Our thoughts on three of the most popular diets for weight watchers

By Kaye Lopez | Photos by Henrique Felix and Dominik Martin/Unsplash

Obesity is a universal health concern.

While you may have a friend who has lost over a hundred pounds on the Cohen Diet, a tita who’s been nagging you to try her detox juice cleanse, or have read that the Paleo Diet is the best complement to an active lifestyle, the fact remains that these fad diets are exactly that: a fad.  Although they may work for some, the fact remains that these are all just creative ways to cut down on calories.  The primary weight loss mechanism backed by science and has stood the test of time is changing energy balance. If you burn more calories than you consume through physical activity, you will lose weight.

Just because a particular weight-loss program is popular or endorsed by celebrities doesn’t mean it will work for you. Let’s have a closer look at three diets and the reasons why they may be a waste of time and money.

The Cohen Diet

According to Dr. Rami Cohen, it is the imbalance of hormones, as seen in a person’s blood profile, that causes weight gain and obesity. Based on this premise, he designed an eating plan that uses food to correct this, which then allows the body to burn fat. The problem is that restricting calories, constantly weighing ingredients, and banning certain foods are not sustainable strategies for losing weight. In fact, the program limits caloric intake so much that clients are actually discouraged from doing any physical activity while on the program. That alone is already a red flag because exercise is a vital component of good health.

Detox Diets

Most detox juice cleanses claim that going on a liquid diet composed mainly of vegetable juice gives the body a break from inflammatory substances, which helps digestion and promotes weight loss. This quick fix is bound to fail because aside from the high cost of going on a detox, eliminating whole food altogether will keep most people constantly hungry.  People will definitely lose weight at the start but it’s most likely from water, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk instead of fat. Having nothing but vegetable juice for nutrition lowers your total caloric consumption excessively and signals your body to go on survival mode, slowing down your metabolic rate in order to survive. This makes weight loss even harder once you start eating normally again.

After all that’s been said and done, a simple and reliable premise holds true: weight loss occurs when caloric intake is less than caloric expenditure.  In other words, you need to eat less and burn more to lose weight

The Paleo Diet

Also known as the Caveman Diet, the idea behind this is eating foods available to man’s prehistoric ancestors during the Paleolithic Era.  Like most of the low-carb diet variations that came before it, the Paleo Diet relies heavily on grass-fed red meat, certain cuts of fish that contain healthy fats, fresh produce, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  While most of the foods are healthy, it is still highly restrictive and requires dieters to avoid all processed food, dairy products, cereal grains, potatoes, and salt, which could possibly lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Although popular among CrossFit enthusiasts, athletes and weight trainers may find it difficult to perform at their best due to decreased glycogen stores from limited carb intake. Those who travel or compete in obscure places may also find it impractical to stick to the Paleo plan if the prescribed foods are not readily available to them.

When choosing a weight-loss program that yields the best results, don’t approach it like a popularity contest.  Two important points to consider. Is there scientific evidence to back it up? Will it fit your personal needs and lifestyle in the long run?  After all that’s been said and done, a simple and reliable premise holds true: weight loss occurs when caloric intake is less than caloric expenditure.  In other words, you need to eat less and burn more to lose weight.