Consider this: in the UK, a staggering 92 per cent of some 2.6 million new year dieters reportedly abandoned their resolutions within a week of having turned over the proverbial new leaf. If you're like them, perhaps now is a good time to take a fresh look at why you made those resolutions in the first place. If dieting was on your to-do list for 2012, you clearly really do want to lose weight. We've made things easier by examining the pros and cons of seven eating plans making waves right now — fad diet and slow burner alike.
It's in your genes
What: The DNA Diet
How it works: Developed with the help of experts at Newcastle University, the Nordiska DNA Diet is based on the idea that genetic tests can identify the right food and exercise plan for your body. Only available in Europe for now, the diet is being sold online at £99 (about Dh556) for the gene test alone, and as a £159 package including three months of follow-up advice from dietitians. Dieters must complete a questionnaire and send in a mouth swab for DNA analysis in a lab. An in-depth report recommends one in four diets: low fat, low carbohydrate, low glycaemic or healthy balanced. All advise three meals and three snacks a day, to a total of 1,300 to 1,800 calories.
Drawbacks: Cost plus the fact that it is unavailable in the UAE.
Success rate: Dieters in clinical trials reported an average weight loss of five kilos per person. The diet has also been tested by more than 7,700 people in Denmark, where 90 per cent of participants lost weight and kept it off for a year.
Tummy tuck diet
What: The Viva Mayr Diet
How it works: Celebrities from all over the world flock to Austria's exclusive Viva Mayr clinic, but thanks to a book on the spa's famous diet, you can reduce your bloat in two weeks.
Developed by Dr Harald Stossier in line with Dr Franz Mayr's Austrian medical spa cure, the diet links digestive health with overall health and beauty. The healthier your intestines, the more likely you are to stay slim and beautiful.
The diet requires you to cut out wheat, saturated fats and fatty cuts of meat in favour of fruit, vegetables, fats and, every other day, good-quality lean protein. Every mouthful must be chewed 30-40 times until it is liquid, to aid digestion and prevent overeating as the brain has the time to register when the stomach is full. Caffeine is forbidden, as is drinking water with your meals.
Drawbacks: Even if you get over the caffeine withdrawal, one key drawback is that the diet focuses on a large breakfast and lunch, with a very small dinner, in contrast to social norms that demand dinner be the family meal of the day. Dinner should also be eaten before 6pm, as your digestion slows towards the end of the day — this is also impractical.
Success rate: Dieters feel it's a painless way to get a flat stomach.
What: The Ornish Diet
How it works: Dr Dean Ornish made headlines when he helped former US President Bill Clinton become trim and fighting fit again after an angioplasty in 2004.
Recommendations from this professor of clinical medicine at the University of California-San Francisco follow 32 years of research into the effects of diet and lifestyle on disease states. He has shown that heart disease can be reversed with a very low-fat, plant-based vegetarian diet and without resorting to medicine or surgery.
Dr Ornish says people don't lose weight by counting calories but by choosing carefully the ones they ingest. He prescribes several small meals a day, featuring as much high-fibre foods (grain, vegetables and fruits) as desired. Foods to be eaten in moderation are non-fat dairy products such as cheese, skim milk or yoghurt. >
Foods to avoid are alcohol, other dairy, all meats, nuts, oils, seeds and sugar. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day is critical, and stress management techniques such as massage, meditation and yoga are also suggested.
Drawbacks: Since the diet requires drastic changes in eating patterns, many doctors feel dieters (and meat lovers) will find it hard to stay on track. Dr Ornish also comes under fire because he doesn't differentiate good fats from bad.
Success rate: The diet re-education is a problem. But if it worked for Bill Clinton, why not for you?
What: The 17-Day Diet
How it works: Based on the book The 17 Day Diet by Dr Mike Moreno, the plan aims to target both belly fat and visceral fat and produce fast results that last. The diet works over 68 days in four 17-day cycles: Accelerate, Activate, Achieve, and Arrive.
The strictest phase of the plan, Accelerate, forbids alcohol, ‘starchy' foods such as corn, pasta, oats, potatoes and rice; added sugar; nuts; and all fruit after 2pm. This phase lets dieters eat unlimited amounts of egg whites, specific fish, poultry and vegetables. Over the two months, the rules are relaxed, until in the final phase, dieters can eat anything on weekends.
Drawbacks: Nutritionists have attacked the diet's time-bound nature, saying there's no proof this works. Plus, it has come under criticism for recommending the purchase and use of specific 17-Day-branded products.
Success rate: The complications make it hard to follow, but at its core, it is a plan about cutting calories and exercising more — like every other diet.
Back to the cave
What: The Palaeo Diet
How it works: Many versions of this diet exist, but the basic tenet is that human beings must eat food the body was designed to digest; which is the caveman diet. And no, that isn't raw meat. Palaeo pusher and nutrition expert Dr Loren Cordain believes our methods of food production have evolved faster than our nutritional needs, leading to widespread obesity.
The diet forbids grains and all their derivatives (alcohol included), most dairy products and sugar. Dieters can consume as much fruit and vegetables as they want, as well as a wide variety of meat and poultry, nuts and beverages such as tea. Protein in particular digests slowly, keeping blood sugar at stable levels all day long — and cutting out sugar cravings.
Organic and free-range food is encouraged because it is free of preservatives and antibiotics.
Drawbacks: No carbohydrates means it is difficult to eat many commercially available snacks, including granola bars. The emphasis on organic food makes cost a major consideration. The diet is also criticised for cutting out basic carbohydrates such as grains.
Success rate: Users at web communities such as whole9life.com says the diet helps identify substances that cause allergies and other diseases, thus pointing the way to avoiding them.
Make a DASH for it
What: The DASH Diet
How it works: Created to prevent and help lower high blood pressure, and promoted by the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is rated 2012's best for its excellent nutritional value by the rankings magazine US News & World Report. Dieters choose how many kilos they want to lose — or if they want to lower their blood pressure — and pick a plan providing a set amount of calories. Closely mirroring the food pyramid, the diet includes fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, low-fat dairy, meat, fish, poultry and nuts, and limits sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats.
Drawbacks: Very few — although some find it hard to eat the amount of fibre it recommends.
Success rate: Very high, mostly because of the wide variety of foods recommended.
Show yourself some TLC
What: The TLC Diet
How it works: Another medical eating plan, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is recommended by the US National Institutes of Health for people with high cholesterol.
The diet targets lowered saturated fat in the diet and a total of 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day.
Dieters replace meat and milk products with low-fat versions. Animal fat must be exchanged for unsaturated fat, especially monounsaturated oils, such as olive, canola, or peanut oil, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and keep HDL (good) cholesterol up.
This diet emphasises the intake of more complex, healthier carbohydrates instead of simpler sugary foods such as cookies or pastries. Carbohydrates should account for 50-60 per cent of total daily calories, with protein making up 15 per cent.
Limited salt intake and the inclusion of soluble fibre (oatmeal, psyllium or and bran) and phytosterols (plant sterols known for their ability to lower cholesterol) are also recommended. The diet allows 25-35 of daily calories from fat, mainly from unsaturated fat.
Drawbacks: Better for people with specific health issues as weight loss can be slow.
Success rate: Cholesterol levels often drop 10-20 per cent and similar weight loss follows.