More diets

by BEL JACOBS, Daily Mail

It sounds so simple but it's not. While three-quarters of dieters do manage to shed half a stone or more, only half stay at their new weight for longer than a year.

No wonder each week sees the launch of a new diet book that professes to give you a quicker, easier, more painless way to lose extra pounds.

But how can you tell which diet is right for you or whether it will really work?

Here, we examine the nine most popular diets, old and new . . .

The complete F-Plan diet

The claim

If you base your diet on dietary fibre, you should shed weight more quickly and easily than on a diet based on the same quantity of any other foods.

The theory

Follow a high-fibre diet and you will find that you feel more satisfied on fewer calories. And the fewer calories the body uses from food, the more it must draw from surplus body fat, so this adds up to faster weight loss.

The pain

Bran is a key part of the diet and there's evidence that too much bran can affect efficient mineral absorption. The diet can also affect those with sensitive bowels or irritable bowel syndrome.

The gain

Serious illnesses such as cancer, disorders of the bowel, heart disease and diabetes occur more frequently in the West than in other countries. And non-Western countries often have diets high in natural fibre.

Does it work?

'This is a great diet for men,' says our tester Brian Walters. 'As I ate more fibre, I felt full all day and lost 3lb a week for a month.'

Our nutritionist says

It's just a good, traditional high-fibre diet. You will lose weight because a bulky diet will cut down the amount of fat that you're eating.

Who does it?

Dr David Owen and Terry Wogan.

The zone diet

The claim

If we control the amount of protein, we can control our weight and wellbeing, says diet creator Barry Sears. He also believes that food isn't just petrol for the human machine. It also controls hormone levels.

The theory

Eating 40 per cent complex carbohydrates (vegetables and fruit, not bread and pasta), 30pc lean protein and 30pc fat can moderate the production of insulin, the main culprit in the creation of body fat.

The pain

Pushing up protein intake can, in some cases, increase the loss of calcium from the body, which can lead to osteoporosis. A high-protein diet can also damage the liver and is linked to kidney disease.

The gain

The diet claims to help fight heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue and depression. And because it keeps all three hormonal systems working smoothly, it's good for conditions such as PMT.

Does it work?

Half of Hollywood loves it, and Barry Sears worked wonders with Stanford University's swimming team in the build-up to the 1992 Olympics. He put them on the Zone Diet, and the American team won eight gold medals.

Our nutritionist says

It's more balanced and less extreme than the Atkins Diet in that it doesn't restrict carbohydrates as much. I can't see anything wrong nutritionally but it's extremely fiddly and time-consuming.

Who does it?

Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Kristin Davis from Sex In The City, Brad Pitt, Winona Ryder, Elle Macpherson, Janet Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The chocolate addiction

The claim

Chocolate addiction can take over your life, but you don't need to give it up completely. Break the addiction and lose weight with careful dieting and moderated chocolate consumption.

The theory

Diet creator Sally Ann Voak divides chocoholics into six types, and allocates each a diet to cope with their particular issues. She also recommends exercise, massage, meditation and visualisation.

The pain

The diets are pretty stringent. All involve avoiding chocolate completely for the first week. After that, most dieters are allowed at least one chocolate eclair or its equivalent in calories (150) a day.

The gain

Breaking unhealthy addictions to chocolate - particularly if you use it as a substitute for love.

Does it work?

'A perfect diet for chocoholics,' says our tester Cathy Beeton, 'but it did focus my attention more on sweet foods, so I've lost only 5lb in a month.'

Our nutritionist says

This just sounds like a normal, balanced diet. Treats are allowed and, in this case, the treats are chocolate. If the aim is to improve people's relationship with chocolate so that they're more in control, that's commendable.

Who does it?

No celebrity endorsements so far.

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