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The Best Diets for Men

Atkins vs. Ornish, South Beach Diet vs. the Zone: Which weight loss plan really works?
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How Popular Diet Plans Score continued...

But if you are looking to dramatically change your shape, the numbers weren’t all that encouraging. The average weight loss was a scant 10.3 pounds.

In a slew of recent head-to-head studies of popular diets, in fact, the Atkins diet has pulled ahead in the first few months, resulting in more and faster weight loss. Many experts have come around to accept the notion that protein-rich foods may be more satiating than carb-rich foods.

Unfortunately, the Atkins lead typically evaporates by the end of a year. In a 2006 British study that compared four popular weight loss plans, for example, volunteers lost weight faster on the high-protein/low-carb plan. But after a year, all four diets had resulted in about the same weight loss, about 13 pounds. What’s more, several studies comparing diets have seen very high drop-out rates. Even with scientists looking over their shoulders, it turns out people have trouble sticking with most diets.

The Best Diet Plan

Disheartening? Sure. But lurking behind the generally glum news about fad diets and popular weight loss programs are individual success stories -- and important information for anyone looking to lose weight.

"If you look at all these studies, you find that on almost any diet, some people do very well and others don’t lose any weight at all," says Janet King, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley. High-protein diets may have an initial advantage in jump-starting weight loss. But all weight loss plans have one thing in common: They restrict certain kinds of foods and thus limit calories. "Most diets work in the short-term, and the reason is they simplify decisions about what you’re going to eat," says King. "They take variety out of the diet. Some restrict carbohydrates. Some restrict fat. But the end result is that they offer a way to eat fewer calories."

The reason some people succeed is also simple: motivation. "What really matters is compliance, which is another way of saying someone is motivated enough to stick with a diet," King says.

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