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Celebrity diets do they work?

What’s it all about?
Coconut, coconut, and – yes, you guessed it – more coconut! This eating plan is all about replacing oils in your diet with coconut oil – 2 to 3tbsps a day, to be precise. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but if you can combine it with a low-carb diet, it’s actually said to boost metabolism.

Fans of this diet point out that Thais have been consuming coconut oil for thousands of years, and they’re generally slim and healthy. You can lose 10lb or more in the first three weeks, then a steady 1 to 2lb a week after that. That’s the theory.

How to do it
There are four phases. The strictest is phase one, which lasts for three weeks – carbs are out, and lean, protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, turkey, lamb, beef, eggs, nuts, vegetables and cheese are in. You also down 10 glasses of water a day as well as 2 to 3tbsps of coconut oil. Phase two is optional, but it lasts four weeks and it’s designed to detox your colon, liver, kidneys and gallbladder. In phase three you reintroduce carbs like wholegrains, potatoes and fruit. Then in phase four you start eating yet more carbs – the aim being to maintain your ideal weight for evermore. Simple.

THE COCONUT DIET
Celebrity fan: Jennifer Aniston
‘Besides the fact that you’ll probably get very sick of the taste of coconut oil – if you can get hold of it at all – one major pitfall to this diet is the lack of scientific evidence to support coconut oil’s slimming properties,’ says Dr Amelia Lake, Dietitian and Registered Public Health Nutritionist. ‘Coconut oil is also very high in saturated fats, which are detrimental to health – they can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.’

For more information, read The Coconut Diet by Cherie Calbom
(£5.99, HarperCollins)

Make long-term changes instead
Dr AMELIA Lake says:
‘These three diets promise weightloss, but in many ways they’re restrictive and possibly not sustainable. It’s much better to look at your food intake and activity levels and ask yourself if there’s anything day-to-day you could change. Ask yourself the following:

Do you consume a lot of hidden fat?
Could you up your quota of fruit and veg?
Could you walk to the shops instead of driving?

All these little everyday habits add up. Take it one step at a time and make some long-term changes instead.’

THE MACROBIOTIC DIET
Celebrity fans: Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna

What’s it all about?
If you want a ‘healthy’ diet, you need look no further than eating macrobiotic. Essentially high-fibre and low-fat, it involves basing your eating on ‘living foods’ like wholegrains, vegetables, tofu, pulses and seaweed. Rather than being just a diet, it’s an entire philosophy.

If you follow it to the letter you’d only use pots and pans made from wood, glass, ceramic, and stainless steel. So that means ditching the microwave and even electric hob, although cooking with gas is OK. And forget about bolting down your lunch on the run, as it’s all about chewing food until it turns to fluid for better digestion. Macrobiotic fans reckon this way of eating will help you shift pounds and help prevent diseases like cancer.

How to do it
The aim is to get a balance of ‘yin’ (sweet) and ‘yang’ (savoury) foods. You can eat fruit, fish, seafood, nuts and seeds now and then, but the banned list is lengthy: meat, chicken, dairy products, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and even tap water are all out. Organic wholegrains like barley, brown rice and rye should make up half your diet, with 30% locally and organically grown vegetables, 10% beans and seaweeds and another 10% seafood, fruit and nuts. Aim to eat a third of your veggies raw, and the remaining steamed, boiled, baked or sautéed. If you like soup, then this is the diet for you. Have two cups of soy-based soup daily – think miso and shoyu.

The verdict?
‘This diet advocates more natural, less processed foods – good!’ says Amelia. ‘But it’s very restrictive. It bans entire food groups so you may not get enough essential nutrients. Think carefully about it. Take professional advice before you start if you’re worried.’
For more information, read Modern Day Macrobiotics by Simon G Brown (£12.99, Carroll & Brown)

THE SOUTH BEACH DIET
Celebrity fans: Jessica Simpson and Kim Cattrall

What’s it all about?
An American cardiologist originally came up with this diet. While it was good for his patients’ hearts, they also lost weight. It’s all about eating the ‘right’ carbs and fats, rather than cutting out food groups for good. Avoid foods rich in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. Swap them for monounsaturated fats – olive oil and nuts. By eating foods with a low GI (glycaemic index), you’ll keep your blood sugar steady and will be less likely to crave junk. You can lose up to 13lb in two weeks, mostly from your stomach.

How to do it
The diet has three phases. Start at phase two if you’ve got 10lb or less to shift. The good news is that for each phase there are no limits on portion sizes, and you can munch on snacks. Phase one lasts for two weeks. The aim is to banish cravings. Cut out bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruit, milk, sweets, cake, biscuits, ice cream, sugar and alcohol. A bit of broccoli and cabbage are OK occasionally, but your diet should consist mainly of lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, low-fat cheese, some nuts and olive oil. By phase two, you can slowly reintroduce foods with a low GI – most fruit, a few more vegetables, wholegrain breads, wholegrain pasta, brown rice and low-fat milk. Stay with this phase until you’ve lost all the weight you want. Thankfully, phase three means you can introduce more foods. Ideally, you’ll stay on this phase for the rest of your life.

The verdict?
‘It’s better to eat complex carbs with a lower GI as they don’t cause a rapid increase in blood glucose,’ says Amelia. ‘The diet may not suit you if your willpower is wobbly. And, it’s a diet for life.’

For more information, read The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston (£6.99, Headline Book Publishing)

What’s it all about?
Coconut, coconut, and – yes, you guessed it – more coconut! This eating plan is all about replacing oils in your diet with coconut oil – 2 to 3tbsps a day, to be precise. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but if you can combine it with a low-carb diet, it’s actually said to boost metabolism.

Fans of this diet point out that Thais have been consuming coconut oil for thousands of years, and they’re generally slim and healthy. You can lose 10lb or more in the first three weeks, then a steady 1 to 2lb a week after that. That’s the theory.

How to do it
There are four phases. The strictest is phase one, which lasts for three weeks – carbs are out, and lean, protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, turkey, lamb, beef, eggs, nuts, vegetables and cheese are in. You also down 10 glasses of water a day as well as 2 to 3tbsps of coconut oil. Phase two is optional, but it lasts four weeks and it’s designed to detox your colon, liver, kidneys and gallbladder. In phase three you reintroduce carbs like wholegrains, potatoes and fruit. Then in phase four you start eating yet more carbs – the aim being to maintain your ideal weight for evermore. Simple.

The verdict?
‘Besides the fact that you’ll probably get very sick of the taste of coconut oil – if you can get hold of it at all – one major pitfall to this diet is the lack of scientific evidence to support coconut oil’s slimming properties,’ says Dr Amelia Lake, Dietitian and Registered Public Health Nutritionist. ‘Coconut oil is also very high in saturated fats, which are detrimental to health – they can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.’

For more information, read The Coconut Diet by Cherie Calbom
(£5.99, HarperCollins)

Make long-term changes instead
Dr AMELIA Lake says:
‘These three diets promise weightloss, but in many ways they’re restrictive and possibly not sustainable. It’s much better to look at your food intake and activity levels and ask yourself if there’s anything day-to-day you could change. Ask yourself the following:

Do you consume a lot of hidden fat?
Could you up your quota of fruit and veg?
Could you walk to the shops instead of driving?

All these little everyday habits add up. Take it one step at a time and make some long-term changes instead.’

Gillian Says…
‘Fad diets operate on restricting you, and in effect will usually starve you of something important that your body needs. A ‘diet’ to me is not about starving yourself, but rather a new lifestyle with an abundance of healthy foods. Sure, fad diets might help you to lose weight in a few weeks but you won’t be able to continue with these diets in the long run.’

I tried it!
Catherine Cooper, 35, from London, lost 8lb in two weeks on the South Beach diet

‘I wanted to lose weight after my second pregnancy, and the South Beach diet appealed to me because I’d heard it was ‘like the Atkins diet with vegetables’ – basically, I wanted a quick fix. It was really easy to follow. I just bought the book and ate the suggested menus for each stage. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to weigh out my food. Breakfast was eggs and bacon or eggs and spinach. Lunch was chicken, crab or tuna salad, and then I’d have a steak or piece of fish and veg for dinner. I snacked on low-fat cheese, nuts or ham wrapped in lettuce. I had to forego Chinese takeaways and curries because I wasn’t allowed rice and noodles, but eating out wasn’t a problem if I ordered steak and salad or grilled fish with vegetables. I felt grumpy for the first few days, but not really hungry. It’s quite a realistic diet, as after the first two weeks you are not expected to eat like a saint. Overall, I lost 8lb in two weeks so it worked for me!’

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