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The latest diet trends

Diets go in and out of fashion like anything else, and if you think
you'd like to lose a few pounds at the start of the new year, you may be confused by the huge range of different diet plans on offer. How do you know which would be most effective for you, and which would be the most practical and easiest to follow?  We've taken a look at some of the latest diet trends to help you consider which, if any, may be the best for you.

The Dukan diet has been all the rage for the last few years - it's a
protein-based programme which was devised a French doctor, Pierre
Dukan. It involves an initial stage of just eating protein known as the 'attack' phase which leads to fairly rapid weight loss, followed by the introduction of certain vegetables.  Eventually, fruit, carbohydrates and other foods are permitted once the target weight has been achieved. The diet has many fans who claim to have lost weight quickly and effectively, but the side effects may include constipation and bad breath.  The diet has been earmarked as the top diet to avoid by the British Dietetic Association who say that cutting out food groups is not advisable and that the diet is confusing, time consuming, very rigid and hard to sustain!

Another popular diet this year has been the '6 weeks to OMG' diet which involves skipping breakfast for black coffee and exercise, cold baths, cutting out snacks and most fruits as well as any fruit juices or smoothies. Famously claiming that the carbohydrates in broccoli can be worse than those in fizzy drinks, this diet also makes the British Dietetic Association's list of diets to avoid.

The latest new diet trend, intermittent fasting, was highlighted in a BBC Horizon documentary, and involves fasting two days a week and eating whatever you like for the other five days. The presenter followed this pattern
for two months, and six weeks into the diet found that not only had he
lost weight, but that his cholesterol and blood glucose levels, both of which had been problematic in the past, were both into the normal, healthy range.

On this diet, you don't need to starve completely for the two fasting days but can consume 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 for a man; you may choose to eat all your calories at once in one meal, or you may prefer to spread them throughout the day which may involve having something like scrambled egg for breakfast and then grilled fish and vegetables for supper. It doesn't matter which two days of the week you choose for your 'fasting' days but it is important that they are not consecutive days. On the five days of the week when you are eating, you can choose to have anything you like and there is no need to restrict your food intake at all.

For some, the mere idea of a diet which involves fasting and feeding sounds too much like some kind of eating disorder, and it has been accepted opinion for some time that fasting is an 'unhealthy' way to try to lose weight - however, advocates of the intermittent fasting diet say that it can lower the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) which encourages fat burning and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. There are claims that this diet will not only have beneficial effects for your weight and health, but may even help you to live longer and reduce the risk of illnesses such as
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. However, there hasn't been enough research for many doctors to be convinced and it is suggested that anyone who is thinking of following a diet that involves fasting should talk to their doctor first. The diet is not recommended for pregnant women or for anyone with diabetes who is on medication.

For anyone wanting to lose weight, a good place to begin would be the British Dietetic Association's WeightWise website which offers tips for safe, effective and healthy weight loss.


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