Diets That Work

A pile of books on dietingMore than 1.5 billion of us are overweight. And we’re all searching for the same thing: diets that work. The bottom line is that to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. But if it really was that simple, why are we all getting fatter? And why is it that certain diets work for some of us, but not for others?

The truth is, we’re not all fat for the same reason. Yes, eating too much of the wrong foods and lack of exercise are the primary culprits. But doctors and scientists have discovered that emotions, blood type, genes, age, gender, hormones and stress can also be contributory factors to obesity. And the diet industry has responded in turn with a multitude of weight-loss books and systems that all claim to work even though they sometimes contradict each other.

Here at The Weight-Loss Diaries we are building a directory of diets that work:

The McDougall Diet
The Flat Belly Diet
The Skinny Bitch Diet
The DASH Diet
The South Beach Diet
The Paleolithic Diet
The Glycemic Index Diet
The “Heart Attack Proof” Diet
“Eat More, Weigh Less”: The Heart Healthy Ornish Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
The Zone Diet
The Engine 2 Diet

There are also some diets that are popular but of questionable quality:

Eat Right 4 Your Type

With so many choices, trying to figure out which diet will work for you can be a challenge. But understanding your needs and preferences and matching them to the right weight-loss plan could be the key to long-term success. So let’s take a look at the characteristics of some of the most popular diets. All these diets can, in theory, work. If you adhere to their rules, they’ll all create a calorie deficit. But the trick to finding a diet that works is to find a diet that will work for you.

Low-Carb High-Fat

Low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets like Atkins impose strict limits on carbohydrates and are typically high in protein and fat.

LCHF diets are renowned for quick results by increasing the metabolism – but you can expect to put the weight back on just as quickly. It’s a bad dietary choice for the heart, and won’t do your breath any favors either.

Typical foods allowed: meat, fish, eggs, butter and oils.

Is it for you? Great for meat lovers; nearly impossible for vegetarians.

High Fiber

High fiber diets like Ornish and Macrobiotic are centered around fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Often vegetarian or vegan (dairy-free), they typically contain little fat. The high amount of fiber makes the dieter feel “full”, reducing the urge to overeat.

High fiber diets aid digestion, might prevent cancer and have even reversed heart disease.

Typical foods allowed: brown rice, fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.

Is it for you? Not a good option for meat eaters and those who like to drink alcohol (which is typically banned). Ideal for vegetarians.


Low-fat diets emphasize fat grams rather than calories. Guidelines suggest no more than 30% of calories all from polyunsaturated fats, whilst entirely eliminating trans fats.

Low-fat diets not only reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke, but they can reverse these degenerative diseases.

Typical foods allowed: low-fat dairy replacements, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish.

Is it for you? Great for those who don’t want to count calories.


Calorie-restrictive high-fat diets like the Mediterranean diet derive 35% of calories from heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil and nuts, with little or no meat.

Monounsaturated fats are recommended for over 40s and anyone with excess abdominal weight. These healthy high-fat diets might also prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Typical foods allowed: avocado, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive and canola oils.

Is it for you?  Ideal if you have belly fat and enjoy the cuisines of Greece and Italy.

Glycemic Index

The GI diet measures carbohydrates according to their effect on blood sugar levels. Low GI carbohydrates keep blood glucose and insulin levels balanced.

Typical foods allowed: certain fruits and vegetables, whole grains, basmati rice, some dairy.

Is it for you? A good choice for diabetics and anyone with erratic insulin levels.


The theory behind the blood-type diet is that a chemical reaction occurs between food and each blood group.  Eating right for your blood type can restore your natural genetic system.

Typical foods allowed: high-protein, vegetarian or dairy-rich (depending on blood-type).

 Is it for you? Blood-type diets have been successful for people with food intolerances and overactive thyroids.


Fasting is not only a way to lose weight quickly. But there’s also a theory that fasting for short periods can cleanse the body of undesirable toxins.

 A fast can be a great kick-start to a diet, but it’s not recommended for more than 24 hours. Periodic fasting is believed to increase longevity by delaying the onset of age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.

 Typical foods allowed: water, juice and tea. Some detox fasts severely cut calories but do not entirely eliminate food.

Is it for you? Fasting for more than 24 hours is not recommended for anyone.

Raw Food

Heating food over 106 degrees Fahrenheit destroys its natural enzymes and nutrients. Raw foodists believe that lack of enzymes leads to digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated aging and weight gain. Raw food diets are often vegan and/or organic.

Typical foods allowed: fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds; some raw foodists eat seared fish and meat.

Is it for you? Ideal for vegans. Not necessarily good for those who dislike cooking as a lot of food preparation is still involved.