Weight loss diets review from someone who has actually followed them...

It may come as a surprise to you that I am a little over the recommended weight for someone my age, breadth and height. 

I am trying to lose my 'baby' weight (ahem! my baby was 27 in December), and have tried several "diets" over the last three decades:

These are my opinions so far:-

  • Weight Watchers - far too technical, and writing everything down that I ate was too much of a temptation to sneak food without admitting to it.  Weight loss over two weeks = 0lbs

  • The Paleo Diet - for someone who does not eat animal products, this was a hard diet to follow, nevertheless I undertook it last year for a four week period.  We bought only grass-fed meat which was expensive, and having researched how animals are slaughtered for food I only ate pork as in my opinion it is the kindest way for an animal to die. Weight loss over four weeks = 8lbs

  • Vegan-only diet.  To me this is the normal way to eat. Weight loss = usually 0, however, my weight is easily maintained eating this way.

  • Low-carb diet.  This diet is very difficult to follow as a vegan diet.  Eating mostly veg with added fish and eggs works well for me, and is very similar to the Slimming World diet, on which I lost 1 stone 11lbs. 

  • The Dukan Diet felt a little like eating on Star Trek (although I wouldn't know that...) as eating just lean protein with oat bran added messed with my head (and my bottom) and made me feel 'out of it'.  I followed it for two weeks, and the weight loss was not worth feeling so poor.  Weight loss = 5lbs

  • The FODMAP diet was one plan that was worth following for feeling healthier.  It works by eliminating things that your gut may find difficulty processing, and is sensible in saying that it is your gut not your stomach that is where your mind should be focussing.  Not something I could follow long-term while living with another person not on the same diet, but worth the effort to find out what to eliminate from my foods (I'll give you a clue to mine: begins with p and ends with reservatives...)  Weight loss over 4 weeks:  6lbs

  • Very low-fat diet.  I attended a weight-loss class to be taught like a cretin to avoid all 'reds' on food packaging and that 'all fat is bad for you'.  I'm not, you shouldn't and it isn't.  Yes I'm overweight, but it's not from eating butter, lard and dripping three times a day... Weight loss: 0.  Interest: 0. Funny stories to relate from the course: oodles.... (One woman asked if potatoes were vegetarian...I wanted to say, 'What did you think they were, Bull's Bo**ocks??)

  • Noom.  I subscribed to Noom, and the psychology that is taught is very, very good.  You weigh yourself every morning and record your weight then have that number in your head all day long.  You are trained to make healthier choices not cut out certain foods, and no food is labelled as 'bad or naughty'.  Well worth the time and effort to learn about food as nutrition.  Bit expensive to purchase, but the coaching does last 12 months.  Weight loss: 1st 6lbs

  • Shakes diet e.g. Slimfast.  This, along with many others - Nutriseed** being very popular right now - is a plan that uses meal replacement drinks/shakes and a low-calorie weight loss plan.  The human body is not designed to cope on lower calories.  This causes the metabolism to slow and the body to retain calories as fat.. It can also be incredibly expensive (Nutriseed is currently £150 for four weeks, of two days a week product; therefore £150 for forty shakes/blends.  It works well if used on a 5:2 approach.  

  • 5:2 diet.  This works well as long as you don't have your '2' as days next door to each other, and as long as other people in your house are gits who eat chocolate, McDonalds or crisps in full sight/sound/smell of you on your '2' days.  The premise is eating very low calorie on 2 days a week and healthily on the other 5.  The metabolism is confused and 'kicks in', speeding up due to the 2 lower cal days.  Very successful method - a bugger to stick to due to other people in the general population/adverts/news items about food/Great British Bakeoff...I won't go on. Weight loss in two weeks:  6lbs

  • The baby food diet:  Used by lots of celebrities to slim down for TV work, etc.  This diet is just as it says - you eat jars of mushed-up baby food instead of 'real' meals.  It is a short-term diet, and is certainly a fad.  It does work, but as with all*** low-calorie diets, it slows down the metabolism which is why weight is easily regained, and more weight gain than weight loss is usual.  Weight loss = a minus number!

  • Gastric surgery.  I have had this.  A gastric band. Back in the day, before life kicked me into touch and reality, I had stupid spare cash and paid for private surgery.  It worked well.  Then after almost two years, the gastric band began to erode and I had severe pain followed by emergency surgery to remove it. A waste of money.  Not worth the weight loss for the amount of money wasted and the trauma it caused not just me but my family.  Weight loss = 3+stones, but weight put back on over the years after.  And some. The Gastric Band works by making the stomach pouch smaller, and there are foods that you can no longer eat as they 'get stuck'. Like bread, pasta and meat.  You are eating smaller amounts over a longer time.  Metabolism kicks in once you start eating properly, and there are no limitations as to what you can eat, so you eat things you have 'missed' hence weight gain...

  • Curves complete.  This is the most successful weight loss plan I have followed to date.  I am currently following this plan.  It is not like any weight loss plan I have used before, but there are some good aspects of others as in; recording food input, weighing every day, eating proper portion sizes, not banning any foods, but choosing healthier things to eat most of the time.  The one thing this diet plan has over every other one I have tried  is that you are shown exactly how to exercise to build your strength.  The plan that is used is exercising full-on for 30 minutes three days a week and walking as much as you can on the other days.  You are encouraged to use a step counter. 
  Despite Lockdowns, Christmas, Birthday, 'I need chocolate' times and 'Oh God I don't WANT TO' days, since last September I have lost just under 2 stones and it's still coming off.  

My target is to lose weight slowly - 1lb a week - and to exercise in some way every day.
No limits on the amounts I eat, just healthier choices as to what I eat (e.g. carrot and celery with 1tbsp peanut butter rather than three rounds of toast with spread and marmite..)

Are there diet plans I have missed?
What has worked for you/someone you know?

Take care,

Tracey xx

** N.B. I have never used this weight-loss system, but a friend is currently on it and has lost over 2 stones in 5 months of: two days a week smoothies and 5 days a week eating sensibly.
*** please tell me if this is not the case with a very low calorie diet you are aware of and I will happily amend this blogpost.


  1. A pound a week is great going and really mounts up over time.
    I lost weight with two things. The first was a misbehaving gallbladder and in the time between flare up (ouch) and diagnosis and the operation, I lost pretty much three stone, just because I had to eat so minimally. After the op, the weight started creeping up again so I joined Slimming World, losing the weight more slowly and hitting target last summer.
    I like the structure and, with a good application of solid common sense, it works for me and I'm sticking with the general guidelines and, once this is all over, going to group as a target member and helper.

    I think your approach will work fine for you.

  2. I follow a low carb eating program with intermittent fasting. This was recommended by my GP and cardiologist. I follow Dr. Jason Fung (you can find lots of videos on Youtube) - he is a Nephrologist here in Canada who was shocked at the number of patients he had whose kidney problems stemmed from Type 2 Diabetes and started doing a lot of research.
    His way of eating is now recommended to many Diabetes patients (a number of my friends included) - and to people like me who needs to lose weight due to some cardio issues (mild problems for now) - all of us have lost weight - no one feels like they are starving and cravings do decrease quickly - or at least this is my experience.
    I suppose it's a form of "dirty keto" - low carb - moderate proteins but a bit more veg and fruit than strict keto. Sugar intake is the big thing to watch! I find it easy to follow - just miss the ease of a sandwich and I do have to plan my meals a bit more.
    He is a realist and if it's your birthday or Christmas or you are on vacation - go ahead and splurge a bit - just get back to normal eating again when you get home.
    I've tried just about every other diet you listed and this is something I can do for the rest of my life. During early lockdown, like many people I stress ate carbs and gained weight - I also felt blah and heartburn came back with a vengeance. Back on low carb and I feel so much better!

  3. Fascinating... a personal history of diet fads and effective programmes. You have forgotten a few popular ones though.
    Like you I've tried many many diets over the years. I lost lots of weight when young using the Scarsdale diet, which is very similar to the Mayo diet (lots of protein, prescriptive menu ie one slice of dry toast for breakfast, only lean chicken and tomato for lunch, only lamb and spinach for dinner). The one sub you could make was fruit salad instead of any lunch or dinner and boy did I eat a lot of fruit salad. I used to lose up to 8lb a fortnight on that. You only followed it for two weeks at a time and do something maintenance in between, which for me was usually the F-Plan diet (1lb a week loss if you were lucky and could stick with one Dairylea triangle between two unbuttered wholemeal bread doorstops!). Using this combo I lost half my body weight over a couple of years, but slowly gained it back over the next few years.
    I also managed a similar feat using replacement shakes 3 times a day - very naughty - for a few months, and then a variety of different diets for a few more which dropped weight very quickly because I rotated them. One that worked particularly well was a 1000 calories a day diet which gave you a shopping list including eggs, milk, bran flakes, various packets of frozen veg, a couple of the then new-fangled Weightwatchers frozen meals, some baked beans etc. The supplies were for 10 days and you could combine them and eat the however you wanted over that period. I think the feeling you could have any of the choices whenever, create a big treat meal or eat 6 snacks each day, helped. I usually lost 3-4lb per 10 days.
    I've never been on the South Beach Diet but that was v popular for a time and then there was the blood type diet, a relative of the Paleo I believe, which promoted the idea that your blood group was related to different periods in man's early development and that certain blood groups should eat like hunters, others like farmers, and clearly most like idiots!
    My father was always doing the Grapefruit diet in the 60s and early 70s, which was basically high protein, high fat, low carb with half a grapefruit before every meal and lots of black coffee. He was in fashion so had to keep his figure trim. As he got older he got diabetes and was put on the G-Plan diet where only certain carbs were encouraged and which was very high fibre and very low fat. I made cauldrons of whole oat porridge, every kind of bran muffin under the sun which were supposed to precede every meal and cooked him tiny portions of fish with heaps of beans, poor man. Funnily enough that is pretty much the diet I follow now, minus the animal products, not to loose weight but because it cures my digestive problems. This is quite against my doctor's advice, but the high fat diet he put me on made me vomit and pushed me into depression. While he is convinced the current recommendations are absolutely the only right way to eat, I can look back and see a pattern that goes from protein and fat to carbs and fibre and back again, over and over, where each new set of recommendations were 'it'. So my rule now is listen to my body, eat what makes it feel good and what it can digest easily, eat what's better for the planet where possible and worry less about the scales. I would like to be lighter but I don't think most of the diets I tried did me any good in the long run, mentally or physically.

  4. Wow! Thank you SO MUCH for your response, which I have posted here in it's entirety. I think you are right - what works for you and makes you feel healthy is the key. xx


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