There is no shortage of ideas for weight loss, especially at this time of year. Here are five of the most popular, and the verdict on the evidence to back them up.


The idea here is to eat normally on some days, and to have a severely restricted calorie intake on others

If fast days make you ‘hangry’ with low blood sugar, you may want to think again about this. However with normal food intake and a balanced diet, many find that this really works.

The verdict - it works, if it works for you.


We can all do with cutting down on the simple carbs, which means sugar.

Problems can arise when people read ‘low carb’ as also including complex carbs. Remember that not all carbs are created equal.

Keto diets are an extreme form of this. The theory is that the body is so low on carbs that it starts using fat as an energy source. The evidence is still subject to study.

The verdict – reducing your sugar intake is always a good idea.


Juice fasts and herbal teas are said to be ways to remove toxins from your body, and to lose weight.

There is no scientific evidence for dietary detox or cleansing. A healthy body removes the waste products from food via the liver, gut and kidneys. Some herbs are toxic in overdose, so these diets can even be dangerous.

The verdict – forget it!


Reducing our intake of processed food can have some benefits. More fresh veg, plus leaner meat and fish simply cooked fills us up for fewer calories.

Paleo eating means ‘only what a caveman would find’. This means more meat, veg and fat but fewer dairy and grain-based products.

The evidence is limited but some swear by it.

The verdict – less processed food is good.


The concept of eating southern-Europe style has much in its favour. Enjoy seasonal fresh veg, olive oil, fish and herbs. There is evidence that eating this way is good for your heart as well as your waist.

The verdict – well worth a go.

The conclusion? Balance food intake with effort expended, eat a good variety of nutrients in sensible portions and don’t let food rule your life.


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Helen P.
29 January 2017

Helen P.

I think I probably eat like a Mediterranean diet already, and I feel very healthy on it, so I don't feel the need to actually go on a diet. Exercise and eat 90% healthy, and you will become the best weight for you!

Paula C.
29 January 2017

Paula C.

There may not be an scientific evidence for detox diets but I definitely feel a lot better when I've cut out anything processed, wheat, dairy, sugar and drank herbals teas etc. So there has to be something in it I would say.

Lucy C.
23 January 2017

Lucy C.

the office is a bit of a nightmare when intermittent fasting is in - I do wish they would sync their fast days so we wouldn't have one person grumpy every day!

Charlie M.
20 January 2017

Charlie M.

I also have never dieted. I'm not immune to putting on weight, the cause is perfectly simple - eating too much for the exercise that I am doing. As I see it, for those in normal health it is simply a case of 'fork down, get off couch'.

Michael A.
19 January 2017

Michael A.

Intermittent fasting worked for me when I needed to lose weight a couple of years ago. It's simple, and I could honestly eat what I liked on the off days. I would definitely go back to it if I needed to (hopefully won't)

Claire H.
17 January 2017

Claire H.

I don't believe in following diets. My own diet is probably focused on omitting processed food, though I do like carbs like bread and pasta. In my opinion, how active you are is more important than what you eat.

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