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More than half (64 percent) of all UK adults are classed as being overweight or obese, according to the House of Commons Library. As Britain’s obesity crisis worsens, it can leave many people feeling helpless when it comes to shedding the extra weight, as unsustainable ‘fad’ diets continue to dominate the weight loss industry. With a host of ineffective and often dangerous diets to choose from, which ones will actually help you lose weight safely?
Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has made its mark in the diet industry since 2018 when it was awarded ‘the best overall diet’ in world rankings.
While weight loss isn’t the primary goal of this diet, it has proven to be one of the most effective in terms of its sustainability and effectiveness.
Not only has this healthy diet been proven to aid weight loss, but it will also improve your overall health and well-being and keep bad cholesterol to a minimum.
One of the most unique aspects of the Mediterranean diet is that there are no hard and fast rules, it is simply followed by adhering to general guidelines which outline what and how much you should eat.
This flexible diet focuses on the preparation and consumption of fresh foods to encourage those following the diet to eat wholesome rather than processed products.
Pretty much anything goes on this diet though, but according to medical website Healthline, the general guidelines of the Mediterranean plan recommends that people eat:
- A variety of fruit, vegetables and whole grains
- Healthy fats – nuts, seeds, virgin olive oil
- Moderate amounts of dairy and fish
- Little meat – red and white
- Few eggs
- Wine in moderation
One review of this sustainable diet found that it could help you lose up to 10kg over the course of a year.
Likewise, a study of more than 32,000 people found that sticking to this diet long-term was associated with a decreased risk of gaining weight and belly fat over a five-year period.
Paleo diet for weight loss
Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the paleo plan is more of a lifestyle change than a diet plan.
This type of meal plan advocates eating the same raw ingredients our ancient ancestors would have consumed, though it does not encourage the consumption of legumes, dairy, sugar, grains and processed foods.
Lean food is the core focus of the paleo diet, which recommends that people eat whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats, nuts and seeds.
According to Healthline, following the paleo diet for just three weeks helped 14 healthy adults lose an average of 2.4kg while reducing their waist circumference by an average of 1.5cm.
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The paleo diet is one of the most sustainable diet plans which can aid weight loss, while promoting good heart health.
As one of the leading diets for long-term weight loss, the paleo diet hones in on the importance of whole foods – which really have proven to be the key to shedding the pounds.
Stripping back your diet to follow a paleo meal plan can be a little trickier than the Mediterranean diet as it restricts several nutritious and hard to avoid food groups, including:
- Legumes – beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts
- Whole grains – bread, rice, barley, wheat, oats, pasta, crackers
- Dairy – milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter
With more vegan alternatives to choose from, the paleo diet is becoming easier to follow as plant-based nutrition becomes more popular.
Some easy swaps for whole grains and dairy include spiralised vegetables, cauliflower rice, corn bread, plant-based cheese and soya/oat/almond milk.
Vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets have all been linked to weight loss simply by reducing your intake of animal products.
A review of more than 1,150 people who took part in controlled diet trials revealed weight loss was found to be just one of the many benefits of plant-based diets.
According to the medically accredited website, Everyday Health, a vegetarian diet can help with weight loss because the portions of your plate are made up of whole foods which contain fewer calories than meat alternatives.
Plant-based options often contain a significantly smaller amount of fat, which is also beneficial to weight loss goals.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant based proteins have been proven to be more filling than a standard meat diet, while containing just a fraction of the ‘bad’ qualities like fat, calories, sugar and oil.
Boosting your health is also a major health benefit of plant-based diets.
Dietitians believe that when carefully planned, a vegetarian or vegan diet will contain a high quantity of nutrient-rich foods and a small amount of saturated fats.
Reducing your meat intake by subbing in legumes or vegetables for extra meat is just one way to transition into a full fledged plant-based diet.
Some top tips for making the switch include:
- Swap dairy milk for plant based
- Use plant-based butter spreads
- Add mushrooms and beans into your cooking while using smaller portions of mince meat to make your meals more plant-based
- Try meat alternatives like soya protein, beans and pea protein productsTry eating vegetarian meals at least three times a week
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