Health A to Z

Diet plans

Here is the lowdown on popular diet plans.

diets, the south beach diet, weight watchers, the mediterranean diet, the zone diet, low-carb diets

Want to shed a few pounds? Or maybe you have a lot of weight to lose? If you’re thinking about dieting, there are countless diets to choose from, from fad diets and diet pills that promise to slim you quickly, to healthier options promoting healthy foods and exercise. Experts agree that losing one to two pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss.

Low-carb diets These diet plans, which include the Atkins diet, suggest limiting carbohydrates, such as bread, and eating high protein foods, such as chicken, nuts and cheese. It’s typical to initially lose weight quickly on low-carb diets but most of the loss is actually water loss. Because protein-rich diets may contain more saturated fat and cholesterol, some health experts are concerned about the long-term health effects of eating low-carb diets, such as the potential to increase one’s risk for heart disease. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends that Canadians do not follow low-carb diets to lose weight.

Weight Watchers This eating plan is based on a points system. Foods are assigned point values; healthy low-fat options, such as vegetables, have lower points values (some are zero points) so you can eat more of them, and more fattening, sugary foods have a higher points value. You’re given a certain number of points that you can eat each day depending on your weight and 35 bonus points a week, to be used at any time – either five extra points a day or all at once. Weight Watchers promotes safe weight loss of one to two pounds weekly and regular exercise. Support is also available through Weight Watchers meetings.

The South Beach Diet Created by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, this plan emphasizes good carbs, which are unprocessed, such as beans and vegetables and have a low glycemic index, over bad carbs, including refined sugary foods, with a view to stabilizing blood sugar and reducing cravings. Good fats, such as omega-3s found in fish, are also allowed while bad fats, saturated and trans fats from meats and processed foods, are discouraged.

The Zone Diet The Zone aims to balance nutrition with 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent protein at every meal. Carbohydrates that are unrefined, such as vegetables are permitted, as are good fats, like those found in olive oil and avocado. The Zone emphasizes controlling your insulin levels to lose weight. Calculating the foods you can consume at each meal can be complicated and may make it more difficult to stick to.

The Mediterranean Diet
Based on the traditional cooking style of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, this diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil and some nuts. Research has found that eating this way lowers your heart disease risk. It may also protect against cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. A moderate amount of red wine is included in the Mediterranean diet, but unhealthy saturated fats, such as butter are not. Regular exercise is also a key component.

Outside resources
Weight Watchers Canada
Atkins Diet Program Overview
South Beach Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
Popular Diets: Reviewed and Ranked