What’s Common In All The Diets That Work

When it comes to dieting, there are so many conflicting ideas out there—especially from “choose this, not that” elimination diet advocates—on what the best weight loss solution is. And when even the most trimmed and fit celebs seem confused on how to lose weight the healthy way, it’s crucial to look to the experts for cues on how to tone up without obsessing over calories, losing muscle weight, or ditching vital food groups. Below, we spoke to nutrition experts about the red flags to look out for in any diet, and what any successful diet should entail.

1. They require you to pace yourself.

“Good diets promote weight loss of no more than one to two pounds a week,” says Nigel Penny, lecturer in Nutritional Science at Birmingham City University. “If you lose more than two pounds per week after the second week of dieting, it’s likely that you’re actually losing muscle tissue.”

2. They cut out sugar, not fat.

“Many of the newer and better diets around advocate cutting down on sugar and starch rather than fat,” says Marisa Peer, author of You Can Be Thin: The Ultimate Programme to End Dieting…Forever. “Your body stores excess sugar–found in starchy carbs like pasta and bread–as fat. But good fats help fill you up, and are essential for good health. A low fat diet, meanwhile, will leave you feeling tired, hungry and cranky, and won’t help you maintain weight loss.”

3. They make breakfast a priority.

“A quality breakfast is vital for setting you up for the rest of the day,” says nutritionist Jacqui Cleaver, of the New You Bootcamp. “All good diets will suggest you start your day with quality protein, sufficient good fat and healthy carbs. Try eggs on wheat free bread or porridge oats with berries and ground seeds.”

4. They promote regular eating.

“All successful diets will promote regular, planned meals and snacks throughout the day,” says Alpro dietician Kate Arthur.

5. They suggest permanent lifestyle changes.

“Effective weight loss plans need to be realistic and encourage permanent lifestyle changes, rather than relying on faddy liquid formulas and powders, or on special foods or devices,” says Penny.

6. They always recommend having protein with carbs.

‘The key to long-term weight loss is keeping your blood sugar low,” says Peer. “If you eat protein with your carbs, this will slow down the sugar. All good diets teach you to always add protein to carbs for this reason.”

7. They are nutritionally balanced.

“In good diets, all food groups need to be represented,” says Penny. “A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is essential. Promoting the consumption of one particular ‘magic’ food, or advocating the avoidance of specific foods, will lead to an unbalanced diet.”

8. They don’t promote counting calories.

“Counting calories is a very outdated concept and has now been proven to be an ineffective way to lose weight,” says Peer.”Consuming a low fat, low calorie muffin and latte will ultimately make you pack on more pounds than having some scrambled eggs with a cup of tea.”

9. They encourage staying active.

“Good diets will also advocate for increasing physical activity to lose weight,”says Arthur.

10. They avoid processed foods.

“All good diets will tell you to avoid food made in a factory,” says Peer. ‘That means refined, processed food. It’s not even food–just a cocktail of chemicals that never goes off. You should ask yourself whether you could make the product in your own kitchen. If you couldn’t make it in a regular kitchen, you shouldn’t be eating it.’

10 Unbelievable But Effective Celebrity Diets

Beyoncé

While Sasha Fierce has recently devoted herself, and her social media, to a vegan lifestyle, Beyoncé is also famous for completing the Master Cleanse, an all-liquid diet of cayenne lemon water, to prepare for her role in the 2006 film Dreamgirls. During that time, Beyoncé allowed herself a cheat day to indulge in pizza and wine.

Marilyn Monroe

Eggnog for breakfast? Miss Marilyn Monroe herself would start her day with two raw eggs whipped in warm milk. Opting to skip lunch, the pop culture icon would then consume broiled liver, steak, or lamb and five carrots for dinner, finished with a decadent hot-fudge sundae dessert.

Elizabeth Taylor

She may be the most beautiful woman in the world, but boy did she eat some crazy concoctionsElizabeth Taylor turned to her own, let’s say, unique recipes to shed some pounds, like cottage cheese with sour cream over fruit, a peanut butter–smothered steak sandwich, and a “controlled pig-out,” where she once ate a whole pizza and hot-fudge sundae.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar followed an extreme seven-day plan restricting most foods except cabbage soup. For this bland, low-calorie quick fix, Gellar ate the original cabbage soup recipe and alternatively added vegetables, fruit, milk and yogurt, incorporating lean meat and brown rice by the end of the week.

Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton took a cue from the French and slimmed down for the Royal Wedding with The Dukan Diet. After an initial kick start of straight protein and vegetables, the regimen is broken into three phases that get less strict week by week, with variations depending on how many pounds you’re trying to shed.

Lady Gaga

Did Lady Gaga purée her pounds away? The singer is rumored to have tried Tracy Anderson’s baby food diet, a plan that replaces your first two meals of the day with Gerber’s baby food, followed by a health-conscious dinner. While she has yet to fess up, other celebs have also been linked to the diet, including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Madonna

No one can do it like Madonna. But really, we’re not sure if anyone can. Madonna has followed the extremely strict and rigorous macrobiotic diet, which eliminates all wheat, eggs, meats and dairy. What’s left? The diet encourages the consumption of “sea vegetables.” Being a Material Girl really does come at a price.

Gwyneth Paltrow

As the story goes, after being diagnosed with food allergies Gwyneth Paltrow has since committed herself to all things “good,” ultimately eliminating bread, red meat, cow’s milk, eggplants, even tomatoes from her diet. She starts her mornings off with a green juice and maintains a gluten-free, mildly vegan diet throughout the day.

Megan Fox

In order to flush out water weight and cleanse her system, Megan Fox throws back shots of apple cider vinegar. Yum, right? Moreover, the actress has also been known to practice a program based on the book The 5-Factor Diet by Harley Pasternak, which consists of making five-ingredient meals in less than five minutes.

Victoria Beckham

Posh Spice just may be the perfect pH. Victoria Beckham raves about the alkaline diet, a meal plan aimed at keeping your body’s pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Essentially, to be alkaline-friendly you follow an 80/20 rule of more vegetables and less grains and proteins, though to truly know your pH balance you must complete a urine test.