The Best Diet To Lose Weight – 7 Most Popular Diets Compared
Every year, you learn about new eating strategies from articles, friends or some TV celebrities. Actually, there’s no dearth of advice (both solicited and unsolicited) out there! From Paleo to Zone to South Beach diet, you may have gotten acquainted with them all; each one promising the best diet to lose weight, but probably not delivering the desired results!
Why do you think that happens? Well, a couple of reasons that instantly come to the mind are: first, these diets are often misunderstood and second, these may not be the best ones for your unique needs.
All such information sources, whether websites, books, magazines or individuals, promise that they’ve finally unearthed the key mantra for weight loss!
But a large majority of these diets, whether the fad kinds or otherwise, put unsustainable restrictions on your daily routines, and guarantee immediate results; which isn’t always healthy.
Considering all the problems related to the diet plans, how do you choose the one that actually works?! Let’s take you through some useful information and actionable suggestions which can help you find the best diet for weight loss, keeping your unique needs in mind.
When It Comes to Weight Loss, Your Doctor Should be Your Best Friend!
Look at any weight loss program, exercise videos, reality shows or gym programs, they all come with a common disclaimer, “Consult a doctor prior to starting any diet and/or exercise program.” It’s a simple reminder which often always gets overlooked by people.
Regardless of whether you’re suffering from some medical problem or not, it’s always better to take a well-qualified doctor into confidence before starting any weight loss program.
Your doctor can assess your present health condition and guide you to the right course of action, and diet, keeping in mind the medications you may already be having.
You can also seek guidance related to safe exercising from your doctor, especially if you have any pain or trouble performing daily tasks.
You should be open with your doctor and discuss any weight loss plans you may already be following. Don’t shy away from asking even if you wish to try out any of those fad diets.
Doctors are usually the best people to put you on the correct weight loss path (by recommending the right diet or a registered dietician suiting your requirements) and can also put you through to the best weight loss support groups in order to keep your motivation level up.
Your Personal Needs are Important!
There is no single best diet to lose weight that would meet everyone’s needs. You must factor in your weight-loss targets, lifestyle and personal preferences, and then find a customized diet program that suits your individual requirements.
Some of the points you must keep in mind before selecting any weight loss program include:
Many weight loss programs make it mandatory for you to invest into certain meals and/or supplements, and visit certain weight loss clinics, apart from regular attendance at the support meetings. You must assess the cost of all these requirements beforehand, to ensure that you can continue with the program in the long term.
2. Past Experience With Diet Programs:
Reflect on the diet programs you may have already followed before. What were the things you disliked or liked about them the most? Was the program difficult to follow? What all worked or didn’t work for you in that so-called ‘best diet plan’? How did it make you feel at the emotional and physical level?
3. Personal Preferences:
Do you like going solo when following a healthy diet plan, or does a support group works wonders for your determination? In case you prefer dieting with a support group, is it off-line meetings or online support you’re more comfortable with?
Other Important Considerations:
All these important points can help you shortlist and choose an ideal weight loss diet plan for your individual requirements.
Things You Should Look for in a Weight Loss Program:
Although it may be tempting to opt into that highly-attractive quick weight loss diet program, normally it’s always better to go with a slow and steady routine, which you can follow consistently over the long term.
No matter which weight loss program you choose eventually, it’s always recommended to lose anywhere in the vicinity of 0.5 lbs to 2 lbs (0.2 kg to 0.9 kg) per week.
It may be safer to undergo super-quick weight loss, but only in certain specific situations, provided you adopt the right method, for instance, a quick-start healthy eating plan which puts you on an ultra-healthy diet (and some safe strategies) right away, or consumption of a very low-calorie diet under medical supervision,
You must understand that successful weight loss and weight maintenance is more about making a long-term commitment to exercises and eating routines.
It’s important to go with a weight loss diet plan that’s sustainable over the long term and doesn’t make you suffer too much. Some of the features you must look for in an ideal diet plan are:
1. Physical Activity
A good weight loss diet plan would make you indulge in ample physical activity.
Creation of a calorie deficiency along with regular exercising can boost up your weight loss efforts like nothing else.
Exercise not only helps you lose weight but also delivers many health benefits, including the strengthening of the cardiovascular system, mood elevation and reducing the risk of type II diabetes and heart disease.
Furthermore, people who exercise on a regular basis are often able to maintain their new body weight much better than ones who don’t.
2. The Right Balance
A healthy diet plan would ensure that you consume the right amounts of calories and nutrients, based on your individual situation.
Please keep in mind that diets which force you to eat huge quantities of only certain specific food items, for instance, meats or grapefruit, that drastically cut out the calories, or eliminate certain food groups entirely (for instance carbohydrates), can potentially lead to nutritional problems later.
Your diet should strike the right balance between various food items, and not force down excessive amounts of supplements and/or vitamins into your body.
As also mentioned above, you should go with a diet plan that doesn’t strictly forbid you from eating certain food groups of food items. Rather, it should include a good variety of foods from every major food group.
To give you an example, a healthy diet plan would normally include nuts, seeds, lean protein sources, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
In addition, it would have the flexibility to allow reasonable indulgence every now and then. Such diet plan would also consist of food items that can be easily procured in any local grocery store.
4. Comfort and Likeability
The best diet for weight loss would ideally include foods that you like eating and would be comfortable with throughout your life, and not just for 4-6 weeks or a few months. You’re unlikely to follow a diet in the long term if it is monotonous, overly restrictive or consists of food items you strongly dislike.
Hence, even if you lose some weight in the short-term, it’d be hard to maintain it over a long period of time.
What Diet Options Do You Have?
The number of different weight loss plans that are available in the market today, opting for any single one can be a very difficult decision, even for the most well-informed person. Many of these plans overlap with each other, and can be categorized into different groups as follows:
1. Low Fat Diet Plans
For instance - Pritikin, Ornish etc.
Do these diets involve physical activity? - Yes, they do.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – Possibly; only if you’re very determined, as the diet may not be too easy to follow consistently over a long period of time.
What about flexibility? - Not very flexible as there are only a limited number of saturated fat and total fat food items. Even if we take the lean cuts of meat, fish, and poultry into account, they too consist of some fat, which may not be permitted in very low-fat diets. Any seeds, nuts and healthy oils may also be banned.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – Yes, they are.
2. Balanced Diet Plans
For instance – Weight Watchers, LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition), TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), Mediterranean or the Mayo Clinic diet
Do these diets involve physical activity? – Yes, they do.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – Yes, as there’s plenty of emphasis on making long-lasting and permanent changes.
What about flexibility? – Pretty flexible. Although calorie intake is taken care of, and there’s no food item that’s completely off limits.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – Yes, they are.
3. Low Carb or High Protein Diet Plans
For instance – The Zone, Dukan or the Atkins
Do these diets involve physical activity? – Although physical activity is optional in these diets, if done on a regular basis, it may definitely help in expediting the weight loss results.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – Possibly; however, these diets may not be very easy to stick to for the long-term.
What about flexibility? – Not much. There’s plenty of emphasis on proteins and/or fats and the carbs are strictly limited.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – Some of the highly restrictive low-carb diets may lead to deficiencies over a period of time.
4. Fad Diets
For instance – Raw food, detox, cabbage soup or grapefruit
Do these diets involve physical activity? – No, not much.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – No, they aren’t.
What about flexibility? – No, these diets are not flexible at all. Often there’s emphasis on just a single or a combination of food items.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – No, they aren’t.
5. Very Low Calorie Diet Plans
For instance – Optifast
Do these diets involve physical activity? – No, none at all.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – No, as they’re meant to deliver only short-term results under medical supervision.
What about flexibility? – Not flexible as the calorie intake is highly restricted, often no more than 200 to 800 calories per day.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – Far from it.
6. Vegetarian Diet Plans
For instance – Any diet plan that puts non-vegetarian food completely off-limits
Do these diets involve physical activity? – It’s optional but advisable
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – Yes. There are many countries in the world, for instance, India, Sri Lanka etc. where people completely abstain from non-vegetarian food and yet lead healthy and long lives. However, these may be difficult to follow for anyone used to eating meats from an early age.
What about flexibility? – No, there are no compromises when it comes to meats. Some of these diets also restrict the consumption of dairy products and fish. However, there aren’t any limits or restrictions on the non-animal food sources.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – You may develop certain deficiencies over a period of time unless you consume a well-thought-out vegan diet, providing you with all the essential nutrients.
7. Meal Replacement Diets
For instance – Slim-fast, HMR (Health Management Resources), Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or Medifast.
Do these diets involve physical activity? – Physical activity is optional but recommended.
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – The cost of some food items (in such diets) may be very high, and hence these may be sustainable only if you can afford them over the long-term.
What about flexibility? – No; not flexible as you’re required to replace one or two main meals of the day with replacement foods.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – Provided you make healthy and right meal choices, it’s possible to strike the right nutritional balance in these diets.
8. Glycemic Index Diets
For instance –
Do these diets involve physical activity? – Physical activity is optional
Are these diets sustainable over the long term? – They may be possible if you are determined enough. However, in general, they’re pretty difficult to stick to in the long term.
What about flexibility? – Not flexible at all. You’re supposed to consume food items that increase your blood sugar levels, for instance, potatoes and white bread, and these are fairly limited.
Are these diets nutritionally balanced? – You may suffer from deficiencies if you follow highly restrictive glycemic index diet plans.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself for Better Evaluation of Weight Loss Plans:
It’s very important that you spend a considerable amount of time learning as much as you can about the weight-loss diet plan you have in mind. Always remember that a diet may not be the best one for you just because your friends and family members are following it already.
You must ask yourself some important questions to carry out a fair evaluation of the weight loss plans. These questions are:
1. What does it consist of?
2. Who is behind the diet?
3. What are the risks?
4. What are the results?
Best Diet To Lose Weight:
As also mentioned earlier, the weight loss diet plans’ marketplace is overflowing with a great multitude of options. In fact, close to 38% of the entire US population set weight loss and health targets for itself in January every year! They’re always willing to try new things as long as they work.
However, there’s an important point that all weight-loss aspirants must keep in mind – there’s no single diet plan that fits all people’s needs. You must pick a diet that suits your specific lifestyle, so you can stay true to it for a long time.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve shortlisted the top 7 weight loss plans that deliver good results. We’ve listed them below along with their brief summaries, pros, and cons.
1. Weight Watchers Diet:
Short summary: This diet plan follows a SmartPoints system that assigns a certain value to the foods and beverages depending on the fiber, fat, carbohydrates and protein content in them. Essentially, it’s a type of calorie-controlled diet wherein you’re allowed a specific number of daily SmartPoints.
You’re free to use these points however you like. No limits are put on the amounts of fruits you can eat, and the majority of the vegetables are allowed too. There is a SmarPoints safety net for each week to factor in any over indulgences, apart from individualized exercise plans.
You also get to attend weekly meetings, which are very supportive. Confidential weigh-ins combined with such weekly meet ups add a great deal of motivation and encouragement, facilitating long-term behavioral changes. You can lose anywhere around 2 lbs per week with this diet.
As there are no food bans, you’re free to drink and eat whatever you want from within your points’ allowance.
Many people find the SmartPoints system easier to follow compared to calorie counting; it’s less restrictive than many other diet plans out there.
The safety net serves as a nice cushion which can be saved up for those special occasions like night outs when you can indulge in slight amounts of treats or alcohol.
When you’re starting out with this diet, figuring out the SmartPoints system can be as time-consuming and confusing as the general calorie counting.
Many people feel pressured as they are advised to purchase the Weight Watchers-branded food items.
2. Jenny Craig Diet Plan:
Short summary: When you enroll in this diet program, you’d be asked to meet a consultant, followed by picking your own specific menu of the Jenny Craig food. The meals are basically low-calorie versions of the foods people love, for instance, burgers, pancakes, chocolate shakes etc.
The regular portion control combined with social support works as an excellent fat-busting combination, enabling dieters to lose almost 5% more body weight compared to others in a control group. Regularly following the Jenny Craig diet, you can expect to lose around 2 lbs per week.
As all the meals come prepackaged and properly portioned, there is no guesswork involved.
Both the meals as well as the exercise plan are personalized to your needs.
The facility of a personal consultant ensures that you stay motivated to accomplish your goals.
You are required to spend some serious cash on Jenny Craig diet: $ 99 at the time of enrollment and at least $ 20 per month thereafter to get ‘Jenny All Access.’
Apart from that, you’d be expected to spend anywhere from $ 15 and $ 23 each day on food.
3. DASH Diet:
Short summary: The short form of ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,’ the DASH diet plan focuses on the consumption of vegetables and fruits while slashing down the intake of saturated fats, fats, and sodium.
The cutting out of sodium from the diet aids reduction in bloating, while the consumption of high-fiber and low-calorie foods is excellent for any woman wanting to fit into those skinny jeans.
Furthermore, it’s also very good for the heart as it keeps the blood pressure levels in check. It does a lot of good to your wellness overall.
The diet plan is pretty straightforward; eat more amounts of low proteins, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy and whole grains, and reduce the consumption of salt, red meat, high-calorie and high sugar foods.
Apart from the general diet, you are also offered free of cost guides from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
As the focus of this diet is to improve your overall health, you may not lose as much weight compared to the other diet plans; which may not necessarily be a very bad thing as the entire idea is to be fit overall.
4. Slim-Fast Diet:
Short summary: Slim-Fast is essentially a meal replacement diet plan comprising of low-calorie foods, targeted at people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher. You select and eat from Slim-Fast’s product range.
You’re allowed 3 snack foods per day from a list of various options, including chocolates and crisps, to meal replacement bars or shakes, and a regular meal chosen from the list of recipes posted on the Slim-Fast’s website. You’re free to follow this diet for as long as needed, depending on your target weight.
After accomplishing your weight loss goal, you’d be advised to switch to just one meal replacement shake per day, 2 healthy meals, and 2 low-fat snacks. If followed diligently, the plan can help you lose anywhere around 1 lbs to 2lbs per week.
Such diets can be particularly effective in helping people not just lose weight, but keep it off for good.
The plan’s not very stringent and the availability of products eliminates the need for calorie counting and portion control.
You’re not forbidden from eating any particular foods, although it’s advisable to stay on fruits, vegetables, and lean protein diet.
Meal replacement diets don’t normally educate people about the need of changing their behavior patterns and eating habits.
You might put back the lost weight once you stop consuming their products.
It demands careful planning to get your fill of ‘5 a day’ fruits and vegetables.
5. Atkins Diet:
Short summary: The Atkins diet aims at converting your body into an efficient fat-burning furnace. The idea is to make your body use up fat for its energy needs, by starving it of carbohydrates.
The first phase of this diet is targeted at rapid weight loss, wherein you consume protein-rich foods, and put zero restrictions on fat intake. The daily carbohydrate allowance is kept limited at 20 gm to 25 gm.
The three phases thereafter involve gradual weight loss, with the help of regular exercise. During these phases, carbohydrates are slowly reintroduced to your daily diet, taking their consumption to a level that can be easily maintained for the rest of your life. You can expect to lose around 15 lbs during the first two weeks, and then 2 lbs to 3 lbs per week thereafter.
The instant weight loss during the first 2 weeks can be highly motivating. This diet plan also eliminates alcohol and processed carbohydrates from people’s diet. Men really love and sincerely follow this diet as it’s one of the few that allows you to have your fill of red meats, mayonnaise, cheese, cream, and butter!
As you limit the carbohydrates’ intake, you may experience initial side effects such as tiredness, constipation, nausea, insomnia, bad breath, dizziness and a dry mouth. The increased consumption of saturated fats may elevate the risk of heart diseases, and adding too much salt to the foods may elevate health concerns.
6. Dukan Diet:
Short summary: Another high-protein and low-carb diet, Dukan too doesn’t put any restrictions on your eating levels during its four phases, provided you strictly follow the rules of this diet plan.
The first phase of the diet involves nothing but lean proteins. You can choose from a list of 72 different protein-rich food items consisting of reasonably low fats, for instance, fat-free dairy, fish, eggs, turkey, and chicken. You continue eating such high-protein diet for the first 5 days to accomplish quick weight loss.
Barring a tiny amount of oat bran, carbohydrates are generally off the limits. How it differs from the Atkins diet is that there are serious restrictions on fat intake and vegetables during the first phase.
The following phases are about the gradual introduction of carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits, and eventually pretty much all of the food items. The idea is to help you manage your weight over the long-term, allowing you to lose at least 2 lbs per week.
It’s a very prescriptive and strict diet, which goes well with a certain section of weight-loss aspirants.
As in case of the Atkins diet, you lose weight very quickly during the first phase.
Furthermore, there’s no calorie counting or food weighing involved.
Apart from the mentioned requirements of high protein, low salt, and low-fat foods, you’re allowed to eat pretty much anything you like during the first 2 weeks.
It’s common to experience side-effects like nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, insomnia, tiredness and bad breath, because of low carb intake, during the initial phase of the diet.
The reduction in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may lead to problems like constipation too.
7. HMR Diet:
Short summary: Another meal replacement diet, Health Management Resources (HMR) diet helps you undergo weight loss and keep the lost weight off through regular reduction of calorie intake.
It incorporates consumption of fruits and vegetables and teaches healthy lifestyle strategies, wherein you must increase your daily physical activity and personal accountability.
The goal is to shed at least 1 lbs to 2 lbs of weight each week, and an overall average of at least 23 lbs during the initial 12 weeks’ time. Thereafter, you’re guided regularly to maintain your new weight.
As the entire focus is on meal replacement, it helps you reduce almost twice as much compared to the conventional diet plans.
You’d eat low-calorie fruits, vegetables, multigrain hot cereal, shakes and nutrition bars, as replacement of regular snacks and meals.
Specific food items would be prescribed during the first 3 weeks to help you drop weight in the quickest manner possible.
Thereafter, you’d gradually transition into a less-structured diet plan during the second phase. The weekly telephone coaching helps a great deal too.
Many people find the first phase of this diet very difficult stick to. It can be a little expensive, especially if you don’t buy good quantities of fruits and vegetables.
The cost of this diet program is another deterrent as you need to shell out $ 270 for the 3-week HMR starter kit, followed by $ 185 for the 2-week reorder kit.
#15 Days Diet - New and Effective Weight Loss Program:
15 Day Diet is an effective weight loss program that has become hugely popular in the recent times. It’s a new age lifestyle and diet focused weight loss program that can help you lose up to 15 lbs of unwanted body fat within 15 days.
It uses a multipronged approach wherein you are guided in all aspects including diet, workout, supplementation, and maintenance. You can go through a detailed review of 15 Day Diet Plan here.
Although successful long-term weight loss requires the best diet to lose weight, you cannot do without making permanent changes to your lifestyle. The only way you can maintain your weight, in the long run, is if you change your eating habits and increase your physical activity as well. Essentially, the idea is to adopt a weight loss approach that can be embraced for the rest of your life.