GET IT TOGETHER: Popular diets examined

Three popular diets broken down to basics


PHOENIX – The diet industry is a massive machine.

The hope of losing weight and getting fit generates more than $40 billion every year. Various studies suggest 80% to 90% of dieters are not successful, and many go on to try another. The turnover is great for the diet industry, but not so much for the consumer.

If you are looking into a diet plan, we’re here to help.

The List looked into the diet trends to break down the most popular plans. We also asked a registered dietician and nutritionist to guide us along the way. Her first bit of advice on our list is to ask yourself one simple question before you begin your diet search.

“Ask yourself how sustainable any diet plan will be for you,” said Patti Milligan.

In other words, does the diet fit your life?

Doing a little research before you pick a plan can save you time and money in the long run. If you love grains, you won’t want a diet that eliminates them from your life. That’s how weight loss strategies fail. Once you’ve determined what you can live with- or live without- it’s time to pick the right diet for you.

Here’s our list of the most popular plans in no particular order.

The Paleo Diet

This plan has become quite popular has it mirrors the eating habits of human s in the Paleozoic era. Early humans obviously did not consume processed foods. They stuck with fruits, vegetables and meat. That’s what you’ll focus on if you subscribe to this plan, while eliminating dairy products, pasta and other processed food.

You don’t need a membership to get started, but it will provide you with online support. An annual membership will cost $49. Plenty of books are available on the subject, which you can use to guide your eating and grocery shopping habits.

"If you are a person who is already at risk for food sensitivities, this is a diet to try," said Milligan.

You can learn more on the Paleo Diet website.

The South Beach Diet

This is a much advertised and talked about nutrition plan that focuses on cutting “bad” carbs and fats and replacing them with “good” carbs and fats. You’ll eat a great deal of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and seafood. The plan is structured into three phases.

The first phase lasts two weeks and is designed to reduce cravings and reduce your weight. The creators of the plan say phase one is designed to reduce you cravings for sugary and refined, starchy food. This phase can be the toughest but remember, it only lasts two weeks.

Phase two loosens up, allowing you to eat more of the food you like as you reach your goal weight.

The third phase becomes your lifestyle, as you maintain your goal weight.

The South Beach Diet offers a variety of online tools, community support through an interactive website, and a mobile app to help you stay on track anywhere you go. An online membership will cost you $4 or $5 each week. You can also skip the membership but purchase books and guides to help you along the way.

You can visit the official website to learn more.

Weight Watchers

This plan has been popular for years, probably because it offers clear guidelines and direction on what foods to eat, and which ones to skip.

The company is heavily marketing its new Weight Watchers 360 brand, which claims to use behavioral science to change the way you think about food. Under the hood, you’ll still find the point system that helped make Weight Watchers so famous.

Under the program, certain foods are assigned point values. This system helps you keep track of the food you eat while staying consistent with the plan’s recommendations. A positive aspect of this plan is that it leaves room for sweet treats!

Personal accountability is something Weight Watchers offers that few other plans do.

You can sign up for weekly classes, where you weigh in and share struggles with fellow dieters. If you don’t mind opening up, this can be a great way to stay “honest.”

You don’t have to take the classes, but you can use a myriad of digital tools to help you, including a smartphone app that can scan the barcode of grocery store items to show you where the fit in your plan.

A membership will cost about $20 each month, with an upfront registration fee that can cost up to $40.

For more on Weight Watchers, check out the official website.

Diet plans can make you feel as if you’re taking action, but one component is important no matter which plan you choose- excersice.

“You’ve got to get physically active,” said nutritionist Patti Milligan. “Dieting alone isn’t the only answer.”

Do you have success stories or other strategies that worked for you? Share with us!

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