Summer’s here, so here come the 5 new diets of 2015. But which ones work? Team Marie Claire test them out, to sort out the fast fixes from the fads...
The Hard-Core One
It sounds terrifying: This is the most serious plan of the bunch, and the one that many sportspeople and personal trainers follow. It’s based on high amounts of healthy fats, moderate portions of good-quality protein and tons of organic vegetables, all eaten at the right time of day to promote weight loss. There’s also the daily Bulletproof coffee – that’s a black coffee with butter in it.
Gross. Who created it? Tech billionaire Dave Asprey was trekking in the Himalayas, and was inspired by the yak butter drink the Sherpa guides had to fuel strenuous exercise. He started to investigate the relationship between biochemistry and human performance, and this diet is the result of that research.
It’s strict, then? Yes. All your meat must come from grass-fed animals because, according to Asprey, industrially raised cattle have more toxins. Your healthy fats, veg, eggs and some fruit must be organic.
What’s out? Alcohol, grains, legumes, pasteurised dairy, non-grass-fed meat, farmed seafood and anything sweet.
Tester’s verdict: ‘At first, the idea of drinking a coffee “smoothie” of espresso, butter and MCT (that’s medium-chain triglyceride) oil for breakfast grossed me out, but it filled me up until lunch as it’s 600 calories. Cutting out sugar and booze helped to regulate my energy levels, too.’
Lauren Smith, writer
Pros: Eating a ‘clean’ (read non-processed and low-carb) diet of meat, fruit and veg aids speedy weight loss, and the coffee is quick and filling in the morning.
Cons: Grass-fed meat and organic food is expensive, and the diet itself is a tad dull.
How much weight did you lose in three weeks? ‘It was hard-core, but I lost 7lb.’
Get involved: The Bulletproof Diet (£18.99, Rodale Press In) or visit bulletproofexec.com
The Cult One
90 Day SSS
What does ‘SSS’ stand for? That’s Shape, Shift and Sustain. This bespoke plan – where every step is sent to you by email – involves eating filling portions of food and snacks, but your macros (that’s the fat, protein and carb ratio of a meal) are tailored to how much you weigh, and your body type. You also have to complete a minimum of four short HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions a week (you can follow at-home tutorials) to maximize your fat burn. After a month, your diet is adjusted so your weight loss doesn’t plateau.
It sounds genius. It is. Or rather Joe Wicks, the brains behind it, is. He’s a former personal trainer and nutritional therapist who has been inspiring people worldwide to get back in the kitchen and cook healthily via his Instagram videos.
What’s in? You eat three protein-based meals from a selection of recipes such as protein pancakes (made with cottage cheese) or chicken satay with zero-calorie noodles. You get two snacks as well, which can be fruit or a form of protein.
What’s out? Carbs, mainly. You can only have them after you’ve completed a HIIT session to exploit your fat-burning potential when your metabolism is at its highest. Alcohol is out, too.
Tester’s Verdict: The recipes were easy, but because it’s hard to grab something from, say, prêt, you need to cook and prepare your food in advance – and that takes planning. It makes socialising tricky, but the results spoke for themselves.’
Anita Bhagwandas, senior beauty editor
Pros: You don’t have to set foot in a gym, the food is lovely, the email support is fantastic and you never feel hungry.
Cons: Eating out with friends or any kind of spontaneity is tough. And you have to cook and plan everything. Hope you’ve got a big fridge.
How much weight did you lose in three weeks? ‘I lost 6lbs – the loss was noticeable after just a week.’
The Intense One
What’s this? It’s an elimination diet containing very basic foods for 30 days that gives your body a chance to heal and ‘reset’. But if you break it – even the tiniest part – you must restart the plan all over again. Sharing meals and success stories on Instagram is how Whole30 dieters stay connected and inspired.
Who’s behind it? American couple Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, a personal trainer and sports nutritionist respectively, who founded a health-based website called Whole9, which is popular in the US.
What can I eat? It’s similar to The Paleo Diet, meaning you can eat anything you can gather and eat naturally. That includes fruit, lots of veg, meat, seafood, plus a selection of nuts and seeds.
So, I can’t have any of the good stuff? Nope. Booze, anything refined like dairy, grains, corn, legumes and most sugars are out. And, it’s worth noting that they need to be eaten in their original form, too. You can’t, for instance, make pancakes with bananas and eggs, or use beef and eggs to make burger patties.
Tester’s verdict: ‘It’s pretty tough to stick to and makes eating out or socialising tricky, because everything is ‘processed’ to some degree. But the bonus is that it’s only for a month, and I did lose weight. I also noticed my skin was clearer and my energy levels increased. I’ve kept up some of the habits, like only snacking on fruit or nuts, but I’m not sure I could follow the plan for 30 consecutive days again – it’s just too limiting.’
Nicola Moyne, head of production
Pros: The diet is more about wellbeing – by clearing out your system on a 30-day detox you’re bound to see positive changes, such as improvements in energy levels, digestion and sleep.
Cons: The main drawback is that the food itself can be a little bland. You essentially just assemble raw or plainly cooked foods on a plate – not so yum.
How much weight did you lose in three weeks? ‘I lost 5lb in total, and genuinely felt amazing.’
Get involved: The Whole30 £18.99, Yellow Kite) or visit whole30.com.
The Trendy One
The High Fat Diet
This is like Atkins, right? Sort of, but it’s more carefully tailored than the original high-fat, high-protein diet. The basis is the same though, which is to stabilise your insulin levels by ditching carbs and sugar, and switching the body into a fat-burning mode called ketosis.
Ok, tell me more. The High fat Diet was created by Zana Morris – a personal trainer, yoga teacher and nutritional therapist – and health and fitness journalist Helen Foster.
Does it mean I can just eat cheese? Not entirely. While the original Atkins diet let you basically eat lard with a side of lard, The High fat Diet focuses your meals around carefully planned ratios of protein and fat, using foods such as meat, fish, cheese or eggs accompanied with avocados, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cream cheese, cream and butter. You can have small portions of green or white vegetables too. Lucky you!
Can I still drink on it? Absolutely not. Alcohol, carbs, fruit and any other vegetables are off the menu.
Tester’s verdict: ‘The excess pounds literally fell off, and I saw the results fast. However, I also lost my social life form not being able to eat out easily or drink. There were some initial side effects, too – fatigue, light-headedness, irritability and a constant film of oil coating my mouth for the first two weeks. After this though, your body eventually adjusts and you lost your craving for carbs and sweet treats. I’d do the diet again, but for a short period of time before a holiday – it’s just too unsociable to follow long term.’
Debi Simpson, fashion assistant
Pros: Quick weight loss, filling foods and healthy fats are allowed – so it’s great if cheese is your vice.
Cons: The initial carb-detox symptoms, preparation time for meals, difficulty eating out or being able to drink.
How much weight did you lose in three weeks? ‘I lost 8lb in all, but it was pretty tough.’
Get involved: The High Fat Diet: How to Lose 10lb in 14 Days (£7.99, Vermilion).
The Easy One
Is this similar to the 5:2 regime? A little. You follow a non-processed and low-carb diet for three days a week using special combinations of foods, and on the fourth and seventh days you ‘cheat’ by having a glass of wine or a piece of cake, because you earned it. This shocks your body, speeds up your metabolism, and you also get to have a bit of a life.
I like the sound of this. Us, too. It’s the brainchild of Dolvett Quince, a celebrity trainer and star on The Biggest Loser in the US, who devised it after observing the weight-loss patterns of his clients.
This is promising. To maximize weight loss, you eat ‘double-duty food combinations’. Either vitamin C and monounsaturated fats, which together lower cortisol levels in the body and promote muscle growth. Or fibre and healthy fats, which keep your blood-sugar levels stable. Plus, protein should take up half of your plate.
Give me a steak, now. What can I have on treat days? You can’t mainline cake all day, but a little treat meal is allowed.
Tester’s verdict: ‘Want a diet that you can actually stick to? This is the one. You can eat well and have snacks, but you do need to plan in advance because of the food combinations. Allowing yourself to have a cheat treat or drink on days four and seven beats the cravings and lets you have a social life.’
Hannah Lewis, fashion assistant
Pros: You can drink cocktails and eat cake (to a certain extent), and you’re never hungry.
Cons: A cheat treat can easily turn into a cheat day if you’re not disciplined, and you have to be prepared and make most of your meals beforehand.
How much weight did you lose in three weeks? ‘I will definitely be sticking to this plan – I lost 4lb.’
Get involved: The 3-1-2-1 Diet: Eat and Cheat Your Way to Weight Loss – up to 10 Pounds in 21 Days (£19.99, Grand Central Life & Style).