Popular Diets Exposed

We highlight the three most popular diets from recent years and review whether they really work or if they are actually more harmful to your health.

School Of Nutrition Posted Dec 05, 2017 Future Fit Training

Over the last few years, there have been numerous diet trends which people have followed and even gone to the extremes in hopes of losing weight and keeping it off. 

Top three diet trends

Atkins Diet

This diet is one of the most well-known, low-carb weight loss diets and initially started the low-carb trend in diets. It was created by a cardiologist, Dr Robert C. Atkins in 1972 and dieters are encouraged not to count their overall calorie intake, instead they count their net carbohydrates consumed.

The diet is broken down into four phases and dieters are first only allowed to consume up to twenty five grams of carbs per day. As the diet progresses, dieters slowly introduce healthy carbohydrates back into their diet as they approach their goal weight. They are able to maintain their weight loss as total carbohydrate consumption is limited to a hundred grams per day.

Research has found that the Atkins diet is actually successful and leads to faster weight loss in total in comparison to other low-fat diets (1, 2). The results are sustainable as dieters end up eating fewer calories without having to think about it much (3). Finally, the Atkins diet and other low-carb diets are beneficial for overall health as they aid in reducing belly fat (4, 5).

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers started in the 1960s in New York by a stay at home mother; the idea was initially to invite her own friends over on a weekly basis so that they could discuss their weight loss. The programme was so successful that now fifty years on, Weight Watchers holds weekly meetings in over thirty countries around the globe.

Weight watchers are allocated a daily point budget, where each food and activity has a point value. Dieters are allowed to eat whatever they wish but must stay within their daily point allowance in order to lose weight. The programme has proven to be highly successful as weight watchers are offered the flexibility to eat whatever they like, however within reason, therefore many people find that compliance is much easier. Dieters are encouraged to opt for nutritious whole foods in place of processed, low calorie snack packs.

The Vegan Diet

This diet was originally created by vegetarians who also chose to avoid products derived from animals, such as eggs and dairy. The vegan way of life is an attempt for dieters to exclude any form of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether it is for ethical, environmental or health purposes.

The vegan diet also appears to be effected in aiding weight loss without having to count calories, as most vegan friendly foods are low in fat and high in fibre – which can make you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Research has found that vegan diets and lifestyles appear to correlate with a lower body mass index (BMI) and also low body weight in (6). 

Vegan diets are also beneficial for the body as by limiting the amount of processed meat you consume, you can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer (7, 8).

Remember that in order to be able to sustain your weight loss, it is advised that you follow a diet routine which you can stick to and will be beneficial and healthy for you in the long term. For more information on popular diets and whether they are effective or not, see our nutrition and weight management diploma.  


  1. Hession, M., Rolland, C., Kulkarni, U., Wise, A. and Broom, J., 2009. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low‐carbohydrate vs. low‐fat/low‐calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity reviews10(1), pp.36-50.
  2. Santos, F.L., Esteves, S.S., da Costa Pereira, A., Yancy Jr, W.S. and Nunes, J.P.L., 2012. Systematic review and meta‐analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Obesity reviews13(11), pp.1048-1066.
  3. McClernon, F.J., Yancy, W.S., Eberstein, J.A., Atkins, R.C. and Westman, E.C., 2007. The Effects of a Low‐Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and a Low‐Fat Diet on Mood, Hunger, and Other Self‐Reported Symptoms. Obesity15(1), pp.182-182.
  4. Volek, J.S., Phinney, S.D., Forsythe, C.E., Quann, E.E., Wood, R.J., Puglisi, M.J., Kraemer, W.J., Bibus, D.M., Fernandez, M.L. and Feinman, R.D., 2009. Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet. Lipids44(4), pp.297-309.
  5. Gower, B.A. and Goss, A.M., 2015. A lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet reduces abdominal and intermuscular fat and increases insulin sensitivity in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. The Journal of nutrition145(1), pp.177S-183S.
  6. Spencer, E.A., Appleby, P.N., Davey, G.K. and Key, T.J., 2003. Diet and body mass index in 38 000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. International journal of obesity27(6), pp.728-734.
  7. Grant, W.B., 2014. Trends in diet and Alzheimer's disease during the nutrition transition in Japan and developing countries. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease38(3), pp.611-620.
  8. Pan, A., Sun, Q., Bernstein, A.M., Schulze, M.B., Manson, J.E., Stampfer, M.J., Willett, W.C. and Hu, F.B., 2012. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Archives of internal medicine172(7), pp.555-563.