Top Diet Plans Of 2012

by Chris Cander Men’s Fitness


We decode all the latest weight-loss tricks and trends to help you lose that body fat and keep it off for good.


It’s time to stop pumping up that spare tire. To finally lose that body fat and keep it off, you need to pick a nutrition lifestyle you can live with—and then stick to it. We’ve summarized six of the most popular nutrition programs out there to help you find one that’s right for you.


“The biggest inhibitors to weight-loss success,” says Mike Moreno, M.D., author of The 17 Day Diet, “are boredom and plateaus.” Structured into four 17-day cycles, this diet mitigates both. Why 17 days and not 9 or 23 or 42? “Between Weeks 2 and 3, diets seem to stop working. You hit a frustrating plateau and your hard work seems to no longer be worth it.” Your body is designed to become as efficient as possible, as quickly as possible. “When you first start a new program, the digestion process uses more energy to adapt, but as your body becomes accustomed to the new input, you burn less energy and thus your weight loss slows or even stops completely.” So, Dr. Mike, as he’s called, picked the median number of days, 17, and created a plan that cycles through four distinct phases with varying calorie counts and macronutrient ratios:


1. Accelerate: Trigger rapid weight loss (yep, some of it will be water) by reducing overall carbohydrates and eliminating all processed and simple carbs. Unlimited lean protein mobilizes fat burning. Significantly increasing hydration flushes toxins and improves digestion.


2. Activate: Alternate low- and higher-calorie days to boost metabolism, strip body fat, and sustain weight loss.


3. Achieve: Time to add back some healthy starch and celebrate with a glass of red wine, which is allowed in this phase but discouraged during the first two.


4. Arrive: Maintain your goal weight with healthy weekday meals and weekend treats.


● Dr. Mike doesn’t endorse disruptive gimmicks or lay claim to breakthrough science. He’s taken proven concepts and put them into a simple, nutritionally sound, and uncharacteristically fun strategy that can be done for 17 days or for life.


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The Body Fat Solution isn’t a diet. Developed by Tom Venuto, natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, and founder of a fat-loss support website called “Burn the Fat Inner Circle,” the site’s central thesis focuses instead on the emotional, psychological, and social factors that sabotage the success of any eating regimen.


“One of the reasons guys struggle with their weight may be one they don’t want to admit—emotional eating,” Venuto says. “Emotional eating means eating for reasons other than hunger, whether it’s stress, grief, social pressure, or a desire for comfort or escape.” In his book, Venuto teaches dieters how to identify the emotional triggers and replace them through goal-setting, visualization, and social support.


One of the most effective training tools Venuto uses is self-image reprogramming. “The benefits of cognitive psychology on weight management can’t be overstated. You can train your unconscious mind to change automatic behaviors that prevent you from attaining whatever goal you’ve set. Peer-reviewed science supports the idea that mentally rehearsing, visualizing, and affirming your goals helps you achieve them,” he says.


Try this: Every day, sit quietly for 5–15 minutes and imagine not just the body you’ve resolved to build but also the steps you’ll take along the way. See yourself going to the gym. Rehearse being in a social situation and refusing unhealthy food. As Napoleon Hill said in his seminal book Think and Grow Rich (1937), “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”


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An extension of vegetarianism, veganism is a dietary practice and lifestyle that eschews not only flesh foods but also dairy and eggs. While some vegans choose “cruelty-free” eating to protect animals and the environment, others do it to lose weight and improve overall health. According to research published in the British Medical Journal, obesity rates are lowest among vegans, as are rates of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.


While veganism is restrictive, “the best way to approach it isn’t by cutting things out,” says Jack Norris, R.D., author and founder of Vegan Outreach, “it’s by adding them in.” First, make sure you include ample plant foods at each meal, especially ones high in protein such as soy meat, tofu, beans, falafel, and nuts. The idea is that if you load up on vegan foods, you’ll naturally eat fewer animal products. In spite of his own commitment to veganism, Norris doesn’t advocate rigidity. “I tell people to avoid obviously animal-based items, but don’t quibble over every ingredient. You don’t need to quiz the wait staff about whether there’s egg in the pasta or traces of dairy in the dinner rolls.”


As for ensuring adequate protein intake on a vegan diet, Norris says that if you eat a variety of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and grains, you’ll likely get enough. “It’s a myth that you need to get all your amino acids at one sitting. Your body collects different ones from different foods and assimilates them as needed,” he says.


If veganism seems too strict but you like the idea of eliminating most animal products, consider one of the following alternatives:


Lacto vegetarian: eats dairy products


Ovo vegetarian: eats eggs


Lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats dairy and eggs


Pollotarian: eats poultry and fowl


Pescatarian: eats fish and seafood


To learn more about how to transition to a vegan diet, visit



The Paleolithic (or caveman) diet was first introduced to modern society in the mid-1970s. The Atkins diet shares some of the “paleo” principles, as does the ultra-low-carb approach. Unfortunately, those diets can be so restrictive that they’re unsustainable. It’s common for a dieter to rebound to an even heavier weight than he started with after an onerous induction phase. In response, athlete, author, and wellness expert Mark Sisson has created a “kinder, gentler” program with the Primal Blueprint that allows for some dairy, alcohol, and even chocolate, but the prevailing wisdom behind it is that the human gut has not evolved enough to benefit from much of the standard American diet.


“Grains have been part of the human diet only for 10,000 years, and our current reliance on them is deleterious. When you eat them—along with processed foods and sugars—you turn on genetic switches that control hormone secretion and in turn signal your body to increase inflammation, stockpile fat, and rely mostly on glycogen for fuel,” Sisson says. “You can become a muscle-building, fat-burning beast just like our ancestors by teaching your body to burn stored fat instead of sugar.” How do you do that? “Start by getting rid of the grains,” he says.


The Primal Blueprint–based diet encourages eating as much as you want of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, and vegetables. There are no recommended eating intervals, portions, macronutrient ratios, or caloric intakes.


If you’re ready to get in touch with your inner caveman, visit



The basic premise of IF is to periodically extend the amount of time between meals by choosing fresh, unprocessed foods and naturally reducing overall calorie consumption. Chances are, you already practice IF—it’s called sleeping. If you have your last meal of the day at 7 p.m. and the first one on the following day at 7 a.m., you break a 12-hour fast with breakfast.


The theory of IF exactly counters what we’ve all been told for years—that eating small, frequent meals is the best way to increase metabolism, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and burn body fat. But new data suggests that paradigm may not be as well-founded as previously believed. In fact, a research analysis of meal frequency and energy balance published in the British Journal of Nutrition found no difference between nibbling and gorging.


As with the Primal Blueprint (see previous slide), proponents of IF suggest that varying calorie intake aligns with our evolutionary history. During times of plenty, our ancestors feasted on the available food supply; during lean times, their bodies utilized stored energy for fuel and eliminated cellular waste through a process called auto-phagocytosis. Some research suggests that in the absence of fasting periods, our modern metabolisms are no longer able to shed the accumulated cellular chaff, and that the unhealthy buildup of debris contributes to many types of disease.


John Berardi, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., founder of Precision Nutrition, a nutrition coaching company, says that it’s not only possible to lose body fat by skipping the occasional meal (or meals) while preserving muscle mass and strength; it may actually improve your overall health. In his free e-book, Experiments with Intermittent Fasting, Berardi says that IF followers may have decreased triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, and risk of cancer. There are endless ways to approach IF, but here are a few common protocols:


● Warrior Diet: 20-hr fast + 4-hr feed


● Lean gains: 16-hr fast + 8-hr feed


● Alternate-Day Fasting: 36-hr fast + 12-hr feed


● Eat, Stop, Eat: 24-hr fast, once or twice weekly


● Meal Skipping: brief, random fasts


Read more about IF at


Developed by renowned fitness and nutrition expert, Harley Pasternak, the 5 Factor Diet is so simple you can count the concepts on one hand: three meals plus two snacks spaced evenly apart, each of which has all of the following five factors:

1. Healthy carbohydrates: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits (usually those with edible skin, edible seeds, or citrus)


2. Lean protein: nonfat Greek yogurt, poultry, shellfish, seafood, or egg whites


3. Fiber: at least 10 grams per meal and 5 per snack. Both types are important. Soluble fiber—found in lentils, apples, oranges, beans, psyllium, and cucumbers—attracts water and slows the emptying of your stomach, so you feel fuller longer. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and helps move food and waste through your digestive tract. It can be found in whole grains; brown rice; tomatoes; grapes; and dark, leafy vegetables.


4. Healthy fats: fish oils, avocados, and olive oil, with minimal use of dairy fats and frying oils


5. No-calorie beverage: water, sparkling water, green tea, and flavored waters.


Some research suggests that diet sodas may actually cause weight gain, perhaps because your satiety center feels cheated when the imitation sugar flavor doesn’t deliver the goods. “The No. 1 cause of death due to lifestyle factors is obesity,” Pasternak says. “Nobody’s dying from diet soda, so if you really want one now and then as a treat, that’s OK.”


●How much of each, you ask? Pasternak says not to get bogged down by weights and measures. “Focus on meal composition and frequency and you’ll naturally begin to eat less and lose more.”

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