The Atkins Diet is a high-protein, high-fat, low carbohydrate diet that believes the body will consume its own fat stores for energy in the absence of carbs. Flying in the face of the fat free, Dr. Atkins was viewed as a nutritional blasphemer. Today science gives him credit, though controversy rages over whether it's heart-healthy.
Expect to: Completely cut carbohydrates during the two-week 'Induction' stage, then to slowly reintroduce certain carbs. Plan to count every carb you eat and search food labels for 'hidden sugars.'
What you can't have: Caffeine, alcohol, milk, fruit, certain vegetables, bread, pasta and condiments that contain sugar e.g. ketchup.
You can eat: Leafy greens, eggs, all cheese, all meat, seafood and cream.
The South Beach Diet is similar to Atkins, though founder Dr. Arthur Agatston touts it as better for the heart. The SBD is a high-protein, medium-fat, low carbohydrate diet that focuses on the type of carb you eat rather than the grams.
Expect to : Restrict your intake of carbs, relying only on complex carbs found in vegetables and fiber. Plan to snack often.
What you can't have: In the beginning, any fruit. Full-fat dairy, red meat, alcohol, pasta, bread, cereal, rice and starchy vegetables (potatoes, carrots and corn).
You can eat: Lean meat, more vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy and eventually fruit.
The Shape Up! Plan was designed by talk show host Dr. Phil, to help dieters break unsuccessful weight loss cycles. The secret is about moderation and changing your attitude towards nutrition through the Seven Steps of thinking.
Expect to : Watch portion sizes, exercise regularly and practice positive thinking.
What you can't have: No food is restricted; try to avoid 'Low-Response Cost/Low-Yield' foods like fast food, candy, desserts, alcohol, salt and fat.
You can eat: 'High-Response Cost/High-Yield' food like whole grains (including whole wheat pasta and cereal), fruit, vegetables, eggs, lean meat, beans and non-fat dairy.
The Zone is the place where you "feel alert, refreshed and full of energy," says founder Barry Sears, PhD. The Zone divides your diet into 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrate.
Expect to : Adhere strictly to the percentages and choose 'favorable' carbs over 'unfavorable' ones. Plan to snack twice daily.
What you can't have: Full-fat dairy, white bread, pasta, white rice and starchy vegetables (including potatoes). Unfavorable carbs are limited, including brown rice, certain sugary fruit like mangos and bananas, cereal, fruit juice and certain fibrous vegetables like carrots. Egg substitutes are recommended over eggs and dairy is limited.
You can eat: One serving of protein at every meal and snack, along with a serving of favorable carbs twice the size of the protein portion (fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains and lentils) and mono-saturated fats (olive oil, nuts and avocadoes).
Weight Watchers assigns a certain number of points to food, with healthy fruit and vegetables ranking lower than protein and carbs; fats rank the highest. Begun in 1961 in Queens , N.Y. , today the organization is world wide.
Expect to : Count food points to stay within your allotted number (calculated according to your height, weight and fitness). Plan to weigh yourself often, read food labels and stay in contact with a local chapter.
What you can't have: No food is banned, but healthy choices are lower in points; three ounces of chicken ranks three points while six ounces of steak costs eight points. One cup of broccoli has zero points.
You can eat: It's up to you to balance your points.