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The Man Diets

Tom Jones
Tom Jones
Tom Jones
Tom Jones

By Hilary Rose

Tom Jones talks about eating like a caveman, while Russell Crowe tweets openly about his battle with the bulge. Hilary Rose looks at our enlightened attitudes towards . . .

The news that Tom Jones has lost 2st in five months on the caveman diet, which advocates unprocessed foods, has propelled the men's diet industry into the spotlight.

For years dieting was something that women did. Men might buy sport magazines and even join a gym, but that was to muscle up, you understand, not -- heaven forbid -- to lose weight, and they certainly wouldn't admit to being on an actual diet.

But a spate of celebrities coming out as dieters, such as Russell Crowe, Gary Barlow and Jason Statham, has broken the taboo.

This year men are being treated to such diet books as, for starters, The Flat Belly Diet for Men; The Men's Health Diet: 27 Days to Sculpted Abs, Maximum Muscle and Superhuman Sex; The Man Diet: How to Wean Yourself off Junk Food Love and The New Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten your Stomach and Keep you Lean for Life.

"Women buy about 55% of all books," Tom Tivnan, of The Bookseller, says.

"So the most likely scenario could be that they're buying more male-orientated diet books to get their increasingly tubby significant others into better shape."

Books espousing unisex diets such as the Dukan diet, the Atkins diet and Paul McKenna's I Can Make you Thin currently top the bestseller lists.

"I think the Dukan appeals to men because the diet seems to be 'eat like a very hungry Frenchman'," says Tivnan.

According to Toby Wiseman, associate editor of Men's Health magazine: "The stigma of weight loss issues has gone. It'd be embarrassing to admit you're on a particular diet, but it's fine for men to say they're not going to eat chips, or have a glass of wine rather than a bottle of beer.

"Diets are the same as grooming: men get introduced to these things by their partners ... then it gradually becomes more acceptable."

On the caveman diet Jones had to cut out his habitual bottle of red wine with dinner every night, as well as embracing fresh food including fish, chicken and vegetables and avoiding carbs and processed foods; in other words, the sort of diet our grandparents ate (if they were lucky).

"I was putting too much weight on," the 71-year-old singer told BBC Radio 2. "I couldn't get into my suits. I thought, 'This has got to stop'."

He's not alone. Statham admits that he doesn't eat carbs after lunch, while the 46-year-old Crowe tweets regularly about his battle with the bulge and attempts to get fit.

"I have to be really disciplined," he said recently, before going on to detail the workouts, weight training and cycling sessions that he had completed in the previous 24 hours.

What's unusual about Jones isn't that he went on a diet; it's what took him so long. According to Wiseman, most men realise at about the age of 30 that a lifestyle of zero exercise and eating whatever they want is no longer sustainable.

"We know that when men do take the decision to do something about their weight they do very well," says Zoe Hellman, the WeightWatchers Head of Dietetics and Health Policy.

"There are more overweight or obese men than women, and yet men tend to be the 'difficult to reach' group."

Wiseman has a slightly different take on it.

"I think men are inherently gluttonous and they will have as much of anything as they can get away with.

"But I think 30 is the point where you start writing cheques that your body can't cash."

He concedes that plenty of men are tempted by fad diets such as the Atkins diet, but believes that in general they make lifestyle changes, because they tend to associate fad diets with neuroticism.

Dr John Briffa agrees. "Increasing numbers of men are making and sustaining changes in their eating and not really thinking 'I'm on a diet'. My feeling is that this sets them apart, a little, from women, who are more prone to getting on and off diets.

"Men may have been later to the party, but one could argue that they often take a refreshingly sensible approach to sustaining changes once they've made them."

Then there's not just the diet they choose, but how they do it.

Matt Roberts, David Cameron's personal trainer, believes that dieting divides along gender lines, with men treating it as yet another arena in which to be competitive with their mates.

"They become keen to show no weakness, like a badge of honour," he says.

"This all-or-nothing approach is very successful when it works ... males now diet as much as females, but they do it in a slightly different way."

So, which diet will work for you?

Master Cleanse Diet

What is it?

The original text was written in 1941 by Stanley Burroughs, the controversial alternative-health advocate. There has been a resurgence in popularity recently among celebrities who want to detox and lose weight quickly.

The diet involves consuming nothing but a combination of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for a minimum of 10 days, up to three times a year.

The promise

Also known as the lemonade diet, it claims to dissolve and eliminate toxins from the body. Dieters say that they lose weight quickly and feel happier and 'cleaner'. As well as the drink, a bedtime laxative must be taken.

Who should do it?

Overindulgers who want to 'detox' or cleanse their bodies or lose weight quickly. Ashton Kutcher tried it with his wife, Demi Moore.

Typical day

During the detox, mix two tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice with two tbsp of grade B maple syrup (no added sugar), a pinch of powdered cayenne pepper and 300ml distilled water. Drink six to 10 times a day, when hungry. Eat no other food. Drink herbal tea and water.

In Short: Food-free diet

The Men's Health Diet

What is it?

Based on the 'rules of the ripped', including 'I will eat protein with every meal and snack' and 'I will eat before and after exercise'. You must include 30g of protein with each main meal and two snacks of 10-15g of protein, one of which must be yoghurt, daily.

The promise

'Sculpted abs, maximum muscle and superhuman sex.' The men's magazine promises weight loss of up to 15lb in six weeks, as well as a boosted libido and improved muscle definition.

Who should do it?

Men who want to get lean and strong, and who like routine -- at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week -- but don't want to count calories

Typical day

Breakfast: Fried eggs on wholegrain toast and a protein and fruit smoothie

Lunch: Fruit and vegetables and 30g protein

Snack: Yoghurt

Post-workout meal: 30g of protein with leafy greens such as kale, broccoli or Brussels sprouts. No sugary soft drinks

In short: Ripped men eat yoghurt.

The Dukan Diet

What is it?

There are four phases to this diet, created by Dr Pierre Dukan. Each allows you to eat more food.

At first eat only low-fat protein for up to 10 days.

In the Cruise phase, alternate protein-only days with a day of protein and non-starchy vegetables.

Then you can add fruit, wholewheat bread and pudding provided that you return to the Attach phase one day a week.

The promise

If it's rapid weight lose you're after, the Dukan proposes to help you lose 5lbs in the first five days.

Who should do it?

Protein lovers who want fast results. Michael Ball lost more than one stone on it.

Typical day

Breakfast: Coffee, fat-free yoghurt and a boiled egg

Snack: Non-fat cottage cheese

Lunch: Crab sticks, chicken leg, poached salmon fillets

Dinner: Moules and boiled beef

In short: With ze prawns and ze cottage cheese, ze doctor will make you thin.

The Abs Diet

What is it?

The food is all high protein and low fat, for example, peanut butter and wholegrains. Eat six times a day -- three snacks and three meals -- and work out for 30 minutes three times a week. Don't count calories but make sure that each meal fits on one plate. Go teetotal for six weeks and break the diet with a 'treat' meal no more than once a week.

The promise

The idea is a flat stomach in six weeks. 'Lose 20lbs or more -- from your belly first.'

Who should do it?

Men who want to build muscle, lower their cholesterol and lose weight. The actor and wrestler The Rock did it and says: "If you want to get on top of your game, this is where you start."

Typical day

Breakfast (8am): Two eggs, turkey

Snack (11am): Oatmeal, whey powder, peanut butter smoothie

Lunch (1pm): Beans, lean meat, cheese and spinach

Snack (4pm): Yoghurt and peanut butter

Dinner (6pm): Lean meat and green vegetables

Snack (8pm): Raspberries

In short: Eat more, get buff.

The Atkins Diet

What is it?

Low or no carbs, it has four phases: rapid weight loss, long-term weight loss, pre-maintenance and maintenance. You can eat fats such as butter and cream as long as you don't touch carbs. The original Atkins diet involved no salad, vegetables or coffee, but the 'New' Atkins allows 'foundation vegetables' such as spinach and salad, and tea and coffee.

The promise

Lose 15lb in the first two weeks and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Who should do it?

Men who binge on bread who want to lose weight quickly. Robbie Williams is a fan.

Typical day

Breakfast: Fried egg and bacon with a cup of decaffeinated coffee

Snack: Two slices of ham

Lunch: Chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella, served with mixed lettuce leaves tossed in olive oil

Dinner: Eight ounce steak with sour cream and spinach

In short: No carbs, bad breath.

Irish Independent

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