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Best healthy diet plan for 2017: Reviews of Atkins, 5:2, Weight – Mirror

It’s one of the biggest decisions you face when you want to lose weight – how do you go about it?

Do you wing it without a plan, tell yourself you will ‘eat healthily and exercise more’ and let that be the end of it?

Or do you spend hours poring over forums, books, magazines and websites looking for the best diet plan that will work for you?

The NHS website has published a list of the top diets people follow, with pros, cons and a verdict given by the British Dietetic Association.

Read on for reviews of 12 diets and if you’ve ever tried to follow them, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how easy they are to stick to and how well they worked for you.

Fill in the form at the bottom of the article to get in touch.

Atkins diet

What is it?

The Atkins diet is a low-carb, high-protein weight loss programme.

How does it work?

You start with a low-carb diet designed for rapid weight loss. This lasts at least two weeks, depending on your weight loss goal. During this phase, you’re on a protein, fat and very low-carb diet, including meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, some veg, butter and oils.

During the next three phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual, and regular exercise is encouraged. More carbs, fruit and veg are introduced to your diet, with the aim of working out what your ideal carb intake is to maintain a healthy weight for life.

Phase one is designed to help you lose up to 15lb in two weeks, reducing to 2lb to 3lb during phase two.

What does the British Dietetic Association say?

“Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable. The Atkins diet isn’t nutritionally balanced. By limiting fruit and veg, it contradicts all the healthy eating advice that we have tried so hard to pass on to people.

“The meal choices are limited, so there’s a risk many people will get bored quickly and drop out or take a “pick and mix” approach.”

Paleo diet

What is it?

The diet consists of foods that can be hunted and fished – such as meat and seafood – and foods that can be gathered – such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.

How does it work?

It’s a regime based on the supposed eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the paleolithic era, before the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago.

That means cereal grains including wheat, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes and salt – as well as anything processed – are strictly off the menu.

There is no official “paleo diet” but it is generally seen as a low-carb, high-protein diet, with some variations on carbohydrate and meat intake.

What’s the verdict?

“Most versions of the paleo diet exclude key food groups, raising the potential for nutritional deficiencies unless careful substitutions are made, and dietary supplements may be necessary.

“The diet has some positive aspects, so an adapted version that doesn’t ban any food groups – such as wholegrains, dairy and legumes – would be a better choice.

“The diet lacks variety, so there’s a risk you’ll get bored quickly and give up. If you want to copy your paleolithic ancestors, you’re better off mimicking their activity levels, rather than their alleged diet.”

Want inspiration to stick to your diet? Check out some amazing weight loss success stories.

5:2 diet

What is it?

The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting (IF) – where you eat normally for five days a week and fast on the other two days

What does the BDA think?

“This is a simple way to reduce calorie intake. There are lots of versions of this diet, with some less safe than others. If you choose to follow it, choose an evidence-based plan based on healthy, balanced eating and written by a dietitian, such as the “2-Day Diet”.

“It’s vital for your health to avoid nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and overeating on non-fast days. Never attempt to delay or skip meals if you are pregnant, have had, or are prone to, eating disorders or diabetes.”

Weight Watchers diet

What is it?

The Weight Watchers plan is based on the Smart Points system, which gives a value to foods and drink based on protein, carbs, fat and fibre content.

How does it work?

It is essentially a calorie-controlled diet, where you get a personal daily Smart Points allowance, which you can use how you like. There’s no limit on the amount of fruit and most veg you can eat.

You also get a weekly Smart Points safety net in case you go over your allowance, and an individual exercise plan

The weekly meetings and confidential weigh-ins provide support and extra motivation to encourage long-term behaviour change. The plan is designed to help you lose up to 2lb a week.

(Photo: Mirror Online)

The BDA verdict:

“The ProPoints plan is generally well balanced and can be a foundation for long-term changes in dietary habits.

“The support group approach can help keep people motivated and educate them about healthy eating.

“It’s vital that you make the connection between the points system and calories if you want to avoid putting the weight back on once you leave the programme.”

Learn more about WeightWatchers.

Slim-Fast diet

What is it?

The Slim-Fast diet is a low-calorie meal replacement plan for people with a BMI of 25 and over.

How does it work?

It uses Slim-Fast’s range of products. The plan recommends three snacks a day from an extensive list, including crisps and chocolate, two meal replacement shakes or bars and one regular meal, taken from a list of recipes on the Slim-Fast website.

You can stay on the diet for as long as you want, depending on your weight loss goal. Once reached, you’re advised to have one meal replacement shake a day, up to two low-fat snacks and two healthy meals.

What do the experts think?

“If you don’t like the taste of the meal replacement products, you won’t stay with the plan.

“The Slim-Fast plan can be useful to kickstart your weight loss regime, but it’s important that you make full use of the online support to learn about the principles of healthy eating and how to manage everyday food and drink.”

South Beach diet

What is it?

The South Beach Diet is a low-GI diet originally developed for heart patients in the US.

How does it work?

There’s no calorie counting and no limits on portions. You’re encouraged to eat three meals and two snacks a day and follow an exercise plan.

People who have more than 10lb to lose start with phase one. This is a two-week quick weight loss regime where you eat lean protein, including meat, fish and poultry, as well as some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats.

Low-GI carbs are re-introduced during phases two and three, which encourage gradual and sustainable weight loss.

The BDA verdict

“The first two weeks are the most difficult to get through. We’re concerned that this diet promises such a large weight loss, up to 13lb, in the first two weeks. This, however, won’t be all fat.

“Some of the weight loss will include water and carbs – both of which will be replaced when you begin eating more normally.

“Once you get past the initial phase, the diet follows the basic principles of healthy eating and should provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy.”

Cambridge diet

What is it?

The Cambridge Weight Plans are based around buying and eating a range of meal-replacement products with the promise of rapid weight loss

How does it work?

There are six flexible diet plans ranging from 415 calories to 1,500 calories or more a day, depending on your weight loss goal. There is also a long-term weight management programme.

The bars, soups, porridges and shakes can be used as your sole source of nutrition or together with low-calorie regular meals.

What does the BDA say?

“You need to like the meal replacement products to stay with the plan. Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable.

“A diet that involves eating 1,000 calories a day or fewer should not be followed for more than 12 continuous weeks. If you are eating fewer than 600 calories a day, you should have medical supervision.”

Want inspiration to stick to your diet? Check out some amazing weight loss success stories.

Slimming World diet

Slimming World’s weight loss plan encourages you to swap high-fat foods for low-fat foods that are naturally filling.

How does it work?

You choose your food from a list of low-fat foods they call “Free Foods”, such as fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meat, fish and eggs, which you can eat in unlimited amounts.

There’s no calorie counting, no foods are banned, and you’re still allowed the occasional treat.

You can get support from fellow slimmers at weekly group meetings and follow an exercise plan to become gradually more active. The plan is designed to help you lose about 1lb to 2lb a week.

The verdict

“The group meetings encourage members to share successes, ideas and recipes with each other, but they may not appeal to everyone.

“While the meal plans may lack some flexibility, they are generally balanced. However, without learning about calories and portion sizes, you may struggle to make healthy choices once you’ve left the programme.”

Learn more about Slimming World.

Alkaline diet

What is it?

The alkaline diet, whose celebrity fans reportedly include Gywneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham, is based on the idea that our modern diets cause our body to produce too much acid.

The theory is that excess acid in the body is turned into fat, leading to weight gain.

How does it work?

The diet recommends cutting back on acid-producing foods such as meat, wheat and other grains, refined sugar, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods in favour of “alkaline foods”, which reduce the body’s acidity levels.

This translates as plenty of fruit and vegetables. The idea is that an alkaline diet helps to maintain the body’s acidity at healthy levels

The verdict

“The theory of the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance (acidity levels) to improve overall health. But the body maintains its pH balance regardless of diet.

“The diet lacks evidence and some versions that advise cutting out entire food groups should be avoided. The more balanced versions of the diet provide variety and include all the food groups.

“If you are going to try the alkaline diet, choose a balanced plan, stick to it to the letter and stay clear of supplements and other diet-related gimmicks.”

Dukan diet

What is it?

The Dukan diet is a low-carbohydrate (carb), high-protein diet. There’s no limit to how much you can eat during the plan’s four phases, providing you stick to the rules of the plan.

How does it work?

This is based on a list of 72 reasonably low-fat protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy. This is for an average of five days to achieve quick weight loss. Carbs are off limits except for a small amount of oat bran.

The next three phases of the plan see the gradual introduction of some fruit, veg and carbs, and eventually all foods. The aim is gradual weight loss of up to 2lb a week and to promote long-term weight management.

What does the BDA say?

“Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable and unhealthy. The Dukan diet isn’t nutritionally balanced, which is acknowledged by the fact that you need a vitamin supplement and a fibre top-up in the form of oat bran.

“There’s a danger that this type of diet could increase your risk of long-term health problems if you don’t stick to the rules. The diet lacks variety in the initial phases, so there’s a risk you’ll get bored quickly and give up.”

LighterLife diet

What is it?

This weight loss plan combines a very low-calorie meal replacement diet with weekly counselling.

How does it work?

With LighterLife Total, for people with a BMI of 30 or more, you eat four “food packs” a day, consisting of shakes, soups, mousses or bars, and no conventional food.

LighterLife Lite, for those with a BMI of 25-30, involves eating three food packs a day, plus one meal from a list of approved foods. You stay on the plans until you reach your target weight. The meal plans can lead to very rapid weight loss and you’re advised to see your GP before starting. How long you stay on the diet depends on how much weight you have to lose.

What’s the verdict?

“Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it is unsustainable. LighterLife’s VLCD and its counselling component may work for some, particularly people who have struggled to lose weight for years, have health problems as a result of their weight and are clinically obese with a BMI of more than 30.

“A VLCD that involves eating 1,000 calories a day or fewer should not be followed for more than 12 continuous weeks. If you are eating fewer than 600 calories a day, you should have medical supervision.”

Rosemary Conley diet

What is it?

Rosemary Conley’s Diet and Fitness plans combine a low-fat, low-GI diet with regular exercise.

How does it work?

You can follow her recipes or buy from her range of calorie-controlled ready meals and snacks. You’re encouraged to eat food with 5% or less fat, with the exception of oily fish, porridge oats and lean meat.

A network of local Rosemary Conley clubs offers weekly exercise classes, support and motivation.

What’s the BDA’s verdict?

“The diet and exercise plans offer a balanced approach to weight loss that teaches you about portion size, the importance of regular exercise and making healthier choices.

“The educational element is very useful for long-term weight management once you have left the programme.”

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Diet Companies See an Uptick With Men After Super Bowl

Forget New Year’s Day, the biggest diet start date—for men —is the day after the Super Bowl, according to some nutrition companies.

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According to a survey by Nutrisystem, one in four NFL fans pack on an average of 10 pounds during football season. And the diet company says at the official end of the season, men typically are ready to get rid of the excess.

“The Big Game is like New Year’s and many men’s resolutions do not start until the football season has officially come to a close. We see about double the men’s orders on Super Monday,” says Dawn Zier, CEO of Nutrisystem.

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Former NFL quarterback and spokesman for Nutrisystem Dan Marino says he always resets around this time of the year because “it’s easier to stick with it.”

“It seems that once [the] Super Bowl is over, many men are ready to get their diet started because for the last five months they’ve been chowing down on wings, beer and pizza every Sunday as they watch the games,” he says. “And with only 16 weeks until summer and the distraction of Sunday football in the past, it’s easier to start a diet.”

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  • The $15,000 Cracker Diet CEOs are Eating Up

And, it’s not just football season overall, the Big Game is also a massive calorie killer on its own. According to the USDA, Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption in the United States, after Thanksgiving. Additionally, the Calorie Control Council reports that while Americans are watching Super Bowl 51, they will eat an estimated 30 million pounds of snacks—and not particularly healthy ones either.

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To top it off, a 2013 study from Psychological Science found that fans of the losing team tend to load up on saturated fats and sugars, whereas fans of the winning team opt for healthier choices.

Monty Sharma, CEO of Jenny Craig, a diet plan initially aimed at women, has also seen opportunity in the male category in recent years. In 2011, the company launched “Jen Works for Men,” and in January of this year, they released a new male-focused campaign centered around a military veteran’s personal story.

“In terms of Super Bowl Sunday itself, we never push out advertising that day as it is not a day that is typically focused on weight loss. However, the days following the Super Bowl tend to be a time when people get back on track with their New Year’s Resolutions and weight loss goals. As a result, we anticipate seeing men engage with dieting more and we will continue to run our male-focused campaign,” Sharma tells FOX Business.

Marino, who lost over 22 pounds says it’s always great when someone—whether male or female—approaches him about their personal weight-loss story. He says that men should find a plan that works for them and stick with it long term.

“Going on a diet doesn’t have to mean you give up the things you love. It’s just about making smarter choices along the way,” he says.

 

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Diet Doc Recommends Nutritional Counseling Program For Rapid Weight Loss With FODMAP Diet

BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwired – February 07, 2017) – With over 20% of all Americans suffering from stomach irritation and gastrointestinal issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diets that improve digestion while promoting healthy weight loss are in high demand. The FODMAP diet is based on reducing certain carbohydrates that contribute to digestive issues. Although the diet is relatively new, research has shown that it alleviates gastrointestinal discomfort, even with conditions like IBS, Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. In particular, the FODMAP diet helps improve symptoms like:

  • Abdominal discomfort and pain
  • Bloating, wind and flatulence
  • Unpredictable bowel movements like diarrhea, constipation, etc.

Reducing FODMAPs in the diet, especially for those with sensitive stomachs, significantly promotes a balanced weight and better overall health. Dieters are advised to follow the FODMAP food list while avoiding harmful foods like onion, garlic, processed foods and wheat products. They are also urged to consume one fruit every meal and seek diet coaching if needed.

Diet Doc, a nationally recognized weight loss center, offers comprehensive counseling and doctor supervision for all patients. With Diet Doc’s custom-designed weight loss programs and one-on-one diet consulting, offered to all patients, even following complex diets like the FODMAP Diet can be simple. A customized diet, for instance, may involve limiting cholesterol and saturated fats while balance carbohydrate consumption through the FODMAP diet. All patients receive a customized diet plan and regular nutritional counseling throughout the entire weight loss process. With a safe, doctor-supervised diet plan and guidance for life, Diet Doc patients gain the following benefits within the very first month:

  • Rapid but healthy weight loss
  • Understanding of past weight loss failures
  • Detailed and customized diet planning
  • Balanced diet plans that curb hunger and establish a healthy lifestyle
  • Attention to specific nutritional needs based on individual body chemistry

Diet Doc programs offer a doctor-supervised diet plan and guidance for life. For patients who struggle with food addiction or emotional eating, Diet Doc offers solutions like Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), a powerful appetite suppressant that helps counter food addiction and emotional eating. LDN, one of many solutions available at Diet Doc, also increases dopamine levels to improve mood, reduces inflammation, and breaks the cycle of craving carbs and sugar to balance brain chemistry. Medical weight loss, even in combination with complex diets like the FODMAP Diet, has been shown to be effective when supervised by a health professional and customized to an individual’s dietary needs, according to Diet Doc’s resident medical expert Dr. Rao. More than 90% of Diet Doc patients lose 20 or more pounds every month and maintain weight loss with an easy-to-follow, doctor-prescribed diet.

With a team of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and motivational coaches, Diet Doc products help individuals lose weight fast and keep it off. Patients can get started immediately, with materials shipped directly to their home or office. They can also maintain weight loss in the long-term through weekly consultations, customized diet plans, motivational coaches and a powerful prescription program. With Diet Doc, the doctor is only a short phone call away and a fully dedicated team of qualified professionals is available 6 days per week to answer questions, address concerns and support patients.

Getting started with Diet Doc is very simple and affordable. New patients can easily visit https://www.dietdoc.com to quickly complete a health questionnaire and schedule an immediate, free online consultation.

About the Company:

Diet Doc Weight Loss is the nation’s leader in medical, weight loss offering a full line of prescription medication, doctor, nurse and nutritional coaching support. For over a decade, Diet Doc has produced a sophisticated, doctor designed weight loss program that addresses each individual specific health need to promote fast, safe and long term weight loss.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DietDocMedical

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DietDocMedicalWeightLoss/

LinkedIn: https://www.LinkedIn.com/company/diet-doc-weight-loss?trk=biz-brand-tree-co-logo

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Santa Clarita Diet Explores the Human Side of Cannibalistic Zombies

Netflix’s new zombie series premiered this weekend, showing us all how funny a zombie outbreak can be. And unlike The Walking Dead, this show does it intentionally. Santa Clarita Diet centers on a normal, boring suburban family. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are two married real estate agents raising a teenage daughter in Santa Clarita, Calif. We don’t get much sense of their life beyond that before things start to get weird.

While showing off a house, Sheila throws up in the master bedroom. A lot. She also coughs up a ball of… meat that looks like an internal organ. The next morning, she finds that she has significantly lowered inhibitions, along with an insatiable craving for raw meat. The family does some digging and, long story short, she’s dead. Thanks to the nerdy kid next door, they figure out that she’s a zombie. She’s controlled completely by her id, impulsively going after whatever she desires.

If the plot sounds at all familiar to you, that may be because it’s almost the same premise as iZombie, the DC comic turned CW crime procedural. Both series feature zombies that don’t lose their personalities after becoming undead. They are pretty much the same people they always were, but now they don’t feel pain and crave human flesh. (Although in iZombie, they just eat the brain, and are then able to access memories of the person they eat. In Santa Clarita Diet, it’s all just meat.)

Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) enjoys a raw hamburger. (Photo via Netflix)

The main difference is that Netflix’s series is a comedy. Sheila has no problem with eating people, though she does try to make sure they deserve it. Her first kill is a new employee at the real estate firm she and Joel work at. He’s a real dirtbag who tries to steal their clients, tries to sleep with Sheila and won’t take no for an answer when she doesn’t want to. After biting off his fingers and disemboweling him in their backyard, she can’t eat anything but human flesh. Barrymore plays this role so well. Her charming personality and excellent sense of comedic timing add an extra layer of absurdity to the violence on display.

Olyphant is hilarious as the reluctant, but loving husband. A lot of the comedy in this show comes from the vastly different reactions Joel and Sheila have to their current predicament. Sheila takes a pragmatic, go-with-the-flow attitude toward her new diet. Joel on the other hand slowly unravels throughout the entire first season. He tries so hard to be upbeat and positive, only growing more manic with each episode. His character’s journey is a little flat, but Olyphant does some great things with what he’s given. His rationalizations combined with Sheila’s impulsive cannibalism lead to many genuine laugh-out-loud moments throughout the season. The show gets a lot of mileage out of having the couple bicker over things like how to properly murder someone, store the body and cover up their tracks. But there’s always a sense of love underneath the arguing that keeps the humor from getting too mean.

My favorite character in the show, though, is probably their daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson). She has the most interesting character arc in the first season, from learning to accept her mom’s new diet, to building a friendship/possible relationship with the nerdy kid next door. Hewson’s wonderfully sarcastic portrayal gives us a well-rounded character who’s just trying to make sense of a really messed up situation.

Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo (Photo via Netflix)

Santa Clarita Diet is an easily bingeable show. Each episode comes in at just under half an hour, telling one engaging, continuous story. You’ll easily get through the entire first season in about half a day, making it feel like a five-hour movie more than a TV show. I mean that in a good way. Over the entire running time, the dark humor never gets old, and the show constantly finds ways to subvert your expectations and surprise you. For example, about halfway through the season, Sheila and Joel try and fail to kill someone, inadvertently creating another zombie. In any other show, that character would become a formidable threat to be defeated by the end of the season. I don’t want to spoil specifics, but that’s not what happens. The direction they take the character instead is completely unexpected and hilarious.

What makes Santa Clarita Diet work is an enormous amount of heart. This is a family comedy at its core. It’s a very weird family, but aside from the murder and cannibalism, they deal with fairly relatable problems. Abby accepts what her mom has become and only wishes her parents trusted her enough not to lie to her. Sheila and Joel fight, argue and drive each other crazy, but are reminded over the course of the show how much they really love each other. That normal sitcom sweetness, combined with the gross-out violence makes for a cute, funny zombie tale unlike anything else.

Obviously, the show isn’t perfect. It gets to the zombie stuff very quickly in the first episode, so we don’t see much of what their life was like before. We’re told it’s boring and unfulfilling, but the series doesn’t have time to show much of that beyond your standard suburban life cliches. Also, the jokes about how crazy it is that realtors are killing people do get old pretty quick. We get it Joel; murder isn’t something you’d normally expect from a real estate agent. Find a new schtick. Other than that, the rest of the jokes land well and don’t stop being funny.

Joel (Timothy Olyphant) doesn’t handle change well. (Photo via Netflix)

The stakes are low for most of the season and only pick up for the last few episodes, but that’s not a problem. This is a sitcom first and foremost. It doesn’t need high-stakes drama. It’s fine, and probably preferable that the show takes its time and focuses on the family coming to terms with their new life. It is a little frustrating that the show ends on a cliffhanger, but that seems to be the norm for a lot of Netflix comedies. It’s just a shame that after speeding through the series in five hours, I have to wait a year or more to see what happens next. But I guess it’s not such a bad thing if one of my beefs with Santa Clarita Diet is that I wish there were more of it.

Trying To Lose Weight? A Calorie Is A Calorie Is A Calorie…Probably

By Mia Zaharna, M.D. and Henry I. Miller, M.D.

Many New Year’s resolutions involved a new gym membership or at least a commitment to break a sweat frequently, most often in order to lose weight. Manufacturers of exercise equipment and the mainstream media have tried to convince us that the “no pain, no gain” mantra–a la “The Biggest Loser”–is the key to shedding pounds, so that to slim down we need to wear a Fitbit, walk the equivalent of a marathon every day and maybe even get a treadmill desk.

But you might want to think twice before you toss out your comfy office chair.

Recent research has shown that exercise is in fact not the key to weight loss, and in some cases, may even lead to weight gain. Although exercise is certainly beneficial to health by reducing the risk of a range of diseases such as coronary heart disease, various cancers, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, unless you’re a tri-athlete, in most cases exercise alone will not lead to significant weight loss.

A large study published last year by an international group of academics showed that exercise had only a weak influence on overall calories burned–and exercising harder didn’t equate to burning more calories. Other studies (here, here, here, here and here, for example) have shown that people tend to eat more calories when exercising, and the calories consumed are not offset by those burned by the exercise. An example is Dr. Oz’s breakfast smoothie (as recommended in his Rapid Weight Loss Plan), which has 350 calories.  It would take the average 150 lb person about an hour of brisk walking to burn this off.  Eat a normal lunch and dinner, and you might need to walk all day. Uphill.

Diet has more influence on weight loss.  Multiple studies (here and here, for example) have confirmed that whether it’s a high protein, vegetarian, vegan, junk food, juice or cabbage soup diet, what matters most is total calories consumed.  According to the dietary guidelines on Health.gov, when it comes to calories and managing your weight, where the calories come from doesn’t matter; for the most part, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

Although there is no doubt that eating a healthy, well balanced diet has benefits beyond just weight loss, paradoxically a pop tart might be just as good for losing weight as a bowl of quinoa and green juice. In fact, a Kansas State University nutrition professor ate only “convenience store snacks”–including a smorgasbord of Twinkies, Little Debbie confections, Doritos, and Oreos–and lost 27 lbs over ten weeks. The key was that he dropped his caloric intake from his normal total intake of 2600 per day to 1800. Unexpectedly, not only did he shed the weight, but reportedly his bad cholesterol and triglycerides dropped and his “good” cholesterol increased significantly. (We not recommend that you try this at home, however.)

On the other hand, a 2011 study conducted by nutritionists at Harvard University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed just the opposite–that in fact there may be “good” calories and “bad” calories. The study examined the dietary and lifestyle habits of more than 120,00 U.S. citizens from 1986 to 2006 and concluded that calorie for calorie, foods such as potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened drinks and both unprocessed and processed meats contributed more to weight gain than other food types such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt. However, those findings seem to be contradicted by the joint 2013 statement from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society, which said about overweight and obese adults, “to achieve weight loss, an energy deficit is required.” In other words, what’s necessary for weight loss is fewer calories, regardless of where those calories came from.

Where does this stew of research findings leave us? Certainly, decreasing calories is essential, but whether those calories should come from a candy bar or a handful of nuts is less clear.

Our advice is to avoid trendy diets. There’s no magic in them, the results seldom last, and they can be expensive. Last year gave us Paleo, raw food, juicing, “clean eating” and, in stark contrast, the “poop diet.” (We are not making this up.) And while any of those diets may result in weight loss, it’s likely due to restricted calories rather than the result of flushing toxins from the body or some other mumbo-jumbo justification that owes more to slick advertising than to physiology. De-tox? Your liver and kidneys are remarkably skilled at removing toxins from your body on their own.  That’s what they do, all day, every day.

Our local mall just replaced Auntie Anne’s Pretzel shop with a Pressed Juicery, which offers a five-day juice detox cleanse for a mere $229. Never mind that one small bottle of many of their signature juices contains more calories than a hot buttery Auntie Anne’s pretzel.

Bottom line: If you’re resolved to lose weight, cut calories in whatever way best suits your appetite and wallet. Adopting the mantra of “calories in versus calories out” will get you there.

Mia Zaharna is a psychiatrist specializing in sleep disorders. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. Twitter: @henryimiller.

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