Diet Right

By Chelle Cordero

November 26, 2014 5 min read

Lately everything is about losing weight and exercising, and everyone is salivating to jump on several popular diet plans hoping for instant success. Many hopefuls wind up feeling terribly frustrated and disappointed. What do the professionals have to say about many of the popular fad diets, and how do you decide which to follow?

The primary focus is your overall health. John Young, a physician specializing in the treatment of chronic illnesses, says that everyone, dieting or not, would benefit from eating a healthy diet. Moderate the intake of sugar, get plenty of vitamin D, eat one gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight daily, get a good night's sleep, exercise and manage stress. "One of the many cellular benefits of exercise is that it increases the oxygen in our bloodstream. Every cell in our body requires oxygen, so consider exercise another means of feeding your cells," says Young.

It's true that the pounds you lose on fad diets are mostly water weight. "Five Skinny Habits is more of an 'undiet' -- designed to change your habits, not your diet, so actual weight comes off and stays off for good, says Five Skinny Habits creator and health/nutrition expert David Zulberg. "The secret is to make just one reasonable change to your routine every week for five weeks."

Zulberg's steps are:

1) Have a light meal. Make one meal that has fewer than 250 calories.

2) Make one meal a concentrated meal -- lunch or dinner of protein and veggies. A glass of red wine is also allowed.

3) Second helping of veggies only. Going in for seconds or thirds? Take only veggies.

4) Add in exercise, slowly. Start with just 10 to 20 minutes of cardio three days a week. Build up your exercise habits gradually.

5) Replace snacks with healthier options. Stick to water, veggies, low-fat dairy or fruit between meals.

"Weight loss is one of the most important challenges health care professionals face together with their patients," said Ivan Oransky, vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today, a leading news organization serving health care professionals. MedPage recently conducted a survey of participating doctors to determine the best and worst of the popular weight-loss programs. "While 89.6 percent of survey participants recommend diet and exercise as the preferred weight-loss method, only 32.7 percent of survey participants sometimes prescribe one of these popular commercial weight-loss diets in conjunction with said regimen," explained Oransky, "The Atkins diet was the most controversial amongst our panelists, resulting in an almost split approval range, while Weight Watchers was the most popular, with nearly 80 percent having felt comfortable recommending."

The top two diets based on the survey are Weight Watchers and South Beach. Weight Watchers focuses on re-teaching people how to eat from a list of foods available in any grocery or with its own line of products. The American Journal of Medicine found that people lost eight times more weight than those who tried to lose weight on their own with Weight Watchers. One panelist in the survey said, "South Beach Diet focuses on good macronutrient balance with emphasis on vegetables, fruit, good fat and protein." Both diets reinforce healthier eating habits, a plan that makes maintenance easier once the goal weight has been reached. The rest of the top five diets recommended are Dash for Health, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem.

The most controversial diet among the MedPage panelists is the Atkins diet. One panelist said, "Although Atkins works, I've never met anyone who has (been) able to maintain it. I am also concerned that some folks who are predisposed to kidney stone formation or kidney disease (might) ... have complications."

The WonderSlim diet received the lowest ranking. Consumers can choose from three plans that offer up to seven portion-controlled meals per day. All meals are portioned for weight loss to reduce calories, carbs and fats while providing ideal protein levels. The dieter eats every two to three hours. It's possible to buy foods at the grocery, but many pay more to eat from more than 70 meal selections provided by the company.

For the complete list of diets and their ranking, visit

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