- Minimalist guide defines the key aspects of 21 different eating plans
- Areas of overlap are common but each plan has one main characteristic
- Intermittent fasting, calorie counting and carb-eliminating explained
If you’re struggling to tell the difference between South Beach, Dukan, 5:2 and South Beach, a new infographic aims to clear up any confusion at a glance.
The cleverly designed minimalist guide defines the key aspects of 18 different eating plans, explaining each diet’s core concepts, prohibited foods and recommendations.
From the ever popular Atkins to the trendy Paleo, the graphic shows that, while areas of overlap are common in certain diets, each plan has at least one characteristic that sets them apart.
It’s not all about lettuce leaves: Not all diets require you to starve yourself, this new graphic reveals. The Paleo encourages the consumption of animal products, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts
Whether followed for weight loss, health benefits or a change of lifestyle, diets are constantly emerging and evolving.
The ‘minimalist guide’ points out that Paleo ‘mimics the seven fundamental characteristics of our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ diets’.
It adds that proponents of this diet believe our digestive system is best suited to the diet of our ancestors and consume mainly animal products, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
According to Paleoleap.com, benefits are said to include reduced risk of disease, clearer skin and increased energy.
But the guide, adds that it’s not recommended for those who lack time to prepare fresh meals or rely on processed foods.
The 5:2, which is illustrated with an image of a plate of fish and greens, is loved by celebrities such as Miranda Kerr, Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who reportedly lost eight pounds in just over two weeks when he was on it.
The 5:2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting and Dukan dieters are encouraged to tuck into high protein, low fat and low carb food
According to the guide, the 5:2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting, combining mostly regular eating with two fast days per week.
For five days of the week you can eat non-calorie-counted meals but for two days men are allowed 600 calories whilst women can only consume 500 calories.
The premise is that calorie deficit days makes the body turn elsewhere for energy; first glucose, then glycogen and finally fat stores.
Fastdiet.co.uk advises those who want to embark on this weight loss plan to only consume fish, lean meat or vegetable on fast days.
The diet is good for those who want to eat normally most of the time or who socialise a lot but it is not recommended for diabetics and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Dukan diet is illustrated by a meagre-looking plate of chicken breast, two radishes, four mushroom slices and three cucumber slices.
Dieters are encouraged to tuck into high protein, low fat and low carb foods such as lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy, low starch vegetables and oat bran.
The diet is good for those looking for a quick initial weight loss who don’t like counting calories but not recommended for if you have high cholesterol or kidney disease.
Atkins was one of the first low-carb eating plans, Acid-Alkaline reduces acids through food-combining and the Cambridge Weight Plan comes with nutritionally balanced pre-packaged meals and
Another celebrity favourite, Atkins was one of the first low-carb eating plans to attract long list of A-list devotees including Renee Zellweger, Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston.
In the UK alone almost three million people had tried the diet at the height of its popularity in 2003.
Devised in 1972 by Dr Robert Atkins, the eponymous plan is a low-carb diet that keeps blood-sugar consistent and limits food cravings and the doctor claimed it ‘flipped the body’s metabolic switch’ from burning carbs to burning fat.
The diet espouses a high fat (62 per cent), medium protein (29 per cent) and low carb intake (nine per cent) with key foods including meat, seafood, dairy and vegetables.
If you are the type who doesn’t like counting calories and enjoys eating, then this is the plan for you but the diet has also had its fair share of detractors, which a number of medical professionals concerned about long-term health effects.
Vegans looking to shed some pounds might be interested in the Alkaline or the Acid-Alkaline-Association Diet, which reduces acids through food-combining and upping your intake of alkaline foods.
Proponents believe acids turn into fat and contribute to developing diseases, and eating alkaline-producing foods combats this.
As some versions of this diet cut out full food groups, this diet has caused ripples in the medical profession. However, should you be looking to cut down on alcohol, sugar and meat, this could be a good entry point.
For those who find it tough to stick to plans, the Cambridge Weight Plan, with its calorie-counted meals and meal-replacement products taken alongside help from a Cambridge adviser, might prove to be perfect.
The calorie deficit causes the body to burn energy stores, which leads to weight loss and those on the plan get to tuck into nutritionally balanced pre-packaged, shakes, soups and bars.
The low-GI South Beach is a three-phase plan, Slimming World creates a calorie deficit and those on the Slim Fast diet consume meal replacement shakes and bars
Want something less structured? The South Beach plan is a three-phase diet that combines low GI foods with an exercise regime
According to fans of the diet, foods with a low GI rating are broken down more slowly, which reduces likelihood of hunger.
During phase one and two proponents eat medium fat, high protein and low carbohydrate foods, while during phase three it’s medium carbohydrate, medium protein and medium fat.
You are encouraged to eat lean meats, vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds
This diet is good for people who don’t want to count calories but is not recommended for those who may struggle with phase one’s carb restriction. The first phase also lacks some vitamins and minerals.
Embark on a Slimming World plan and you will be on a low-fat diet that combines Food Optimising, exercise and image therapy groups.
The diet creates a calorie deficit and increases the level of physical activity undertaken.
No foods are forbidden, but low fat options are recommended and you will get a balance of all food groups, allowing access to all necessary nutrients, plus some treats as no food is strictly forbidden.
However if you can’t afford to attend weekly group meetings then this isn’t for you.
The Slim Fast diet comprises of branded meal-replacement shakes and bars taken alongside snacks and one regular meal per day.
Products are filling, yet create a calorie deficit that allows for weight loss and are made up of high carbohydrate, medium protein and low fat foods.
The diet is good for people on the go who may like the convenience of pre-prepared, calorie-controlled products but those on a tight budget may find buying branded meal replacements expensive and it can make eating five-a-day difficult.
LighterLife offers counselling support, Weight Watchers has a points-based system, and Rosemary Conley focuses on portion control and advocates a lifestyle change
The core concept of LighterLife offers those who sign up weekly counselling and delivery of low-calorie food packs
Limiting the number of calorie-counted food packs eaten per day creates a calorie deficit with meals options of shakes, soups, mousses and snack bars on offer.
Four packs of the medium protein (38 per cent), high carbohydrate (49 per cent) and 17g fat (13 per cent) provides 100 per cent of your recommended daily vitamins and minerals.
Weight Watchers provides a calorie-controlled diet that includes an exercise plan and weekly meetings, and all foods have a calorie-based ProPoint value, with members having a point allowance that creates a calorie deficit.
No foods are banned on this diet, with unlimited fruit and veg on offer, and your ProPoints can be combined in any away, which makes this good for fussy eaters who will like the freedom of how to use up their points.
But if you don’t like counting points, then this new system can take some getting used to.
SCD or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is designed to re-boot the digestive system and echo our ancestors’ diets, eliminating foods that not everyone’s digestive systems have evolved to process.
Plans are tailored to individuals and prohibited foods include processed meats, canned fruit and vegetables, starches, cereal grains and legumes.
As well as fresh fruit and vegetable and unprocessed meats, cheese and bean flour are both allowed.
According to their website, sufferers of a range of bowel diseases and disordered have found this diet beneficial but, for the very same reason, those who are not specifically looking to aid a medical condition are not advised to go on the diet due to its restrictive nature.
The graphic also has details of the Rosemary Conley plan, a the low-fat, low-GI diet with accompanying exercise classes which works on a calorie deficit, along with increased exercise, should leads to weight loss.
There are different plans on offer so there is no firm list of prohibited items although all foods should have less than five per cent fat.
Key foods are wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread, oily fish and porridge oats and the diet is especially good for its focus on portion control.
The physical activity also helps with an overall lifestyle change.
If you embark on this diet you will have to be conscientious when it comes to checking labels to ensure the fat content of what you eat does not exceed five per cent.
FODMAP advises the elimination of five carbs, the risky Ketogenic diet enters the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis and Weston A Price encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods
Devised for those with stomach problems FODMAP’s core concept advises you to cutting out fermentable, oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyol carbohydrates but experts advice that this diet should only be undertaken with instruction from a dietician.
According to the graphic, eliminating the five FODMAP carbs can reduce fluid and bacteria levels which are thought to trigger stomach problems.
All the food groups contain friendly and unfriendly FODMAP foods in all food groups so it’s best to check the website but key foods you can eat include unprocessed meat and poultry, fish and seafood and most vegetables.
The diet has been used to treat people suffering from IBS, bloating and abdominal pain but is not recommended for those who eat convenience food or eat out often, as there are hidden FODMAPs in many foods.
Other diets include the risky Ketogenic which enters the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where ketone fats, instead of glucose, are burned for energy. The high-fat diet requires those who embark on it to incorporate 75 per cent fat, 20 per cent protein and five per cent carbohydrates into their daily food intake.
Once again this is a diet which has to be sanctioned by medical professionals as it can result in the aggravation of kidney or heart conditions as well as other medical issues.
Weston A Price champions eating only whole, unprocessed foods that will spoil if not consumed.
The high fat, high protein and medium carb plan recommends a diet of meat, offal, milk, butter, lard, coconut oil, fruit and vegetables.
The plan is best for those who have ready access to lots of fresh food and is not recommended for people who rely on convenience foods.
The Whole30 Program is a nutritional reset, Paleo Autoimmune Protocol medicates with food and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet claims to eliminate foods that not everyone’s digestive systems have evolved to process
Other diets explained include The Whole30 Program – a ‘nutritional reset’ that aims to stop unhealthy eating habits and give the body a kick-start.
The programme is good for people who are looking to change their eating habits and incorporates foods such as seafood, meats, vegetables and good fats.
Another diet, the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol uses food as medicine to reduce symptoms of various autoimmune conditions.
The graphic explains that this plan aims to heal the intestinal mucosa and lower inflammation in the body and promotes the consumptions of unprocessed meats and non-nightshade vegetables (common foods in the nightshade family include potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, capsicum, aubergine, paprika and ground cayenne pepper).
The highly restrictive diet may benefit those with autoimmune conditions but is not recommended unless needed.
Unlike the majority of eating plans in the graphic, the SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet doesn’t eliminate all carbs.
Designed to ‘reboot’ the digestive system, the diet claims to eliminate foods that not everyone’s digestive systems have evolved to process.
Once again this is a highly restrictive diet and as such should not be embarked on unless one has a specific medical condition which can only be eased by food elimination.
The vegetarian diet is free of meat and fish, whilst the vegan diet removes all foods derived from animals. The Mediterranean diet places emphasis on eating lots of fruit and vegetables
Moving on from the more unusual plans, the graphic also has definitions for three far more conventional diets.
It explains how a vegan diet is different to a vegetarian diet; the vegetarian diet is free of meat and fish, but usually includes other animal products like dairy and eggs whilst the vegan diet removes all meat and any other foods that are derived from animals.
And finally it there is the Mediterranean diet, which places emphasis on eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and encourages lifestyle changes including exercise and longer meals.