Probably the most important things people want to know when they think the time has come (again) to cut some of the daily food intake is which diet is the best.
Although we are all different beings, we all share the same goal: a diet that can make us thin in no time at all. Some sort of miracle pill or eating plan that makes fat go away and never ever return. That's actually the second part of the big wish: how to make sure that all the weight lost through dieting stays lost through the years.
The more diets published in magazines and on the Internet, the more people are confused about what dieting really means and about the right way of bringing your body back in shape. The growing number of overweight people has turned weight loss into an industry like never before and the market is growing every year. It seems that nowadays all one needs is a fashionable idea and a flair for marketing in order to make a lot of money or garner a lot of popularity by proposing some sort of weird diet, despite the lack of professional expertise in this field.
And there is a LOT of diets out there. We're going to go here only through the best-known diets, since a review of all the diets floating around the industry would be beyond the scope of this article.
So let's start with one of the latest fads of the dieting world: the Atkins diet.
Pretty much everybody's head of the Atkins diet, largely due to the flood of articles praising the extraordinary results, not to mention the loads of good mail from satisfied customers. The biggest thing in favor of this diet is that it lets you eat high fat dairy products like cheese and butter. However, the Atkins diet has fallen from its lofty perch over suspicions of increasing the risk of heart diseases, not to mention the proved fact that bigger number of followers complain of diarrhea, weakness, muscle cramps and rashes. The debate over the scientific fundamentals of this diet is still raging.
Next comes the Zone diet, another well-known eating plan. This diet is the brainchild of Barry Sears and it's all about eating the right mix of foods in order to reach the proper hormonal balance. This state of balance, which is called the "Zone", lets the body take in calories and use them through the day without putting anything aside as fat. Unfortunately, this diet does some serious discrimination among foods without any scientific basis. Starchy vegetables, whole grains and beans are banned, although these foods are not in conflict with the principles of the diet. The American Heart Association says the Zone diet lacks essential nutrients while promoting high-protein foods.
The Jenny Craig diet is next on the list. One of the longest running diets, Jenny Craig started this business in the early 1980s and it's still around. The basic idea of this diet is a trade off: you don't have to choose recipes, do the shopping and the cooking, but you have to buy the Jenny Craig prepackaged food. And that runs to some $100 per week. Plus the membership costs. Plus the vegetables and fruits which are not included in the prepackaged food. If you can afford it and if you can stick to it, the diet is pretty good. However, similar low-calorie foods can be bought at the grocery store and you don't have to discuss this with a Jenny Craig expert that insists on your eating the prepackaged food because he gets a percentage of the sale price.
From sunny Florida comes the South Beach diet. This one has the right idea and wrong approach combination down pat. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people have managed to lose weight with this diet and it actually works. But the question is: can you really stick to it? The first phase of the diet will eliminate most foods containing carbohydrates from your daily consumption. Fortunately, this phase lasts two weeks. Unfortunately, second phase focuses on a half-hearted return of whole grains and fruits and lasts... as long as necessary. If reaching the desired weight takes you one year, then that's exactly how long this phase is going to last. And if you don't like the foods allowed by this diet then you're out of luck. There are no alternatives.
Weight Watchers. This is actually one of the best diets around because it puts all the management tools in the hands of the user. If you are really committed to losing weight, you have all the information you need to do it. And a lot of people who are going through the same thing are going to be there to help you. If having company during difficult times helps your willpower, then you are probably going to lose all that extra weight. If, on the other hand, you don't like the idea of being constantly under peer pressure, then this diet is not for you.
As you can see from this short review, there are a lot of diets out there, dozens more than we've been able to cover here. The best thing to do when choosing a diet is to do as much research about it as possible. See what people who tried it have to say. Then see what doctors and dietitians have to say about it. Between those singing praises and those trying to prove the diet wrong you can probably get the truth yourself. Still, pay special attention to what the doctors have to say. If they tell you a certain diet will put your body to risk then think twice before trying it.