Every year there seems to be a new dietary strategy flooding the fitness and weight loss world.

While some of these new dieting techniques can be beneficial, providing a new viable option or alternative for people wanting to lose weight, sadly, this isn’t always the case. In this article, we will review a series of different dieting techniques and strategies, highlighting how they work, if they are beneficial and the pros and cons for both.

 

Diet #1: The Atkins & Low-Carb / Ketogenic Diets

One of the most famous dieting strategies around and one which has survived several decades. Since the Atkins diet, many other forms of a low-carb diet have emerged, including a ketogenic diet which is now a mainstream diet within the fitness industry [1][2].

The Atkins diet is based on a 4 phase plan, here’s an overview.

Phase 1: High Protein and Fat with virtually zero carbs; much like the ketogenic diet it limits carbs to 20 grams per day.

Phase 2: Similar to above; however you will slowly add in some low-carb fruits, nuts and lower carb vegetables.

Phase 3: Towards the end of your diet when you reach your desired goal or weight, you will start to add in more carbs and fine-tune your diet.

Phase 4: This is the maintenance phase which incorporates more carbohydrates allowing dieters to find a sweet spot for their carb intake.

In the initial 2 phases the Atkins diet is very similar to normal very low-carb or ketogenic diets, which eliminates all forms of carbs and focuses on a high amount of fat and protein from sources such as meat, fish, dairy, oils, nuts, seeds, avocado etc.

Pros:

  • Numerous studies have shown a very low-carb diet to be effective tool for weight loss, at least in the short term [3][4][5][6].
  • Other studies have shown it to be an effective method for improving important variables of health such as cholesterol, blood glucose, insulin, blood TAG and blood pressure readings/levels [7][8][9].
  • Forces a simple reduction in calories and generally improves the nutritional content of a diet by restricting an entire food group and most processed foods/sugars.
  • Can cause large amounts of weight loss at first due to changes in glycogen and water content, which motivate beginners to continue.
  • Allows for a large fat and protein consumption, which may suit some individuals who do not like or eat carbohydrates.
  • Some low-carb studies show improved satiety / reduced hunger, but again, this always comes down to personal preference and the individual [10][11].

Cons:

  • May not be a long-term or maintainable way of eating, especially if an individual enjoys or needs carbohydrates.
  • Unlikely to be optimal for athletes or bodybuilders who require some carbohydrates to optimize performance and other aspects of muscle growth / recovery [12][13][14].
  • May be too restrictive for a lot of individuals, especially those that do not enjoy high fat / protein foods [15].
  • May be harder to stick with when attending social events, eating out, on vacation etc.
  • Large amounts of the weight may be re-gained when an individual re-introduces more carbohydrates.
  • Some individuals may experience side effects from low-carb diets, including fatigue and weaknesses [16][17].
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