The People's Perspective on Medicine

Which Diet Is Best? The One You Can Follow

A review of popular diets found that there were no significant differences between most of them. Sticking to a diet appears to be the key to success.

A meta-analysis of 48 randomized clinical trials of diets such as Atkins, Jenny Craig, Ornish, Nutrisystem, South Beach or Weight Watchers found that there were no significant differences in weight loss between the various programs.

Following the diet appears to be the key to success. When people got behavioral support to help them stick to the plan, they lost more weight. In addition, those who exercised regularly lost more weight at the end of the year.

[JAMA, Sept. 3, 2014]

We’ve long advocated picking a (sensible) diet that appeals to you as a way to get the biggest benefit. People who will feel completely bereft without an occasional piece of well-aged cheese will probably have a hard time sticking with an extremely low-fat vegan diet. They might do better with one that permits small amounts of cheese, for example, so they can follow the guidelines without feeling deprived. Deprivation is not a good diet motivator.

With this analysis demonstrating the wide range of diets that can be helpful, it makes sense to select one that seems sustainable for you over the long run. That is where it becomes most important.

We outline some diets that have been proven helpful in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Check it out if you would like to learn more about a low-carb diet, the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet and how to follow them.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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