The best diet

If you have been floundering under the excess of advice on offer on how to lose weight and keep it off, Consumer Reports has come to the rescue.

The up-coming June issue features an in-depth report on dieting which includes research on some of the most popular diets currently being offered to consumers.

Consumer Reports has rated eight popular diet plans which have been studied in clinical trials and the ratings are based on adherence to the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with the results of published randomized clinical studies.

These studies considered short-term (3-6 months) and long- term (12 months) looked at least 40 subjects per diet.

Consumer Reports says Volumetrics is the overall top diet plan.

The Volumetrics diet advocates a strategy of consuming "low-density" foods and encourages dieters to first take the edge off their hunger by consuming a low calorie soup or salad.

The Volumetrics diet plan is based on nutritional science research and focuses on the consumption of foods with low energy density, or foods that have relatively few calories such as fruit, salads and soups.

Close contenders for the top spot were Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Slim- Fast.

Weight Watchers which uses weekly meetings and weigh-ins for motivation and behavioral support for diet and exercise changes, scored average on weight loss but first in long-term adherence with easy to prepare appetizing recipes.

Jenny Craig which enlists dieters to sign up for individual counseling and meal plans at company outlets, by phone, or online, had a high dropout rates, though those who stuck with the plan lost considerable weight with minimal food preparation.

Slim-Fast a line of controlled calorie shakes and bars, widely available in drugstores and supermarkets meets dietary guidelines with an above-average long-term weight loss but a high long-term dropout rate.

Consumer Reports also rated seven diet books based on an expert-panel questionnaire and CR's own analysis of nutritional quality, though the books have never been subjected to large clinical trials.

"The Best Life Diet" was the top-rated, closely followed by three closely ranked books, "Eat, Drink & Weigh Less," "You On a Diet," and "The Abs Diet."

All the books offered fairly healthy menus but nutritionally there were noticeable differences in the restrictiveness of the various diets and a wide variation in the quality of the exercise information and information regarding the science and nutrition behind the plans.

The Best Life Diet stresses the importance of exercise and gives personalized advice as well as healthy recipes.

Americans it seems are taking such books on board as a survey has found that 41% of Americans who were surveyed want to lose an average of 37lbs.

Research has shown that the majority of people who start on a diet plan, tend to lose between 5 to 10% of their starting weight within 3 months of starting their plan.

However when the weight loss slows down people become dis-spirited with their slow progress and often abandon the diet and then regain the weight they had lost.

Consumer Reports offers some proven strategies for losing and keeping the weight off:

  • Eating a substantial morning meal such as some cereal and fruit.
  • Increase time spent doing formal exercise and activities such as housework and yard work that will help burn calories.
  • Fill up on low-density foods by eating foods that have fewer calories.
  • Weigh at least once a week.
  • Vary your diet and avoid becoming bored with your food.
  • Avoid buffet tables, diet pills and diets where research studies have reached conflicting conclusions i.e. the glycemic index theory.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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