A Comprehensive Overview of Today's Leading Weight Loss Programs
One of the more alarming health concerns we face as a nation is the shocking fact that approximately three of every four adult Americans are either overweight or obese. This startling admission may help to explain the bombardment of weight loss systems, diet plans and books that are currently flooding the marketplace. Since the diet and nutrition industry and related businesses bring in about 45 billion dollars per year, an evaluation of just what these
are about and which ones should work for you appears in order. This article is designed to do just that--to provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of the
most popular diets on the market
to help you decide which one, if any, might work best for you. In addition, it will also offer suggested
to promote and accelerate the effects of the diets featured here. Clearly, it is important to shop around to find the best solution for your needs. For example, before you purchase a new car, you typically do some research so you can learn as much as possible about it. With this in mind, when it comes to paying for weight loss, it is wise to learn and understand how some or all of these plans basically work. If the basis of the plan sounds shaky, than a tad more research should be in order. With this in mind, here is a basic overview of these
popular diet programs
, listed in no particular order.
The South Beach Diet
South Beach, Miami. Images of beautiful women, fit and fashionable, strolling down the avenues and beach all hours of the day and night, with men who like to stay in great shape and aren't afraid to flaunt it. South Beach is all about the "see and be seen." It is within this stunning setting that Arthur Agatston, M.D., a cardiologist and Medical Director of the Cardiac Prevention Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, created the South Beach Diet a few years ago. Since then, it has been sweeping the country. This very popular diet is all about losing weight and gaining life. In other words, it is meant to not only help reconstruct your outward look, but both your body's internal chemistry (blood markers for heart disease and diabetes) and your mental/emotional outlook. So, the
South Beach Diet
may help you s
hed fat, lower your cholesterol and blood sugar,
while altogether giving you more self confidence as a result. In essence, it's aimed at helping you lose weight while reconstructing your body's internal chemistry.
You'll be allowed many vegetables but few fruits or processed grains such as white bread and rice while on the South Beach Diet. You replace the carb calories with lean proteins and unsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil and fish. While many other
weight loss plans
ask you to keep a food diary and ignore the benefits of exercise, on the South Beach Diet, exercise is recommended while calorie counting is not. The "SoBe" dieter is asked to simply follow the "Allowed" and "Avoid" lists of foods. As you might imagine, since the
South Beach Diet
is divided into three phases, the first phase is the strictest. This first phase lasts two weeks, and is highly restrictive food-wise. You are allowed many vegetables (not starchy ones like potatoes and corn) and no fruits. In place of carbs, eat plenty of lean meats and fatty fish, and ample amounts of
such as olive oil and
omega-3-rich fish oil supplements
. Also avoid saturated fat as much as possible. The second phase is a tad more liberal with the reintroduction of fruits along with some high-fiber, whole-grain carbs. This second phase is intended for use until you reach your goal weight. The third phase is for
weight loss maintenance
and is designed to be followed long-term. Throughout the South Beach Diet book, Dr. Agatston reminds the reader that his first concern is heart health and that weight loss is secondary.
South Beach Diet Supplement Support:
Dr. Agatston does note that if you exercise and workout regularly, the timing of your pre-and post-workout meals are much more important than the diet of the sedentary person. The dietary supplements that appear to be worthwhile at a minimum on the South Beach diet include calcium, a
and plenty of fiber. Other compounds that can be of benefit include
Omega-3 fish oil
alpha lipoic acid
). The early phase of the
South Beach Die
t can be very challenging both physically and mentally and that's where high quality cognitive enhancers like tyrosine, choline and acetyl-L-carnitine can make a huge difference. The same supplements encouraged for the Atkins diet (see below) would apply here as well.
The Atkins Low-Carb Plan
Robert Atkins, Ph.D.
, rose to national prominence in 1972 with
"Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution."
This book was a direct assault on the notion that low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets were the most effective weight-loss strategy. While numerous physicians and dietitians decried the Atkins approach, millions of people lost weight without deleterious effects on their cholesterol levels.
The Atkins Nutritional Approach (ANA)
is pretty simple: Eat vegetables as your main source of carbs, and red meats, fish, poultry, eggs and the like for protein, with nuts, seeds and oils such as olive and canola for a dose of healthy fat. Numerous studies have supported Atkins. A Duke University Medical School study published in the
"American Journal of Medicine"
examined the effect of the ANA in overweight adults. Subjects on the diet enjoyed a 10% bodyweight loss over six months, with a reduction in total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels in their blood. In all, 95% of the participants lost weight. In addition, a noted researcher from the University of Connecticut, Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, has published multiple studies on the ANA, consistently finding it
promotes fat loss while preserving muscle mass in lean and overweight adults.
The ANA is a four-phase eating plan used in conjunction with regular exercise. In Phase 1, you restrict carb consumption to 20 grams per day, mainly from vegetables, while eating most of your calories from fish, fowl, red meat, nuts, dairy products, eggs and the like. The goal is to lose up to a pound of bodyweight (but no more than that) per day. In Phase 2, which begins after two weeks on Phase 1 or about a 15-pound weight loss, you slowly start adding carbs, such as vegetables, fruit or cheese, back into your diet, to the tune of five grams per week until your weight loss comes to a halt. At the plateau, one is advised to reduce carb intake by five grams. (Atkins followers are highly encouraged to keep a food diary to discern the exact level of carbs in their diet where weight loss stops.) In Phase 3, carb intake is increased again in an effort to actually slow weight loss and make it more gradual, while Phase 4 marks the moment where you've reached your target weight and want to begin a diet that maintains your weight loss and energy levels. (Learn more at www.atkins.com).
Atkins Supplement Support:
Many supplements available today support the higher-fat, reduced-carb mantra of ANA, including
, fiber supplements, and
. Some people believe this high-fat diet has undesirable effects on the heart, although it should be noted that most research does not support this claim. In addition, the antioxidant effects of
may assist in bodyfat breakdown.
Eat to Win
Eat to Win Diet by Robert Haas, MS
, employs the nutritional benefits of both the Mediterranean and Asian diets, often referred to as "MediterrAsian". These regions of the world enjoy lower disease risks, better general health and longer life span than most Americans. A leading sports nutritionist, Haas has crafted a carefully written, easy to follow program that allows you to eat nutrient dense, but calorie light foods to be coupled with an exercise plan for optimal weight balance success.
Eat to Win for the 21st Century
was not tested in the sense of the clinical research studies, but it employs the data from published science to create a nice approach for health promotion and enhanced athletic performance. In addition, the principles of the MediterrAsian Diet addresses how diet may affect risk factors of heart disease, which are well documented. It appears that the dietary techniques employed in this book are also in concert with those espoused by leading health organizations, while remaining on the forefront. In short, when looking for the diet that is right for you, give serious consideration to the
Eat to Win for the 21st Century book
. It will be noted over time to be in step with the latest thought regarding nutrition for good health for the dieter, athlete and the person who seeks great general health and vitality.
Mr. Haas reminds us that balance in nutritional intake is important, however we must not overlook the importance of phytochemicals as they contain "supernutrients" that may be vital to optimal health and longevity. The diet is high in vegetables, moderate in fruits, rich in whole grains, promotes vegetable-based proteins along with fish or animal protein and healthy fats.
Eat to Win Diet Supplement Support:
First and foremost, a
fish oil supplement
that is high in
omega-3 essential fatty acids
is the perfect complement to the Eat to Win Diet because of its ability to nutritionally support the heart, immune system and cholesterol levels, as well as weight loss. A potent thermogenic is also recommended for boosting metabolism, fat-burning and energy levels.
is a program that is more hands-on than either the Atkins Diet or the soon to be reviewed Zone nutritional plan. It was founded by
in 1963, and has become a worldwide phenomenon, with meetings ongoing in 30 countries. Its "Winning Points" system has gained popularity because it doesn't require extravagant and complicated diets. Instead, dieters are given points for certain types of food and activities and told to do the math. This system is a more realistic format that takes into account everyday life activities, like going out to eat and buying your favorite foods in the supermarket. The meetings, where dieters gather for support and education, may just offer the extra push some people need to stick with it. In a study out of the New York Obesity Research Center, researchers found that those who participated in
, as compared to those following a self-help weight loss plan, were more successful over six months at losing weight and improving cardiovascular disease risk factors. Basically, this diet is set up for success, accounting for exercise and even the occasional indulgence. Depending upon your goal and if you need the constant support system, this could be the program for you.
Weight Watchers most current and widely lauded program is one where based upon your height and weight (with your goal weight in mind), you are assigned a certain point range that you are allowed to eat daily. Each point corresponds to a combination of the calorie value of the food along with the fat and fiber content. This is really an ingenious way of helping people to watch their fat intake, while being rewarded for eating high fiber foods. The mantra is really that no foods are off limits, but eating out of your point zone is. In fact, if you exercise, you get to add points to your allotment, if you eat less than your maximum points you can bank them for the week. This plus/minus system of points makes it easy to deal with an upcoming event where you know that you may eat more than what you should. The new
Weight Watchers system
helps the enrollee to maintain a balance in his or her overall average caloric intake. The program is geared for weight loss of two pounds per week -- while that may not sound like a lot, it's been proven that the more gradually you lose weight, the longer you tend to keep it off. (Learn more at www.weightwatchers.com).
Weight Watchers Supplement Support:
Many supplements can help rev up fat loss while on Weight Watchers, including a
green tea extract
to help increase fat burning. Because the diet tends to be low in fat, I personally feel there is a need for
fish oil or omega-3 fats
or maybe even medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). The diet is usually high in carbohydrate and therefore some of the carb blockers that slow digestion and reduce the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the blood (but more research is needed with these) could be of benefit. In addition,
may help your body process excess carbs.
Eating for Life
Eating for Life
is a great follow-up book to
Body for Life written by Bill Phillips
strives to get the reader to understand that loving to eat is okay, however it is about making the right food choices coupled with engaging in the fitness lifestyle that will spell lifelong success. Sure, many diets and lifestyle books state premises along this line, but what sets this book apart is the common sense approach that it takes. EFL explains how
obesity leads to other illnesses
that hurt way too many people per year (direct and indirect illnesses), how the ease of purchasing or eating fast food affects our general state of well being, why choosing a diet can be a real dilemma and how to turn your nutritional lifestyle around in a rather painless and easy way. This book also contains a lot of information on how to make the EFL a lifestyle, while eating in or dining out. There are over 200 pages of recipes and another 50 or so pages of information that will make your kitchen feel like your closest friend, a friend that helps you achieve leanness and better health. Learn more at www.highpointmedia.com or www.eatingforlife.com.
In Eating for Life, Bill Phillips explains how the "Right" dietary approach is to understand the combination of eating the right foods at the right times in the right amounts and of course in the right combinations. When looking at the macronutrient ratio of the diet, ideally each meal should be 40/40/20 -- that is 40% carbohydrate, 40% protein and 20% fat.
Eating For Life Supplement Support:
omega-3-rich fish oil
for its overall health-promoting benefits. Another perfect complement to the Eating For Life diet is a nutritionally balanced high-protein, high-carb sports bar that is not only a delicious treat but a solid meal replacement option as well.
Dare to Lose
Dare to Lose by Dr. Shari Lieberman
is a great book that provides the reader with real-world insights into how society, personal life and other aspects of environment or genetics affect weight. Part of the book discusses Dr. Lieberman's "dare's" to the person that wants to shed weight and unsightly body fat and for some this can be a motivational tool. The first part of the book asks the reader to attempt to decipher why consistent weight loss has not been a successful endeavor--why dieting in and of itself may be one of the
key reasons for weight-loss failure
. The early chapters key in on how to manipulate and stimulate the metabolism to not decline as we age. Dr. Lieberman reminds us that
living a sedentary lifestyle
eating poor food choices and chronic stress all can lead to an unpleasant amount of body fat
. After discussing this, Dr. Shari (as she likes to be called) reveals how "thin for life" can be achieved and why following her program is a simple solution. Thankfully, Dr. Lieberman also provides the reader with resources freely available to help anyone stay on track.
From a dietary standpoint, we as a society appear to be confused as to what to eat. Dr. Shari introduces us to the difference between low and high glycemic foods, fiber-rich and fiber-poor foods, protein dense items, fats to be avoided, fats to be included and much, much more. It also provides guidance on how to properly exercise.
Dare to Lose Supplement Support:
According to this book, the basic supplement program should include a multivitamin with minerals (specific types of supplements are mentioned in the book) while ancillary items such as
omega-rich fish oil
, magnesium and other minerals should be used when necessary. In addition, fat loss supplements such as
and others are discussed with relation to how they can be used to bolster weight and fat loss.
Fire Up Your Metabolism
This kind of metabolic spark is one that will leave you feeling like a lean mean machine. The book
"Fire Up Your Metabolism"
, written by
(better known in NYC as "The Nutrition Twins") contains nine proven principles and over 200 tips to make your weight loss easier and permanent. As an aside, these nutritionists are contracted to NBC, work with the Discovery Channel, lecture all over and provide energy to those around them. Let's just say that this is not your run-of-the-mill weight loss book, but rather bursting with the limitless energy that the Nutrition Twins are known for. Many researchers have theorized that the enormous weight gain that has been observed over the past forty or so years in our country is tied to the advancement of technology (therefore we move less and burn fewer calories), easier to make or eat foods (foods that you can eat within two minutes of opening the packaging), fast foods (can anyone say "drive-thru?"), and such factors as emotional or societal cues. To some degree, this book contains some of the same central hypothesis that weight can be managed by sparking and firing up the metabolic rate. Remember, this book also contains specific exercise routines, discussions regarding how to meal time, right size and train your body to be a firestorm -- meaning that it can be in fat-burning mode more hours of the day than you have ever experienced before.
The plan in this book can be outlined as follows, but should not be thought of as simple: 1) never skip meals, 2) eat at the right times, 3) choose a diet rich in the best carbohydrates, 4) appropriately time intake of lean proteins, 5) drink certain beverages at specific times, 6) eat a diet low in "bad" fat, 7) get enough sleep every night, 8) find surprising ways to stay active and 9) incorporate weight training in your exercise routine. Utilize these nine techniques and their in-depth aspects covered within this great book and you are well on your way to "thindom".
Fire Up Your Metabolism Supplement Support:
Products or compounds that should serve to properly supplement this diet include
whey protein isolate
, or a
natural sleep support formula
The Zone Diet
Barry Sears, Ph.D.
, introduced the
to the world in the hugely popular book "Enter the Zone" in 1995. Also known as
the 40/30/30 plan
, the Zone Diet consists of 40% low-glycemic carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat per day. In the Zone philosophy, food is viewed as a drug that can be used to manipulate insulin levels. High or repeatedly spiked insulin levels throughout the day will lead to body-fat gain, while controlling those levels will lead to fat loss. There is key research to back up the premise of the Zone. One study revealed
the 40/30/30 diet
provides a greater anabolic response in the blood than a regular high-carb diet. Another out of Arizona State University found the 40/30/30 diet causes a greater amount of calories to be burned by the body after a meal. Coupled together, those studies show why people lose weight on the Zone Diet: It's a combination of the thermogenic effect of the diet on the body, and greater control of insulin and anabolic amino acids in the blood, setting the table for a fat-burning environment. Of all of the diets reviewed herein, this is the one closest to the recent recommendations by the Institute of Medicine.
On the Zone Diet, you eat mostly lean protein and natural carbohydrates such as fruit and fiber-rich vegetables. Grains such as breads, rice, pasta and cereals are off limits. You eat five times per day and never let more than five hours pass between a meal or snack. Every meal includes protein in a portion equal to the size of the palm of your hand, while carbohydrates are broken down into two categories, either favorable or unfavorable. If you eat favorable carbs, such as vegetables, you have two big fists worth (about 2 cups), and if you want an unfavorable one, such as pasta, you are limited to an amount equal to one fist. As for fat,
are encouraged to add a few nuts, some olive oil or olives; if your protein source is high in fat (for example, salmon), you can skip the added fat. (Learn more at www.drsears.com or www.zoneperfect.com.)
Zone Diet Supplement Support:
To augment the Zone Diet, a premium grade fish oil, for the
omega-3 fatty oils
, is recommended by Dr. Sears to help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, as well as a high quality
green tea extract
to stimulate the metabolism. Also, since the Zone Diet encourages the consumption of lean protein sources, a
whey protein isolate powder
is almost essential and will dramatically assist with this diet.
Dr. Phil's Ultimate Weight Loss Solution
By now, most of America is familiar with psychologist
"Dr. Phil" McGraw
. Starting with regular appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and now with his own syndicated television show, he has had a number of best-selling books along with his monthly column in Oprah magazine. His diet program is aimed more at those whose health is in danger from obesity rather than people with a few pounds to lose. The key to change (according to
), is a "willing spirit and an open mind". To demonstrate, Dr. Phil recounts how for eight years, his work focused on people who were 100 or more pounds overweight. And that his methods of "getting real" resulted in an 80% success rate (weight that was lost was kept off), while he also states the national average for successful weight loss is 5% (thus, 95% failure rate). If you do the math, Dr. Phil is stating that his methods of using behavior change for weight loss is 16 times better than all other programs typically used for weight loss in the United States (80% success versus 5 percent success). When, why and what you eat (in other words, the theme of "choice") are at the core of his diet.
Dr. Phil's 7 Keys to Permanent Weight Loss
are the basis for his program, providing the steps necessary to change your lifestyle, eating habits, and tackle your "emotional eating" issues. In essence, unlike other books and programs that provide a specific diet, Dr. Phil's program is more of a system of reformulating your habits, changing the way you respond to hunger and stress, and making smart food choices. Like most of the diets cited in this article, it is important to read the book to learn the full extent of his recommendations for optimum results. Generally, he espouses a high fiber, reduced calorie, moderate protein plan, which are usually the most successful ones for weight control. In short,
the Dr. Phil diet
is nothing special, but may help people who need guidance in staying focused and in being emotionally aware of their food-surroundings obtain control of their eating.
Dr. Phil's Supplement Support:
Dr. Phil highly recommends
top quality meal replacements
as a reasonable and nutritious alternative when busy schedules make it difficult to prepare a home-cooked meal. It should be noted that he does offer his own brand of meal replacement bars and shakes, though higher quality, more nutritious ones are available
on this site
. In addition, he also encourages the use of a
green tea extract
and fiber supplements, to support this program, which he believes are of great assistance for weight loss.
The Hormone Revolution Weight-Loss Plan
The Hormone Revolution Weight-Loss Plan
is a timely book written by two veterans in the diet wars,
Dr. Karlis Ullis and Joshua Shackman, PhD
. One of the tenets of this book is that meal timing is essential for manipulating your hormones so that your body burns fat rather than muscle for energy. By incorporating the tips in the book, the authors promise that you will also be able to control your metabolism and appetite, which would result in weight management. We all know that how we live our life also affects the ability to manage weight, therefore stress, medication use, sleep, energy and libido can also be indicators of "markers" that will need to be dealt with in order to achieve weight loss success. This book contains tips and guidance for all such conditions and contingencies. For an overview, the book has chapters on 1) fat-burning hormones 2) exercise plans 3) eating plans 4) supplement plans 5) how to monitor success 6) lifestyle and aging issues 7) how to create your own personalized plan, along with many supportive appendices and information resources for the reader. All of these, coupled with the other chapters within
The Hormone Revolution Weight-Loss Plan
are great guides to helping anyone who wants to lose weight and take a new approach to life.
Many of the popular diets of today ask people to focus on the types of carbohydrates or fats they eat in order to control how insulin or glucagons are secreted and controlled in the body, but this book goes a step further and also discusses the importance of using insulin and growth hormone to your advantage to maximize fat-burning.
The Hormone Revolution Weight-Loss Plan Supplement Support:
Drs. Ullis and Shackman note that a
multivitamin with minerals
, essential fatty acids, hormone supplements (note: currently only DHEA is available as a hormone bolstering supplement),
, and thermogenics (such as
green tea extract
) may all be fair game in the search and fight for reducing body fat while enhancing lean body mass (muscle).
A Final Word
The dietary supplement weight loss market is huge, with many products to choose from. In fact, there are so many supplements sold for weight loss it is hard for almost anyone to decipher just what products may work and which ones are just plain old bottles of false hope. We have all heard of and perhaps tried some of these products with the hope of leaning out a bit, but--how do you tell which products are worth your time and hard-earned dollars? The question, while on face value seems to be straightforward, does not have such an easy answer. Sure, there are plenty of advertisements, commercials and endorsed products. But what about research? For many consumers and health professionals, one way to feel more comfortable taking any product is knowing that the ingredients in the product have been tested in a clinical setting or if the product itself has undergone the scrutiny of research. Fortunately, in addition to
an incredible array of articles, research and information,
this website calls out the higher quality, most beneficial and researched products available to help make your buying decision a more economical and rewarding experience.