With so many different diet plans available, it can be hard to cut through all of the information to know if a particular diet program will not work for you. Some plans are so restrictive that they become non-starters just by their names. Who really wants to go on a weight loss plan that only allow you to eat one or two foods for weeks on end? Not me.
And, who wants to be on a diet where you have to watch the clock to know when you can eat a spoonful of one food and then go hungry for another 4 hours before you can have another spoonful of food? Again, not me. Yes, there are a lot of good diet plans available, you just need to decide what type of diet plan you are looking for, and then find out the details of that plan.
Some diets offer you a menu plan that requires you to purchase different foods to be eaten in specified amounts, at specified times, on different days. While you can lose weight on these types of diets, you’ll spend a lot of time calculating calories, portion sizes, and eating hours. You’ll also be visiting the supermarket frequently to buy your daily supplies that will need to be prepared at home. Dining out becomes a forgotten luxury.
The worst part about these types of diets is that when you don’t keep up with the diet, or you have reached your target weight and stop the diet, the lost weight is generally regained with even more added weight. These types of short term plans are not healthy diets, they are fads with high failure and disappointment rates.
Other diets offer meal replacement plans that actually do all of the calorie, protein, fat, carbohydrate, and cholesterol counting for you. These types of diet plans often come with nutritional supplements, shakes, and snacks to ensure that your body is getting all of the essential vitamins, minerals, probiotics, adaptogens, and enzymes it needs to help you overcome hunger, lose weight, build muscle mass, and remain motivated. These types of diet plans also encourage combining exercise routines with their common sense dieting plans so that you not only lose weight in a healthy manner, but you also learn to embrace a new lifestyle approach to long term weight maintenance.
Note: Yes, this is an Isagenix article and we are Isagenix associates and coaches. We are active Isagenix participants, we drink the IsaLean shakes, and we also sell the Isagenix products. But, we also want you to have a comprehensive comparative view of the 5 current most popular diet plans available so that you can make an educated decision on which program will work best for you.
The following 5 diet plans are described in no particular order, except that the last diet plan is the Isagenix meal replacement diet program. We have listed our plan last so that you will have already read about the other popular diet plans and will be able to make an informed decision on which plan will best meet your weight loss and weight maintenance goals.
For each diet style described below, we have listed the program summary behind the plan, a rating from an easy 1 point to a difficult 10 points on the level of your dedication needed to ensure that the selected diet style will work, if the diet plan offers any program support, how much exercise is involved, the upside of the plan, and the downside of the plan.
1. The Grapefruit Diet
Program Summary: This diet style has been around, in one version or another, for nearly 80 years. The basis of this program is that it is a diet plan that lasts 10 days to 2 weeks, and that you can lose a quick 5 kg.
The diet promotes the theory that grapefruit has enzymes that help burn fat when eaten or drunk before a meal. You’ll need to reduce your intake of carbohydrates and sugar, eat foods that are high in cholesterol, fat, and protein, drink 8 glasses of water a day, one of cup of unsweetened coffee a day, and keep your total calorie count to about 800 per day. The diet also has a list of foods that are not allowed on the program.
Level of Dedication: This program gets 7 points for the amount of effort needed to adhere to the diet. Unless you are a big fan of grapefruit, this diet can get very boring, very fast.
Support Availability: You can download the grapefruit diet plan from the Internet and you follow the program on your own. The grapefruit diet does not have support groups or advisors. There are a number of Facebook and Internet sites that provide individual reviews and comments on the diet plan.
Exercise: There are no exercise requirements for this program.
Upside of the Program: If you like the taste of grapefruit and are trying to 5 kg before a special event; then this is a diet to try. There are no enrollment fees nor meeting requirements for this diet because you do it on your own. However, this last point can be a downside of the program if you are the type of person that prefers a group encouragement environment while on a diet. Also, depending on your point of view, the fact that this program does not involve any physical exercise can be an upside or a downside of a diet plan.
Downside of the Program: Contrary to the program belief, grapefruit does not burn fat. Dieticians have stated that it is the amount of water in the fruit that helps people feel fuller faster so they eat less. Because of the recommended meat included in the program, vegetarians and vegans will need to alter the plan to work for them. This is a short term diet plan, and the majority of people regain the lost weight after stopping the diet. Another drawback to eating lots of grapefruit is that it interferes with some prescription drugs, especially medications taken for high cholesterol, blood pressure, and acid-reflux. Anyone taking prescription medications should talk with their doctor before trying this diet.
2. The Paleo Diet
Program Summary: The thought process behind this diet program is that we should eat like prehistoric cavemen. There will be no dairy, potatoes, refined cooking oils, grains, legumes, salt, sugar, or any of the foods now grown by farmers. Cavemen were hunters who ate meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
The diet plan claims that following this program will let people be leaner and healthier. Yes, eating fresh, leaner foods may be beneficial, but some of the health claims still need more research for validation on the health effects when you consider that our prehistoric ancestors did not have physicians, nor the ability to identify many forms of health problems. Even with a Paleo diet, our ancestors did not enjoy long life, as their average life expectancy was 30 years of age.
Level of Dedication: This program gets 6 points for the amount of effort needed to adhere to the diet. An eating program that incorporates a lot of fish and lean meats will increase the weekly expense at the grocery store. If you like preparing your food from scratch, this is a plan that may work for you.
Support Availability: There are books and websites available for diet encouragement and recipes. This is a diet that you do on your own, and forums for the Paleo diet are available online.
Exercise: There are no exercise recommendations for this diet.
Upside of the Program: This diet plan emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, lean meats and poultry, nuts, and the use of coconut and olive oils. Because this is a program that you do on your own, there are no meeting requirements and no personal diet advisors available. However, you can chat with other Paleo dieters by joining an online Paleo Diet forum. Individuals with high blood pressure may benefit from this dietary program because it excludes any processed foods and eliminates the use of salt.
Downside of the Program: The Paleo program is not vegetarian or vegan friendly due to the emphasis on eating seafood, fish, eggs, and meat. Because of the elimination of dairy products and certain good carbohydrates, there is the potential loss of essential nutrients needed by the body. The program does not involve any recommendations for daily exercise. Anyone with a known health problem or taking prescription medications should talk with their doctor before trying this diet.
3. The Atkins Diet
Program Summary: This popular diet plan, designed by Dr. Robert Atkins, has been around since 1989. There are several versions of this program, but they all emphasize a low carbohydrate eating regiment. The menu for this diet includes eating fresh, lean protein, high fibre fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
The program involves four progressive phases that start with a restrictive 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, then additional foods are added back into the diet during phase 2, phases 3 begins when there is only about 5 kg left to lose to reach a weight goal, and phase 4 is a lifelong weight management eating routine.
Level of Dedication: This program gets 4 points for the amount of effort needed to adhere to the diet. There is no need to count calories, but you do need to count carbohydrates to stay within the diet’s rules.
Support Availability: The basic diet plan is learned from books and you do the program on your own. There is an Atkins website that has chat rooms, support groups, and articles with advice on recipes, meal planning, and ways to count carbohydrates.
Exercise: No exercise is required to lose weight on this diet program. However, the Atkins diet books do recommend some form of exercise daily for weight maintenance and to forestall any weight gain.
Upside of the Program: There are whole food groups that are available on this diet. The plan does not require that the protein must be from meats and fish, so it is vegetarian and vegan friendly. All of the foods on this diet are available at the local grocery store. While there is no need to purchase any brand name packaged foods, there are Atkins snacks and meals available in stores and online. There are no membership fees and no meeting requirements associated with this program.
Downside of the Program: The downside of this plan is doing the program on your own. If you are someone who likes, or needs, the encouragement of a support group, you’ll need to seek out the Atkins forums online. If you are a diabetic, the low amounts of carbohydrates allowed on the diet may require a change in your medications. If you have a renal disorder, eating lots of protein may cause kidney problems. As with any new diet routine, if you are pregnant or nursing, have any medical problems, or are taking prescription medications, you should talk with your personal physician before starting a controlled diet program.
4. The Dukan Diet
Program Summary: This diet plan was created by Dr. Pierre Dukan in 2000. Basically, it is a variation of the Atkins diet. The difference with this program, when compared to the Atkins plan, is the need to include oat bran with every meal.
The Dukan plan has 4 progressive phases as you progress through the diet, with each new phase adding back more food selections. The initial phase, called the Attack Phase, lasts for 10 days where you eat lots of lean protein, oat bran, and drink lots of water. The second phase, called the Cruise Phase, increases the amount of oat bran to be taken each day. Depending on the amount of weight you have to lose, this phase can last for months. The third phase, called the Consolidation Phase, adds back more food selections, and you stay in this phase 5 days for every kilogram that you lost during the prior two phases. The last phase, called the Stabilization Phase, is intended to be a lifelong weight maintenance phase and includes eating more oat bran every day.
You employ your new lifestyle eating routine with the exception that one day a week you follow the rules for the initial phase. Also, throughout the program phases, you need to exercise at least 20 minutes every day to maintain your weight loss and to keep your lean muscle mass.
Level of Dedication: This program gets 6 points for the amount of effort needed to adhere to the diet. There is no need to count calories, but you do need to count carbohydrates and eat lots of oat bran to stay within the diet’s rules. Because of the restrictive food selection, this type of diet plan can quickly become tiresome.
Support Availability: The basic diet plan is learned from a book and you do the program on your own. You can enroll for an optional online coaching program that helps you progress through the various phases. There is a monthly fee for the coaching program. The official Dukan website offers free recipes and inspirational stories from real dieters, but it does not have live chat rooms where dieters can talk with each other.
Exercise: An essential part of this diet program is the requirement for 20 minutes of daily walking or other physical exercise.
Upside of the Program: There are whole food groups that are available on this diet. The plan does not require that the protein must be from meats and fish, so it is vegetarian and vegan friendly. All of the foods on this diet are available at the local grocery store. Because you do this diet on your own, there are no membership fees and no meeting requirements associated with this program.
Downside of the Program: The downside of this plan is doing the program on your own. If you are someone who likes, or needs, the encouragement of a support group, you can enroll on the official Dukan website for coaching advice for a monthly fee. If you are a diabetic, the low amounts of carbohydrates allowed on the diet may require a change in your medications. If you have a renal disorder, eating lots of protein may cause kidney problems. As with any new dietary routine, if you are pregnant or nursing, have any medical problems, or are taking prescription medications, you should talk with your personal physician before starting a controlled diet program.
Program Summary: The Isagenix diet is a nutritional cleansing program. The aim of the program is to replace parts of your current diet with quality protein, vitamins, minerals and more.
All of the programs are pre-measured for your daily need of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, micro-nutrients, and calories. The program also encourages the use of supplements to ensure that your body is getting the recommended daily allowance of essential vitamins, minerals, probiotics, adaptogens, and enzymes.
During shake days you have two IsaLean meal replacement shakes, one healthy, low calorie meal, and several Isagenix snacks. During cleanse days you will drink lots of water, have several Cleanse for Life drinks, and can have several 100 calorie Isagenix snacks. The goal of the program is to enable your body to burn fat as your source of energy without the loss of lean muscle mass. Once you have achieved your weight loss goals, you can supplement your new physical wellbeing long term with a full array of other Isagenix health and wellness products.
Level of Dedication: This program gets 3 points for the amount of effort needed to adhere to the diet. Because the program requires the use of Isagenix products for all but one freshly prepared meal a day, you don’t have to count calories, carbohydrates, proteins, cholesterol, or sugars. The Isagenix products are available online, and if you sign up for automatic shipments you can get your orders at a discount.
Support Availability: The Isagenix diet plan has a strong online support community. While you do this diet on your own, you have access to a wide range of program coaches, fellow Isagenix users, forums, and contact with your personal Isagenix representative. With all of the websites and Facebook avenues available, you can always be in touch with other users regardless of the time zone, or country, that you live in.
Exercise: To enhance your weight loss, to build lean muscle mass, and to support a healthy digestive system, the program strongly recommends having a daily 20 to 30 minute exercise program.
Upside of the Program: With the use of pre-packaged products and supplements, this diet program can easily fit into a busy daily schedule and can be maintained both at home and on-the-go. Isagenix has a variety of shakes and snacks that are vegetarian, vegan, and lactose intolerant friendly. You can pre-order all of your 9 or 30 day supplies so that you never run out of your daily meal replacements or snacks.
Downside of the Program: For some people, the downside of the Isagenix diet plan is the cost of the pre-measured, pre-packaged products. However, when you sign up for automatic shipments, you will be able to get a reduced price. The program only works out to $10-$15 a day, and this is replacing two or your main meals, plus offering a variety of snacks.
Because this program is calorie restricted, diabetics need to consult with their doctors about any adjustments to their insulin and cholesterol medications. As with any new dietary routine, if you are pregnant or nursing, have any medical problems, or are taking prescription medications, you should talk with your personal physician before starting a new dietary and exercise program.
What’s Best for You?
Hopefully this comparison of the 5 most popular diet plans has given you the information you have been seeking. You can now make an informed decision based on what the different diet styles involve, how the plans might be able to help you gain a healthy weight level, and how the plans can help you gain the body image and mental confidence you desire.