Diet blog: new diets for 2016

Judith Wills / 07 January 2016

Our diet expert weighs up the Sirtfood Diet and other new diet plans to see which have the best chance of helping us lose weight.

Two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, and yet every January many of us take up the latest diet and/or fitness regime, more in hope than in certainty that it will find us slim and fit at the end of the year.

With this in mind, I've trawled through the most popular of the new crop of plans to see if any might fit the bill of getting us in shape without too much pain, as well as providing a good potential level of health protection.

The Sirtfood Diet

Sirtfoods are 'wonder' foods that contain substances that apparently boost weight loss by activating 'thin genes' called sirtuins in our bodies. Thus the diet, by UK's Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, is packed with these foods.

Good points: Many of the sirt foods are things you probably already eat (onions, celery, olive oil, strawberries, walnuts for example) and may even love or crave (red wine, chocolate, coffee). By and large after the first week, it's a pretty healthy diet.

Not so good points: If you follow the diet in the book, the first 7 days are tough, majoring on kale-containing juices (rather than smoothies, which would IMO, be healthier), and make you give up all starchy carbs as you know them, which is slightly too faddy for me. It boasts very fast weight loss – an average of 7lbs in 7 days, which I think is too fast, especially for seniors, and more research needs to be done on the sirt foods theory. I think much of the weight loss that will be achieved on this diet will be through a general reduction in food intake as much as through the so-called sirt foods.

Related: Read our guide to the Sirtfoods Diet

Eat Fat, Get Thin 

By US doctor Mark Hyman, this will be published here in February. Hyman explains in easily understood terms all the latest thinking on why fat in the diet has been misunderstood for several decades and that the right fats – including saturates - can help you lose weight, keep it off and improve health problems such as diabetes type 2 and high blood pressure.

Good points: Ideal if you like your meat. Hyman hates highly-processed 'fake' foods and sugar and the diet is very natural; filled with unprocessed or lightly processed items such as nuts, seeds, fish, dairy and animal protein from grass fed sources only, as well as plenty of vegetables.

Not so good points: He advises you avoid all grains, even wholegrains, and the only starches (max 4 times a week) are from a small selection of root vegetables. Very few fruits are allowed. Cutting out whole food groups is generally not approved as a way to good health.

Related: The fats that are good for your health

Losing Weight the Smart Way - Weight Watchers 

Out this week is the new WW book with its new points system, SmartPoints, which takes sugar, protein and saturated fats into account, and combines this with an holistic approach, with information on mindfulness, for example. It promises weight loss of up to a stone in 8 weeks.

Good points: Nothing cutting-edge here really (most of us already know about cutting down on sugar, and the case for cutting back hard on saturates is beginning to look slightly old-fashioned, see above) but will be loved by people who want a wide-ranging diet with few foods you must eat and few off limits either. The steady approach to weight loss is good for most people.

Not so good points:  I've never been a huge fan of the WW points systems as it seems like too much fuss for me. But you can't argue with their success rate over many years.

Davina's Smart Carbs

One of the few weight loss/cookbooks out this season to champion carb eating, Smart Carbs explains which are the right healthy carbs to go for and offers a 5-week eating plan as well as a wide selection of recipes, mostly easy, including a cakes and puddings chapter (and Sticky Toffee Pudding!).

Good points: User-friendly as you might expect from Davina and she majors on stopping you from feeling guilty for enjoying carbs, which does make a change these days. As does a statement that calorie reduction is necessary to lose weight.

Not so good points: She's still using sugars by any other name (e.g. maple syrup) for her sweet recipes which in truth are not that much better than plain refined sugar. And strangely, quite a few of the recipes are actually very low in carbs...

Related: How carbohydrates affect your health

My verdict? 

If I were to choose, I'd go for the Sirtfoods Diet with a smattering of Davina's smart carbs thrown in. The best of both worlds – and I bet I will lose weight! I'm giving it a go, as sadly I too need to lose a bit.

Twelve pounds to be precise, and I'm giving myself 8-10 weeks to do it in.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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