Dieting and losing weight is something which a large proportion of us will experience at some point in our life. The need to eat a balanced diet and control weight loss effectively has become more important over the last 20 years. As obesity rates have swelled, so has the focus on ‘image’.
Exercising regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle can also lead to weight loss and image transformation, it is with dieting however that everyone’s fascination seems to lie. There is no quick fix or a miracle cure, although several sources of media would have you believe this is the case.
Women’s magazines are packed full of new diets and diet miracle stories. There are specific television shows which spend hours analysing diets and encouraging those who need to lose weight to try particular regimes. Life in the 21st Century revolves around how you look and dieting plays a major part in this particular concept.
After researching a list of over 50 popular diets this article aims to highlight the top five diets available. Each will be analysed highlighting its advantages and disadvantages, with prices and a thorough description also included for each diet.
It is recommended to combine diet and exercise as opposed to dieting alone, these five diets should provide readers with an ideal platform from which they can begin their weight loss programme, when integrated with weight loss exercises identified in other articles on this site.
The first of our top five diets is WeightWatchers. WeightWatchers were one of the first to introduce the concept of a calorie controlled diet, for which a points system is used to calculate calorie intake. WeightWatchers uses the ProPoints system. This system analyses foods in accordance to their carbohydrate, fat, protein and fibre intake before labelling it with a points value.
WeightWatchers dieters are given a daily points total and are expected to keep a record of the points of the foods they consume each day. Those who manage not to consume in excess of their recommended daily points total are those who gain the best results, keeping in line with the figure WeightWatchers recommends is the key to losing weight with this particular diet. Healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables are excluded from the ProPoints system and therefore dieters are encouraged to eat as much of these foods as possible.
Despite encouraging healthy eating, WeightWatchers offers a lot more than just a balanced diet. The weekly meetings which dieters are invited to attend are a great way for WeightWatchers users to meet each other whilst they get weighed. At these meetings the dieters can discuss how their week of dieting has gone and any issues they have discovered during the seven days. The meetings are hosted by specialist WeightWatchers leaders who provide support and guidance to their clients, promoting a healthy lifestyle change as well as a healthy diet.
Advantages: The WeightWatchers brand is possibly one of the most recognised diet brands on the market today. One of the advantages of dieting with WeightWatchers is that they do not only provide dieters with advice and support via their weekly meetings but they also have their own range of foods, an extensive range at that. Some may find the WeightWatchers range expensive, however for those following the diet closely these products can be a god send. The portions are suitably measured to suit anyone on the diet and the ProPoints for each product is clearly highlighted on the packaging.
Another great advantage of the WeightWatchers diet is that no foods are excluded, everything can be consumed, just in moderation. This feature makes dieting with WeightWatchers feel relatively normal and is one of the main reasons why WeightWatchers is so popular.
Disadvantages: A major disadvantage of the WeightWatchers programme is that it does not include a fitness element, it is all food and diet based. Those with the self- motivation and the time to part- take in their own exercise regime may not find this an issue. However, anyone who struggles with exercise may find their weight loss is limited if they persevere with the WeightWatchers diet and do not combine it with exercise.
Another slight disadvantage is the complications experienced with the ProPoints system. Some experienced WeightWatchers dieters have confessed that they have been pressured into purchasing the WeightWatchers branded products simply because calculating the points manually is time consuming, despite WeightWatchers providing all their customers with a handheld points calculator and a ProPoints booklet identifying the points of popular foods.
Price: £4.50 per week.
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Second in the Body2shape list of top five diets is Slimming World. Although just as popular as WeightWatchers, Slimming World follows a very different principle, there is no calorie or points counting. The Slimming World diet encourages dieters to exchange their high fat diet for a low fat diet, without losing the energy your body needs on a daily basis.
Those behind the Slimming World diet have identified a whole range of meals which are low fat, filling and most of all very tasty. The range of food that those on the Slimming World diet have access to is staggering, there are no banned foods it is all about alternatives. Swapping fried bacon for grilled bacon for example.
Slimming World encourage dieters to include as much fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, fish, eggs, rice and meat as possible. These are the types of foods identified as both healthy and filling, an ideal alternative to burgers, chips, pizzas and curries.
Similar to WeightWatchers, those who follow the Slimming World diet are invited to attend a weekly meeting at which they can be weighed and discuss new recipes, all together as a group. Although there is no compulsory fitness element to Slimming World, those who host the weekly meetings are encouraged to discuss potential fitness regimes to their groups and more information on these regimes can be provided at the meetings for those who wish to become involved.
Advantages: The main advantage of following the Slimming World diet is that it does not totally discard the need to exercise regularly in addition to following a balanced diet. Although the weekly meetings are focused on diet and are designed to allow all dieters to weigh themselves and record their progress, those who host the meetings do encourage regular exercise. In terms of catalysing weight loss, the mixture of regular exercise and a balanced diet is likely to increase results dramatically compared to dieting alone.
Another advantage is that the Slimming World diet does not attempt to eradicate the consumption of particular foods. At the same time the diet does not promote an unhealthy diet, it identifies healthier alternatives and encourages dieters to choose healthy options. This is ideal for anyone wary of losing their freedom by enrolling on a particular diet or anyone struggling with another diet because they are having to cut certain types of foods from their daily intake.
Disadvantages: As an education resource Slimming World is slightly misguided. With calorie counting and portion sizes not deemed important, some Slimming World dieters find losing weight a struggle. Educating dieters about appropriate portion sizes in particular is very important, the advantages of consuming a balanced diet are limited if portion sizes are too large and this is likely to have a direct impact on weight loss. For the majority the lack of education is counteracted by the weekly meeting, during these sessions dieters can discuss any issues they have regarding slimming world. It is those who stop dieting with Slimming World that suffer most from the lack of education and this usually results in their weight loss being temporary.
Price: £4.95 per week (£10.00 membership fee).
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Third in this list of top five diets is the Rosemary Conley diet. This is the only diet included in this article which focuses on the combination of diet and fitness as opposed to just dieting. The Rosemary Conley diet is very similar to the WeightWatchers diet in the way it uses a calorie counting system to determine which foods are recommended and which are not. This particular diet is a low fat and low GI diet.
Like WeightWatchers Rosemary Conley has her own range of ready made meals which can be purchased from all major supermarkets. Again the points value of these meals is identified on the packaging and this allows dieters to calculate their daily points total easily. As well as ready made meals, the Rosemary Conley diet also encourages dieters to share recipes, low fat of course. Recipes are regularly published in the Rosemary Conley monthly magazine but can also be discussed at the weekly group meetings. These meetings are not only designed for dieters to discuss their weekly issues but also for them to exercise as a group. It is the group exercising which allows Rosemary Conley dieters to combine a balanced diet with a regular fitness regime, although they are also encouraged to exercise in their spare time.
Advantages: The most notable advantage of dieting with Rosemary Conley is that the weekly sessions include an element of fitness, something which the other diets in this article do not. It is well known that the combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise can contribute to substantial weight loss. Although a balanced diet itself can have a major impact, the addition of exercise can be the catalyst for weight loss.
Other advantages of using the Rosemary Conley diet to lose weight is the camaraderie created at group sessions. Everyone diets together, everyone exercises together and everyone discusses their issues together, this helps create a great spirit within the group. For some losing weight is very difficult but there is something about the atmosphere at Rosemary Conley sessions which seems to ease particular difficulties.
Disadvantages: For some the intensity of the Rosemary Conley diet is a major disadvantage as it does not suit their lifestyle. With this diet there is no middle ground, dieters either have to embrace it completely or not at all. The combination of diet and exercise can become too much for some and their results suffer. Those who want to diet casually would probably be better suited to some of the other diets identified in this article, particularly those which are less time consuming.
Price: £20.00 per month.
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Another of Body2shape's top five diets is LighterLife. Of the top five diets included in this article the LighterLife diet is one of two diets which supply foods as well as recommending them. It is around this concept which the LighterLife diet is based, with conventional food being replaced by LighterLife supplements. The supplements come in the form of soups, mousses, bars and shakes, all provided by LighterLife. The nutritional value of the supplements is pre- calculated and therefore LighterLife are able to recommend particular products to those dieters who need it most.
Depending on BMI, some dieters are encouraged to combine the LighterLIfe supplements with small amounts of regular food. Others however, usually those with more weight to lose, are instructed to only consume the LighterLife supplements.
LighterLife does not encourage its dieters to take part in any form of physical activity, instead it provides them with a weekly counselling session. At these sessions dieters can ask for expert advice, diet advice, review weight loss and ask any questions they wish regarding their specific diet. Although some deem the inclusion of a weekly exercise session more important than a counselling session it is vital that those following the LighterLife diet are supported correctly because of the strict rules they have to follow in their quest to lose weight.
Advantages: One of the main advantages of the LighterLife diet is that there is no points or calorie counting, much of the labour is taken out of the hands of the dieter. The food supplements are provided to suit each particular dieter and each are briefed as to what they should eat and when. For those with a busy lifestyle this type of diet is ideal, they can even eat the supplements on the go without having to worry about their content.
LighterLife only provide their dieters with a set amount of supplements at a time, this could be a weeks supply for example. This can be a great advantage to some dieters as it prevents them from overeating, for example they cannot eat a whole month’s supply within a week, again this helps to increase weight loss.
Disadvantages: Some might see this as an advantage but those with a concern for their own health and well- being will be deterred by the fact the LighterLIfe diet encourages rapid weight loss, something which is not healthy for the body. Those with more weight to lose seem to shred the pounds at a faster rate than others anyway but the LighterLife diet catalyses this effect. It is for this reason that all potential dieters should visit their GP before enrolling on the LighterLife diet as for some it may not be safe.
Another disadvantage of this diet is that it does not encourage a healthy lifestyle change, instead it presents dieters with an easy, short term solution to their weight loss issue. Many choose to stop dieting with LighterLife once they reach their target weight and within a short space of time end up gaining weight once more. The protocol of this diet results in dieters not being educated, instead of gaining knowledge of healthy foods to eat and portion sizes they are just given the supplements and instructed what to eat and when.
Price: £1.80- £2.15 (food supplements) and £15 per week for counselling sessions.
The final diet included in this list of top five diets is Slim Fast. Slim Fast is another recognisable dieting brand and another which focuses on the advantages of using food supplements. However, unlike LighterLife, the Slim Fast diet does encourage those looking to lose weight to combine its products with regular meals. Slim Fast divide their supplements into two categories, meal replacements and snacks. Dieters are recommended to consume two meal replacement products a day, three snacks a day as well as a regular meal.
The Slim Fast snack range includes a load of products, allowing dieters to vary their snack intake on a daily basis. Surprisingly the snacks include, crisps and chocolate with the meal replacement products usually coming in the form of shakes and bars. Even the recommended regular meal should come from the Slim Fast recipe book if dieters are to follow this diet to the word. Once weight loss escalates and dieters become familiar with the Slim Fast model they are encouraged to gradually reduce their intake of snacks and meal replacements and focus more on the Slim Fast recipes. This is an attempt to maintain weight loss whilst becoming less reliant on the Slim Fast products.
Advantages: The main advantage of following the Slim Fast diet is that it is so simple to follow. The plan of what to eat and when is clearly set out and access to the required products is very straight forward. Again there is no counting points and calories whilst patrolling the supermarket shelves, Slim Fast do all of the hard work.
In addition, the range of products available to dieters is fantastic, they are not limited to a few types of soup or one meal supplement, there is a lot to choose from and this makes dieting easier. Similarly the recipe book is a brilliant way to educate dieters as they lose weight and it also provides them with additional freedom. Once they have halted their reliance on the Slim Fast products the recipes become more important and it is therefore a great advantage that throughout their whole dieting regime the Slim Fast dieters have had access to the whole range of recipes.
Disadvantages: Unfortunately the ease of dieting with Slim Fast comes at a price and it is the price of the products which deter many away from the Slim Fast diet. A pack of six Slim Fast shakes for example can cost just under £8.00. Bearing in mind some people could consume two of these a day, the overall cost of dieting with Slim Fast could total to a staggering amount, especially over a period of time.
Another disadvantage of dieting with Slim Fast is the lack of exercise. Compared to the Rosemary Conley diet Slim Fast do not encourage their dieters to part- take in any form of exercise. Although it is well known that when combined with a healthy diet exercise can contribute to weight loss, it is likely that a lot of Slim Fast dieters don’t have the energy stores to exercise regularly because of the limited diet they are on, this is a major disadvantage.
Price: No subscription fee. Slim Fast product prices vary with bulk buys proving to be the most cost- effective.
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