Eat Empowered

From Carb Cycling to Macro Counting: Do These 4 Diets Live Up to Their Weight Loss Claims?


As the new year approaches, we’ve been sharing roundups of our Diets Decoded series, highlighting the pros and cons of some of the most popular (and not-so-known) diets out there.

The thing is, most healthy diets—from paleo to Mediterranean to keto—share many of the same basic principles. All involve eating whole foods (as opposed to packaged and processed ones) and filling your plate with quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and vitamin-, mineral-, and fiber-rich vegetables. However, each proposes a slightly different path that leads to fulfilling those principles.

“For each individual, the healthiest diet is an approach to eating that fuels your body and mind and fits into your lifestyle,” says Nutritious Life founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. “Eating empowered, one of the eight pillars of a Nutritious Life, means listening to your body and focusing on the diverse, delicious, healthy foods you can have rather than what a hard-to-follow diet says you can’t have.”

This week’s Diets Decoded roundup takes a look at diets touted specifically for their weight loss abilities. We digest them for you, highlighting their pros and cons, and offering actionable advice and a bottom line.

If one of your New Year’s goals is to find an eating plan that helps you lose weight, read on for a rundown on four of today’s most popular weight-loss diets to see if they fit your life as part of a holistic approach to weight loss.

4 Weight-Loss Diets—and Whether They’re Right For You

  • Carb Cycling Diet

    Think of carb cycling as keto’s more approachable cousin. Instead of abandoning carbs altogether, (which, let’s be real, can be really hard for most people) this adapted way of eating involves cycling between periods of low-carb and high-carb intake.

    The diet started years ago in the bodybuilding and fitness communities as a way to burn fat and build muscle more efficiently. But now, an increasing number of athletes and trainers have been following it to induce occasional ketosis, while still feeling properly fueled for heavy days at the gym or endurance activities. Others have been touting its potential weight-loss benefits.

    Wondering if carb cycling might work for you? Read on for our Carb Cycling Diet decoded.

    Carb Cycling Diet

  • Sirtfood Diet

    The Sirtfood Diet promises to help you lose seven pounds in seven days. It made headlines last year after singer Adele said it was the secret to her weight loss. 

    This diet’s foundation rests on research surrounding sirtuins (SIRTs), a family of proteins found in the body that may play a role in metabolism, inflammation, aging and chronic diseases. 

    Certain polyphenols (plant compounds that act as antioxidants) may increase levels of sirtuins in the body. Diet founders, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, say they modeled the diet after the eating patterns of “the slimmest, healthiest and longest-lived populations around the world, known as the Blue Zones.” They refer to SIRTs as your body’s natural “skinny genes” and have have named the foods high in these polyphenols as “sirtfoods,” claiming they will activate mechanisms controlled by your body’s SIRTs to burn fat. When combined with calorie restriction, the founders claim your body will produce higher levels of sirtuins, which will result in greater weight loss. 

    Color us intrigued. But, is it safe—and, more importantly, sustainable? We have the Sirtfood Diet decoded.

    Sirtfood Diet

  • Macro Counting Diet

    You’ve probably heard fitness influencers or healthy eating enthusiasts talk about “counting their macros.” But what does that really mean? Essentially, they are monitoring how many grams (and calories) they consume from the three macronutrients—carbohydrate, protein and fat. The idea is that if you create a calorie deficit and properly proportion how much of each macronutrient you eat in a day, you’ll achieve your desired weight and, at the same time, reach other health goals—including maintaining or building muscle. 

    To calculate your calorie needs and macro proportions, the specific target numbers will depend on sex, age, physical activity and weight and fitness goals, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. 

    Curious about counting macros? Here we have Macro Counting decoded.

    Macro Counting Diet

  • The Dukan Diet

    Created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French doctor who specializes in weight management, the Dukan Diet promises to help you lose weight quickly and permanently, all while being able to eat as much as you like. 

    The Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-carb and low-fat diet that is divided into four phases. Two phases to help you shed the weight, and two phases that help you keep it off. The length of each phase depends on how much weight you want to lose in order to reach your “true weight,” which the diet describes as the weight you can reach without struggling or restricted eating. 

    Before you start the diet, you’ll need to calculate this true weight using a variety of factors such as age, gender, weight history, and bone structure. 

    Sounds like a dream? We took a deeper dive to decode the Dukan Diet and its pros and cons. 

    (Images: Shutterstock)

    The Dukan Diet

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