If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, the sheer amount of diets out there can make knowing where to start a minefield.
To help matters, Channel 4’s latest series ‘How To Lose Weight Well’ explains some of the most popular diets out there and puts them to the test.
The first episode lifts the lid on weight loss plans including the green smoothie diet, clean eating, the bone broth diet and Weight Watchers.
In the first episode volunteers are split into groups depending on how quickly they want to lose weight.
First we meet friends Emilie and Harriet, who have been classed as “Crashers”.
At the start of the show the pair have just two weeks to prepare for a boudoir photoshoot.
They are each assigned versions of popular diets designed to help participants drop dress sizes quickly.
Emilie is given a liquid-based diet, in which she must replace two meals per day with a green smoothie, followed by a non-liquid vegan dinner.
Her smoothies typically consist of 40-50% green vegetables, such as spinach, kale or broccoli and soon become her enemy.
At the start of the episode, Emilie weighs 12 stone 9lbs and after two weeks she’s lost 6lbs, leaving her at 12 stone 3lbs. But despite losing weight, she isn’t a fan of the strict food plan.
“The smoothie diet was a success for the first week and utterly miserable for the second week, I think just do everything in moderation - don’t have a million smoothies,” she says.
Meanwhile her friend Harriet follows the bone broth diet for 14 days ahead of their photoshoot.
For two days of the week she drinks only bone broth - made by boiling an animal bone from the butchers in water along with some vegetables.
Then on the five non-fasting days of the week, Harriet eats meals low in carbs and fats but high in lean proteins. All her snacks are replaced by bone broth and she’s not allowed any alcohol or dairy.
At the start of the episode she weighs 10 stone 10 lbs and at the end she’s 10st 1lbs, giving her a total loss of nine pounds.
But like Emilie, her weight loss is bittersweet as the restrictive regime proved difficult to follow.
“I’m never doing it again, ever,” she says.
At the other end of the scale, brothers Gary and Wayne are put into the “Life Changers” category as they want to lose weight for a darts competition in four months time, but also want to have healthier diets long-term.
Gary is assigned a diet plan based on clean eating, meaning (under the show’s definition) he is prohibited from eating processed food and must instead cook his own meals, with a focus on organic and natural produce.
Meanwhile Wayne signs up to Weight Watchers, which promotes weight loss through healthy eating, exercise and group meetings. No food is off limits on the plan, but different foods are assigned different points. Dieters must keep track of the points they eat each day and attend weekly weigh-ins.
At the start of the process, Wayne weighs 14 stone 12 lbs. Despite struggling to stick to the Weight Watchers diet and a few ups and downs along the way, his efforts still lead to him losing weight by the end of the episode.
After four months Wayne is almost two stone lighter, at 12 stone 13lbs.
“I think I’m living proof that it does work, I just keep feeling like I’m shrinking,” he says.
Similarly Gary is also happy with his progress on a clean eating diet. At the start of the episode he weighs 14 stone 8 lbs but by the end he’s 1 stone 12 lbs lighter.
“I would recommend it to pretty much anybody,” he says.
“Going to barbecues, there were big bowls of salad that no one was really touching. I was in my element.”
The moral of the story? Although both the Crashers and Life Changers lost weight, the latter group were far happier at the end of the process and therefore more likely to stick to their new lifestyle.
It seems when it comes to weight loss and healthy living, slow and steady wins the race after all.
‘How To Lose Weight Well’ starts on Channel 4 on Tuesday 3 January at 8pm.