Really, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out which eating regimen will set fire to fat while maintaining muscle. Fortunately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition just released its position paper, which combs through all existing scientific studies to report how every diet will affect your body composition. Here, we’ve pulled five of the most six-pack-friendly diets and streamlined how they’re great, as well as why they might be right (or wrong) for you—according to the hard science.
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. In 2014, diabetes affected about 387 million people worldwide and resulted in $612 billion dollars of health-related costs. [5] Unfortunately, as a conventional western lifestyle of poor nutrition and exercise habits becomes more popular, diabetes is expected to affect about 592 million people worldwide. [6] In the United States alone, diabetes increased from 5.58 diagnosed cases in 1980 to 22.3 million diagnose cases in 2013. [7]

Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict keto diet with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
The primary outcome was the change from baseline to week 16 in hemoglobin A1c. Changes in all variables were analyzed by the paired t-test or Wilcoxon signed-ranks test, as appropriate. Linear regression analysis was used to examine predictors of change in hemoglobin A1c. A p value of 0.05 or less was considered statistically significant. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS version 8.02 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC).
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
One study from 2005 followed 22 people with Type 1 Diabetes for 12 months. The difference here however is they consumed 70-90 grams of carbohydrates per day versus the restrictive less than 20 grams per day on the Ketogenic Diet. Remember my motto? Moderation is the key! The results were positive; less hypoglycemia, insulin requirements were reduced and their A1c dropped from 7.5% to 6.4%.
A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.

Perhaps the biggest thing that holds people back from following DASH is approaching it with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. However, DASH does not fall under the common “diet” approach of following an eating plan for a few weeks and then returning to your old way of eating. After all, no one’s diet is perfect. Like the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet is best viewed as a healthy way of living and eating. Making small, gradual changes in your food choices—and food quality—can help you form healthier habits for life.


It is possible to combine the results of several small studies to produce evidence that is stronger than that available from each study alone—a statistical method known as meta-analysis. One of four such analyses, conducted in 2006, looked at 19 studies on a total of 1,084 patients.[22] It concluded that a third achieved an excellent reduction in seizure frequency and half the patients achieved a good reduction.[3]
Add mint to your usual oven-roasted chicken, and it becomes a whole new meal with a Mediterranean diet twist. Plus, it has perks: Mint has been known to alleviate digestion issues. Olives add flavor for very few calories (five olives only have 26 calories), while figs add a natural sweetness. This chicken dish by Russell Bry, concept chef of Yalla Mediterranean in California, just might become your new go-to.
Insulin is released in the blood and used to control blood sugar levels including signaling the liver to stop producing sugar. If this system is impaired and the body does not use insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance, individuals are likely to develop high blood sugar levels. In this study the researchers showed that for ketogenic diets this process for controlling blood sugar levels does not work properly and there was insulin resistance in the liver. When the liver is unable to respond to normal levels of insulin to control blood sugar levels this may lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
For those who want to follow a ketogenic-type diet, Dr. Reynolds says it is important to first talk to your doctor and to discuss your goals so you can be sure that this approach is suitable for you given your medical and health history. Ongoing monitoring is needed if you do decide to adopt this very carb approach to eating. Seeing your doctor regularly is important to make sure that your blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, mood, and medications are within normal ranges as you lose weight. Adjustments are likely going to be necessary from time to time.
Following are two examples of menus from the book, The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution. It features 28 days of meal plans, to help you visualize a variety of ways to put together the DASH diet. They are suggestions, and you are free to make substitutions with your favorite foods that have similar nutritional properties. This is part of the way that you will learn how to make the DASH diet into your own personal plan.
As CDE’s, we individualize our recommendations for each of our patients. One person’s diet may not be appropriate for another person. For example, a six foot 6 inch tall man weighing 220 lbs of mainly muscle, who exercises 2 hours per day at the gym cannot have the same number of carbs per meal as a petite 5 foot 1 inch 75 year old lady who does not exercise.
The aim is far broader than suggested by the article here: It’s not just about what you put in your mouth – it’s also about timing and exercise. There are three ways to be in ketosis – which simply means that “fat burning” and not being dependent on sugars. Fasting puts a man into ketosis in 3 days and a woman by 2 days. Endurance exercise gets you there in a couple of hours. Eating a high fat diet will do it too. The goal however is hidden by the detail – it is to acquire a “Flexible Metabolism”. The aim is to switch on the full fat burning capacity and keep it running – which takes from between 4 to 12 weeks physical adaptation (for the muscles to fully be able to use ketones). The heart runs approximately 27% more efficiently on ketones than on glucose! The brain works better too – Alzheimer’s being referred to by researchers as “diabetes 3”. Once you have a Flexible Metabolism you can consume carbs during or after exercise without dropping out of ketosis – though this depends on your own bio-individuality. I can eat quite a lot of carbs – without losing ketosis – my partner cannot.

Make sure that the diet has been studied extensively for safety — and discuss any changes with your physician or registered dietitian before beginning a new diet. (If you don’t have a dietitian, find one in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.) And do a self-check to ensure the diet fits with your own values and preferences.
I believe that nature teaches us in wonderful ways about what works. Take the four seasons for example. I’ve adapted a ketogenic way of eating that is a cyclic method. I workout a lot, and a focus of mine is increasing muscle mass and strength. While I wouldn’t be able to maintain and/or increase those two factors with the amount of intense workouts I have, I don’t follow a strict ketogenic “diet”. I go about 3 weeks of being in keto, and then for a couple of days, I eat whatever I want. That means, I can eat cake, cookies, pies, whatever I want, for those two days. I even get to enjoy birthday cake ;). Then after that, I go back to keto. It’s work WONDERS. It’s EXTREMELY maintainable, I’m still loosing weight and achieving my goals. I’ve also been getting better at listening to my body and understanding how certain foods affect my body—which is something we’re not taught. It’s really amazing how we have such intelligent systems that are ALWAYS communicating with us. We just have to understand how to listen to them. Truly. The problem with a lot of our society, is that we are stuck in the high-end of the cyclic, or the feasting mode, and we think it’s normal! Hence the many ailments and medical conditions that keep increasing. The point is, there are many variations of following a ketogenic way of eating, and it DOES require a life-style change. Just like any other recommendation from a dietician or educator.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a lifelong approach to eating that’s designed to prevent and treat high blood pressure, also called hypertension. It also falls in line with dietary recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  DASH encourages a variety of nutrient-rich foods while reducing the amount of sodium eaten. This eating plan includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds.  Red meat and sweets are eaten in small amounts.

The types of foods listed are not comprehensive. For example, avocados are not included so it is not clear if they would be categorized as a fruit or a fat serving. Certain foods are placed into questionable categories: pretzels are placed in the grain group even though they have fairly low nutrient content and no fiber; frozen yogurt is placed in the dairy group even though most brands contain little calcium and vitamin D and are high in added sugar. The general term “cereals” are placed in the grain group but different types of cereals can be highly variable in nutrient and sugar content.

Oh yes global warming is real and so is global cooling. About 3 years ago it was officially recognized that the earths axis has tilted a 10nth of a degree. the north pole is now pointed more towards the sun than before making the northern hemisphere warmer. It has nothing to do with mankind at all! it’s called natural and is somewhere between the last ice age and the next.


The following weekend I was looking for a book on this diet at Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center. A title caught my eye, “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” written by Susan Zogheib. After reading the book’s introduction I quickly skimmed through the background of the diet and stopped at the diet plans. I smiled. I thought to myself, “I could totally do this!” I skipped ahead to the recipes. At that moment I knew I had found my diet plan! The book has four, four-week diet plans complete with recipes for every meal that are structured on the level of comfort you have with making the switch. One month of meals AND recipes, I couldn’t wait!

Pros: The most consistently beneficial of all diets here, study after study shows that upping your protein intake can help significantly reduce body fat and build lean muscle. For example: Guys who ran sprint intervals, did resistance training, and ate a diet of 2.4g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day (roughly 1g per lb of bodyweight) gained 1.2kg of lean muscle and lost almost 5kg of fat in just four weeks, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. If you cut calories but eat high protein, the macro can help prevent your metabolism from plummeting and help keep hunger at bay, since protein is so satiating. The study analysis also confirmed that eating a ton of protein stuff doesn’t cause you to gain weight or harm any internal systems, despite myths.


A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.
Net carbs is simply total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols, like erythritol. (This doesn’t apply to high glycemic sugar alcohols, like maltitol.) We don’t have to count fiber and certain sugar alcohols in net carbs, because they either don’t get broken down by our bodies, are not absorbed, or are absorbed but not metabolized. (Read more about sugar alcohols here.)
I have T2D and IBS and my blood sugar readings were degrading. I was going to have to take a second daily dose of Metformin and the first one already played havoc with the IBS. I started a low-carb diet because my T1D husband had been inspired by a podcast by Sam Harris with scientist Gary Taubes, author Why We Get Fat, Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Case Against Sugar, and started dumping the majority of his carbs a month previous. He had cut his insulin use literally in half and lost 15 pounds. He was feeling better and visibly had more energy. I was resistant to the diet and even the idea of it. I have been on Atkins and Sugar Busters and while I did fine on Sugar Busters back in the day, Atkins was too fat-based and that was the opposite of how I had been raised to think about dieting. I knew that the Diabetic diet given to me by the Diabetic Educator had never been enough and I get carby binge cravings even though it offers plenty of carbs and calories. I also knew that it’s a cycle for me-eat more carbs, want more carbs, and never really feel satisfied. On top of that, when my stomach hurts I seek carbs, and it hurts quite often. I did Weight Watchers and the Diabetic diets because they let me “cheat” and have my carbs while dieting. To be fair, just the act of tracking my food improved my outcome on either. But I got mad at WW when they upped the points for carbs on their system and made it so I couldn’t eat cake for lunch if I wanted to. Not that I made a practice of it, but it was principle of the thing. Long story short, I was pretty doubtful that I would be very successful on Atkins or Keto. To humor my husband I began a low-carb diet that started out as Atkins 20 or Keto and has morphed to more of an Atkins 30-40 for my personal comfort while using Keto, Atkins, and Paleo recipes and ultimately cutting all gluten. That means 30-40 net carbs per day, rather than per meal and a lot of natural non-processed foods. The first week was quite terrible. But even through the Keto Flu I recognized that my IBS symptoms felt better. I started to suspect that if I felt that bad just from quitting carbs that maybe there was more to the idea of sugar addiction than I wanted to believe. I’m six weeks in now and I’m losing a steady pound a week plus my sugars have dropped radically. A pound a week might not sound like much but it’s more than I’ve lost in 10 years. I have PCOS and insulin resistance so I’ve had a fasting blood sugar that ranged from 109-113 since my early twenties. It was flying high around 160-170 before the diet, now I’m reading between 119-139. Even more than that, my IBS symptoms stabilized. I’ve been tracking all my food using the free Atkins meal tracker so I started trying to narrow the foods that caused flare ups. I’m lactose intolerant but I knew that and used lactose free products or Lactaid for the cream based dishes. I had my gall bladder removed and so have always put down my symptoms to an inability to process dairy and fats. Big surprise to find that a higher fat, higher dairy diet was making my symptoms disappear. Gluten is the only common factor so far. Celiac? Just a food sensitivity? I don’t know, but that will be the next investigation. It is an investigation that I would never have thought to start on the Diabetic diet. Like the author, I’m very fond of cake and carbs. Luckily there are low-carb, no-gluten recipes for muffins and cakes. They aren’t exactly the same and some are definitely better than others, but they are out there. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having true birthday cake once a year if that is really what you need and if you don’t have a reason to avoid it, like binge symptoms or IBS flare ups. My husband let himself have a piece of cheesecake the other day and felt physically awful for two day after, plus he had to use a lot of insulin to counter the spike. It’s a pretty good deterrent. Just a side note but I had other symptoms of inflammation as well. My ankles were swelling to golf ball size and painful, it was difficult for me to stand and walk comfortably when this happened. While they haven’t stopped completely, the discomfort has gone way down as has the swelling and frequency. What’s my point? I’m not a salesman for a particular diet. Everyone is different and some people might respond very well to Keto and/or Atkins while others may not need anything that extreme. I’m not knocking the Diabetic diet. My dad lost 150 pounds 38 years ago on a very low calorie/low carb Diabetic diet that gradually increased and he has kept the weight off all this time and kept his blood sugar steady with medication, but has not had to go to insulin even at age 84. Also, he was a smoker, a diabetic, had hemochromatosis and was over 300 pounds with an apple body shape. He has had some fall out from this-he didn’t stop the smoking until a heart attack 20 years ago and that didn’t help. But he has made it to 84 and when he walked into his doctor’s office 40 years ago I’m guessing the doctor wouldn’t have put any money on that survival rate. Unfortunately, it looks like I need the lower carb version and will continue to need it to manage my symptoms. I didn’t want it, that’s for sure. But Diabetics are locked in a death struggle with Diabetes and it won’t give up just because we are tired or want our sugar. So for me, it has to be Very Low Carb for Life. Others may find they need this too and discouraging them from trying it is not doing them any favors. Hopefully I will continue to find this sustainable. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more fond of my feet and my vision than my birthday cake.
Implementing the diet can present difficulties for caregivers and the patient due to the time commitment involved in measuring and planning meals. Since any unplanned eating can potentially break the nutritional balance required, some people find the discipline needed to maintain the diet challenging and unpleasant. Some people terminate the diet or switch to a less demanding diet, like the modified Atkins diet (MAD) or the low-glycaemic index treatment (LGIT) diet, because they find the difficulties too great.[41]
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.[1] Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet.[2] There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective.[1] The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.[2][3]
While the ketogenic diet is straightforward, it does require careful monitoring. You should begin by having your doctor check your blood glucose and ketone levels. Once you’ve been on the diet for some time and your body has adjusted to using fat for fuel, it’s still a good idea to see your doctor once a month for testing and to determine if your medications need any adjustments. And, even though you will most likely see your symptoms improve on this diet, be sure to regularly monitor your blood glucose at home, ideally before and after meals.
Finally, people eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day on a Mediterranean diet. (1) Produce packs an array of disease-fighting antioxidants, and people who fill their diet with these foods have lower risk of disease. Yet as the National Institutes of Health points out, it’s not known if it’s the antioxidants or other compounds (or general healthy eating patterns) that are responsible for these advantages. (5)
What the doctors never tell you is that you could also just eat completely different and take none of this crap. So that’s what I did. I stopped all of them all at once. Sure I don’t recommend that, but this damn disease and my disgusting visceral fat filled stomach ruined every aspect of my life-professional, relationships, sexual, mental. I am now 41 living back at home having to start from the bottom. I don’t want what the book recommends. I want every disgusting piece of fat off this body so I can excel again. If staying in ketosis every moment for the rest of my life will get me there then that’s what I’m going to do.

Now I have to say, I am not a supporter of rigid plans, however it is important to eat at somewhat regular times so you don’t end up feeling very-very hungry at any particularly moment of the day. Having said that, I also think it is important to be able to actually feel hunger, and look forward to eating a meal.  While adding a snack here and there is good to keep blood sugar and hunger levels in balance, snacking can also backfire. Many times we eat a snack without being hungry or we depend on ready-made snacks such as granola bars, juices, smoothies etc. which not only add quite a few calories but also are a processed food with all that entails.


Alison Moodie is a health reporter based in Los Angeles. She has written for numerous outlets including Newsweek, Agence France-Presse, The Daily Mail and HuffPost. For years she covered sustainable business for The Guardian. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she majored in TV news. When she's not working she's doting on her two kids and whipping up Bulletproof-inspired dishes in her kitchen.
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