It’s well established that a healthy diet can significantly affect your waistline. When you eat junk food, you tend to put on weight. What’s more, some foods seem to stimulate your appetite more than others. While it would be great to be able to count on hunger pangs as a signal to get you to the refrigerator, this isn’t always the case. This is why you need to be judicious with what kind of diet you put in place, especially if you’re aiming for weight loss.
If you’re looking to shed those extra pounds, it’s best to approach dieting with a scientific mind. Fortunately, the obesity pandemic has sparked an upsurge in studies focused on developing an effective “evidence-based” diet. If you’re unfamiliar, the term “evidence based medicine” refers to treatments and interventions that have been proven effective via clinical trials. This type of research typically features well-controlled groups of participants who are administered a specific intervention and followed up with periodic assessments. By comparing the groups to one another, scientists can determine whether or not the intervention had a positive impact on the participants’ health outcomes.
While there’s no denying that there’s a wealth of information out there, finding the right studies for your specific needs can be difficult. Luckily, experts have compiled a list of the top ten evidence-based diets for managing obesity. By understanding the pros and cons of each diet, you can select the one that’s right for you.
The Dietary Approach to Obesity Management
Before we get into the details, let’s discuss the dietary approach to obesity management. Most experts agree that a healthy diet can promote weight loss and improve overall wellbeing. A 2017 Cochrane review compiled a list of 32 randomized controlled trials that examined the use of different dietary approaches for weight loss. According to the review’s findings, all of the tested diets significantly reduced body mass index (BMI) and body weight. What’s more, all of the diets enhanced metabolic rate and improved lipid profiles, which are beneficial for heart health.
In terms of effectiveness, the trial participants who followed either a low-carbohydrate, low-fat or Mediterranean diet achieved the greatest weight loss. When it comes to which diet is best for your waistline, it really depends on you and what you want. If you’re looking to shed those extra pounds, a dietary approach that emphasizes on low-fat, high-fiber foods can be a great option. On the other hand, if you have metabolic syndrome and are looking for a diet that promotes good cholesterol levels, avoiding saturated fats is key.
The Liquid Diet
The liquid diet doesn’t need an introduction, does it? This dietary approach consists of drinking liquid foods, often in the form of shakes or smoothies. The idea is that you’re drinking your food instead of eating it, which in theory makes it easier to control your calorie intake. Not surprisingly, the liquid diet has been around for a long time, with the first known reference being found in a 1934 book by the same name. In the decades since then, the shake diet has gained a large following, due in large part to the fact that it’s easy to follow and requires almost no effort. All you need to do is mix up some powder or liquid and drink it down. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this type of diet, it does come with a few important considerations. First and foremost, you need to keep in mind that the liquid diet tends to be very low in calories and nutrients. If your goal is to lose weight, this may not be the diet for you. In fact, one study from the United Kingdom found that men who followed a liquid diet for one year gained more weight than those who followed a non-liquid diet.
The Atkins Diet
If the liquid diet isn’t your style, maybe you’re more of the athletic type. If so, you might want to consider the Atkins diet. This diet is named after Dr. Robert Atkins, who officially published the first edition of his book The Atkins Diet in March 1967. The original idea behind the Atkins Diet is to limit your intake of carbohydrates, while substantially increasing your intake of protein. To this end, Atkins developed a food guide that emphasized lean meats, eggs, and vegetables over carbs and sweets. Many experts agree that the Atkins Diet can be very effective for weight loss. In fact, this is often a preferred diet option among athletes who want to tone down their muscle mass. This diet is also quite popular among people who want to reduce their bloat. Fluid retention is a common side effect of eating too much sugar, and many people suffering from this problem find that the Atkins Diet helps them avoid it. What’s more, the Atkins Diet can be quite effective in preventing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston in the early 1970s. This diet emphasizes plant-based foods and oils, as well as fruits and vegetables. Consuming these types of food is said to promote good cholesterol levels and ward off heart disease and diabetes. The main difference between the South Beach Diet and other popular diet plans is that this one encourages you to eat a lot of food. In fact, the South Beach Diet encourages you to eat three meals per day, with an emphasis on the size of each individual meal. Not only does this diet plan promote healthy eating, it also helps reduce the pounds. This is one of the reasons why the South Beach Diet has gained so much popularity recently, especially among people who want to lose weight. The diet is quite restrictive, however, and unless you’re prepared to follow its guidelines literally, you may not achieve your weight loss goals. Nonetheless, many people have been able to lose weight successfully following the South Beach Diet.
The Zone Diet
The zone diet is quite similar to the South Beach Diet, although it was developed around the same time. The main difference between these two diets is that the South Beach Diet promotes a more balanced intake of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, while the Zone Diet is very low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. This is generally considered to be a healthy diet for those who want to maintain their lean muscle mass while losing weight. As with the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet emphasizes on fruits, vegetables, and nuts to promote good health. It also encourages you to eat organic foods and natural foods, which are more nutritious and cheaper. When developing the Zone Diet, Dr. Rolf Zinkestein and his team of nutritionists and dietitians tried to create a diet that would promote weight loss and improve the quality of life for people who are suffering from obesity. While the results of the trial were quite promising, the Zone Diet has yet to be fully validated by scientific studies. There’s also some controversy over whether or not this diet plan is actually effective, given that it excludes many commonly eaten foods, such as potatoes and pasta. It’s also quite expensive to follow, due in large part to the fact that it requires you to buy a wide variety of organic foods and supplements from specialty stores and online retailers.
The GHP Diet
The GHP diet stands for “Gut and Psychology-related,” which is a play on words. The creators of this diet plan, Drs. Stephen Deane and Richard Grayhead, are both psychologists who work at the University of Toronto. This specific diet is quite interesting, because it tries to address both your psychological and physical demands for weight loss. The name GHP stands for “gut health and psychology,” and the idea behind this diet is that your mental health will be more conducive to weight loss if your digestive tract is healthy. This is why the GHP diet incorporates many of the same principles as the popular Atkins Diet. That being said, the GHP Diet is quite different from the Atkins Diet, because it does not emphasize on drastically limiting your carb intake. Instead, this diet plan encourages you to increase the amount of starch you consume, so long as it comes from fruits and vegetables. The idea behind this is that these are the types of foods your body needs to function smoothly, but that have the least calories. It also encourages you to include more natural sources of starch, such as whole grains and brown rice, over manufactured foods like white bread and potatoes.