Since I can remember I have seen diet books on bookshelves everywhere. Recently, however, everyone seems to be on some sort of diet or another. Often I hear people saying things like I’m Paleo, or I’m Juicing. Before you were either on The Zone, South Beach or checking your Blood Type. With so many diets available today in the market, it seems difficult to pick one. I even have a colleague that has a collection of diets. Seriously. You know how some people collect mugs, t shirts or even coins. Well, she collects diets. She has a binder with all sorts of diets. Whenever a friend of hers was on a diet she would tell them: “let me have a copy”. She has them all – from the master cleanse to the 2 day detox to the Dukan diet (became very popular in Europe).

My colleague is a woman who is overweight, she admits she does not like to exercise (she says when she walks by a gym she gets hives, LOL!), so she feels her only solution to weight loss is dieting.

Since all diets seem to work, at least for a period time, how can she, or anyone, pick the right diet for weight loss? Better yet, which diet can help you maintain your weight loss?

You need to remember though that diets are not the answer to weight loss in the long term, you need a balance of healthy eating and exercise to achieve the best results. Simply dieting by reducing your calories will not help tone your body or help you become fitter.

Lets have a look at some of the more popular diets and their characteristics:

The Zone:

I remember when everyone was doing The Zone back in the 90s. This diet was developed by Dr. Barry Sears to keep you in ‘the zone’, a sports related term used to describe a heightened awareness where athletes perform at their best with ease. Its philosophy is based around insulin, stating that excess insulin makes the body gain weight. The Zone helps you regulate blood sugar levels by balancing carbohydrates (40%), proteins (30%) and fats (30%) at every meal. The Zone restricts processed carbohydrates and encourages drinking 8 glasses of water per day and eating fresh vegetables, fruits and leafy greens.

South Beach Diet:

Developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist from South Beach, for his patients. When he saw the amazing results his patients were getting from his diets, he published the book in 2000 so other SoBes and beachgoers alike could reap the same benefits. This diet is similar to other low-carb diets but helps you tell the difference between the right types of carbs and fats and lean proteins. Encourages you to eat plenty of fresh veggies, lean proteins (eggs, chicken, fish), cheese and nuts. The South Beach diet restricts the following: candy, ice cream, fruit, potatoes, breads, rice, beer and alcohol.

Blood Type Diet:

A very personalized approach to the food you eat based on your blood type. Each blood type has foods that are good or bad, since the approach is that each blood type is derived from a different time in evolution and therefore affects how each person reacts to different foods and diseases. For example, blood type O functions best on a meat-centered diet while blood type A functions best on a plant based diet. B blood type can consume dairy products better than A’s or O’s and AB blood type seem to respond best to a mixed diet in moderation. This diet was developed by Dr. Peter D’Adamo in the mid 90s, but pioneered by his father Dr. James D’Adamo many years before.

Paleolithic or Caveman Diet:

Commonly known as the Paleo Diet, this diet focuses on how and what our ancestors ate — grass-fed meat and whole foods (vegetables, fruits, roots and nuts) — over 10,000 years ago. The New York Times published an article in 2010 talking about the paleo movement and these urban cavemen who keep refrigerated meat lockers in their homes and follow exercise routines that are high intensity, which resemble how our ancestors might have fled from danger. Not surprisingly, many men are fans of this diet.

Cleansing Diets:

The basic premise of these diets is to detox your body with a restricted plan of whole foods, or through juicing fruits and veggies or the lemonade/master cleanse. The results experienced can include better digestion, better understanding of allergies and food intolerances and increased energy. Each of the approaches recommends one type of food (or drink) or another. The Master Cleanse, for example, is a mixture of water, fresh lime/lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup that you must drink 6-12 times per day for 10 days with a maximum of 40 days. Other less extreme approaches are drinking juices, such as the ones prepared by Joe Cross in his documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I myself like to do a juice and veggie cleanse every few months. I have to admit that although I follow a mostly plant-based diet, my body responds very nicely to this change and seems to appreciate the juices.

We have merely looked at 5 different approaches to diets, and the list can go on and on for pages to come. We are individuals, which means we each respond differently to one diet approach or another. What works for me may not necessarily work for you. Something my colleague has learned from trying so many of her friends’ diets for so many years.

A common theme with all these diets is the inclusion of whole foods and the exclusion of processed foods. Just making that one small change can benefit your waistline and your health long term. Looking good and feeling good is about what you put in your body and how you treat it. So whether you are zoning, detoxing or eating for your blood type, make sure you are sticking to REAL foods and getting your groove on at the gym.

Ana De Castro

Ana is an integrative nutrition health coach, personal trainer, group fitness instructor and bikini world champion. In her free time she is also a mom to a 3 & 4 year old and an agent to celebrity and Michelin-star chefs. She loves to eat and cook and you will often see her posting pictures of food on her twitter and instagram accounts.... Read More

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