Low carbs and high protein is the way to lose weight, or so you’ll hear from one diet guru, and he has the testimonials to back it up. Low fat, lots of carbs and fresh fruits and veggies, says another – and he’s got the back up from satisfied users, too. A third swears that you need to count the amount of sugar; another tells you the enemy is white flour – if you want to lose real weight and keep it off, who do you listen to?
Take a look at the brief summaries below for a quick overview of the pros and cons of each of the popular types of diet plans.
Low Carb-Hi Protein Diets
Diets like the Atkins, the South Beach and the Zone Diet all recommend restricted carbohydrates and allow liberal amounts of protein, including protein derived from animal sources. Generally, they limit the overall amount of carbohydrates, or teach you to differentiate between “good” and “bad” carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates, which are forbidden, include white flour, white bread, and white sugar.
Pros: The diets all encourage learning healthy eating as part of losing weight. Deriving most of your daily calories from high fiber sources of carbs like leafy green vegetables and grains is generally considered the best diet for nutrition by the established medical community. The popularity of the diets makes it easy to find low-carb foods.
Cons: The allowance of eating all the protein and fats you like flies in the face of conventional medical wisdom. A diet high in saturated fats could lead to heart disease, diabetes, gout and other chronic health conditions. Following the diets’ cautions and advice to keep portions reasonable should mitigate that concern, though.
Weight Loss “Programs”
Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Weight Watchers, SlimFast and a number of other weight loss programs rely heavily on pre-packaged ‘diet’ foods. They incorporate professional coaching, social structure and reinforcement.
Pros: The professional coaching and nutritional benefits are a big plus, as are the reinforcement and support aspect of the diets. Meals and supplements are prepackaged in the right proportions, and if you stick to the diets and exercise as directed you will lose weight.
Cons: The weekly fees and cost of meals can be expensive. In addition, if you rely completely on the packaged foods, you miss out on the re-education of your eating habits, which is important to maintaining any weight lost.
The Real Mayo Clinic Diet
This is not the diet that has circulated for the past thirty or more years and purported to have originated at the Mayo Clinic! The true Mayo Clinic’s nutrition and diet center recommends a healthy eating weight loss plan based on limiting fats, proteins and carbohydrates, counting calories and deriving most of the daily nutrition from vegetables, grains and fruit.
Pros: There’s no ‘diet’. Instead, you’re encouraged to take control of your eating. Portion control and sensible balance of nutrients are the cornerstones of a weight loss plan that takes weight off gradually, and helps you keep it off permanently.
Cons: It may be difficult to stay on the diet. Counting calories and portions can be difficult if you’re eating out or on the run.
There are many diets that promise to take weight off quickly and painlessly, without exercise or changing your eating habits. The three major variations of diets above all will result in 1-2 pounds of loss per week, which most doctors believe is the optimum way to lose weight for long lasting results.