Shortly after Christmas, the thought of a cut comes up for many, as part of a “New Year, New Me” campaign.
But the variety of nutritional advice can be overwhelming.
The much-vaunted Mediterranean — packed with vegetables, whole grains and nuts — has been dubbed by some experts as the diet that “trumps all the rest.” Celebrities like Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz swear by it.
Other science-backed options include diets that promise you’ll live longer, to eating habits where you don’t eat for 16 hours a day.
Web asked four top experts to share their thoughts on the best diets to lose weight in January.
How to follow a Mediterranean diet
Breakfast: natural yoghurt with berries, nuts and seeds
Lunch: A vegetable and bean stew with barley
Dinner: A fish dish with fresh herbs, tomatoes and olives for dinner
Sweets are only eaten occasionally
A glass of red wine and black coffee are usually enjoyed with meals
It’s praised by doctors and scientists for its menu of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The Mediterranean diet also largely avoids dairy, red meat and alcohol while consuming oily fish, nuts, seeds and legumes.
A wealth of evidence suggests it promotes heart health because it eliminates saturated fat — allowing for low consumption of butter, fatty meats, and pastries.
It’s also high in monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, which support a healthy heart.
Research has also linked the diet to a low risk of type 2 diabetes and stroke. Scientists believe these effects are due to diet reducing inflammation in the body as well as blood sugar and BMI.
Professor Tim Spector, author of Food for Life and Spoon Fed, told Web that the science “points to a diet pattern that trumps all other diets for all outcomes.”
He said: “The Mediterranean Diet (MD) seamlessly brings together many aspects of what to eat, when to eat and how to eat, with plenty of scientific evidence to back it up.
“The Mediterranean diet should not be underestimated.
“Many think it’s only relevant to European cuisine, and some might even be mistaken in believing that it’s high in refined carbohydrates like pasta.
“This is actually a diet pattern and not a prescribed list of ingredients.
“For example, MD is characterized by the fact that the majority of our energy comes from whole plants, and includes whole grains, beans, nuts, spices, herbs and seeds as key players.
“It doesn’t specifically recommend pasta and pizza, but it does recommend using extra virgin olive oil as the main source of dietary fat, being the only truly ‘prescription’ ingredient, and with good reason.”
Olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fats, which help maintain levels of “good” cholesterol and lower levels of “bad” cholesterol.
Saturated fats — like butter, red meat, and cake — have been demonized for decades for their link to high cholesterol and heart disease.
Professor Spector, who also co-founded the ZOE app, added: “Most importantly, MD includes lifestyle factors that are critical to good health.
“Being active every day and enjoying our meals with family and friends is an often overlooked component, but one that we must try to incorporate into our everyday lives.”
While a good diet offers some health benefits, it’s also important to stay active and social – traditionally an important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
How to follow the longevity diet
Breakfast: Coffee or tea with a cinnamon raisin bagel or two slices of toast garnished with apricot jam
Lunch: Pumpkin soup with croutons, mixed green salad with cucumber, carrots, tomatoes and brown bread
Snack: A glass of unsweetened coconut milk
Dinner: Pasta with broccoli and black beans
Dessert: walnuts (25g) and unsweetened dried cranberries (20g)
Take a complete multivitamin and mineral pill and an omega-3 oil softgel three times a week
Diet for a long life
Scientists have long searched for ways to extend life and healthy years.
A diet rich in whole grains like brown rice, legumes like black beans, and plant-based protein like chickpeas, researchers say.
The “longevity diet” also includes fasting for 12 hours a day and avoiding red meat altogether — although those who strictly adhere to it are still allowed to have “some” of their favorite treats.
Some fish is allowed and consumption of chicken must be kept “very low”. Sugar and refined grains — like white bread, pasta, and cereal — need to be scaled back.
The diet is the brainchild of University of Southern California researchers who reviewed hundreds of nutrition studies over the past decade to find the diet that “offers the best chance of living longer and healthier lives.”
Adhering to this diet may “delay” aging and reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases, including diabetes and cancer, the researchers said.
The lead author Dr. Valter Longo, an expert in aging and biological science, argued, “It’s not a dietary restriction designed solely to induce weight loss.”
Instead, it aims to slow aging and “help prevent morbidity and maintain good health into old age.”
A wealth of evidence shows these eating habits would promote healthy cellular function and ward off obesity, diabetes and cancer.
dr Romina Inés Cervigni, Director of the Research Foundation of Dr. Longo told Web that the macronutrients in a diet — particularly protein and sugars — can “directly activate and increase” the levels of some hormones and genetic pathways “that are linked to accelerated aging.”
“Aging is recognized as a major risk factor for age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” she said.
Eating a balanced diet that promotes a healthy weight and supports metabolic pathways in the body can reduce aging of the body while increasing longevity and healthy years of life, said Dr. Cervigni.
The benefits of the diet are greater the earlier it’s adopted, but even starting at age 80 can add three and a half years to a person’s lifespan, she predicted.
US researchers have developed a “longevity diet” – a diet that offers the best chance of living longer and healthier – after reviewing hundreds of nutrition studies from the last century. They say the “optimal diet” should include plenty of legumes (pictured) — like lentils and beans — as well as whole grains and vegetables
What do you eat on a fasting day
Breakfast: Low-fat Greek yogurt and apricot
Lunch: tomato and lentil soup, with bread and rolls and butter
Snacks: Satsumas, banana, rice cakes, popcorn, sugar-free jelly
Dinner: Vegetable Spaghetti
Drinks: Low-calorie drinks, black tea, herbal tea or coffee, water
On a fasting day, only 800 calories should be consumed
The 5:2 and 16:8 diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with good reason, experts say.
Both are based on intermittent fasting, which involves eating healthily at certain times and not eating at others.
The 5:2 made by Mail health guru Dr. Michael Mosley involves eating lightly—about 500 to 800 calories—two days a week and eating healthily for the remaining five days.
The 16:8 means fasting 16 hours each day and eating healthily within an eight-hour window, usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Although this covers most of the waking day, it excludes late-night snacking.
Some studies suggest that it helps with weight loss, which has the obvious knock-on effects for those who are overweight or obese, such as: B. a reduced risk of developing serious diseases such as coronary artery disease and diabetes.
It has also been linked to longer life and a reduced risk of some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
However, others have found that fasting is no more effective than a seven-day-a-week diet – with scientists warning that the approach is “not a silver bullet”.
But dr Katie Myers Smith, a licensed health psychologist and senior research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, told Web: “Fasting diets are a popular nutritional approach, most likely due to their simplicity.
“The 5:2 diet requires calorie restrictions only two days a week, which is a much more manageable approach for many people.
“Weight loss is realistic (ie, a pound a week), making the diet more likely to be maintained long-term.”
Even those who don’t want to lose weight can change their diet for health benefits.
A psychobiotic diet that includes eating lots of fiber and fermented foods can reduce stress and promote sleep, according to new research.
The approach involves eating six to eight servings per day of fruits and vegetables high in prebiotic fiber, such as onions, leeks, cabbage, apples, and bananas.
Those who follow also consume five to eight servings of grains per day and three to four legumes per week, as well as two to three fermented foods daily — like sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha.
University College Cork researchers who studied participants who previously followed a relatively low-fiber diet found that those who followed the plan for four weeks reduced their stress by about a third and improved sleep quality.
Diet is thought to work by feeding the trillions of microbes in the gut, which are in constant communication with the brain through a mechanism known as the gut-brain axis.
Professor Ted Dinan, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the university, told Web: “I would recommend at least two daily servings of yoghurt, kefir or kombucha.
“In terms of prebiotics, at least two sources of fiber are required, such as Jerusalem artichoke and Leaks.
“A fiber-free source of prebiotics is desirable, such as an oily fish.”