4 Diets That Actually Work For Weight Loss
The Definitive Guide
Nothing is more frustrating than sweating out hard in the gym, changing your good-old carb-loaded food habits, but still not losing the desirable weight, not getting any success in controlling your health conditions.
This is because. “diet” is not just about cutting-down the sugars, bulking-up the quantity of proteins in your meals, and crossing your fingers to melt-down some fats from your body.
No! It isn’t so.
Dieting relies solely upon your goal or what you want to achieve—either gaining some more muscle or reducing the stored-up fat: It depends!
In today’s internet era, the term “diet” is much more confusing than it used to be. You find many conflicting pieces of information from different sources about diet & dieting—which makes you wonder between what is useful and what is not for you.
There is no one-size-fit diet for all. Not everyone’s body responds to each diet in the same way. The key for a healthy lifestyle diet is to find a perfect match for your metabolism and body type both.
So, here are some popular diet regimens to help you guide in uncovering what does and does not work for your body.
Let’s dive into the topic: “5 popular diets you should know about in detail.”
Diet is a composite regimen of four things:
The Dash Diet
The number is increasing each year drastically
So, to combat the ill effects of high blood pressure and heart disease, the DASH Diet was initially designed. It was created by limiting the daily intake of salt (Sodium) to one teaspoon a day only (2300 mg)
DASH or “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet was developed by US National Institutes of Health by a research, under its sponsorship. (3)
DASH diet helps in lowering your blood pressure, and other heart diseases, without the requirement of medications. It is now promoted by US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of NIH to the general public.
Apart from this, numerous subsequent studies have shown the effectiveness of the DASH diet in reducing the risk of many other diseases like cancer, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes. (4,5,6)
Also, it is proven in many studies that the DASH diet is beneficial in weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (7)
What to eat in the DASH diet:
Many scientists observed that high blood pressure and diabetes was lesser common in people who were following a plant-based, and vegetarian diet. (7)
So, the DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats majorly.
This diet is low in “sodium (salt)”—which is associated with high blood pressure. Plus, the DASH diet is low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat and fats.
Two types of the DASH diet is commonly available
1. Regular DASH: It allows one to not to consume more than one teaspoon (2.300 mg) of sodium in a day. This comes under most of the National Dietary Guidelines.
2. Lower-salt DASH: Here, you are not allowed to take more than 1,500 mg of sodium/day.
When following the DASH eating plan, it is important to choose foods that are:
- 1. Low in saturated and trans fats
- 2. Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein, and fiber
- 3. Low in sodium
This is the DASH dietary pattern suggested by NHLBI, US.
The dietary pattern of the DASH and the number of meal servings is based on your ideal calorie requirements per day.
Proven Benefits of Dash Diet
Reduces Blood Pressure
In an study conducted by DASH Sodium collaborative group, on more than 400 people, they found, that by slightly reducing the sodium intake their systolic blood pressure during the control diet.
Decreases cancer risk
DASH-diet, lowers the risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in American Journal of Epidemiology. The study was performed on 87000 womens who were on dash diet for almost 26 years. Only less than one percent women developed ER- Negative blood cancer.
Lowers Metabolic Syndrome risk
Department of Nutrition, University of California conducted a study on a group (22 men and 5 women) participants with metabolic syndrome. The participants were able to lose weight as any normal person would lose, because of Dash Diet.
Helps in fighting with kidney disease
Because of the lower amount of sodium and higher amounts of potassium and minerals, DASH Diet lowers the risk of developing kidney disease, according to National kidney foundation.
Drawbacks of the DASH Diet
In the DASH diet, each person needs to plan their own daily menu, based on the allowed servings. There is no packaged food, or ready-made consumable products come prepared. Those who are not used to meal planning and cooking may find it confusing in the beginning
Non-Comprehensive Food List
The DASH foods chart does not list many common fruits, eg. avocados. The term "cereal" is used sparingly across the list, which makes it unclear whether any specific cereal is allowed or not. This is because not all the cereals have an equal quantity of nutrient content, sugar, and fiber.
If you are intolerant with the lactose from dairy products, with some nuts. Because of food allergies. Then you will need to modify the meal menu with lactose-free alternatives to dairy and seeds instead of nuts.
High Fibre Diet Content
Due to the high amount of fiber from plant foods like vegetables and fruits sometime you may feel bloated stomach or experience gas, in the beginning. So, instead of taking fiber-rich foods daily, including them once or twice a week would minimize this issue.
Here is what to eat in Dash Diet (2000 Calories)
6,8 Servings per day
4-5 Servings per day
2-3 Servings per day
Lean Chicken, Meat and Fish
6 or fewer servings per day
4-5 Servings per day
Fats and oils
2-3 Servings per day
Nuts and seeds
4-5 servings per day
Sweets or sugary products
5 or fewer servings per week
Foods To Avoid
Dash Diet – Key Takeaway:
The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet
A ketogenic diet is a type of weight loss regime where most of its calories come from fat; and only a small amount from carbohydrates. It is a “low carb and high fat” or LCHF diet.
The primary purpose of the Keto diet is to promote weight loss, through fat-burning.
Originally, the ketogenic diet was developed around the 1920-30s as a dietary therapy for epilepsy in children. Later it was extensively researched, modified and was improved for general applications. (27)
It is beneficial for prevention of many health conditions like; diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease, neurotrauma, pain, Parkinson’s disease, and other sleep disorders. (28, 29, 30, 31) Like other low-carb diets, the ketogenic diet also limits carbohydrate intake strictly and replaces it with fat intakes. This state of carb-restriction results in a metabolic state in your body which is called “ketosis.” (32)
(Note: Don’t confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis generally in the state of uncontrolled diabetes, while ketosis is a natural condition.) (33)
Usually, carbohydrates (starchy & sugary foods mostly) you eat gets converted into glucose inside your body, and it provides the energy required for the brain and other body functions.
But when you don’t take enough carbs, your liver is intelligent enough to burn the stored fat or the fats from your foods; which is the secondary source of energy or works as the backup system of your body.
What your liver does is simple: it breaks the stored fat in your body parts (e.g. adipose tissue/visceral fats) into fatty acids and ketone bodies. So, instead of glucose, ketones provide energy to your brain. When your bloodstream has a lot of ketone bodies, it is called “ketosis.”
Though modified versions of the Ketogenic diets are now used as regular diets, usually it is used for short-term applications.
What to eat in Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic diet has four different versions of diet regimes according to the carbs-protein ratio in your diet, lifestyle and desired goals:
1. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD):
2. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD):
Here is an example of CKD for a week:
A. First Five Days (Standard Ketogenic Phase)
– 70-75% of calories from fat
– 20-25% of calories from protein
– 5% of calories from carbohydrates
B. Carb-Loading phase (two days)
– 70% of calories from carbohydrates
– 20-25% of calories from protein
– 5-10% of calories from fat
3. The High Protein Ketogenic diet (HPKD)
Though this diet is precisely the same as SKD, it includes a higher portion of protein than SKD. The primary use of this additional protein is to build muscle. Here, your calories come this way: 60% from fats, 35% proteins, 5% from carbs.
4. The Target Ketogenic (TKD)
This version of the diet is useful for you to manage your carbohydrate consumption while doing workouts. It is advised to take 20-25 gm of carbs before 30-60 min. of exercise.
The Cyclic and targeted ketogenic diets are ideal for boosting exercise performance and enhancing your endurance during workouts. So, these two diets are very useful for those who are serious athletes and fitness professionals.
Proven Benefits of Ketogenic Diet
Prevents neural Disorders: Epilepsy seizures, brain injuries, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
Lowers The Insulin Levels
Healing of acne
Prevents polycystic ovary syndrome
Drawbacks of the Ketogenic Diet
Due to the lowered carb intake, you might feel a slightly increased heart rate. If you have low blood pressure, due to the lack of salt and water causes reduction of the fluid circulating in the blood. This may be a cause that forces the heart to pump a little faster or harder. Including enough fluids and a multivitamin supplement containing zinc, magnesium may replenish your nutrient loss. This usually goes away within one or two weeks
At the beginning of the keto diet, this is a common side-effect called "ketosis flu" or "induction flu" you may notice. Though the symptoms go away within a few days, if you stay properly hydrated, with enough electrolytes, then this state can be avoided priorly.
Within some days of going ketogenic many people experience muscle cramps in legs especially. This state is temporary and can be prevented by drinking enough water and adding supplements.
Low blood sugar
If you are used to eating a high amount of carbs every day, then the beginning a diet may lower your blood down. This is mainly because your body is accustomed to intake of a certain amount of insulin to manage the high-sugar content. So, you may experience a temporary period of short-term low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia episodes.
This diet is specific to the folks of the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. Due to the difference in traditional cuisines, the Mediterranean diet slightly differs from one to another.
In 1993, however, a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was published by the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and European office of the WHO collaboratively which is helpful for the dieters in many ways.
Numerous researches have shown that the Mediterranean diet is hugely helpful in weight loss and prevents cardiovascular disorders such as heart attacks, strokes, depression, dementia, type-2 diabetes and increases the life expectancy rate. (9,10,11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
What to eat in the Mediterranean Diet
Due to variations of countries across the mediterranean sea region, there are no fixed meal guidelines for the Mediterranean diet available.
Still, this diet is primarily based upon plant and its products such as daily intake of cereals, grains, olive oil, fruits, beans, nuts, spices, and herb, etc. (16)
If you look at the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, it suggests to eat more fruits and vegetable—but fewer dairy products, and there is no specific recommendation for the serving sizes as well.
So you can take animal protein in smaller portions as well without any issues.
Considering your physical activity, daily energy expenditure and body size, you can customize your every meal. So, the Mediterranean diet meal-menu will vary from one person to another.
What additional points makes this diet unique?
The Mediterranean diet focuses more on healthy fats.
In this diet, olive oil is recommended as the primary source of monounsaturated fat, instead of other oils, butter, etc. (17) Natural foods containing fats such as avocados, nuts walnuts and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are also included.
Fish protein is preferred as the animal protein and is recommended to eat at least twice a week. Other animal proteins such as eggs, dairy (casein or whey) and poultry are taken in small servings daily or sometimes weekly. Red meat is strictly allowed few times per month.
It allows a moderate amount of wine in meals, one-two glasses for men and one glass a day for women, along with the water as the primary beverage.
This diet emphasises daily exercise in its regime.
Proven Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
Reduces the risk of many cardiovascular diseases
Decreases the overall mortality rate
Prevent type-2 diabetes
Delays ageing and improve cognitive functions
Promotes life expectancy
Supports Weight Loss
Drawbacks of the Mediterranean Diet
No Specific nutrient limitation
As there is no proper information on how much calories are allowed in a serving, due to variations of nutrient content in foods, there is a risk of excess calorie intake. This may result in weight gain.
Mediterranean Diet – Key Takeaway:
The Dukan Diet
If you are looking for a rapid weight loss diet, then it is perfect for you!
The Dukan diet is a low-carbohydrate high-protein based fad diet designed by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French general practitioner who specializes in weight management.
The Dukan diet is not recommended as a long-term solution for weight loss due to the health concerns associated with it.
One great feature of this diet is you can diet, lose weight without feeling hungry.
The Dukan diet works on a principle different other low-carb diets. It starts by calculating your “true” weight (or, your target weight) basing upon many factors such as your date of birth, weight loss history, etc.
What to eat in the Dukan Diet?
The Dukan diet has its four phases: 2 phases for weight loss and 2 phases to keep your weight maintained forever. The meal contents are also selected differently according to each phase, these are:
It is the first step of the Dukan diet, also known as the pure protein phase. The attack phase lasts from 1-7 day. You are allowed to eat as much lean protein as you want, added with 1.5 tbsp of oat bran per day.
This is the second phase of the Dukan diet. It lasts for around 1-12 months straight. You have to take lean protein one day and another day vegetables alternatively(excluding the starchy or fatty veggies). Additionally, two tablespoons of oat bran are recommended daily.
This phase is the third step of the Dukan diet, and The average length of this phase is based on a schedule of 3 days for each pound you want to lose. Here, you are recommended to take 2.5 tablespoons of oat bran daily with unlimited lean protein, vegetables, fats and weekly one complete day of lean protein.
This is the final phase of the Dukan diet. It is followed for the rest of your life to maintain the achieved “true” weight throughout life. Here, the dietary rules are similar to the consolidation phase but oat bran consumption is increased to 3 tablespoons per day.
The Dukan diet is not extensively researched and so do not have any significant scientific pieces of evidence.
Still, the practical results so far, are considerably convincing for a faster weight loss and an improved lifestyle.
Proven Benefits of Dukan Diet
No Need to weigh your food
Don't need to Count Calories
As the diet rules are strict, the outcomes are very effective
Easy meal planning
Drawbacks of Dukan Diet
Strict Rules make the diet monotonous, less flexible, and boring over time.
The production of ketones due to speed-shift from carbohydrate process may produce bad breath, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, etc.
This diet takes your body into the state of ketosis which may lead to increased cholesterol, kidney disease.
The Lack of fruits, veggies , and whole grains may lead to nutritional deficiencies and lack of antioxidants which are essential detoxifying agents in your body.
Dukan Diet – Key Takeaway:
Now Its Your Turn
The new type of diets come and go. Modern studies help improvise the old protocols of dietary guidelines. But keep it in mind: the diet plans which shows faster weight loss and helps people achieve their results quickly becomes popular and stays in trend.
Many commercial diets with fancy names don’t support what they claim, but the evidence-based plans do what they preach.
Before all these, you have to remember that just a diet worked for someone to lose someone weights doesn’t guarantee that it’ll show the same results for you. It happens because everyone’s body responds to the diets differently.
So, while choosing the perfect diet for you take both the benefits and side-effects into consideration. However, just because a diet Ad says it is a weight loss programme that doesn’t mean it is universally applicable to everyone for long-term applications.
Apart from this, to stay fit and maintain your BMI in healthy state workouts and exercises carry as much as important as following a diet.