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Think back a few years to all of the weight-loss diets that have swept the country by storm: the no-carb diet, Intermittent Fasting, the Atkins diet, Keto diet, the Paleo diet – while some are based on science, many are nothing but hype.

This list explores all the popular diet plans in Singapore and how they differ from one another.

So if you’re curious to know more about what is there to offer, you’ll love this list!

Let’s dive right in.

Popular Diet in Singapore – Diet Approaches

The following list of diets is divided into 4 categories:-
i. Diet Approaches Based on Macronutrient Composition
ii. Diet Approaches Based on Food Choices and/or Restrictions
iii. Diet Approaches Based on Time-Restricted and/or Fasting
iv. Miscellaneous Diets

In order to choose a diet that’s right for you, it’s important to take these 3 principles into account:-
a. Lifestyle/Preferences,
b. Medical History, and
c. Budget

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss, and the best diet plan to lose weight is the one that you stick to for the long term.

With that, here are the popular diet in Singapore.

Diet Approaches Based on Macronutrient Composition

Diet-Approaches-Based-on-Macronutrient-Composition

Atkins Diet

Atkins diet is a 4-phase low carb diet that emphasizes on food selection rather than calorie restriction.

PhaseDescription
Phase 1 (Induction)Under 20 grams of carbs per day for 14 days. Your meal plan should revolve around foods that are high-fat, high-protein, with vegetables such as leafy greens. This gets the ball rolling.
Phase 2 (Balancing)Slowly add more nuts, vegetables, and a small number of fruits into your diet menu.
Phase 3 (Fine-Tuning)As you get closer to your goal weight, introduce more carbs to your diet until weight loss reaches a plateau.
Phase 4 (Maintenance)This is the phase where you can have as many healthy carbs as your body can handle without gaining the weight back.

 

Unlike other low carb diets, Atkins gradually introduces carbs into your diet, limiting blood sugar and insulin spikes, which helps to control appetite and food cravings.

High-Protein Diet

A high protein diet is commonly consumed by those who participate in a regular weight lifting routine or sports activities, such as bodybuilders and athletes. It’s essential to help rebuild the muscle after the damage caused by intense workout sessions.

As for the recommended amount of protein to consume, the myth of 1g/lb of bodyweight has long been debunked1, and there’s no clear advantage to take any more than 0.82g/lb (1.8g/kg) of protein per day to preserve or build muscle for natural lifters.

Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that’s designed to put the body in a metabolic state called ketosis to burn fat. The drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake means your body will utilize fat for energy, and it also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which also serves as an energy source for the brain.

Diet Approaches Based on Food Choices and/or Restrictions

Diet-Approaches-Based-on-Food-Choices-andor-Restrictions

Cambridge Diet

The Cambridge Diet is an extreme weight-loss plan that’s based around specially-formulated meal replacement products such as low-calorie shakes, snack bars, and soups. These meals are designed to meet your daily nutritional requirements, and it works similarly to a ketogenic diet, in the sense that it puts the body in ketosis to burn fat.

Carnivore Diet

This diet consists entirely of meat, fish, eggs, and small amounts of low-lactose dairy (No fruits or vegetables allowed). What’s unique about this diet plan is that you don’t have to follow any rules as far as food timing, macronutrient composition, or portion size. All you have to do is to eat when you feel hungry until you are full.

DASH Diet

DASH diet menu is a flexible, easy-to-follow diet plan that focuses on healthy diet foods such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, as well as whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts.

It also encourages reducing the consumption of red meat, butter, margarine, and other foods with high saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium levels.

You can customize your own healthy diet menu plan by simply following the above recommendations, as you can easily find these common foods at your nearby supermarket.

Dukan Diet

The Dukan diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet plan designed by French general practitioner and nutritionist named Pierre Dukan.

The diet has four phases:-
a. During the “Attack” phase (1-10 days), feel free to eat all the lean protein your body can tolerate, plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and a minimum of 6 cups of water in a day.

b. In the “Cruise” phase (which can last for several months), you will start adding unlimited amounts of non-starchy veggies on alternate days, plus an extra ½ tablespoon of oat bran.

c. At this stage, “Consolidation” (5 days for every pound you’ve lost), you can have veggies on a daily basis, plus 1 piece of fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and 1 serving of hard cheese. You may also have 1 or 2 servings of starchy foods and 1 or 2 “celebration” meals that normally wouldn’t be allowed on this diet.

d. The final phase, “Stabilization” (ongoing), is all about maintenance. You are granted the freedom to eat whatever you want, except for one day a week when you abide by the all-protein rules from the first phase of this diet. You will also be eating 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day and walk for 20 minutes every day.

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-free diet was originally developed as the treatment for celiac disease and may help to alleviate symptoms related to gluten sensitivity.

Fueled by celebrity endorsements and personal testimonials, the gluten-free diet has since been adopted by those who are looking to shed pounds quickly, and the number has far exceeded those that have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease.

However, there is currently no scientific evidence to support the claim that a gluten-free diet is effective for weight loss.

GM Diet

The GM diet, formally known as the General Motors Diet, is a seven-day diet plan that claims to help you lose up to 15lbs (6.8 kg) in 7-day span.

It has specific rules on which foods are permitted, and they can only be consumed on specific days of the week. This diet eliminates many food groups and beverages, and dieters are required to drink 2 to 3 bowls of “GM Wonder Soup” made with cabbage, celery, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers every day of the week.

Liquid Diet

Meeting your daily macronutrient intake can be a challenging task when you’re constantly on the go. A high-protein meal replacement diet shake can just be what you need to help you get all the essential macronutrients in liquid form.

Bonus:
If you are tired of plowing through uninspired lunches week after week, why not give my healthy weight-loss diet recipes a shot? These diet foods are perfect for lunch or dinner, plus they’re super easy to cook!

 

Mediterranean Diet

A Mediterranean diet advocates the daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nut and seeds, and olive oil. Other foods such as fish, poultry, beans and eggs are consumed on a weekly basis. Dairy products are consumed in moderate portions, while there’s a limited intake of red meat.

Paleo Diet

The basic concept of the paleo diet is to eat whole foods like what our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, and avoid highly processed foods.

There is no specific guideline when it comes to the execution part, as such you can adopt a high protein diet through the consumption of meat, fish, or eggs, or a high-fiber regimen with lots of vegetables and seeds.

Quarter Quarter Half Diet

Quarter-Quarter Half (Suku Suku Separuh) is a quick, flexible yet effective diet strategy that allows you to create a balanced and nutritious meal by simply eyeballing the portion.

Customizing your own monthly diet plan is a breeze when you adhere to the following guidelines.

Quarter-Quarter-Half

Malaysian Healthy Diet Plate by Ministry of Health

1. Three standard meals daily by dividing a dinner plate into imaginary sections:
a. ¼ plate of grains such as bread, pasta, and oats
b. ¼ plate of proteins such as eggs, poultry, and seafood
c. ½ plate of fruits and vegetables

2. 1-2 healthy snacks between meals if necessary.

It is easy to undermine your weight loss effort if you are using too big of a plate. For a normal adult, the standard plate size is 23cm (9 inches), so keep that in mind before you fill in the plate with any food.

Sirtfood Diet

Made popular by British artist Adele, sirtfood diet is based on research on sirtuins (SIRTs), a group of seven proteins found in the body that has been proven to burn fat and build lean muscle mass.

It is divided into two phases that last for a total of 3 weeks:-

PHASE 1

For the first 3 days of the week, calorie intake is restricted to 1,000 calories. You are allowed to have 3 Sirtfood-rich green juices, 1 Sirtfood-rich meal, and 2 squares of dark chocolate in your diet.

In the next 4 days, calorie intake is bumped up to 1,500 calories, and each day you will have 2 Sirtfood-rich green juices and 2 Sirtfood-rich meals.

Alcohol is off-limit during this phase, but you may drink water, tea, coffee, and green tea freely.

PHASE 2

There’s no calorie restriction during the second phase of the diet. Each day involves 3 Sirtfood-rich meals and 1 green juice, plus the option to have 1 or 2 Sirtfood snacks.

In phase 2 you are allowed to consume red wine in moderation (the recommendation is 2-3 glasses of red wine per week), as well as the other beverages listed in phase 1.

Once it’s finished, you can continue incorporating it into your lifestyle by including as many sirtfoods as possible in your meals.

Vegetarian Diet

When people think of a vegetarian diet, the first thing that came to mind is a plant-based diet that doesn’t include meat, poultry, or fish. However, in reality, vegetarian diets vary in the type of foods that are being included and excluded:-

Type of DietExcludeInclude
Lacto-Vegetarian DietMeat, Fish, Poultry and EggsDairy Products
Ovo-Vegetarian DietMeat, Poultry, Seafood and Dairy ProductsEggs
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian DietMeat, Fish and PoultryDairy Products and Eggs
Pescatarian DietMeat and Poultry, Dairy, and EggsFish
Vegan DietMeat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs and Dairy ProductsN/A

 

Diet Approaches Based on Time Restricted and/or Fasting

Diet-Approaches-Based-on-Time-Restricted-and-or-Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating pattern where you alternate between periods of eating and fasting.

It does not specify which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.

Some of the popular intermittent fasting methods include:-

16/8 Method

Also known as the Leangains protocol, it involves 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding.

Normally three meals are consumed during this period. On workout days, carbs are prioritized before fat, while the fat intake is increased on rest days. Keep your protein intake high on all days.

I have shared my personal intermittent fasting experience in a separate article. This is the very first diet that I tried out when I started my weight loss journey, and I have experienced great success with it.

If you’re keen to try it out, I have also outlined details such as diet menu and meal schedule in the post so that you’re not going in blind.

 

5:2 Diet

With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days throughout the week, but you will be able to eat regularly on the other 5 days.

Eat-Stop-Eat

This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, while eating regularly for the remaining 5 or 6 days.

OMAD Diet

The more advanced intermittent fasting method which only allows one meal a day and fasting the rest of time.

Warrior Diet

The diet revolves around 20-hours of undereating, followed by a short burst of overeating during the 4-hour period.

Water Fasting

Water fasting is a form of diet that involves fasting for 24–72 hours before ending with a post-fast phase.

After the water fast, break your fast with something light, such as a smoothie or smaller meals. Over time, you can slowly introduce larger meals throughout the day.

For beginners, it’s recommended to spend 3–4 days preparing your body to be without food by gradually reducing your portion sizes or fasting for a period of time throughout the day.

Miscellaneous Diets

Miscellaneous-Diets

Cohen Diet

Dr. Cohen firmly believes that obesity or being overweight has nothing to do with a lack of self-discipline, but rather a metabolic problem involving three main hormones: insulin, serotonin, and the human growth hormone (HGH).

The program is created based on the analysis of blood test results (not to be confused with blood types) to create a tailored menu plan for the individual, with the end goal to “restore balance” in the dieter’s metabolism.

Detox Diet

Detoxification — or detox — is commonly referred to a specific diet that uses health supplements to get rid of toxins from your body, thereby achieving weight loss.

Apart from health and wellness products, many people also practice detoxification in the form of a juice cleansing.

That said, your body is totally capable to eliminate toxins and other unwanted substances on its own.

In addition to that, there are no evidence to support the theory that detoxification will result in long-term weight loss2,3.

Military Diet

The military diet is a low-calorie weight loss diet that claims to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5kg) in a week. It involves a 3-day meal plan followed by 4 days off, and the weekly cycle is repeated as long as needed until you reach your desired goal weight.

For the first 3 days, you must follow a set low-calorie meal plan (roughly 1,100–1,400 calories per day) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks are not permitted between meals.

For the remaining 4 days, snacks are allowed and there are no food group restrictions. However, dieters are encouraged to practice portion control and keep total calorie intake below 1,500 per day.

What is the Best Diet Out There?

What-is-the-Best-Diet-Out-There

This is probably one of the most common questions I hear from friends and clients.

They were expecting some kind of magic foods that will miraculously “burn away fat”, or a certain fad diet that’ll remove pounds while keeping them satiated throughout the day.

Truth be told, any reduction of bodyweight can only occur due to calorie deficit4. This can be achieved either by consuming less energy than you expend, or burning more calories than what you consume.

And when it happens over a period of time, eventually you’ll notice a difference the moment you step on the weighing scale.

A diet app such as MyFitnessPal is a great calorie counter that helps to keep track of your calorie intake. Due to the popularity of this app, you can easily find any Singaporean food with its calories and macronutrient split in the food database.

What Constitutes an Unhealthy Diet?

What-Constitutes-an-Unhealthy-Diet

These will either be:-
a. A diet where a person is consuming an extremely low amount of total calories, or
b. A restrictive diet that labels certain foods as off-limits

While there are no specific calorie ranges that form the baseline of extremely low calories, it is usually seen as 800 – 1,200 kcal per day.

Weight loss occurs a lot faster when you keep your calorie range in between those figures, but it comes at a cost. You might experience negative effects such as a decrease in sports performance, constant hunger, lower recovery ability, and loss of lean body mass.

As for the latter, every day you have to deny yourself something – some taboo food that’s NOT on your list of acceptable foods – and put yourself on a diet, eating foods like brussels sprouts, kale and other foods you’ve never even heard of in your life.

When you get on one of these diets, what you eat suddenly consumes your life (and yes, that terrible pun was intended).

So, doesn’t it just make sense to eat a nutritionally balanced diet made up of foods from the different food groups? Doesn’t it make sense to NOT feel hungry at 3:00 AM? And doesn’t it make sense to maintain body health?

Of course it does.

When it comes to safe and sustainable weight loss, a no-carb slash low-calorie, clean-eating diet meal plan isn’t going to cut it – it’s all about being in a calorie deficit while consuming delicious foods that deliver benefits AND stop the deprivation.

To get you started and to show you how simple it is to make changes to even the most unhealthy diet ever (yeah, I’m talking to you), check out some of my weekly meal prep menu and yummy, finger-licking diet snacks, and you will experience changes in your waist measurement in no time.

Source:

1. Menno Henselmans, The myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal protein intake for bodybuilders. Retrieved from
https://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/

2. Jonathan Obert, Michelle Pearlman, Lois Obert, Sarah Chapin (2017), Popular Weight Loss Strategies: a Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29124370/

3. A V Klein, H Kiat (2015), Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25522674/

4. B Strasser, A Spreitzer, P Haber (2007), Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18025815/