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Top 5 diets scientifically proven to be effective


A source: Life hacker

Not all of them are harmless, so before starting a diet you should consult a doctor.

Photo: Shutterstock

Life hacker studied dozens of serious scientific studies and put together diets that will help you lose weight. You just need to choose the diet that will not make you suffer, and make it a part of your life.

1. Atkins diet

This popular low-carb diet was developed in 1960 by cardiologist Robert Atkins. It consists of several phases and is aimed at changing eating habits to healthier ones.

What is the essence of diet

The Atkins diet does not include calorie counting or portion control. The only thing to consider is grams of pure carbohydrates minus fiber.

The diet is divided into four phases:

  1. The first phase is the most severe, it lasts at least two weeks and allows you to lose 3-4 kg. At this time, you reduce the amount of carbohydrates to 20 g per day, with 12-15 g of them from vegetables. You consume a lot of protein from poultry, meat, fish and seafood, eggs, cheese, while completely eliminating fruits, sweet pastries, pasta, grains, nuts. Avoid alcohol and drink eight glasses of water a day.
  2. You continue to consume 12 – 15 of carbohydrates from vegetables and avoid sugar, but gradually return some foods that are rich in nutrients: nuts, seeds, berries. You lose weight and move on to the next phase, only when your goal is about 4,5 kg.
  3. You gradually enter into the menu previously banned food: fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains. You can add 10 g carbohydrates. But if you start to gain weight again, you need to return to normal in 20 g. In this phase, you stay until you reach your ideal weight.
  4. Allowed any products, but you continue to adhere to the principles of diet. If you start to gain weight, return to the previous phase.

What does science say

In 2007, Stanford University studied the effectiveness of four popular diets: Atkins, Ornish, "Zones" and LEARN (low-fat diet). Through the 12 months, Atkins dieters lost 4,7 kg, on the LEARN diet - 2,6 kg, on the Ornish diet - 2,2 kg, and on the "Zone" diet - 1,6 kg.

In general, many studies confirm the benefits and effectiveness of low-carb diets. For example, a recent scientific review of six studies showed that diets with a low glycemic index or a low glycemic load can burn an average per kilogram more than others, and have a positive effect on body weight, fat and cholesterol.

Another study found that high protein diets with a low glycemic index of foods contribute to weight maintenance.

Possible harm

An article on the Mayo Clinic website warns that a diet with a drastic reduction in the amount of carbohydrates can have the following side effects:

  • Headache
  • dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Constipation

The Atkins diet is not recommended for people with kidney disease, women during pregnancy and lactation, as well as people with high physical activity.

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2. Paleodiet

In 2013, the paleo diet became one of the most popular in the world, although there is still no consensus among nutritionists on whether this diet is beneficial.

What is the essence of diet

The paleo-diet is based on the products that our distant ancestors ate before the emergence of agriculture.

Proponents of the diet claim that, despite the thousands of years that have passed since that time, the human body is still the best to cope with the food of hunters and gatherers.

The menu includes meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits, nuts (except peanuts) and seeds. Ideally, the meat should be from animals grown in natural conditions, without the use of special feed. The game is also well suited.

The diet completely excludes sugar, starchy vegetables, dairy and grain products, oils (except for extra virgin cold pressed, walnut and avocado oils), legumes, tea, coffee, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, fruit juices.

What does science say

In 2007, scientists compared the effect of a paleo-and a mediterranean diet without calorie restriction.

After 12 weeks, people on paleodiet lost an average of 5 kg (on the Mediterranean - 3,8 kg) and lost 5,6 cm at the waist (in the other group - 2,9 cm). On average, people from the paleogroup consumed less calories per day per 451 than in the control group, and without any restrictions. In addition, their blood sugar levels returned to normal.

The benefit to the figure was confirmed in the 2009 study of the year. For three months, one group stuck to the paleo-diet, the other - the usual diet for diabetics. As a result, the first dropped on 3 kg more than the second.

Also interesting is the long-term study of the 2014 of the year. The subjects were divided into two groups: for two years, some followed paleo-diets, others - a high-carb diet with a low amount of fat. The group on the paleo-die lost more fat, especially abdominal, through 6, 12 and 18 months.

Possible harm

Nutritionists call many possible hazards paleodiet, among which are:

  • Calcium deficiency due to lack of dairy products
  • Kidney deterioration due to high protein and saturated fat intake
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to the consumption of large amounts of meat

However, despite the possible negative effects of the diet, there are no studies proving obvious harm to health.

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3. Vegan diet

The term "vegan" appeared in 1944, thanks to a group of vegetarians who formed the Society of Vegans. They decided to stop exploiting animals in any form and refuse not only meat, but also eggs and dairy products.

What is the essence of diet

The vegan diet does not include meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, as well as dishes that may contain animal ingredients: gelatin, casein, lactic acid.

Products of plant origin are consumed without any restrictions. Vegans eat legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, drink coconut and almond milk.

What does science say

A randomized 2013 study of the year found that a low-fat vegan diet can significantly reduce weight.

After 18 weeks of research, vegans on average got rid of 4,3 kg, and people from the control group got rid of 0,1 kg. Also, the former have decreased cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Scientists got similar results in 2005. After 14 weeks, people who refused animal products dropped 5,8 kg, and people who replaced saturated fats with carbohydrates (NCEP diet) 3,8 kg. Also vegans lost more centimeters in waist.

A two-year study ending in 2007 confirmed the effectiveness of a vegan diet for weight loss. 64 overweight women followed either a vegan or NCEP diet. As a result, after a year, the vegans lost 4,9 kg, and the participants on the NCEP diet - 1,8 kg. After two years, the weight loss in the vegan group was 3,1 kg, and in the NCEP group it was 0,8 kg.

But in 2015, scientists compared the effectiveness of vegan, vegetarian, pesketarian (fish and seafood can be used), seven vegetarian (you can not only red meat) and non-vegetarian diets for weight loss. As a result, over six months, vegans lost an average of 7,5% of body weight - more than everyone else.

Possible harm

The main danger of a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, essential for human health and derived from animal products.

B12 deficiency can result in anemia, chronic fatigue, and depression. In addition, the 2015 study of the year showed that a deficiency of this vitamin increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in vegetarians. Therefore, while observing the vegan diet, it is advised to take supplements with B12.

As for protein, it is quite possible to obtain it from products of plant origin.

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4. Mediterranean Calorie Diet

Unlike high-speed diets like grapefruit, the Mediterranean cannot boast of fast results. However, it is much more effective in the long term and helps to maintain not only weight, but also health. In addition, it is easier and more pleasant to follow this diet, which also affects its effectiveness.

What is the essence of diet

Here are the basic principles of the Mediterranean diet:

  1. The basis of the diet consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, cheese and yogurt. These foods can be eaten every day.
  2. Butter is replaced by olive and rapeseed.
  3. Red meat, eggs and sweets should be eaten as little as possible, and can be completely excluded from the diet.
  4. Fish and poultry should be eaten at least twice a week.
  5. On the day you need to drink six glasses of water. Sometimes you can drink red wine.
  6. Need to add some exercise.

What does science say

Most studies of the Mediterranean diet concern its heart health benefits. For example, Dr. Ramon Estruh attracted to his five-year study 7 447 people and proved that the risk of stroke and heart disease in people on the Mediterranean diet is reduced by 28 – 30% compared with people on a low-fat diet.

And although the Mediterranean diet is more often used for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, it is also effective for weight loss, especially in the long term. This is confirmed by numerous studies.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has shown that a Mediterranean diet can be a useful tool for weight loss, especially if you reduce the calorie intake.

5. Ornish Diet

This is a low-fat diet invented by Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California. It aims to improve heart health, lose weight, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

What is the essence of diet

The main rule of the Ornish diet is that fat should be no more than 10% of the total calorie intake. It is advised to exclude meat and fish, butter and margarine, olives, avocados, seeds, nuts, fatty dairy products, sweets, alcohol.

The diet may contain low-fat dairy products, egg whites, lean crackers. Without restrictions, you can consume legumes, fruits, grains, vegetables.

In addition to dieting, Ornish recommends exercising (at least 30 minutes five days a week or 60 minutes three days a week), coping with stress through yoga and meditation, and spending time with loved ones.

What does science say

Ornish's study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, showed that people on his diet lost weight by 10 kg in a year, and after five years they maintained a weight that was different from 5 kg from the original.

In the Stanford University study mentioned above, people on the Ornish diet lost an average of 2,2 kg per year. However, Dr. Michael Dansinger in 2005 got different results. During the year, the subjects on the Ornish diet lost 3,3-7,3 kg, and those who were on the Atkins diet 2,1-4,8 kg.

Possible harm

As with the vegan diet, people on the Ornish diet may suffer from a lack of protein and vitamin B12. Therefore, it is necessary to take this vitamin in supplements and often include in the diet legumes, rich in vegetable protein.

What does it mean

As you can see, all diets are very different. The Atkins diet limits carbohydrates, Ornish - fats. Paleo-diet focuses on meat, and vegan meat completely excludes. Moreover, scientific studies confirm the benefits and effectiveness of all these diets. And this is just great!

Choose a diet that won't force you to give up your favorite foods. You can't live without meat, go Paleo or Atkins. If you love pasta, go vegan or stick to the Mediterranean diet. If you can easily go without fatty foods, the Ornish diet will help you lose weight.

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