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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.

personal trainer

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:

Working Out

Proper Rest

Eating right

Tracking Progress

Diet 1:

The Dash Diet

Hypertension or High Blood pressure is a major headache of today’s generation. More than a billion people worldwide suffer from this condition(1,2)

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)

mint_couple

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. 1. Low in saturated and trans fats
  2. 2. Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium,  protein, and fiber
  3. 3. Low in sodium
  4.  

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.

Aids in Weight Loss

According to a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center, USA, DASH-diet alone or in combination with exercise reduces the body weight and lowers the blood pressure

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.

Decreases heart disease risk

DASH-diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and terminates the risk of gout, according to a prospective cohort study

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

Meal Planning

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.

Food Allergies

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)

Grains

6,8 Servings per day

Fruits

4-5 Servings per day

Dairy Products

2-3 Servings per day

Lean Chicken, Meat and Fish

6 or fewer servings per day

Vegetables

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

  • Foods That are high in starch
  • Foods High in Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Milk
  • Too Much Caffeinated Beverages

Best Books On Dash Diet

The 28 Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program: Recipes and Workouts to Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Your Health

The Every Day Dash Diet Cook Book Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes to Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes

The DASH Diet Younger You: Shed 20 Years - and Pounds - in Just 10 Weeks - By Marla Heller (Highly Recommended Book)

The DASH Diet Action Plan: Proven to Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Without Medication - By Marla Heller

The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution: 2 Weeks to Drop Pounds, Boost Metabolism, and Get Healthy

Lower Your Blood Pressure: A 21-Day DASH Diet Meal Plan to Decrease Blood Pressure Naturally (Has Great Reviews )

Dash Diet – Key Takeaway:

The DASH diet was initially designed for reduction of high blood pressure in persons, but modern studies helped optimizing it to a fat-loss favorable diet, by replacing the empty carbs and fat products with rich-fiber fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

Diet 2:

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):

Here, your calories come this way: 5% from carbs, 75% from fats and 20-25% from protein per day, through your diet. This diet is deficient in carbohydrates

2. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD):

Here, your calories come this way: 5% from carbs, 75% from fats and 20-25% from protein per day, through your diet. This diet is deficient in carbohydrates
 

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

Heart palpitations

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

Flu-like symptoms

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.

Muscle cramps:

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.

Best Books On Ketogenic Diet

Keto Comfort Foods: Family Favorite Recipes Made Low-Carb and Healthy By Maria Emmerich

Simply Keto: A Practical Approach to Health & Weight Loss, with 100+ Easy Low-Carb Recipes By Suzanne Ryan

Keto Made Easy: 100+ Easy Keto Dishes Made Fast to Fit Your Life By Megha Barot and Matt Gaedke

carvable keto book cover

Craveable Keto: Your Low-Carb, High-Fat Roadmap to Weight Loss and Wellness By Kyndra Holley

Keto Quick Start: A Beginner's Guide to a Whole-Foods Ketogenic Diet with More Than 100 Recipes

The Keto Diet Book Cover

The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet, with More Than 125 Delectable Recipes and 5 Meal Plans to Shed Weight

Diet 3:

Mediterranean Diet

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.

Best Books On Mediterranean Diet

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day

Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: The Complete Guide - 40 Delicious Recipes, 7-Day Diet Meal Plan, and 10 Tips for Success

The Mediterranean Diet Weight Loss Solution: The 28-Day Kickstart Plan for Lasting Weight Loss

The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen: 80 Authentic, Healthy Recipes Made Quick and Easy for Everyday Cooking - By Samantha Ferraro

Mediterranean Diet Instant Pot Cookbook: Top 100+ Instant Pot Recipes for a Successful Mediterranean Diet to Lose Weight Permanently, Save Time and Improve Your Living

Mediterranean Diet for Dummies: 56-Easy Recipes for a 14-Day Diet Meal Plan to Lose Weight and Get Healthy (Mediterranean diet beginner Book 1)

Mediterranean Diet – Key Takeaway:

Many types of research support the use of Mediterranean diet which helps in prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increases lifespan and delays aging. Plus, the caloric restrictions may also promote a worry-free weight loss in individuals.

Diet 4:

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.

Dr Pierre Dukan

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:

  1. Attack phase:

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.

  1. Cruise phase:

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.

  1. Consolidation phase:

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.

  1. The stabilisation:

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.

Best Books On Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet Made Easy: Cruise Through Permanent Weight Loss--and Keep It Off for Life! By Dr. Pierre Dukan

Dukan Diet Recipes: 42 Delicious Dukan Diet Recipes For Weight Loss BY Sara Banks (Both Kindle and Paperback editions are available.)

The Dukan Diet Cookbook: The Essential Companion to the Dukan Diet By Dr. Pierre Dukan

Dukan Diet – Key Takeaway:

Though the Dukan diet is safe for people having a healthy lifestyle, those with some medical conditions may need to consult with their physicians. This is chiefly because of strict carb elimination and high-fat in your diet may have adverse effects on your health.

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.

Prabin Padhy

Prabin Padhy

Prabin has a BSc. degree in Botany and continuing his Masters in Food and Nutrition Science currently. He is an expert Scientific Writer having Biology and Human Nutrition as specific areas of his interest. He loves to teach people the scientific ways of living a healthy life naturally by means of proper diet, fitness and a holistic wellness.

Comments 1

  1. Nancy monroe says:

    Superb guide

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