Four diets that actually work

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You know the drill: crash diets don’t work, slow and steady does it, do something realistic and you’ll see the results… And it’s all true, of course – just ask the experts.

Doctors, dieticians and health specialists have found various ways for people to eat well, lose weight, feel more energised, become healthier and be more confident while following specific plans.

If you’re hoping to shed some winter foliage now that spring is fluttering around the corner, see which of these take-the-world-by-storm diets appeals to you:  

•    Banting
Professor Tim Noakes’ revival of the 19th century low carb, high fat (LCHF) eating plan needs little introduction. His book the Real Meal Revolution has broken all publishing records in South Africa and spawned several follow-up books, magazines and websites.

Banting has also found its way into restaurants – think Banting pizzas and Banting bread and all sorts of Banting-friendly options in outlets such as Spur, Kauai and Knead. The first Banting restaurant, The Banting Kitchen, opened in Cape Town recently – all of which means this phenomenon isn’t going anywhere fast.

Pros: Results are quick if you follow the plan to the letter. Good for people with high blood pressure and diabetes. The high-fat content means you rarely feel hungry.
Cons: You have to can carbohydrates and sugar (so no more cheesecake) and it can be expensive, especially if you buy Banting-specific products.

  •    DASH diet
The goal of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – aka the Dash diet – is to lower your consumption of sodium and bring down your blood pressure at the same time. Over the past five years it’s become one of the diets most recommended by doctors over the world, according to Doctor Oz, it helps protect against diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The diet focuses on eating certain foods with certain accompaniments and includes foods on the low-glycaemic index. It also requires plenty of whole grains, lean meat, fish and dairy, low-fat diary, fruit and vegetables.

Pros: Ideal for diabetics and people with hypertension. Suitable for the whole family.
Cons: As it isn’t designed specifically for weight loss, some people may have trouble knowing how much they should or shouldn’t eat (check with your doctor or dietician). Bloating can occur as a result of high-fibre foods, so introduce them gradually.

•    Weigh-Less
The Weigh-Less Way is a programme where members are placed in groups with a leader who motivates you and helps you reach your goal weight. An eating plan is worked out for each individual, who is required to weigh their portions and stick to the recommended amount for maximum benefits.

Maintenance plans kick in once you’ve reached your goal weight. Members are weighed every week and given a chart to monitor their progress. You pay R220 a month to be a member of the programme.

Pros: Support from fellow members and the group leader. A varied eating plan with generous portions that don’t make you feel like you’re on a diet. Steady weight loss.  
Cons: Groups are only available in certain areas. You can follow the eating plan on your own but you won’t have the motivation of others.

•    Herbalife
This is a meal-replacement nutrition programme that requires you to take protein-based supplements before every meal, filling you up so you eat less. According to their website, the shakes work because they give your body all the nutrients, while minimising your fat and carbohydrate intake.

Pros: Weight falls off fast; shakes help facilitate daily bowel movements.
Cons: Products are only available online and can be expensive. And you have to stop drinking tea and coffee – only herbal tea is allowed.

Have you tried any of these plans? If so, have they worked for you? Comment below and share your experiences.

*Please note: This article has been edited to remove incorrect information regarding Weight Watches SA. Women24 would like to apologise for publishing incorrect program information.

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