Which diets really work?

So we’ve had high fat, low fat, high fibre, low fibre, only carbohydrate, no carbohydrate, drink fasts, fruit fasts, vegetarian diets, Zone, Atkins, South Beach and we still don’t seem to be getting thin as a nation!

So which diets do work?

Well the first thing to know is the energy balance equation:

Energy in = Energy out.

In other words if what goes in to you from food is equally matched by all the energy you use up just being and doing in a day then you will maintain your weight.

For you to lose weight you’ve got to tip the balance one way. You’ve got to have less energy in than the energy you need. This can be by eating less or by doing more activity. A bit of both is usually best.

And that’s the basics of it. If a diet or fitness and exercise plan works for you then somehow you are ending up eating less than you use up.

But just eating less isn’t the answer. If you cut food out or miss meals you are going to be left very hungry. That means you are more likely to overeat the next meal you have and you’re diet will fail sooner or later.

For a diet to work you’ve got to be able to sustain it. Most diet plans are so radical or frankly odd, making you totally avoid foods, or eat loads of a food you’d never normally eat, so you can’t keep it up, it’s just not practical or realistic and you get sick of it.

So my advice is to find an eating plan that you first of all enjoy, second one that you can put together easily so that it happens and thirdly one that is made of real food in meals that look like a good plate of food. Anything weird or whacky just won’t stand the test of time.

Go for the basic 3 meals, with one or two healthy snacks in between, all made of good nutrient packed ingredients and you’re on track for an enjoyable eating plan for life which will also keep you in shape and top health.

Some background on the diet fads:

Atkins diet: this was made popular in the 1990’s by Dr Atkins a cardiologist with the high fat, high protein, no carbohydrate diet. This diet still has many supporters because it allows you to eat plenty of fatty foods and meats, but is restrictive on fruit and vegetables, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta. This diet actually gives a fast weight loss if followed to the letter. It is also the one to have the fastest and greatest rebound. That means that when you don’t follow it you’ll put all that fat back on and fast! Because so many foods are restricted it is hard to stick to. Also many of the usual taboos are still there – no chips, crisps, cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, desserts etc. And because all the healthy fruit and vegetables and wholegrain cereals and breads are restricted this one can lead to constipation and a lack of nutrients. So not one I would recommend.

The blood type diets: These diets are not based on any science. They follow the idea that different blood types evolved at different times, so allow only those foods thought to be available at each of these times. So for those with the blood type O, it is proposed that this was the earliest and simplest blood type and so is assigned to early cave man hunter gatherer times by the author of this diet plan. This blood type supposedly should go for animal proteins and avoid dairy and grains to match what early primitive man would have eaten, whereas blood type A’s are encouraged to go for vegetarian diets. Different combinations are given for type B and type AB.


Like all other diets that help with weight loss it only works if you end up eating less calories than you were before and you usually do as all the usual don’ts are in there – no crisps, chips, cakes, confectionary, sweets or other junk food.