Diet trials

Our nutritionist has picked six top diets and rated them accordingly. So, will Atkins really make you skinny?

Dr Atkins Age-Defying Diet

By Robert C. Atkins
The plan: Dr Atkins made his name in the ’70s by advocating a low-carb, high-protein diet. The age-defying diet doesn’t differ greatly from the original plan (reducing carb consumption to 20g then moving it up to 50g); the main difference is that it adds vitamin supplements to the mix.

Pros: Cutting out all carbs will help you lose weight.

Cons: By pushing high cholesterol items, such as meat, and dismissing genuinely healthy foods, the diet isn’t very healthy in the long run.

Nutritionist says: ‘Eliminating refined carbohydrates is a great step for health and weight loss. However, Atkins also excludes valuable grains containing vital nutrients. Also, eating a lot of animal protein is very acid-forming in the body and can disrupt the natural Ph balance of the body, leading to all kinds of health issues.’

The Abs Diet

By David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker
The plan: Your body burns more calories for every pound of muscle you gain, so the idea is exercise more, lose more weight. The six-week plan encourages 60 added minutes of exercise per week, plus a diet that includes eating six daily meals, each packed with power foods. Dieters are allowed to eat nuts, beans, green vegetables, low-fat dairy products, eggs, lean meats, olive oil, wholegrain breads and berries.

Pros: The plan – which promotes exercise and eating healthy, low-fat foods – is sound.

Cons: Your average nine-to-fiver may find it a bit tricky to maintain.

Nutritionist says: ‘The philosophy is quite correct: exercise more and you will burn more calories and develop more muscle mass, which increases your metabolic rate and encourages weight loss. Also, eating six meals a day is great as it balances energy and encourages a healthy metabolism.’

The 7-Day GL Diet

By Nigel Denby
The plan: Denby’s weight-loss plan is an extension of the GI, or glycaemic index, diet, which encourages dieters to eat foods with a low GI. The idea is that high GI foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which leaves us craving, while low GI foods keep blood sugar steady. In Denby’s version of the diet foods are judged by their GL (or glycaemic load). It’s similar to GI, but takes into account carb levels.

Pros: Denby is a registered dietician, so the diet is sound. The book also provides detailed meal plans.

Cons: The science behind the whole thing’s a bit complicated, so it can get a bit tricky to keep on the diet without the meal plans.

Nutritionist says: ‘This is perhaps the most balanced of all the diets. It can help reduce your chances of developing type-2 diabetes. Plus, no major food groups are eliminated, so you do get a good intake of nutrition.’

Flat Belly Diet

By Liz Vaccariello
The plan: According to Vaccariello, the editor of Prevention Magazine, adding monounsaturated fatty acids (Mufa) to your daily diet targets and helps reduce dangerous fat underneath the skin. Couple this with reducing salt, upping water and increasing fibre and you’ve got the making of a stomach-slimming diet.

Pros: You can’t reduce fat in one place, but a lot of Vaccariello’s advice helps make the stomach smaller.

Cons: Some of the recipes are bland, making staying on the diet tough.

Nutritionist says: ‘The theory is good, but usually it takes more than this to get that wash-board stomach. Everyone would benefit from more Mufas as they increase your metabolism. Salt reduction reduces water retention and fibre can also help reduce bloating. These measures will contribute to a flatter stomach, but more work is needed to get the promised results.’

I Can Make You Thin

By Paul McKenna
The plan: UK celebrity hypnotist Paul McKenna’s diet plan combines common sense (‘eat when you are hungry’, ‘stop when you are full’, ‘eat what you want in moderation’) with hypnosis in the form of a CD. You are supposed to follow his rules, then stick to them after letting him hypnotise you.

Pros: Again, the diet’s common sense. If you have will power, and follow it, you will lose weight.

Cons: You have to listen to his CD again and again. Plus, not everyone is susceptible to hypnotism.

Nutritionist says:
‘This diet really addresses the underlying obstacles to losing weight: the mind. Also, learning to only eat when you are hungry encourages you to listen to your body. Only give your body what it is telling you it needs is a great step towards long-term weight loss.’

The Lunch Box Diet

By Simon Lovell
The plan: The idea is simple: pack your own lunch box with healthy food – lots of veggies and low-fat proteins.

Pros: Eating a healthy, packed lunch won’t only help your waistline, but your bottom line too. Packing a lunch is a cheaper than ordering in.

Cons: The diet takes a lot of planning, so it’s difficult to stick to.

Nutritionist says: ‘This approach sounds great. We should all be making our own lunches to avoid hidden fats, calories and sugar in packaged or restaurant food. By taking your own lunch you will almost certainly cut your calorie content considerably. Anything that increases your veggie intake is very beneficial too. It also looks like carbs are reduced, which is a sure fire way to drop a few pounds. ’
Laura Kyriacou is an Abu Dhabi-based nutritionist who also practises in Dubai. See listings for her details. All books available from

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