Best Diets for Weight Loss
There are many different diets and diet plans people can use to lose weight. However, a diet plan that’s perfect for one person may be totally unsuitable for the next.
This being so, it’s not just a case of finding the best diet plan. It’s simply a case of discovering which one is the right one for you.
Most diets work – the reason why they fail in a lot cases is down to user error. Perhaps the easiest concept to follow is the CICO diet (calories in versus calories out)
For the purposes of this article, I’ve gathered 10 popular diet plans and provided some of the pros and cons.
Hopefully, the list will help you to find the most effective one for you.
1. The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic or “keto diet” is big news these days. Lots of people love it. In fact, the keto diet is becoming one of the trendiest ways to lose weight.
We have gone into great detail about the keto diet – Read the Ultimate Keto Diet Guide
The Keto diet focuses on foods that are low in carbohydrate. The chosen foods also have to be high in healthy fats. Protein consumption has to be moderate.
If you decide to do the Keto Diet, you will need to ensure only 5-10% of your calorie intake comes from carbohydrate.
Because carbohydrate consumption is so limited, the body becomes short of glucose. This forces the body into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. Because the body does not have enough glucose, it uses its stores of fat for energy instead. This causes a build of acids in the body. These acids are called ketones, hence the name of the diet.
Apart from encouraging weight loss, the ketogenic diet can benefit the health in other ways. The Keto Diet may lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
A number of big-name celebrities admit they favour the Ketone diet. This is probably one of the main reasons the diet is so popular.
The actress Halle Berry has been following the keto diet for many years. And it’s not just to keep looking good.
Berry has type 2 diabetes and has done since she was 19-years-old. She says the diet helps keep the condition under control.
The actress also believes the ketonic diet boosts her mental and physical performance.
Despite its popularity, the keto diet is not without its downfalls. Strict calorie counting is not needed, but it can be hard to maintain the correct balance of carbohydrate. If you cannot do this, you will not remain is a state of ketosis.
2. The TLC Diet
The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet is a heart-healthy diet. It’s designed to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Opting for this diet means changing the types of fat you eat and reducing your fat intake overall. If you decide to do the TLC diet you will also need to eat fewer foods that contain cholesterol.
With the TLC diet, it’s important that no more than 25% to 30% of your calories come from fat.
Unsaturated fat is best. Peanut butter is a good choice. As is olive oil and corn oils (for cooking).
Less than 7% of the calories you consume should come from saturated fats, such as those found in butter and fatty meat.
TLC dieters need to be careful with egg yolks, shellfish, and poultry. These foods contain cholesterol and, with the TLC Diet, it’s important not to consume more than 200mg of cholesterol per day.
Trans fat is also a big no-no. This type of fat is often present in cream crackers, cookies, potato chips, and corn snacks.
Practitioners of this diet need to try and eat two to four servings of fruit per day. They also need to consume three to five servings of vegetables every day.
It’s also important to get at least six servings of cereals and grains per day, but no more than five ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish.
Half a cup of peas or cooked beans is a good substitute for two ounces of meat.
As you will probably appreciate, the TLC Diet is a very healthy diet plan to follow. It’s one of the few diet plans that’s endorsed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
3. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is often said to be one of the worlds healthiest diets and it should never be boring.
It consists of legumes, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and olive oil. Accepted sources of protein include fish and skinless poultry in preference to red meat.
Red wine is also permitted, in moderate amounts. The Mediterranean Diet plan is based on the foods that are abundant in the Mediterranean area.
Although the Mediterranean Diet is respected for its ability to encourage weight loss, it offers other advantages too.
A diet that consists of mainly of foods that are abundant in the Mediterranean area appears to improve blood glucose control. This is good because it may help prevent the blood sugar crashes that trigger cravings for sweet food.
The Mediterranean Diet is also believed to be good for reducing inflammation and controlling depression.
In some ways, the Mediterranean Diet plan is a lot easier to follow than many other options. There is no need for major lifestyle changes. It’s just a case switching to foods that are common to the Mediterranean area.
If you normally cook with corn oil, or some other type of oil or fat, switch to olive oil. It’s a good salad dressing as well and may help encourage healthy cholesterol levels.
Instead of allowing meat to be your go-to source of protein, switch to fish. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are good options. Apart from being a good source of protein, they are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Adding extra fruit and vegetables to the diet is also a good way to move forward. As is filling up on more chickpeas, quinoa, and other whole grains.
Nuts are also acceptable because they make a tasty, healthy snack. Go easy though. Nuts are high in fat and calories.
4. The Paleo Diet
This diet is also known as the caveman diet and the Ancestor diet.
The diet is based on the eating patterns adopted by humans during the Paleolithic period. The idea of eating like a caveman comes from a book called Diet Cults (1975). A gastroenterologist wrote it. His name was Matt Fitzgerald.
Ten years later Melvin Konner and Stanley Boyd Eaton further developed the idea. Their paper on paleolithic nutrition is now considered one of the main foundations for the diet.
However, the diet gained extra credibility when Oren Cordain, PhD conducted studies into the benefits of the Paleo diet and then published the results.
Cordain believes eating like a caveman does more than help people to lose weight. He states it also reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The Paleo diet is not complicated. If you decide to try and lose weight with this caveman-type diet plan you only need to avoid eating food that was not available during the Paleolithic period.
Putting things on the most basic level, it’s just a diet that’s high in fiber and protein.
A typical caveman diet consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts meat, and fish. Eggs are permissible as well. So are natural oils, such as coconut oil and olive oil.
On the Paleo Diet, processed food is forbidden. This type of food was unheard of during the Paleolithic period. Modern-day nutritionists also state eating processed food is not good for the health.
If you choose to lose weight with the Paleo Diet, you are unlikely to have a problem with hunger. Foods that are high in protein and fiber are very good for filling the stomach.
5. The Atkins Diet
Like the Keto Diet, the Atkins Diet is a low carb diet. It’s the creation of Dr. Robert C. Atkins, who wrote a best-selling book about it in 1972.
This diet has its lovers and its haters. Many people swear by it, others state it’s not healthy.
However, research shows this type of low carbohydrate diet helps balance blood sugar levels and encourages weight loss. It may also help lower cholesterol levels.
Unlike the Keto Diet, the Atkins Diet involves a 4-phase plan.
During the first phase (induction), practitioners of the Atkins Diet switch to a diet that is high in fat and protein.
They may not eat more than 20g of carbohydrate per day. Leafy greens and other low carb vegetables are the best options. The first phase lasts two weeks and kick-starts the process of weight loss.
During the second phase of the Atkins Diet (balancing) more low carb vegetables are introduced, as are nuts and fruit.
Atkins dieters move into the third phase (fine tuning) when they are close to their target weight. During this phase, weight loss is slowed by the introduction of more carbs.
During the fourth stage of the Atkins Diet (maintenance), it’s permissible to eat as much healthy carbohydrate as the body can take without starting to gain weight.
Due to the way the diet works, it may be permissible to bacon, cheese, and heavy cream. These types of food are normally diet killers. Because the Atkins Diet is so low in carbs the body should use the extra fat for energy, but discretion will be necessary.
6. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers different fasting techniques.
Diets of this type can be very attractive because they are simpler than other types of diet. The fact that many celebrities, including Beyonce Knowles, allegedly practice intermittent fasting only goes to add to their appeal.
No matter which method you use, intermittent fasting involves periods of eating in a normal way followed by extended periods of fasting (usually 16-48 hours).
Some people practice alternate-day fasting. This may involve eating normally for 12 hours and then fasting for 36 hours. Others eat for 24 hours and then fast for 24 hours.
Random meal skipping is a less restrictive form of intermittent fasting because the belly does not remain empty for too long. Dieters just pick a meal to skip and then do so once or twice each week.
In some ways, Random Meal Skipping is similar to the Paleo Diet because the system works best if you avoid processed food.
Eat-Stop-Eat diets are also very popular. The 5:2 Diet is a good example. People who follow this type of intermittent fasting diet plan fast for two non-consecutive days per week. They then eat normally for the remaining days of the week.
Despite the fact that this type of diet can be very hard on the body, it does have its merits. Intermittent Fasting appears to boost the metabolism, increase human growth hormone, and may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Research suggests intermittent fasting also works for weight loss, but it’s generally accepted further study is needed.
Potential practitioners of this type of diet also need to be aware of the negative aspects. This can include dehydration, lethargy, constipation, and anxiety.
7. The Cabbage Soup Diet
Fans of the Cabbage Soup Diet claim it can help you to drop over 10 pounds in a week. That’s a lot of weight to lose. In fact, most experts would say dropping so much weight so fast is inadvisable.
However, if you follow the Cabbage Soup Diet, it’s likely that you will only consume around 1000 calories per day.
The average woman needs 2000 calories per day. A man is likely to require 1500 calories more. Make no mistakes about it, this is a crash diet.
There’s a problem with crash diets. Although they can be good for delivering weight loss in the short term, weight that is lost so fast often returns fast as well.
Crash diets are also known to be bad for the health.
If you are thinking of doing this diet you also need to be aware it’s likely to rob the body of nutrients. The Cabbage Soup Diet is not safe to do for any longer than a week.
As the name suggests, if you do this diet you will be primarily living on cabbage soup. You eat it two to three times per day.
Certain specific foods are also allocated for each day.
On the first day, dieters can eat a little fruit, but not bananas. One the second day it’s permissible to eat non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens.
You can eat fruit and vegetables on day three. Day four is a day for bananas and skimmed milk.
On day five you may eat a little beef, or skinless baked chicken, with a tomato. Day six is beef and vegetables. Brown rice and fruit juices are permissible on the final day of the diet.
8. The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet is a diet created by the dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner. It’s intended to help people to enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian diet while still eating animal products to a lesser extent.
Nothing is written in stone with this diet. There are no rules or recommendations about how many calories you can eat per day.
This lack of guidelines is in keeping with the name of the diet. “Flexitarian” is a combination of the words “Flexible” and “Vegetarian”.
However, people following a Flexitarian Diet are expected to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Although a little meat is allowed from time to time, dieters should try and get most of their protein from plant-based sources. As with the Paleo Diet, processed food is avoided.
Although this semi-vegetarian diet is unlikely to appeal to all, it does have its merits.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. They also provide fiber that can help fill the stomach and prevent hunger urges.
A number of studies also show the diet offers value in several areas. Apart from weight loss, other benefits may include, improved markers of metabolic health, reduction in blood pressure, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study results also show the Flexitarian Diet may ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
There’s a lot to be said for eating more fruits and vegetables. Health experts recommend eating at least five portions a day, but many people fail to do so.
Switching to a diet that has less meat may also help the environment.
A review of the research on the sustainability of plant-based diets suggests making the switch to a Flexitarian diet may decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 7%.
9. The Dash Diet
The Dash Diet involves a flexible heart-healthy eating plan that does not have any unusual food choices. People who do the Dash Diet aim for daily and weekly nutritional goals instead.
As with many of the better diet plans, the Dash Diet is built around the idea of healthy eating.
Fruit and vegetables are an important part of the Dash Diet, as are whole grains. Fat-free/low-fat dairy products are allowed. Poultry, fish, nuts, beans, and healthy vegetable oils are permissible as well.
Food that is high in fat or sugar is only allowed in limited amounts.
The Dash Diet Plan is a little different to other diet plans because sodium intake is decreased to 1500-2300mg per day.
According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, the Dash Diet can control high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. The Institute also stresses the importance of using the diet alongside a healthy lifestyle.
For the purposed of one six-month trial, involving 810 volunteers, the participants were put into one of three groups. Each group participated in a different program to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve the health.
After six months, all three groups showed a reduction in blood pressure. However, the group that followed the Dash Diet plan and received counseling showed the greatest reduction in blood pressure.
The study results also suggest people can lose weight and lower their blood pressure by using the DASH diet plan and increasing levels of physical activity.
10. The High Protein Diet
Bodybuilders often favour a high-protein diet and that’s not surprising. Protein provides the amino acids that are the building blocks needed for quality muscle tissue.
However, bodybuilders are not the only ones who need a sufficient supply of protein every day. It’s an incredibly important nutrient that’s necessary for good health.
There’s also an increasing amount of evidence to suggests a diet that is high in protein can support weight loss.
Foods that are high in protein are often very filling so eating them can prevent hunger pangs and the temptation to overeat. Many studies show people eating high protein diets burn extra calories. The benefits often continue for several hours after eating.
The results of one study involving 10 healthy women suggest consuming a high-protein diet for one day may increase metabolic activity after meals nearly twice as much as a high-carb diet.
If you want to lose weight by using a high protein diet, it’s best to obtain it from a mixture of animal and plant sources.
It also makes sense to opt for high-quality protein options. Processed meats are best avoided in favour of lean meats, eggs, and dairy products.
It’s also important not to focus solely on protein. A balanced diet is important. The vitamins and minerals provided by other food types also have a role to play in good health.