Weight Loss Plans


    There are many weight loss programs available, making it easy to find something that can work for you. When picking a diet, look for a program that’s realistic, sustainable, and backed by research.

    Best overall

    1. Mediterranean Diet

    The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating patterns of countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece.

    A well-rounded Mediterranean diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, proteins, and healthy fats.

    Meanwhile, added sugars and foods that have been heavily processed or refined are restricted.

    Although the diet isn’t specifically designed for weight loss, many studies have demonstrated that following the Mediterranean Diet could lead to weight loss.

    For example, one analysis of 16 studies showed that those who paired the Mediterranean diet with physical activity and calorie restriction lost significantly more weight than those in a control group.

    Plus, other research suggests that the Mediterranean Diet may help prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    For an easy resource to help get you started on the Mediterranean diet, check out “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook,” which features a variety of delicious recipes and in-depth information about the diet.

    2. Plant-based Diet

    Plant-based diets encourage you to eat foods from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, and legumes.

    Unlike vegan or vegetarian diets, most plant-based diets don’t eliminate meat or animal products entirely. However, these foods are only enjoyed in moderation and not generally considered to be the main focus of the diet.

    Plant-based diets are particularly rich in fiber — the parts of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are resistant to digestion. Fiber helps keep you full between meals to promote weight loss.

    According to one review of 12 studies, people who followed a plant-based vegetarian diet lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than those who followed a non-vegetarian diet over 18 weeks.

    Another review of 32 studies found that plant-based diets were more effective for weight loss, compared with conventional diets, and even led to greater improvements in blood sugar control, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.

    Best for Diabetes

    3. Carb-restricted Diet

    Carb-restricted diets are often recommended to help support blood sugar control and increase weight loss among those with type 2 diabetes.

    There are many types of carb-restricted diets, but most of them involve limiting the consumption of foods that are high in sugar or carbs, such as desserts, candy, bread, and pasta.

    Although some carb-restricted diets, such as the Atkins or ketogenic diet, also require significantly reducing your carb consumption to 20–50 grams per day, low carb diets are defined as any diet comprising less than 130 grams of carbs per day.

    One study in 49 people with type 2 diabetes found that a low carb diet was more effective at improving blood sugar levels than a low fat diet. What’s more, it led to reductions in cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) after 3 months.

    Another study in 124 people with type 2 diabetes found that following a low carb, high fat diet was linked to improved blood sugar control and increased weight loss, compared with a control group.

    4. Mayo Clinic Diet

    The Mayo Clinic diet is an eating plan originally developed by experts at the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit hospital system that’s considered to be a leader in medical research.

    The Mayo Clinic diet is focused on developing healthy habits like eating breakfast every day, exercising daily, and keeping a food journal.

    It also promotes nutritious ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, while limiting added sugars and saturated fat from full fat dairy and high fat meats.

    Although there aren’t any peer-reviewed studies on the Mayo Clinic diet specifically, studies show that following a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat may aid weight loss and blood sugar control.

    Other research suggests that reducing your intake of saturated fat or added sugars may also enhance your body’s ability to use insulin, the hormone that’s responsible for carrying sugar from your bloodstream into your cells.

    Best for PCOS

    5. Low Carb Diet

    Low carb diets involve restricting your intake of carbs, including high carb foods like bread, pasta, and sweets.

    Some research suggests that reduced sensitivity to insulin may play a role in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

    As such, low carb diets are often recommended to improve insulin sensitivity and help manage symptoms of PCOS.

    One review of eight studies showed that following a low carb diet could help increase weight loss and improve hormone levels in women with PCOS.

    What’s more, another review of seven studies showed that low carb diets could help balance hormones and improve fertility in women with PCOS.

    6. Anti-inflammatory Diet

    Anti-inflammatory diets emphasize foods rich in nutrients that have been shown to fight inflammation, including antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.

    These diets are rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. They also typically limit processed products, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

    Studies show that increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts may be beneficial for weight loss.

    In addition to promoting weight loss, following an anti-inflammatory diet may help alleviate symptoms of PCOS.

    In fact, high levels of inflammation are thought to contribute to symptoms of PCOS and may be associated with increased levels of androgens, or male sex hormones.

    One study in 100 women with PCOS found that pairing a calorie-restricted, anti-inflammatory diet with regular physical activity for 12 weeks significantly increased weight loss and improved hormone levels, menstrual cycle regularity, blood sugar control, and fertility.

    Best for Heart Health

    7. DASH Diet

    The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan intended to promote weight loss, reduce blood pressure levels, and protect against heart disease.

    The diet promotes nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

    Meanwhile, red meat and foods high in added sugar, salt, or fat are limited.

    According to one review of 13 studies, participants who followed the DASH diet lost more weight and belly fat than those following other calorie-restricted diets for 8–24 weeks.

    The DASH diet has likewise been shown to decrease levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

    8. TLC Diet

    The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is a plan developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program to support healthy cholesterol levels.

    On the TLC diet, foods high in fat and dietary cholesterol are limited, while foods high in soluble fiber — a type of fiber that dissolves in water — are encouraged.

    The diet also recommends aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.

    Increasing your intake of soluble fiber and adding more physical activity into your routine are two common strategies for promoting weight loss.

    Plus, several older studies have even found that the TLC diet can decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and enhance immune function.

    Best for Vegetarians

    9. Ornish Diet

    The Ornish Diet is a low fat, plant-based eating pattern that promotes nutritious ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

    While weight control is not the primary goal of the Ornish Diet, multiple studies have found that it may be effective for long-term weight loss.

    For example, one study in 311 women showed that participants who followed the Ornish Diet for 12 months lost an average of 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

    Another small study found that the Ornish Diet was more effective for weight loss than other popular diet plans like Atkins and the ZONE Diet, resulting in 7.5 pounds (3.3 kg) of weight loss after 1 year.

    Keep in mind that the Ornish Diet restricts fat intake quite a bit and limits the consumption of several healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and oils. Thus, careful planning is necessary to ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs while following the Ornish Diet.

    (sources: cnet.com, healthline.com)

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