The Five Most Famous Diets

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Diet fads come and go. However, some diet plans strike a chord with the public and stay around for years, often becoming household names. From the Atkins Diet to Weight Watchers, there are plenty of plans to choose from when it comes to fighting the bulge. Which one is right for you depends on your goals, patience and commitment.

5 Zone Diet

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The Zone Diet emerged on the scene in the mid-1990s. Created by biochemist Barry Sears, the diet plan focuses on balancing protein, fat and carbohydrates rather than eliminating one in favor of the other. In addition to stressing the importance of exercise and drinking large amounts of water, the Zone Diet recommends a daily caloric intake of 30 percent fat, 30 percent protein and 40 percent carbs. Arguably, this revs up the metabolism and leads to weight loss. The Zone Diet is considered good for the heart because of its emphasis on healthy fats and lean proteins. Zone dieters typically eat five small meals per day.

4 Mediterranean Diet

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Approved by the American Heart Association, the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes a diet rich in plant-based foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes, olive oil and seafood. This diet encourages the intake of healthy fats and emphasizes portion control. Research suggests the Mediterranean Diet is good for the heart, lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. It is also high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that also help combat disease.

3 South Beach Diet

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Another popular diet is the South Beach Diet. Created by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston as a way to prevent heart disease, the South Beach Diet is similar to Atkins in that it promotes eating protein-rich foods and reducing carbohydrates. However, it focuses on eating small amounts of glycemic carbohydrates, which helps to keep blood sugar levels low, and healthy fats. Some dieters are discouraged from following the South Beach Diet because it requires cutting off carbs for the first three to four weeks of the plan. However, carbs are reintroduced into the diet after this period.

2 Weight Watchers

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It is virtually impossible to watch television and not see a Weight Watchers commercial. In many ways, the weight loss program has been a pop culture staple since arriving on the scene in the 1960s. Created by Jean Nidetch and modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers takes a support group approach to weight loss. With a combination of group meetings, exercise and nutrition, participants are motivated to succeed with the help of the program’s extensive support network. Although weight loss is not as quick as with other diet plans, it does come off gradually and steadily, which means participants are more likely to keep the weight off and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

1 Atkins Diet

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Created by Dr. Robert Atkins, the Atkins Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Not without its critics, the premise of the Atkins Diet is that carbs lead to weight gain. Therefore, carbs—like bread and pasta—should be eaten significantly less in favor of protein-rich foods like meat. The Atkins Diet is and continues to be hugely popular because it often leads to significant weight loss over a short period of time. However, critics of the Atkins Diet argue that too many unhealthy fats are included in the plan, putting a participant’s heart health at risk.

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