The Truth About 10 Trendy New Year's Diets

Now that the Christmas cookies and New Year's Eve toasts have been replaced with resolutions and regrets, many people are scouring the Internet for ways to lose the extra pounds they packed on during the holiday season.

What these Web searchers are finding is that the online offerings in the diet realm are immense -- and each promises tantalizing results.

Diet experts are quick to point out that it is unlikely that any option offers a "magic bullet" for weight loss, unless it brings about a significant change in lifestyle habits.

"Any diet that significantly reduces a person's calorie intake is likely to cause temporary weight loss," notes Joanne Ikeda, cooperative extension nutrition education specialist and lecturer in the Nutritional Sciences Department at University of California, Berkeley. "However, permanent weight loss remains an elusive goal for most people."

"There are some very silly -- and even dangerous -- ways to lose weight," said Dr. David Katz, co-founder and director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. "The problem with gauging the utility of diets is that the wrong metrics are used; short-term weight loss is not a measure of true success."

Still, many may hold out hope that they can find a diet that will at least kick-start their efforts to a healthier 2009. rounded up some of the most popular diets of the New Year, based on recent news and search-engine queries. We then subjected these diets to the scrutiny of nutrition experts Ikeda, Katz, and Keith-Thomas Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The following pages feature each of these diets, as well as whether or not you can count on them to help you achieve a healthier weight.

1) The Flat Belly Diet

What It Is: The Flat Belly Diet, which was launched by "Prevention" magazine editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello, is a plan that is built around a 1,600-calorie-per-day strategy that allows dieters to eat four meals per day selected from hundreds of meal possibilities.

Central to the diet is the principle that every meal must contain a source of MUFA -- short for monounsaturated fatty acids. According to the diet's proponents, these predominantly nut-based oils can target-reduce dangerous belly fat. The diet also commences with a 4-day jumpstart to get rid of abdominal bloating, during which a dieter drinks what the proponents of the diet call Sassy Water, a lemon- and ginger-containing beverage named after "Prevention" nutrition director Cynthia Sass.

And according to a small MRI imagine study released Monday out of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, the diet reduced visceral belly fat on average by 33 percent in 28 days for nine overweight women. Other risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, were also reduced in the study participants.

Expert Verdict:

Katz: "[The diet is] generally healthful, with an emphasis on foods noted as being good for insulin resistance. My lab actually studied the effects of this short term, and they were quite good."

Ayoob: "You may have a flatter belly in 32 days but that's because you're losing weight, pure and simple. Make no mistake, your body will determine where you lose weight. It tends to come from the belly first anyway -- that's usually the body's first preference -- but it's the weight loss that's flattening your belly, not some diet miracle."

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