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Popular weight-loss diet trends and their effectiveness

We looked at a list of the most popular diet trends right now, and summarised what each diet is about.

 

Eating foods that can be hunted and gathered, similar to what might have been eaten more that 10,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era.

  SAY YES TO:

Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices

 SAY NO TO:

Grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, starchy vegetables like potatoes

Claims

  • Boosts immune system
  • Feeling less hungry throughout the day to help in weight loss

Drawbacks

  • High intake of saturated fat from meat leading to heart problems
  • Lack of calcium and vitamin D can cause osteoporosis

 

Drastically cutting carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat to put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

 SAY YES TO:

Meat, fatty fish, eggs, butter, cream, cheese, nuts and seeds, low-carb vegetables

 SAY NO TO:

Sugary foods, grains and starches including starchy vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes, alcohol

Claims

  • Fast, short term weight loss
  • May prevent chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease

Drawbacks

  • Common side effects include constipation, headaches, fatigue, and bad breath
  • Low carb diets can lead to kidney stones or high levels of acid in the body

 

Contains only plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans do not eat foods that come from animals.

 SAY YES TO:

Tofu, tempeh and seitan, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains fruits and vegetables

 SAY NO TO:

Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, bee products, animal based products e.g. whey, casein, lactose

Claims

  • Reduced symptoms of arthritis and joint pain
  • Lowered blood sugar

Drawbacks

  • Deficient in vitamin B12, D and Calcium
  • Risk to children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

 

FODMAP is an abbreviation for specific carb containing food groups. This diet was originally designed to treat patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

 SAY YES TO:

Fresh fruits and vegetables, lactose-free dairy and hard cheeses, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, grains

 SAY NO TO:

Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions

Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheeses

Monosaccharides: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar

Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries and lychee

Claims

  • Proven to decrease symptoms of stomach pain and bloating related to Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Increased energy levels for people with IBS

Drawbacks

Have to read every food label to make sure you’re getting the right product.

 

Does not specify which foods to eat or not eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are different recommended fasting methods available online. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.

Claims

Studies show that fasting might help control blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and lose weight.

Drawbacks

Not suitable for those sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels.

 

What is the perfect diet for me?

We wished it was easy to answer this, but your ideal diet depends on many factors such as availability of ingredients, current lifestyle, existing health conditions, how an individual responds to certain foods, period of commitment etc.

As these diets tend to restrict entire food groups, you will lose weight as your calorie intake tends to be lower. This also means that you are likely to miss out certain nutrients due to the elimination of food groups. Speak to a doctor or nutritionist to find out how you can increase your intake of these nutrients from alternative sources.

 

Starting on a new diet

Whichever diet you choose to incorporate, please do so safely with further research before embarking on it.

It is also necessary to ensure that the diet chosen is sustainable for 2 reasons.

1. To prevent any weight lost from coming back

If your goal is to lose weight and you chose to a start a severely restrictive diet, you may have positive results at the beginning but you risk the weight coming back very quickly. Akin to crash dieting, your sudden drop in calorie intake will lead to the weight loss but if the diet is not sustainable, you might end up stopping the diet entirely and eat more than before to compensate.

2. To help evaluate results

To help determine if your diet is working, it should be sustained for at least 4 weeks because our weight fluctuates daily due to hydrations levels, activity levels, hormonal changes etc. Sticking to your diet for 4 weeks can more objectively show whether your weight or other health markers are indeed trending upwards or downwards.

Finally, be honest with yourself and how you feel during the diet. If you feel unwell, stop and seek a doctor’s advice before continuing.

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