From fads to fasts, six diets are put to the test. Keep scrolling to find out which ones are worth trying!
The Beauty Detox Solution
The Plan: The Beauty Detox Solution
Bicoastal nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, CN, created slimming solutions for clients such as Drew Barrymore and Fergie with a complex and strict green-centric plan (zero gluten or dairy), as outlined in her book, The Beauty Detox Solution.
The food-pairing rules (starch only with vegetables; protein never with starch; fruit on an empty stomach) took a little getting used to but eventually became second nature. My Vitamix juicer was a lifesaver; I blended my greens and fruits together into smoothies that made them go down fast and easy. I cut out coffee (the hardest part!) and replaced balsamic vinegar with naturally fermented apple cider vinegar, which Snyder says aids digestion.
I lost around three pounds in two weeks, and I think of this as not a crash diet but a lifestyle change I can stick with. The whites of my eyes are clearer, as is my skin, and I swear I see less cellulite, even though that seems impossible. I love that the focus isn't on counting calories or losing weight but on achieving glowing skin, shiny hair, and healthy digestion.
The Green and White Diet
The Plan: The Green and White Diet
The unofficial diet of the fashion world has no book or website to back it up-I heard about it word-of-mouth from other editors. The first week, I'm allowed unlimited green veggies only; week two, I graduate to white proteins (egg whites, chicken breast, fish).
A year of magical drinking (and eating, and lazing) has left me at my heaviest since freshman year of college. I throw myself into the green stage, and after four days of nothing but broccoli, string beans, and kale salad, I'm feeling woozy. Before calling it quits, I speak to NY-based nutritionist Charles Passler, DC, who, although unaffiliated with the diet, does encourage a weeklong veggie detox to some clients. To help me survive, he recommends I add five snacks throughout the day in the form of rice-protein shakes or bars.
Passler's advice helps me complete week one, and the first piece of chicken in week two is a godsend. I lose around five pounds in 14 days-though Passler warns that much of it is water weight (when imbalanced, the body retains water). I feel more sprightly already. "You realize you don't need as much food as you think," Passler says.
The Dukan Diet
The Plan: The Dukan Diet
High-protein and low-fat, the Dukan Diet, a favorite of ELLE Euro editors, gained a stateside following when it was rumored to be the diet of choice for Kate Middleton and her mom.
This is why French women stay slim! In the first five days, I dropped six pounds with no hunger pains. Being an emotional eater, I found the diet challenging at first (stress? sugar, now!), but I killed cravings with a Greek yogurt or an extra cup of coffee. The Paris-based MD behind the plan, Pierre Dukan, lets those who are both weary and wary of protein-centric programs get a Dukan-approved carb fix with tastyish oat-bran-based "pancakes" made from oat bran, eggs, and cottage cheese.
After a motivating initial Attack phase, I transitioned to the Cruise phase, which alternates between a day of just protein (think meat, eggs, and nonfat dairy) and a day of these proteins plus greens. I lost 11 pounds in four weeks (one whole dress size!). And because I never feel hungry, Dukan will be a sustainable option for me.
The Master Cleanse Diet
The Plan: The Master Cleanse
While the Master Cleanse isn't doctor designed, it's Beyoncé tested and as easy as it gets. Each morning, I'd start with a laxative-like saltwater "flush," then, when hungry, I'd drink 8 oz (up to 12 glasses a day) of the famous (infamous?) "lemonade": a blend of fresh lemon juice, Grade-B maple syrup, purified water, and cayenne pepper.
For two days, I was ravenous, undercaffeinated, and viciously mean. But by day four, I was totally over food and had no desire to eat. If not for my horrified mother-who begged me to have some soup after enduring my crankiness and watching me "stagger around" the mall-I'd probably have kept going on the lemonade mix.
I lost six pounds in just four days. My hunger level was manageable after day two, and surprisingly, I was ridiculously productive due to the need to distract myself from food and fill my newfound free time. Turns out I spend a great deal of my day preparing and eating food. The weight I lost made a noticeable difference, but unfortunately it returned the moment I let quesadillas back into my life.
The Plan: Weight Watchers
After 49 years in business, Weight Watchers is still reinventing itself, most recently with the PointsPlus 2012 plan. Foods are assigned point values (three oz grilled chicken = three points)-or not: Now most fruits and vegetables are "free," which means with a little advance planning, it's never hard to stay full.
Keeping a food diary is among the most scientifically proven weight-loss strategies-it really does make you more mindful of every morsel, and it's easier than ever in the era of the smartphone. Weight Watchers' other tenets are group meetings (which, I confess, I found a little depressing and quit early on) and activity tracking. After a week of total compliance, I lost zilch and realized that I had to be even stricter. I cut my daily points allowance to the safe minimum on the plan, and the weight started to come off.
Three pounds a month may not be a bullet train to bikiniville, but losing the smart (slow) way feels real-as if one pizza splurge isn't going to undo weeks of discipline. Plus, because I'm allowed to eat whatever I want (in smaller amounts) and can budget points for social events (yes, I still drink), it feels sustainable. For now, I'll continue tracking my points. Watch your back, Jennifer Hudson!
The Fullbar Diet
The Plan: Fullbar
The Fullbar plan, developed by bariatric surgeon Michael A. Snyder, MD, adds food to your diet: a rice-cake-like Fullbar in five sweet or savory flavors. The bars' active ingredient, made from potato extract, promotes the release of a natural hormone that is designed to make you feel satisfied and eat less at mealtime.
The official plan contains three phases, but as I was looking to lose only five pounds, I opted for the final Maintenance phase, purported to help the average person drop one or two pounds per week. About 30 minutes before each meal, I ate a bar (around 170 calories and $1.50 each) and drank a glass of water, which immediately curbed any hunger. The result? I found myself eating less later-one taco instead of my usual two. Also, focusing on eating well inspired me to start working out again-I even signed up for personal trainer sessions.
After three weeks, I lost zero pounds. Zero! However, my new trainer said I've probably gained some muscle mass, which would weigh more than the fat I've lost. I definitely see a difference in my new welcome-to-the-gun-show biceps. What I love is that this program is about adding things to my life, not about depriving myself. And did I mention my biceps?
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