When it comes to losing weight, the New Year is far and away the most common starting point for most women.  Because as soon as January rolls around, everyone and their dog starts dreaming up new and creative ways to lose fat and get in shape.

But with so many diets to choose from, getting started can be tricky.  Here are three that, while unconventional, have proven to be very effective.

#1: The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is a style of eating that mimics the way that our premodern human ancestors ate prior to the advent of agriculture.

At least, that’s the principle.  If you’ve ever done any research into the paleo diet, you’ll know that the devil is usually in the details, with different “diet gurus” debating whether or not a certain food counts as “paleo”.

However, in the interest of making this an easy guide for the average person to follow, we’ll be giving you a very broad definition.

Basically, the paleo diet excludes any of the foods that would have come about as a result of agriculture.  These “do not eat” foods include:

  • Wheat
  • Grains
  • Rice
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods

There are others that are sometimes excluded, but for all intents and purposes, if you eliminate these from your diet, you’ll be 80% of the way there.

So what should you eat instead?  The following foods will likely form the majority of your meals:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Oils

What Are The Benefits Of The Paleo Diet?

Simplicity: One of the great benefits of eating this way is the simplicity of it all.  Rather than looking at any given food and trying to determine whether it’s “good or bad”, you simply have a list of foods you eat and a list of foods you don’t.  This means less decision making throughout the day, which has been shown to preserve willpower and make sticking with a healthy diet easier.  It also eliminate 80% of the “junk food” by default.

Flexibility: While the paleo diet may look restrictive on paper, in practice it actually offers a lot of flexibility.  This diet has become immensely popular over the last decade, and there are an abundance of delicious recipes that very creatively get around the restrictions while still being paleo.

#2: The Ketogenic Diet

This is probably the most intense diet on this list, and is definitely not for everyone.  With that said, many who have tried it swear by it, and if you’re one of those people who has tried everything to lose weight with no luck, it might be just what you need.

Essentially, the ketogenic diet, or “keto diet”, is a very low carb, high fat approach to eating.

The idea is simple- the body has two different sources of energy.  It can either produce glucose from carbohydrates, or it can use fat.  When fat becomes the primary fuel source in the absence of carbs, the liver then converts some of that fat into “ketones”

A typical keto diet will look like this in terms of food composition:

  • Fat 60%
  • Protein 30%
  • Carbs 10%

The most common foods you’ll find yourself loading up on will be:

  • Fatty meats
  • Fish
  • Full fat dairy
  • Butter
  • Oils
  • Some vegetables

What Are The Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet?

Greater Mental Clarity: Many of the “keto success stories” report a tremendous increase in mental clarity and focus.  The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that, in the absence of carbs, the brain must rely on the ketones produced in the liver for fuel.  Those who have success with this diet find that their particular bodies and brains just work better on ketones.

Easy Weight Loss: You’d think that a diet consisting mainly of fat would be a recipe for weight gain.  And the truth is it can be.  However, many who have tried a keto diet report that the sudden dramatic increase in dietary fat has the effect of “blunting” their appetites, making it much easier to consume less calories.

#3: Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is exactly what it sounds like- alternating periods of fasting (i.e. not eating) with periods of eating.

If you’ve ever read any of the popular diet advice out there, you know that fasting gets a bad rap.  Many of the so-called “experts” would have you believe that you need to eat every 2-3 hours, or you will go into “starvation mode” and you’ll start storing fat because your body thinks it’s going through a famine.

The reality is this- your body is not stupid.  While long, prolonged periods of extreme calorie deprivation will eventually put you into starvation mode, it certainly won’t happen just because you didn’t eat for an hour…or five hours….or even twenty hours.

So, how exactly do you go about fasting? There are a few different setups, but these are two of the most popular.

16/8 Fasting: This involves fasting for 16 hours per day, with an 8 hour “eating window”.  For most people, this means skipping breakfast and eating all of their food between the hours of noon and 8:00pm.

5:2 Fasting: With this setup, you’ll be eating “normally” 5 days per week.  During the other 2, you’ll be doing a 24 fast (the 2 days you choose are entirely up to you).

What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?

Reduced Hunger: Paradoxically, many practitioners of intermittent fasting find that, once they get used to it, they actually aren’t that hungry during the fast.  They also find that, by shortening the amount of time they can eat each day, it allows them to consume larger, more satisfying meals.

No Dietary Restrictions:  Intermittent fasting makes dieting really, really simple- when you’re fasting, you don’t eat- when you’re not fasting, you do.  No forbidden foods, no counting calories.  Simple.

Happy dieting!