64% of people in the UK are classed as obese, a figure that is steadily increasing and is not just a problem in the UK but across the globe.
Obesity can lead to various conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast and bowel cancer and strokes in addition to psychological problems such as depression and low self-esteem.
Use the tool below to calculate your BMI (body-mass index):
Growing waistlines have led to a growing diet industry, now worth over £2 billion in the UK alone, with a predicted global value of £220 billion. In addition to this a recent study showed that 48% of Brits had admitted to dieting during a 12-month period whilst the average woman is said to spend £25k on weight plans in her lifetime.
With the average diet only lasting for 19 days, TotallyMoney.com has taken a look at some of the most popular, analysing the ideas behind them, meal plans and both the health costs and potential financial costs involved.
Ketogenic dieting consists of eating high-fat, low-carb foods and medium levels of proteins. In doing this one encourages ketosis where in the absence of carbohydrates (which are broken down into blood sugars) the body burns fat.
When blood sugar levels are low our bodies uses fat to produce ketones.
Grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables, butter, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils.
Factory-farmed fish and meat, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, refined fats and oils, low-fat/low-carb products.
Ketogenic diets are known to reduce the seizures associated with epilepsy.
Ketogenic diets are associated with reversing type 2 diabetes by lowering the body’s insulin levels.
There are also claims that ketosis can result in improved concentration and physical endurance.
Weight loss can be fast and proves to be popular as the diet allows the consumption of proteins and fats such as red meat and dairy.
It may take up to two weeks to enter ketosis during which time headaches, constipation and tiredness may occur.
Restraint is required as some foods are to be avoided.
Lack of fruit and vegetables has raised concerns with regards to bone, heart and kidney health.
Also known as the caveman diet or the hunter gatherer diet, this plan encourages eating as our Paleolithic ancestors did. A Paleo diet involves avoiding foods from the age when humans developed agriculture and eating fresh, unprocessed foods. Similar to a ketogenic diet, Paleo encourages ketosis by limiting items such as starchy vegetables, carbohydrates and sugars.
Grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils.
Legumes, dairy products, cereals, sugars, potatoes, processed foods, salted foods and refined vegetables and oils, starchy vegetables.
Some plans offer dieters the 80/20 rule meaning if you follow the regime 80% of the time one will still get 99% of the benefits.
The diet encourages eating higher proportions of meat which not only makes it difficult for vegetarians to adhere to but also goes against a number of studies which suggests eating large quantities of meat can cause ill health.
Primal Blueprint is a nutrition and lifestyle plan created by former athlete and long distance runner Mark Sisson. The Primal Blueprint incorporates Paleo style nutrition in addition to incorporating various “laws” – lifestyle rules which include:
- Moving around, often, at a slow pace
- Heavy lifting three times per week
- Carry out short, intense sprints every 7-10 days
- Sleep lots to improve energy and the immune system
- Get sunlight, daily, to improve productivity and positivity
- Avoid danger, poisonous things and trauma. Don’t smoke, consume sugar, consume processed foods or dive in shallow water.
- Exercise your brain through creativity, reading and socialising
Paleo and primal are not necessarily the same. Ben Phelps of PrimalBro.com explains.
“Primal is a conceptual way of eating. It’s more or less a list of approved foods based on the diets of the first humans, or our Primal ancestors. A keto diet is a more modern diet based in science and often viewed as human or body hacking. It’s limiting your carbohydrate intake while consuming high amounts of healthy fats like coconut and avocado. It trains your body to use fat as a primary energy source instead of relying on carbohydrates like modern diets. The sweet potato is the best way to demonstrate the difference. On a Primal diet, sweet potatoes are used for sides, desserts, soups, etc. However, sweet potatoes are too high in carbohydrates to be consumed regularly on a ketogenic diet. Stricter keto dieters will cut out sweet potatoes completely. All (almost) keto diets are Primal, but not all Primal diets are keto”.
Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, fruit.
Beans, legumes, potatoes, rice, grains, sugar.
80/20 gives some flexibility.
Offers an overall lifestyle change which includes not just diet but also fitness and exercise.
Large reliance on meat and animal products less environmentally friendly.
The 5:2 Diet, also known as The Fast Diet requires the individual to fast intermittently, limiting their calorie intake on two days per week to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. The other five days allow for normal eating (2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men).
No limits on food types, just calorie intake.
The Fast Diet has been said to reduce the risks of heart disease, strokes and cancer whilst improving cholesterol levels and blood sugar.
Some experience headaches, nausea and dizziness on fast days due to the low calorie intake.
Diet requires calorie counting focus every day.
The diet doesn’t restrict or encourage any particular methodical way of eating but instead focuses on intermittent fasting and calorie control of one’s “normal” diet.
Veganism seeks to cease the exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, cosmetics or any other purpose.
Veganism is becoming increasingly supported by celebrities and was the most searched for diet on Google over the past 12 months. In addition to this Google searches for “Veganism” are steadily increasing (See below).
Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, pulses, beans, grains.
Animal products and animal by-products including meat, dairy and honey.
Positive animal welfare approach.
Environmental impact of not consuming animal products.
A big lifestyle change that may be difficult to execute in some modern societies.
Veganism may also require more effort and time spent in terms of food preparation for day to day eating.
Some believe that by omitting animal products from one’s diet vegans may be missing out on of essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, Vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Fresh, plant based diets are perceived to be expensive with one recent study claiming it can cost up to £2,000 extra per year to be vegan. However, cutting back on expensive meat can also save cash and some have carried out exercises to prove that Veganism need not to break the bank.
Veganism impacts one’s lifestyle more than other diets; fashion, eating out.
Slim-Fast is a low calorie meal replacement plan.
The diet sets out each meal in a bid to making self-control easier and removes the need to count calories.
No foods are ruled out.
The scheme doesn’t educate the dieters meaning that if they unsubscribe to the plan weight can be gained.
Eating enough fruit and vegetables whilst sticking to the plan may be difficult.
Branded meals and snacks can be expensive.
Meals are consist of a combination of Slimfast branded snack bars, microwaveable meals, meal replacement shakes and a calorie counted homemade meal each day, examples of which can be found here.
BodyChef/ Diet Chef/ Jane Plan
Food hampers are delivered to the door containing portioned meals, all of which are microwavable. Additional fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables are purchased by the subscriber separately.
Online support with over 150k subscribers.
All meals provided by Diet Chef plus additional fruit and vegetables.
Restricted to the meal plan and the fruit and vegetables outlined by the plan.
No cooking is required meaning more time available to the subscriber.
Food is delivered to the subscriber’s door, no shopping or food preparation required.
All calorie counting is done making it easy for the user to follow the diet plan.
No home cooking, education or personal development in terms of understanding the science behind the weight loss.
Upfront payment for a month of food can be expensive.
BodyChef – £315/month
Jane Plan – £245/month
DietChef – £315/month
Some scientific studies state that increased calcium can lead to weight loss, especially around the belly area. Milk contains a lot of calcium and no refined sugar.
Rapid weight loss and low cost.
Not suitable to those who are lactose intolerant.
Not sustainable – a short term, quick weight loss technique which offers no education on how to change eating habits.
Soylent is an open source meal replacement that is available in the forms of a pre prepared drink, a coffee mixed drink and powder. The preparation of the bioengineered algae used requires less resource than traditional agriculture and producers claim that it “contains a complete blend of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and micronutrients: everything the body needs to thrive”.
Soylent and Huel type products can be a part or full diet replacement.
Convenience – very little meal preparation required
Low environmental waste and impact due to the processing, packaging, shipping and preparation.
Little enjoyment can be taken from a diet of consuming meal replacement drinks and this isn’t ideal for social situations.
Little variation in nutritional source.
Long-term impacts of such a diet are not known.
The cost of fresh food is becoming increasingly expensive and at a rate faster than that of unhealthy food. The average increase in price per 1,000 calories for healthy food between 2002-2012 was £1.84 whilst the increase during the same period for unhealthy foods was just 73 pence.
The graph below shows the costs of each diet. These calculations can only be used as a guide and are not a guarantee to how much each will cost. Diets are largely a result of and dependent on budget, nutritional education and lifestyle.