’ll get 99% of the benefits of the paleo diet if you adhere to it 80% of the time. This flexibility can make the diet easier to stick to, so you are more likely to be successful.

Cons:
There are no accurate records of the diet of our Stone Age ancestors, so the paleo diet is largely based on an educated guess and its health claims lack scientific evidence. Most versions of the diet encourage large amounts of meat, which runs counter to current health advice on meat consumption. Many versions ban dairy products and wholegrains, which form part of a healthy, balanced diet. Like all high-protein diets, the paleo can be expensive, depending on your choice of meat cuts. It’s impossible to follow without eating meat, seafood or eggs, so it’s not one for vegetarians!

Verdict:
Most versions of the paleo diet exclude key food groups, raising the potential for nutritional deficiencies unless careful substitutions are made, and dietary supplements may be necessary. The diet has some positive aspects, so an adapted version that doesn’t ban any food groups – such as wholegrains, dairy and legumes – would be a better choice. The diet lacks variety, so there’s a risk you’ll get bored quickly and give up. If you want to copy your paleolithic ancestors, you’re better off mimicking their activity levels, rather than their alleged diet.

Paleo Recipes

 

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New Atkins diet

The Atkins diet promises to turn your body into a fat burning machine. The theory is that by starving yourself of carbohydrates, your body will start burning fat for energy. New Atkins is similar to the old Atkins except that it allows a wider variety of foods to make it more nutritionally balanced. During the first two weeks of the diet, designed for rapid weight loss, you’re on a protein rich diet with no restrictions on fat and a daily carb allowance of just 20g. During the next three phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual, and regular exercise is encouraged. More carbs are introduced to your diet – initially 5g and later 10g at a time – 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.

Pros:
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 diets that appeals to men.

Cons:
Initial side effects can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting out carbs and potential for lower fibre intake. The high intake of saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease, and there are concerns about the recommendation to add salt.

Verdict
The New Atkins diet plan is almost the same as the original one, but includes more practical advice on how to implement the diet and variety to reduce boredom. The amount of processed meat, red meat and saturated fat is still an issue, as is the advice to add salt, which all contradict current health advice. Some could still find it complicated and time-consuming but the promise of initial rapid weight loss may appeal to and motivate some.

Atkins Recipes

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Alkaline diet

The alkaline diet, whose celebrity fans reportedly include Gywneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham, is based on the idea that our modern diets cause our body to produce too much acid. The theory is that excess acid in the body is turned into fat, leading to weight gain. High acidity levels have also been blamed on conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, tiredness, kidney and liver disorders. The diet recommends cutting back on acid-producing foods such as meat, wheat and other grains, refined sugar, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods in favour of “alkaline foods”, which reduce the body’s acidity levels. This translates as plenty of fruit and vegetables. The idea is that an alkaline diet helps to maintain the body’s acidity at healthy levels. There are different versions of the alkaline diet. Some followers adopt the “80/20 rule” consisting of a diet based on 80% fruit and veg and 20% grains and protein. Originally developed to help prevent kidney stones and urine infections by using diet to adjust the acidity levels in the urine, there is little evidence to support the diet’s more recent health benefits. The weight loss observed among followers is more likely to be due to eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and cutting down on sugar, alcohol and processed foods, which is standard healthy weight loss advice.

Pros:
The diet contains plenty of good healthy eating advice, such cutting down on meat, avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods and eating more fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and legumes. This means that you will be cutting out foods you may normally eat and replacing them with healthier choices, which will also reduce your calorie intake.

Cons:
Your body regulates its acidity levels, regardless of diet. When cutting down on dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, you need to find other calcium substitutes, as cutting out an entire food group is never a good idea. Getting to grips with what you can and can’t eat on the diet can be time-consuming, particularly in the beginning.

Verdict:
The theory of the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance (acidity levels) to improve overall health. But the body maintains its pH balance regardless of diet. The diet lacks evidence and some versions that advise cutting out entire food groups should be avoided. The more balanced versions of the diet provide variety and include all the food groups. If you are going to try the alkaline diet, choose a balanced plan, stick to it to the letter and stay clear of supplements and other diet-related gimmicks.

Alkaline Recipes

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Cambridge diet

The Cambridge Weight Plans are based around buying and eating a range of meal-replacement products with the promise of rapid weight loss. There are six flexible diet plans ranging from 415 calories to 1,500 calories or more a day, depending on your weight loss goal. There is also a long-term weight management programme. The bars, soups, porridges and shakes can be used as your sole source of nutrition or together with low-calorie regular meals. While on the programme, you receive advice and support on healthy eating and exercise from a Cambridge adviser.

Pros:
Many people on very low calorie diets (VLCDs) find the weight loss to be sudden and quite dramatic. The meal replacements are all nutritionally balanced, so you’re likely to be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need, albeit not from real food.

Cons:
Initial side effects can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting down on carbs and fibre. The hardest part of the plan is sticking to it. Giving up normal meals and swapping them for a snack bar or a shake can be boring and feel socially isolating. This isn’t a plan you can stick to in the long term.

Verdict:
You need to like the meal replacement products to stay with the plan. Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable. A VLCD that involves eating 1,000 calories a day or fewer should not be followed for more than 12 continuous weeks. If you are eating fewer than 600 calories a day, you should have medical supervision.

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South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is a low-GI diet originally developed for heart patients in the US. There’s no calorie counting and no limits on portions. You’re encouraged to eat three meals and two snacks a day and follow an exercise plan. People who have more than 10lb to lose start with phase one. This is a two-week quick weight loss regime where you eat lean protein, including meat, fish and poultry, as well as some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats. Low-GI carbs are re-introduced during phases two and three, which encourage gradual and sustainable weight loss.

Pros:
If you can avoid phase one and start on phase two, there are fewer dietary restrictions in the rest of the plan than some other popular diets. After phase one, the diet broadly follows the basic principles of healthy eating. No major food groups are eliminated and plenty of fruit, veg and low-GI carbs are recommended.

Cons:
The severe dietary restrictions of phase one may leave you feeling weak and missing out on some vitamins, minerals and fibre. You may initially experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation.

Verdict:
The first two weeks are the most difficult to get through. We’re concerned that this diet promises such a large weight loss, up to 13lb, in the first two weeks. This, however, won’t be all fat. Some of the weight loss will include water and carbs – both of which will be replaced when you begin eating more normally. Once you get past the initial phase, the diet follows the basic principles of healthy eating and should provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

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