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The Skinny on Diets – Do Diets Really Work

Posted on: December 1st, 2016
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The Skinny on Diets – Do diets really work?

Everyone wants to lose weight these days, with modern eating habits enabling us to readily pack on the extra kilos – especially over the December and January holiday period.  Dieting and diets! We hear about them all the time, and there must be literally hundreds of thousands of different eating plans out there for people who want to lose weight. Some real shockers of eating regimes have also cropped up sporadically over the years; raging from the good, the bad and the downright weird to completely wacky! It seems everyone is desperate to find a solution to combat their weight gain and reduce their excess body fat. So desperate that they’ll try nearly anything no matter how bizarre the diet plan.  But before you jump on the latest dieting tend, for which a whole new crop of “new diet strategies” will sprout up in 2017 – just as they have in 2016, 2015, 2014 and every year and decade before then -it’ll be good to review the scientific data about whether or not dieting actually works.

Perhaps you have been on the planet long enough to remember some of the popular diets of our 20s, 30s and 40s?

Some of these dieting plans use science and very restrictive types of food combinations in order to accelerate weight loss.

Others are simply fad diets that encourage crash dieting or super-fast approaches to weight loss by severely restricting intake. You can lose weight on these restrictive diets, but it’s often hard to maintain the weight loss over time (and some people who are “Yo Yo dieters” find extreme eating restrictions means they gain more weight over time, than they would if they had never dieted).

So in fact, severely restrictive eating plans or ‘crash diets’ often result in massive gains that dwarf the weight losses that occur whilst you’re on the initial plan.

It is usually always better to change the lifestyle, even if it’s making slow adjustments over time – than to go radical on a diet plan. However, some people may feel they need the extra boost of doing an extreme eating regime to get them kick-started on their weight loss goals.

Do diets work? The Success Rates of the Most Popular Diets?

Although research from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveals that a paltry 2 -5% of people who start a diet will keep on it and keep the weight off, there is also data and real-life evidence which supports the long to medium success of diets that instill a new lifestyle approach to eating.

Sensible but healthier eating as a LIFESTYLE, not a DIET PLAN, is often able to instill a nutritional shift in consumption of calories and foods.

This can help you maintain longer-term weight loss that might allow you to sustain your healthier weight and BMI.

It can also help you benefit from the associated health benefits that often come with more nutritional eating over extended periods of time.

Eating well doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally indulge in your favourite treats.

But your daily habits are much healthier when these habits are sustained, over time, in contrast to “short bursts of severe restriction on your food intake” such as avoiding ALL junk foods, ALL processed foods, ALL sugars, and entire food groups such as avoiding carbohydrates.

Take home message?  

Some diets may be effective for short term weight loss, and some people consider these before a big event such as a wedding or holiday.  It’s important to get a physical before dieting and speak with your Nutritionist and GP, however, as some diets are potentially damaging to the organs, such as your kidneys (e.g., eating too much protein can tax your organs)..

Overwhelmingly it seems, the most successful diets are where your eating and nutrition changes help retrain your brain, and your taste buds, and help you understand your body better.

With a sensible plan and realistic proportions (not micro-proportions you can’t even see on your plate) – you’ll learn what works for YOUR body and how to cater to your own health and nutritional needs. It does pay to get professional nutritional coaching, however, by a qualified Nutritionist or an informed GP or Bariatric Surgeon.

The failure of most diets for long term weight loss having been noted, there are definitely some front runners in the eating regime plans.

What are the best diets available of the currently popular diets or fad diet trends?

What makes a diet a good diet is often linked with four things:

  • how easy it is to follow
  • how it works over the short term
  • how it works over time (does the weight go back on, and THEN some?)
  • how compatible it is for certain health conditions (does it work for you and your body and whatever chronic or acute health concerns you’re managing).

The U.S. News Ranking evaluated 38 of the top popular diets according to various criteria, including the factors above.

The assessment found the following popular DIETS to be the top overall according to the above categories:

Weight Watchers Diet – number ONE for weight loss

Known the world over – and one of the longest-known diet plans out there – is the Weight Watchers system. The evolving yet proven weight loss system assigns “points” to all foods, with those groups having a higher sugar, fat and calorific getting a higher points value (and lower nutritional value, with more empty calories) than food that is more nutrient rich, lower in fat and calories. You have a ration, so to speak, and whilst it gives you flexibility, you have to learn to choose what you want and what you’ll sacrifice in order to not lose too many points. Eating high fat foods or high caloric foods, or having a glass of alcohol, for example – can leave you with lower or no points for the rest of the day or evening.

The idea with Weight Watchers diets and eating plans is that you minimise the volume of high points-ascribed food and increase foods with low or no points in order to achieve nutritional and caloric balance.

No food is off limits. It’s instead all about balance and peer group support, with a motivational speaker at each event and regular weigh-ins for accountability and progress celebrations.

They have clubs all over Victoria and other Australia states, and personal diet consultants also offer motivation and guidance whilst you’re on their plan. It’s a bit costly to participate, but you can save money on some foods (although sadly, it’s often cheaper to eat junk food than to purchase healthy meals).

Scores for Weight Watchers Diet of a 5 point Scale

  • Short-term weight loss = 4/5
  • Long-term weight loss = 3.5/5
  • Easy to follow = 3.7/5
  • Health benefits/health rating = 4.3/5

Overall RATING for the WEIGHT WATCHERS diet plan = 3.9/5

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The HMR Diet – Health Management Resources Diet –  number TWO for weight loss

The Health Management Resources Diet or HMR for short, is a calorie controlled plan that combines meal replacement shakes with heaps of fruit, vegetables, health improvement strategies and light to moderate exercise. It markets itself as a lifestyle change rather than diet, and seeks to help instil real and permanent dietary changes.

Scores or RATINGS for following the HMR diet plan

  • Short-term weight loss = 4.1/5
  • Long-term weight loss = 3.0/5
  • Easy to follow = 2.9/5
  • Health benefits/health rating = 3.4/5

Overall RATING of the HMR diet = 3.2/5

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The Biggest Loser Diet – number THREE for weight loss (tie)

Named after the smash-hit T.V. series, the Biggest Loser Diet, is a 6-week plan that works to boost weight less as well as target disease prevention or reverse the harmful effects of obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, reducing the risk of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and increasing cardiac health and your immune system.

The emphasis is on regular means that are rich in fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Followers are encouraged to eat mindfully, keep a food journal, exercise and practice all-important portion control. This was ranked as the number one fast weight-loss diet in the U.S. News rankings.

Scores for the Biggest Loser Diet

  • Short-term weight loss = 4.1/5
  • Long-term weight loss = 2.9/5
  • Easy to follow = 2.9/5
  • Health benefits/health rating = 3.9/5

Overall RATING of the Biggest Loser TV Show Diet = 3.6/5

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Jenny Craig Diet – number THREE for weight loss (tie)

Coming in joint third place for weight loss is Australia’s own most popular weight loss plan, the popular Jenny Craig plan which many celebrities have embarked upon.

Started in Melbourne in 1983, the Jenny Craig Diet emphasises the aim of consistent weight loss of about 1 to 2 kilos per week and then maintenance eating programs.

The Jenny Craig diet itself is simple. The key to this eating regime is to restrict calories, as well as fat – and eating reduced portions.

Pre-packaged meals, recipes and personal consultants help members reach goals more readily – so it’s easy to follow if you buy off their plan. They are also available to help you monitor your weight loss success by offering frequent one-one contact (phone calls) that are brief but aim to help keep you on track with losing weight.

Scores and RATINGS for the Jenny Craig Diet plan

  • Short-term weight loss = 4.1/5
  • Long-term weight loss = 2.9/5
  • Easy to follow = 2.9/5
  • Health = 3.9/5

Overall RATING of the Jenny Craig Diet = 3.6/5


Seek medical advice before embarking on major lifestyle changes especially eating changes, diets for weight loss and other nutritional changes – this is crucial before you change your eating especially if you have severe health problems like diabetes, obesity, heart or lung conditions, kidney or liver disease and more.

It is usually best practice to consult with your Physician or Bariatric Professional and Nutritionist before starting a new diet or weight loss regimen – especially if you adopt a new eating plan in preparation for cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, liposuction, a Tummy Tuck or weight loss surgery.

You can read more about Bariatric and Obesity care on the New Body Specialist site.

If you want to reshape your body and get rid of excess skin and fat that is left over after pregnancy or significant weight change, send an enquiry form to learn more about Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), Liposuction, Breast Reduction or Male Breast Reduction, Arm Lift/Upper Arm Skin Reduction and other plastic surgery and reconstructive body contouring procedures (as some fat and redundant skin cannot be exercised away and must be surgically addressed to get back to normal looking body contours, especially if your skin was overly stretched due to extreme weight gain, weight loss or pregnancy).

To learn more about procedures to help make the most of your weight loss, please complete a confidential enquiry form below.

 Or, alternatively, you can speak to one of our Patient Care Advisors by calling (03) 8849 1444.