How to choose the right diet for you

It’s around now that our commitment to the hardest New Year’s resolution typically starts to waver. The gentle gluttony of the holidays is a pleasant, distant memory, but its effects remain all too obvious on our waistlines. The D-word gets thrown around a lot, especially right now, but how do you separate the bro-science and fads from the list of diets that actually work? 

Thursday 28 January 2016 17:01 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


First, there are no quick or easy fixes. Although some diet types boast significant initial weight loss, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) warns that these are unsustainable in the long-term.

The popular Dukan diet promises such early weight loss during its punishing early days. After that tough start, it aims to have you losing a much kinder 2 lb (900g) a week. It’s a high-protein, low-carb diet, so you’re encouraged to eat chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and fat-free dairy. But the relative lack of vegetables, fruit and wholegrains gives some people constipation.

Meanwhile, the 5:2 diet type focuses on intermittent fasting to restrict your calorie intake. Essentially you eat normally for five days and diet for two non-consecutive days each week. The BDA says it’s important not to overeat on the normal days, and to follow an evidence-based plan built upon healthy, balanced eating and written by a dietitian, such as the 2-Day Diet by Professor Tony Howell and Dr Michelle Harvie.

Atkins revolves around the theory that by starving your body of carbohydrates it can be forced to burn fat instead. Like the paleo and Dukan diet types, its focus on protein-rich foods can be appealing to many men. But there’s an associated risk that eating lots of meat and saturated fat could promote heart disease.

Modelled on what our caveman ancestors supposedly ate, the paleo diet has no official rules, but it generally means excluding farmed grains or processed foods. You can only eat things that could be hunted or gathered. The NHS cautions that excluding food groups in this way can leave your body starved of some of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. So vitamin supplements are sometimes necessary.

Which diet type should you follow? At their core, most of these plans tend to follow the basic principles of healthy eating. But since we all have slightly different requirements, there’s no substitute for medical advice tailored to you.

“Trying to lose weight can be a frustrating experience. The dieting and exercising can prove ineffective – it's easy to become disheartened. Over-the-counter slimming pills and herbal supplements are easily available, however their weight-loss credentials are uncertain,” says Dr Hilary Jones, a medical advisor at HealthExpress, one of the pioneers of online healthcare in the UK. “It's always best to discuss your weight issues with a licensed medical professional.”

That’s where HealthExpress can help. It offers a fast, confidential service that suits busy lifestyles. For a free, no obligation consultation with its registered doctors about the best slimming strategies for you, visit

The Independent is not responsible for the content of this advertisement feature and any queries should be directed to HealthExpress.

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