Nutritionist Lee Holmes reveals the popular diets that actually work

Paleo, clean eating and intermittent fasting: Nutritionist reveals the popular diets that REALLY work – and the ones to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight

From the ever popular ‘clean eating’ approach to the trendy paleo, there’s always a new diet popping up that promises the secrets to losing weight.

But how much do they really work? 

Australia’s leading nutritionist Lee Holmes has offered a guide explaining each diet’s core concepts, prohibited foods and her recommendations.

Here, the author of Supercharge Your Gut has rounded up the popular diets that actually work – and the ones to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight.

Australia's leading nutritionist Lee Holmes (pictured) has rounded up the popular diets - and which actually work in helping you to lose weight and keep it off

Australia’s leading nutritionist Lee Holmes (pictured) has rounded up the popular diets – and which actually work in helping you to lose weight and keep it off

Paleo diet 

Known as the ‘caveman diet’, Paleo eliminates modern foods such as grains, beans, legumes, soy, refined sugar, dairy and processed oils.

The style of eating focuses on high intake of unprocessed meat, fish, eggs, limited fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts.

Lee said while cutting out processed foods from your diet is helpful, the absence of carbohydrates and dairy can do more harm than good to your body.

‘We can lose benefits of many nutrients that we need to support our gut function and immune system and start to fear food,’ Lee said on her blog.

The food author suggested following a ‘balanced’ paleo diet so you can ‘minimise stress on your body and increase your vitality’.

She said it was important to eat fibre rich vegetables such as sweet potatoes – an ingredient many paleo advocates don’t include in their diet.

‘They are an integral part of having a thriving and robust digestive system,’ she said.

The clean eating approach has become increasingly popular in recent years, with 'wellness' Instagram stars swearing by the diet (stock image)

The clean eating approach has become increasingly popular in recent years, with ‘wellness’ Instagram stars swearing by the diet (stock image)

Clean eating approach

The clean eating approach has become increasingly popular in recent years, with ‘wellness’ Instagram stars swearing by the diet.

Based on clean, real and wholefoods, Lee said the diet is a ‘simple and maintainable approach to healthy eating’.

The diet focuses on wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats, most vegetables and fruits, healthy fats like avocado, dairy, beans and proteins like meat, fish and chicken.

Lee said the clean eating approach is a good diet to follow as it can lead to maintainable weight loss, increased energy, cardiovascular benefits and digestive improvements.

‘However, like all diets, it’s important to not over-eat as you can still gain weight while eating “clean” and really, when it comes down to it, who wants to be on a diet anyway?’ she said.

Mediterranean diet

Long touted by health experts as the secret to a lengthy, healthy life, the Mediterranean diet promotes an ‘approach to healthy eating’.

It’s rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and olive oil, and features moderate amounts of fish and poultry – and the occasional glass of red wine.

The diet eliminates added sugars, refined grains like white breads and pasta, trans fats like in margarine, canola oil and processed meat.

‘The Mediterranean diet is more than just the food on your plate, it’s also focused on lifestyle. It’s renowned for being one of the world’s healthiest and sustainable diets in the world,’ Lee said. 

Known as the 'caveman diet', Paleo eliminates modern foods such as grains, beans, legumes, soy, refined sugar, dairy and processed oils. The style of eating focuses on high intake of unprocessed meat, fish, eggs, limited fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts (stock image)

Known as the ‘caveman diet’, Paleo eliminates modern foods such as grains, beans, legumes, soy, refined sugar, dairy and processed oils. The style of eating focuses on high intake of unprocessed meat, fish, eggs, limited fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts (stock image)

Low carb, high protein diet

The low carb, high protein diet focuses on meat, fish, low-carbohydrate vegetables such as spinach, zucchini and fruits like berries.

The foods excluded from the diet include grains such as rice and oats, potatoes, gluten products like bread, pasta and cakes and high-carb fruits like bananas and mangoes.

Lee said while this diet can lead to short-term weight loss, it usually results in long-term weight gain due to the ‘restrictive nature of the diet’.

‘By cutting out carbohydrates, we lose the benefits of many important nutrients that can support our gut-health and immune system,’ she said.

‘Complex carbohydrates are fibre rich and help the functioning of our gut. If you eat unrefined carbohydrates, like fruit, starchy vegetables and some grains like oats, you don’t need to fear weight gain.’

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a dieting method where you restrict what you eat at different times of the day or the week.

There are a number of different options available – the most popular of which is the 5:2 approach, which means you consume a total of 600 calories (2510 kilojoules) for men and 500 calories (2090 kilojoules) for women – and fast two days of the week.

‘In my opinion, this is a great way to rest the digestive system however, the food consumed on fasting days, should be real wholefoods – not low-fat, processed junk-food, which a lot of people lean towards for convenience,’ Lee said.

‘By choosing sustainable, organic and real foods, you’ll get the most out of intermittent fasting practices.’

She said studies have found intermittent fasting can improve your metabolism, revamp good gut bacteria and help shed a few kilos but timing of eating is an issue.

Supercharge Your Gut diet 

Supercharge Your Gut is a diet that focuses on eating a diverse range of foods, including the ‘rainbow’ and both probiotics and prebiotics.

‘Prebiotics help nourish the probiotics within our digestive system, and without them, our probiotics have a poor chance of survival,’ Lee said.

The foods to eat includes dandelion greens, avocados, bananas, leeks, onions, quality sources of protein and good carbohydrates. 

‘By supercharging your gut, through consuming easily digestible and delicious foods, you can get your gut glowing, healthy and working at its prime,’ she said. 

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