Which Diet Is Right For You?

It is a question that has long occupied the hungry minds of millions hoping to lose weight – what is the best diet to help shift the pounds? A plethora
14 Jan 2015 08:00
Which Diet Is Right For You?
Split into the three groups, the volunteers were given a tailor-made dieting plan to follow for three months

It is a question that has long occupied the hungry minds of millions hoping to lose weight – what is the best diet to help shift the pounds?

A plethora of mantras adorning bookshelves, a constant stream of celebrity-endorsed plans bursting with promises of quick weight loss, and a flurry of new ‘superfoods’ each week, makes the journey to slim down a confusing one.

But a new three-part BBC series aims to offer the answer tonight.

One of the biggest studies of its kind in the UK, the programme investigates the science behind the latest diet fads.

What Is The Right Diet For You, a Horizon series, sees a team of experts considering the effect of biochemistry, psychology and genes on weight gain.

Instead of buying into the latest dieting fad, the scientists found the only way to successfully lose weight is to use a personalised diet, built around an understanding of a person’s individual biology and specific needs.

Professor Tanya Byron, a clinical psychologist with 25 years experience, said the study used cutting edge science from Cambridge University to develop tailor-made weight loss plans for 75 overweight volunteers.

The dieters firstly took part in a complex screening process to establish a range of things, including the levels of a specific gut hormone, as well as each person’s genetic make up.

They were then split in to three groups, and given a tailor-made diet to follow for three months.

Professor Byron told MailOnline: ‘Some we found were emotional eaters, those who used emotional coping mechanisms.

‘Then there were people with low levels of the gut hormone GLP-1, which signals the brain, telling it a person is full.

‘They were known as the feasters, who don’t necessarily eat all the time, but when they do, they find it hard to stop.

‘And the third group, the constant cravers, were those whose genes drive them to eat.

They are more grazers, they don’t eat huge amounts in one sitting.

‘We spent a lot of time examining the results of the screening, conducting further experiments to test different factors that affected the results, to make sure the categories were correct.’

Personalised diet plans were then designed for each group, based on each of the three profiles.

Emotional eaters were encouraged to join weight loss groups and received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

What Kind of Eater Are You?

Emotional Eaters: 

– Emotional eaters are those people who eat for psychological reasons, turning to junk food when they are anxious, depressed or stressed. Studies have shown that the most effective way to lose weight for emotional eaters, is to attend a weight loss group.

– The groups will supply a diet plan of low-fat, calorie-controlled recipes to follow.

– For emotional eaters the support of fellow dieters is a powerful tool, helping drive weight loss.

– And the impending weekly weigh in helps in moments of stress, when a person might be tempted to break their diet.


– When most people eat, a specific hormones in our gut send a strong message to the brain, telling the brain the stomach is full.

– But if a person is a feaster, scientists believe they produce less of the gut hormone, GLP-1.It means the signal telling a person to stop eating is weaker.

– To lose weight, feasters need to eat certain foods that help boost the production of gut hormones.

– A diet high in protein and low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates has been found to encourage production of the vital hormones, and increase feelings of fullness.

Constant Cravers:

– Constant cravers feel hungry most of the time. Scientists believe this factor could indicate a person has more of the genes that tend to make you feel hungrier.

– This increases the likelihood of eating too much and gaining weight. Because constant cravers are constantly hungry, it is hard to sustain the effort to reduce calorie intake every day.

– So the diet involves two restricted days, where a person will limit their calorie intake to no more than 600-800 calories a day, with virtually no foods or drinks containing carbohydrates.

– The other five days are unrestricted, meaning a person does not need to count calories or limit carbohydrates, but must eat a healthy Mediterranean-style diet.

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