Ahead of this year's potato diet, we chart the biggest weight loss trends of the past decade

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
[Photo: Getty]

The return of Channel 4’s ‘How To Lose Weight Well’ last night saw slimmers try drastic diet means in order to lose weight.

One eating plan was based around potatoes, while another involved eating cabbage soup exclusively. Other slimmers were challenged to eat a diet based on their specific genetic makeup or metabolism – with mixed results.

While it is still yet to be seen whether the ‘potato diet’ will catch on, every new year comes with its own share of diets, from juice cleanses to gluten-free meal plans to Slimming World.

With this in mind, we take a look back at some of the most popular ones over the past decade.

2008 – Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers remains the most popular commercial diet in the world. In 2008, the company launched its Momentum programme, which encouraged slimmers to eat filling foods as part of a points-based system.

2009 – SlimFast

SlimFast brought out its new ‘3-2-1’ diet plan in 2009: three 100-calorie snacks, two 200-calorie meal replacements and one dinner. However, in December that year, the company was forced to recall all its canned products due to bacteria contamination.

2010 – Juice cleanses

The LA trend for juicing became big business in 2010, with everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Salma Hayek singing its praises. Juice cleanses involves drinking nothing but fruit and vegetable juice for a period lasting anything from days to, in extreme cases, weeks – a process said to ‘detoxify’ the body, according to its advocates.

2011 – Dukan diet

In the year Kate Middleton married Prince William, the low-carb, high-protein Dukan diet – said to be followed by both the bride and her sister Pippa to get in shape for the big day – enjoyed a surge in popularity. Dukan dieting involves three phases: the cruise phase, where dieters eat nothing but vegetables and protein; the consolidation phase, where cheese, starch and fruit is reintroduced; and the stabilisation phase, which involves daily oat bran and protein.

2012 – Intermittent fasting

The Silicon Valley-inspired 5:2 trend for intermittent fasting (where you typically eat just 500 calories for two days of the week) was first popularised in the UK by BBC2 Horizon documentary, ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’. Kate Harrison’s ‘The 5:2 Diet Book’ was released later that year in December.

2013 – Paleo

Also known as the Caveman Diet, paleo eating, which was pioneered by New Zealand nutritionist Jamie Scott, became big business in 2013, when it was the most searched-for diet.

Paleo was also popularised by Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, whose bestselling recipes book included the diet staple, bone broth.

2014 – Slimming World

The diet programme was listed as part of the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended plans, alongside the Weight Watchers and Rosemary Conley programmes.

2015 – Atkins Diet

The low-carb weight loss programme was still going strong in 2015, over a decade after Roberts Atkins passed away from heart failure in 2003.

2016 – Vegan

Veganism grew by 360% in the UK in 2016, as athletes including Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams popularised animal-free eating.

2017 – Gluten-free

The gluten-free market value in the UK grew by 40.1% this year as consumers believed choosing these free-from foods would be beneficial to their health.

2018 – Keto diet

The ketogenic eating plan, which is based around low-carb, high-fat eating, was the most searched-for diet of 2018. Celebrity followers including Kourtney Kardashian and long-term devotee Halle Berry.

But are diets really any good for us?

While some people swear by certain slimming programmes, nutritionist Jenna Hope warns against following fad diets for the sake of it.

She says: “Fad dieting can be difficult and unsustainable due to restriction and social isolation. Fad dieting over a number of years can also lead to an impaired metabolism later on in life making weight management more challenging.”

Jenna suggests you focus on adding colour and fibre to your meals, rather than focusing on restriction and limitation. “Fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre and are therefore a great way to leave you feeling fuller without providing excess calories.

“Additionally, ensure you are staying hydrated to prevent mistaking thirst for hunger. Beans and pulses are another really good addition to soups, stews and salads to help lower energy intake whilst feeling full and satiated. 

“Finally, ensure you are snacking on protein rich foods to help prevent blood sugar crashes. Boiled eggs, nuts, seeds and hummus and carrots/ oatcakes are really good snack options.”

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