Apart from stepping up your exercise regime, you can try and get back into shape through an eating plan. I am not really one
for following strict diets (I often wonder how friends of mine find the time or motivation to weigh their meals or seek out elusive ingredients in health food shops),
but I have tried a few different ones, all of which have free beginner programmes online. I have given the plans a score based on how easy they are to understand and follow, the purported health benefits and risks, and the sustainability of any weight loss. As always, take appropriate advice from a health professional before embarking on a new diet.
- Cabbage Soup Diet
This is a classic diet for quick weight loss and one that has long been promoted by celebrities looking to drop pounds fast for an event. It is widely acknowledged that this type of diet is not sustainable long-term, but as a quick fix and can result in weight lose of 10-15 pounds in a week. The downside, of course, of any sudden weight loss is that there is a very real chance of putting it all back on again quickly afterwards.
The concept is simple: reduce calorie intake significantly by restricting your diet to just a small select group of fruit and
vegetables (not just cabbage, luckily). There is vegetable soup and certain fruit on the first day, and then the introduction of other fruit, milk and meat as the week goes on.
By reducing calories, carbs and protein drastically and quickly, there are various known side effects such as headaches and lethargy. everydayhealth.com/diet- nutrition/cabbage-soup-diet. aspx
My score: 5/10
- Keto Diet
The Ketogenic (or Keto) diet is based on getting your body into a state of ketosis by reducing carb intake. Once there, your body will use its fat stores for energy instead of glucose, and this leads to significant weight loss.
This diet might seem strange at first as fats replace most carbs and equate to around 75% of calorie intake. A low carb, high-fat concept is not new though – the Atkins Diet, first published in 1972, has now been badged as Ketogenic.
A classic week on the Keto Diet involves meals centred around full-fat dairy products, meat and eggs. Foods to avoid include most bread, some fruit such as bananas and anything sweetened. While it is promoted as being suitable for vegetarians as well as carnivores, it is almost certainly more difficult for vegetarians with some of the usual staples such as beans and grains being on the list of food to avoid.
Like the Atkins Diet, the Keto Diet has many critics and side effects are common – ‘Keto Flu’, which usually lasts for a week, with unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and fatigue, is a common occurrence. There are also justifiable concerns around levels of saturated fat and general vitamin deficiency due to restriction in fruit and vegetables. Ultimately, this is another diet that should only be used for quick, short-term weight loss.
My score: 4/10
- Hormone Diet
A friend of mine swears by the hormone diet. After years of trying other diets, exercising more, eating less and still putting on weight, she believes that the turning point was understanding what different hormones do and then working to balance them with her diet. Hormones play a role in our body’s everyday processes – insulin, for example, regulates metabolic processes and allows the body to store carbohydrates as energy.
There are several different diet plans that claim to reset hormone levels, but the basis of all of them is to cut down on dairy, fat, alcohol and sugar, and increase popular versions is a three- step programme, the first two steps involving a detox and diet overhaul, and the third promoting an exercise regime.
Many people have claimed that any weight loss achieved is a result
of a drop of calories rather than a balancing of hormones. In addition, there is little scientific research to suggest that diet can control hormone levels at all. On the plus side though, it is more pleasant than many other diets and any weight loss achieved is likely to be more sustainable. medmunch.com/hormone- balancing-diet-plan/
My score: 6/10
Intermittent Fasting is an eating plan rather than a traditional diet. You follow
a set of rules and eat at certain times, which leads to consuming fewer calories, and potentially a state of ketosis, as in the Keto Diet.
There are many versions of Intermittent Fasting. The simplest follows a 12/12 formula whereby you can eat within a set 12-hour window, say 7am until 7pm, and fast the rest of the time. The beauty of this particular option is that in theory you will be asleep for a large proportion of the fasting time.
Alternatives include 16 hours of fasting and eight hours in which to eat, right through to the strictest level, of fasting for 20 hours and eating in four.
You can also choose to restrict calorie intake on some days only – the 5/2 option allows for normal eating five days per week and just 25% of your daily calories on two consecutive days of the week.
For many people, following an Intermittent Fasting plan is not too difficult (especially if you are doing 12/12) and it is purported to have health benefits for your heart as well as helping to achieve weight loss. betterme.world/articles/ intermittent-fasting-meal- plan-example/
My score: 7/10
- Calorie Deficit
#caloriedeficit is all the rage on social media at the moment,
but it is neither a diet nor an eating plan. It does, in fact, make a lot of sense – based on the premise that if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. In order to lose one to two pounds per week (believed to be the healthiest weight loss rate), you should consume around 500 fewer
calories per day than your body burns. With multiple websites and apps available to check and record calories, it is relatively easy to track your intake, as well as the amount you burn through physical activity. medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ calorie-deficit#summary
My score: 7/10
Words: Stacey Bartlett