HomeHealthWellbeing

What are the best diets for weight loss? Pros and cons

What are the best diets for weight loss? Pros and cons

Which diets actually work for weight loss? Our health expert unpacks the pros and cons of popular diets, from keto to intermittent fasting and paleo

Keto

Keto diet for weight loss with salmon, vegetables, chicken and eggsThe keto diet cuts your carb intake in favour of meat, fish and vegetables

What is it? The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet designed to encourage your body into a stage of ketosis, where it uses fat for fuel rather than glucose.

Pros: Research has indicated it can help you lose weight. It might lower blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. There are suggestions that it might help treat cancer and help boost cognition.

Cons: Constipation, because of lack of fibre. Possible bad breath because of all those ketones your body gives off as you burn fat. Possible low energy. It’s also quite strict, meaning it can get in the way of socialising.

Mediterranean

What is it? A heart-healthy diet rich in fruit, veg, fish, grains, beans and pulses, olive oil and nuts.

Pros: Easy to stick to and there’s evidence you can reduce weight and also cut your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cons: There are no calorie guidelines, so you can still overeat.

DASH

What is it? Standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this eating plan is similar to the Mediterranean diet in that it prioritises wholegrains, fruit and veg, along with low-fat dairy, lean poultry and low salt intake. You’re also supposed to exercise.

Pros: An easy diet that can help reduce weight and the risk of blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Good for gut health.

Cons: Very few, though careful meal planning is required.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting with clock on one plate and chicken, eggs and vegetables on a second plateIntermittent fasting helps to stop your metabolism from slowing while you diet

What is it? A dietary regimen that switches between eating normally and periods of fasting or very low-calorie intake. Popular variations are the 5:2 (you eat normally for five days and cut your calories to 500 for women and 600 for men over two days) and the 16:8 (you consume all your daily calories within eight hours and fast for 16).

Pros: You can eat what you like without calorie counting within the period you’re allowed to eat. You can successfully lose weight, and cut cholesterol and blood pressure. It may also help to stabilise blood sugar levels—important if you have or are at risk of diabetes.

Cons: Requires discipline. Could result in low energy levels, headaches and dizziness on fasting days. More data on effectiveness needed. There’s little guidance on how much and what you should eat.

Paleo diet

What is it? The Paleolithic or caveman’s diet includes foods you can hunt, fish or gather, but excludes anything agriculturally produced, such as cereals, dairy and processed foods.

Pros: Fruits, veg, nuts, seeds, eggs, lean meat and fish are all healthy ingredients, so you’re likely to lose a few kilos and help protect against heart disease.

Cons: There’s limited research so far and the Paleo diet is very restrictive, so you risk not getting all the nutrients you need. It’s best to avoid diets based on strict limitation of whole food groups.

Find smart ways to lose weight with The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution, available on Amazon.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...