Whether it’s to look good for the summer, to lose weight for a wedding, or simply because you feel too overweight, the modern age has given rise to what could be described as an ‘obsession’ over dieting. With thousands of variants out there, along with an increasingly large amount of contradictory advice given out, it can be incredibly difficult to decide what method suits you best – if there is one miracle weight loss plan at all. With this in mind, we are going to explore just a few of the numerous fad diets out there.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet has seen a large increase in popularity in recent years, perhaps because it can be considered to be a gateway to dieting. The idea is simple – for two non-consecutive days each week, you greatly reduce the number of calories consumed (in some cases as few as 500 a day.)
A recent study carried out in a group of overweight women found that the 5:2 Diet (or intermittent fasting) was just as effective as general reduced calorie intake over an entire week. Similarly, almost identical effects were found in terms of improved blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood markers; although interestingly, the 5:2 fasting group showed a higher level of insulin resistance. Furthermore, studies in animal models suggest that intermittent fasting may have other health benefits – particularly in Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the build-up of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s, as well as boosting brain cell growth.
Evidence suggests that if general calorie reduction is not effective, then the 5:2 diet may be worth a try. However, caution is required as the study was only carried out in overweight women – whether similar effects can be seen in other demographics is still to be determined. Furthermore, this diet is not for everyone with some people experiencing symptoms including nausea, headaches and dehydration in relation to the fasting. It is also important to consider your own health. The 5:2 diet is not recommended if you are pregnant, have specific health disorders such as diabetes or a history of eating disorders. If you’re considering this diet, talk to your doctor first!
With the latest scientific evidence suggesting that most people consume way more sugar than we should, it makes sense to try to reduce the quantity of sugar that we eat. The Sugar Free diet suggests the removal of sugar from the diet, replacing it with lean protein and foods full of natural fats.
Perhaps because it is an idea that’s been around for a while, this diet is much less of a fad. Yet the scientific evidence implies that this may well be one of the better ways to reduce your weight. Sugar, unlike fats and proteins, is not as exclusively needed in the same way. High sugar diets may even be more damaging than you realise. According to Dr Ogden of the University of Surrey, sugary snacks, whilst initially sating our craving for food, can leave us even hungrier afterwards, resulting in overeating.
However, the most important thing according to Ogden is to avoid cutting out sugar straight away. One problem that could arise is that this can leave you with sugar cravings, so slowly withdrawing sugar from your diet will be more effective than a straight removal.
The Hormone Cure
The Hormone Cure diet proclaims that imbalances in hormones are one of the main reasons why many people fail in weight loss targets. Advice includes making cuts to gluten, caffeine, or consuming lean proteins and grass-fed meat!
Unfortunately, whilst hormones can play some role in your general health, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that eating particular foods or avoiding certain ingredients can have any effect on controlling hormone balance, according to Dr Burke of Bristol University.
Here we’ve presented three of the countless diets easily available on the web. Whilst some can be questioned on their actual effectiveness, and others can have some unfortunate side effects, the most important thing to remember if you are considering undertaking any form of weight loss programme is to consult your doctor first! They are the professionals, listen to their advice.