The wide range of available diets underlines the fact that no one diet suits everyone. Some people do best by counting calories, others by going low carb and others by staying low fat. Each method has its pros and cons, supporters and detractors. Here’s our take on 6 of the most popular diets currently available. Most are high protein, high fibre, low-fat, phased diets that encourage you to eat more lean protein, fruit and vegetables. Whether you prefer ready meals, personal coaching, meal replacements or attending a slimming club, one of these options may bring you long-term success this year.
The Jenny Craig Diet
The Jenny Craig diet promises you rapid results, helping you to lose up to 16 pounds in just 4 weeks. The average weight loss achieved in a clinical study was 11.6lb for those who completed the program. www.jennycraig.com.
Concept: The Jenny Craig diet aims to address Food, Body and Mind. The program provides portion controlled, mail-order, and microwaveable pouched meals. You eat three, nutritionally balanced, pre-packed meals and one snack each day plus additional allowed fresh fruit, veg, low-fat dairy and heart-healthy fats. Increased physical activity is also key, with at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days per week.
Menu: Over 100 individual, pre-packed items to choose from, including cereals, soups, risottos, pasta bakes, casseroles, curries, pizza, burgers, tacos, cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, shakes and more. Snacks include flavoured potato bites, cupcakes, popcorn and cereal bars.
Support: Regular phone calls from a personal consultant at least once a week to track your progress and provide advice. You also have access to a lively community at
Results: In a clinical trial involving 442 overweight or obese women, weight loss was three times more over a two-year period for those following the program, compared with those dieting on their own following advice from a dietician (6.2 kg or 6.8% of their initial weight versus 2.0 kg or 2.1%).
Opinion: Useful for those who prefer not to cook. The support means that the Jenny Craig diet is one of the most effective for long-term weight loss.
The Dukan Diet
The Dukan Diet claims it is a fast, efficient and natural diet that can help you lose 5kg in 1 month, 10kg in 2 months, 20kg in 4 months, and 30kg in 6 months. www.dukandiet.co.uk.
Concept: The original Dukan Diet is a high protein, low-fat slimming diet that involves 4 phases. The first Attack phase aims to achieve rapid ‘meteoric’ weight loss, while the Cruise phase gets you to your True Weight. Then, the Consolidation phase and Stabilisation phases help you keep the weight off in which you have one protein-only day every week eg on Thursdays.
The new Dukan Diet 2 is a more flexible program based on a nutritional staircase of 7 steps. In the first 2 steps, you can eat unlimited quantities of the 100 allowed foods. Weight loss is more gradual and constant as a result of following good, healthy, eating habits.
Menu: The original Dukan Diet revolves around 100 permitted foods from which you prepare your own dishes and includes lots of vegetables. Over 800 recipes are provided. In addition, you can by Dukan branded weight loss products such as oat bran biscuits, bars, cookies, shakes, spreads, mayo, konjac rice and konjac tagliatelle.
Support: On-line personalised coaching. Daily to and from emails – report your daily weight and receive menu options, an exercise plan and motivational support. There is also an active on-line slimming community.
Results: Developed by French neurologist and nutritionist, Dr Pierre Dukan, it has been used by millions of French women for at least 15 years. In a study involving 48 people who completed all four phases of the diet over 24 weeks, average weight loss was nearly 12 pounds, with some losing as much as 45 pounds.
Opinion: Ideal if you need daily support to keep you on track, and want to make your own meals without necessarily having to use ready meals or meal-replacement products.
The EuroDiet is a phased ketogenic (low carb) and low calorie diet created by a group of doctors to help their patients lose weight, and involves medical monitoring by a doctor trained in the EuroDiet method. The program is designed to reprogram your relationship with food. www.eurodiet.co.uk and https://eurodiet.com
Concept: There are four phases to the EuroDiet, which revolve around cooking with high-protein, low-fat products plus lots of vegetables. Your starting phase will depend on your health assessment, body composition, target weight-loss, eating habits and your motivation. The first two phases are low-carb to encourage ketogenic fat-burning for those with high BMI (Phase 1 for BMI 30+, Phase 2 for BMI 27+). Phase 3 is a low-calorie for those with BMI 25+. Phase 4 is a maintenance phase for once you have reached your goal weight.
Menu: While you are encouraged to prepare your own food, a wide range of ready-to-eat low carb products that are high in fibre and protein, with a low glycemic index, are available, ranging from biscuits, muffins and bars and ready meals, to mixes for hot drinks, shakes, soups, pancakes, mashed potato, high protein pasta, high protein rice, chocolate brownies and other desserts.
Support: Throughout the program, your doctor/health professional will monitor your progress, helping you to avoid dietary pitfalls, and ensure that you lose fat rather than muscle. Psychological support will also aid the weight-loss process and help you sustain your newly acquired good eating habits long term. On-line videos of chef making meals from products.
Results: 32 people following the four phase, ketogenic, low calorie Eurodiet approach were followed for 7 months. Average weight loss was 14.7 kg or 14.2% of original body weight. They also had significant improvements in glucose control and cholesterol balance. https://content.iospress.com/articles/mediterranean-journal-of-nutrition-and-metabolism/mnm020
Opinion: A personalised approach offering rapid weight loss under medical supervision for those with the most to lose.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet is a low carb diet which helps you achieve a rapid weight loss initially. You start off eating very low levels of carbohydrates, and slowly increase. The plan has been updated to focus on eating right, rather than eating less. https://www.atkins.com/
Concept: ATKINS 20 is the new guise of the traditional Atkins diet which is recommended if you have more than 40 pounds to lose, have a large waist (over 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men) or have pre-diabetes or diabetes. ATKINS 40 is for those who have less than 40 pounds to lose, or who want to eat a wider variety of foods from the beginning.
Menu: Initially, you avoid high carb foods such as flour, bread, pasta, rice, grains, starchy vegetables and foods that combine protein and carbohydrates such as chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts or seeds. Fruit intake is restricted. You eat high protein foods such as fish, meat and eggs plus lots of non-root vegetables and salad products. As you progress with weight loss, you introduce more fruits and start eating beans, sweet potatoes and healthy grains such as oats and brown rice. Low carb Atkins meal kits, fresh meal deliveries, frozen foods, shakes, bars and treats are also available, but are not essential to follow the program.
Support: Free diet apps, carb counter, meal plans, shopping lists and over 1,600 low carb recipes are available for free on line. Register, build your meal plan, track and lose weight with the free tools.
Results: The Atkins Diet is well researched and shown to produce significant short-term and long-term weight loss. A review of 48 clinical trials involving different weight loss programs found that, after 6 months follow-up, the Atkins diet produced the greatest average weight loss of 10.14 kg.
Opinion: While initially controversial, the Atkins Diet has stood the test of time. Follow it correctly though – the veggies are important. Don’t just eat bacon, eggs and steak, which is where many people go wrong.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo or Caveman diet is based on the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors living in the Paleolithic Era before the agricultural revolution. Advocates of the Paleo diet believe that humans evolved nutritional needs specific to the foods available at that time and modern humans remain best adapted to the same diet.
Concept: Lose weight and get healthy by eating the food on which our caveman ancestors evolved: lean meat, fish, seafood, fresh fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, non-starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes, eggs, nuts and seeds. Natural oils are also allowed, such as avocado, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee (both from grass fed cows) and animal fat rendered from cooking meats. You must avoid added sugars, grains (wheat, barley, rye etc), beans, legumes (including peanuts), starchy foods (eg potatoes), dairy foods, hydrogenated vegetable oils (corn, canola, soy bean, margarine etc) and all processed foods.
Menu: Hunter gatherer foods only – if you can’t gather it or spear it, it’s probably not allowed.
Support: Cook books and online information.
Results: While not specifically a weight loss diet, its emphasis on no sugar, processed foods, grains or dairy does promote weight loss. A study involving 27 overweight and obese women who followed the Paleolithic Diet for 24 months showed an average weight loss of 7.9 kg (9.0% body weight) after six months and 9.2 kg (10.6% body weight) after 12 months
Opinion: Arguably the best way to eat for human metabolism. Ideal for steak lovers. You need to ensure good calcium intakes, however.
The WeightWatchers Flex Diet
WeightWatchers has undergone a massive revamp and now offers its most flexible program ever. The new WW Flex approach encourages you to enjoy food and makes healthy eating and weight loss as simple as possible. https://www.weightwatchers.com/uk and https://www.weightwatchers.com
Concept: Designed to overcome the calorie delusion – the number of calories you THINK you are eating is often much less than you are ACTUALLY eating. So, rather than counting calories, you count SmartPoints which take into account the amount of energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre per portion. You are assigned a personalised SmartPoints budget and it’s up to you which foods you ‘spend’ these on. In addition, there are over 200 Zero Points foods (eg skinless chicken, seafood, legumes, eggs, veggies) that you can enjoy without having to track.
Menu: Build your meals around high protein, fibre-rich foods and vegetables, keeping within your SmartPoints budget. Recipe ideas show their SmartPoints count, and include pancakes, overnight oats, Filo sausage rolls, soups, stir-fries, curries, pasta bakes, chili con carne and other popular meals.
Support: Weight watchers offers diet plans, recipe ideas, and weekly meetings, plus online and App support.
Results: The new plan guides you towards filling and healthy foods that provides the greatest eating satisfaction, and which burn the most energy during their processing.
Opinion: Ideal for those who struggle to lose weight on their own, and want to join a local slimming club for peer support. Even if you aren’t following the WW SmartPoints system, their healthy recipes are worth browsing.
Have you followed any of these 6 diets? How easy were they to follow, and how much weight did you lose?