Rating the Diets

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“Weight Watchers recommends drinking plenty of water, eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, and limiting your alcohol intake,” adds Kendra. “It also encourages that weight loss be a long-term and permanent goal. It’s definitely not a quick-fix program.”

Dieters Weigh In

How did you feel on this diet, emotionally and physically?

17 Day Diet
“I felt pretty energetic, and slept soundly.” —Carolina Santos-Neves (Epicurious editor), 30, female

“The first week on this diet had me feeling a little slow. I didn’t want to do anything taxing. But the second week I felt energetic. The pounds were melting off quickly. Now that I have been doing this over time I have noticed mentally I have fewer mood swings.” —Maggie, 38, female

Dukan Diet
“The first couple of days were torture. I felt like I was hungry often. Generally, I’m not hungry right away when I wake up but I would wake up ravenous. I tend to snack on things when I’m bored but most all things were prohibited: fruits, cookies, chocolates, etc. I was consumed and obsessed. And not in a good way.” —E. E., 37, female

“I felt amazing in both regards. I had much more energy than I thought I would. I did not suffer any physical drawbacks when on the diet. I still adhere to its principles today. One thing that could have supported this was that I am a savory and salty food craver, not a sweets craver.” —Betty, 31, female

Paleo Diet
“F--ing awesome. Within a week, I was seeing improvements in my workouts, sleep, energy, and mood, in addition to my digestion. There have been so many unexpected benefits—no seasonal allergies, clear skin, hard nails, I rarely get headaches, I have not been sick or had a cold since I began, etc. I’ve never felt this good—Paleo has helped keep me lean and carry good weight.” —Trevor, 23, male

“At first I was depressed at the thought of giving up pastas and breads, which were staples of my diet. I was confused about what to eat and missed the ease of a bagel in the morning. However, most of my joint pain has been alleviated and I’m leaner than I’ve been in years while still maintaining the same amount of exercise as before the diet. I feel healthy and have fewer highs and lows throughout my day.” —Chris Teig, 40, male

“I felt limited in my choices and didn’t look at eating as a fun or rewarding experience. I did feel leaner, however, but generally eating became a chore that I did when I felt hungry, not an enjoyable part of my day.” —Brie, 27, female

Weight Watchers
“The first week I was very temperamental and emotional. I think this had more to do with the fact that I had to eat less than I had been, and that I cut back on the ever-comforting sweet, greasy, and salty foods. By the second week I started feeling much better. I had much more energy than I had before the diet and my mood had improved.” —Kendra, 27, female

“After just a few days on the plan, I felt much better physically than I had in a while. Emotionally, I felt like I had much more control.” —Ashley, 25, female

What were the best things about the diet?

17 Day Diet
“Feeling healthy. Going from a tight size 22 in the plus-size department to a loose size 14 in the regular department. Feeling strong and capable.” —Maggie, 38, female

“I slept really well. I liked the idea of being able to eat a lot of veggies and protein. They say you don’t have to exercise more than 17 minutes a day, but I exercised about an hour a day.“ —Carolina Santos-Neves, 30, female

Dukan Diet
“The plus side to this is there is no weighing or sizing or portions. And it forced me to eat a lot more protein than I generally would. It reduced my reliance on carbs and sugars. I still want yummy cheese, fresh fruit and veggies, and bread and pasta—just maybe not so much anymore.” —E. E., 37, female

“I love cooking and this diet gave me some great recipe ideas, made me really think about what I was eating rather than rely on gimmicky food and gave me quick results.” —Betty, 31, female

Paleo Diet
“The best thing about the diet is how it reinforces my good health. I live with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune form of hypothyroidism, and I’m convinced that eating this way helps me lessen the disease and keep the medical intervention I need—via medication—as low as possible.…The next best thing about the diet is how much I enjoy it.” —Allison Bojarski, 39, female

“Eating bacon and eggs for breakfast almost every morning. Cooking with butter or animal fats—everything tastes so much better.” —Chris Teig, 40, male

Weight Watchers
“The great thing about Weight Watchers is that they don’t direct you to give up anything for good. As long as your points permit it—daily, weekly, or activity points—you can have it. Weight Watchers is more of a lifestyle change than a diet. I accepted that my eating habits were out of control, and I changed that through Weight Watchers. It gears you towards eating healthy fruits and veggies—0 points!—and encourages exercise, which helps you develop healthy habits. I like that I never felt deprived. If I wanted to go eat at my favorite restaurant, I could and not feel guilty about it! It really taught me how to choose the foods I eat more wisely.” —Ashley, 25, female

“The Flex Points are the best part. In addition to your daily allotted points you get 49 ’free’ points a week—that’s about 1 1/2 times the average daily point allotment. These allowed me to go out on weekends and eat richer foods than I would on a daily basis. Or, if I went over my points any given day the flex points allowed me to not feel like I failed entirely. Basically, the extra points give you a safety net each week. I try not to use all of them, but it’s nice knowing they’re there.” —Kendra, 27, female

What about the worst things about the diet?

17 Day Diet
“It can get boring really fast. I couldn’t eat bananas and peanut butter. No quinoa or squash. I love roasted veggies and couldn’t technically eat that either. At first I had a hard time not being allowed to have anything sweet, including fruit, after 2 p.m., but then I got used to it. The use of artificial sugar-free products is also a downside.” —Carolina Santos-Neves, 30, female

“It is difficult to eat out. When I do eat out, the food tends to taste overly salty or greasy. I have had to become a better cook to avoid boredom. Also, the book is inconsistent or isn’t always clear. For example, the cultural exceptions—why is zucchini okay if you are Latina? I’m part Latina but heavily rely on Asian food—can I [make] an exception?” —Maggie, 38, female

Dukan Diet
“As a former vegetarian, this was hard. I eat meat and poultry from time to time but nowhere near even once a week, so this was a big deal for me. Buying meat doesn’t seem cheap, and certainly, buying seafood isn’t. And organic, free-range chickens are expensive! I missed having fruit and veggies. With grapefruit now plentiful, I would usually have that for dessert, and not being able to enjoy that clean, refreshing taste was so hard. When I finally went to the farmers’ market when I finished the diet, I was so thrilled to buy veggies. That evening’s salad and vegetable frittata never tasted so good. Oh, and a definite downside: constipation. Sorry, TMI, but it’s true. Dukan allows for oat bran from the beginning but for me, I was not as regular as I usually am. Fortunately, I didn’t experience the bad breath he mentions as another possible side effect.” —E. E., 37, female

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