A few years ago, after I clocked in at 275, it was clear that my weight was a major issue, and I needed to lose some pounds. So I started counting calories and kept to 1,500-1,800 a day (usually much closer to 1,500). Though counting calories drove me to an obsessive, unhappy state a few years before, I still did it, and I was doing OK this time around. In about six weeks time, I'd lost 10 pounds.
From celebrity-endorsed to science-backed, finding the best diet for your body and lifestyle can be an exercise in frustration—definitely not the kind of exercise you need right now! To make your search easier, we've pulled together the 10 most popular diets based on which ones have consistently ranked highest on the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, WebMD, and other current diet lists. Just know this: It's not about finding out which diet is the most popular overall but which one fits your goals and lifestyle the best. After all, the best diet for you is the one you can stick with (and enjoy)!
Americans are snacking more than ever, so making smart snacking choices are key to achieving your weight loss goals. Aim for snacks that satisfy by choosing foods that provide a mix of protein and fiber, stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping hunger at bay. An apple and almond butter, a plain yogurt with berries, or high-fiber crispbread crackers and hummus can all be smart snacking options. For example, two Wasa Flax Seed crispbread crackers combined with two tablespoons of hummus provide 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber for staying power. For an added boost, add a few teaspoons of hot sauce. Research shows spicy foods may help speed up metabolism and curb appetite.
Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
The caffeine content in Sambazon’s drink line comes from green tea and guaraná, a a native plant from Brazil with roughly twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds, and—bonus!—the ability to fight fat and lower cholesterol. A recent study found daily supplementation with guaraná could reduce LDL cholesterol levels in healthy adults by as much as 27 percent! And a second animal study published in Clinical Nutrition found guaraná extract supplementation could increase fat metabolism.
Life without bacon and cheese sounds harsh, but your hips will thank you. Vegan diets beat out semi-vegetarian, pescatarian (fish), and omnivorous (meat and plant foods) diets, according to recent research. In fact, after six months, dieters lost more than twice the weight compared to the other groups. But you can't nix all animal products and call it a day—quality matters. "I see it a lot: two vegans, one is really healthy and the other is really unhealthy," says Pamela Salzman, an LA-based cooking instructor and holistic health counselor. "You can eat potato chips all day and that's a vegan diet," she says. If you're going vegan, focus on those complex carbs, produce, healthy fats, and whole soy foods; skip processed junk, even if it's vegan.
I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. And — this is a big one — everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling aimed at reducing emotional eating.
Coolers may sound light and airy, but they are heavy on calories. A 12-ounce cooler containing wine can have 190 calories and 22 grams of carbs. The same size hard lemonade or bottled alcoholic "ice" can have as much as 315 calories. Regular wine is not exactly a diet drink, with 100 calories in a 5-ounce glass. A low-calorie alternative is a wine spritzer: Mix a dash of wine with some sparkling water.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
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If you like the taste of apple cider vinegar, then by all means, drink up! But if you are a normal human being who prefers not to chug pure acid, then you should know there's zero evidence that drinking the nasty stuff can actually help you drop pounds (or impart the laundry list of health benefits the Internet seems to associate with it, for that matter).
A commonly overlooked obstacle to eating better (and losing weight) is sleep. While sleep needs vary, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours a night. Unfortunately, two-thirds of people report experiencing sleep problems at least a few nights a week, with women more prone to sleep problems than men. A review study that looked at 36 studies on sleep and weight gain found short sleep duration was independently linked to weight gain. Studies show the fewer minutes you spend asleep, the more likely you are to feel hungrier and make poor food choices the next day. Make sure you’re getting enough Zzzzs to reap the rewards of your weight loss efforts.
Although fewer females than males are born (the ratio is around 1:1.05), because of a longer life expectancy there are only 81 men aged 60 or over for every 100 women of the same age. Women typically have a longer life expectancy than men. This is due to a combination of factors: genetics (redundant and varied genes present on sex chromosomes in women); sociology (such as the fact that women are not expected in most modern nations to perform military service); health-impacting choices (such as suicide or the use of cigarettes, and alcohol); the presence of the female hormone estrogen, which has a cardioprotective effect in premenopausal women; and the effect of high levels of androgens in men. Out of the total human population in 2015, there were 101.8 men for every 100 women.
Continuing weight loss may deteriorate into wasting, a vaguely defined condition called cachexia. Cachexia differs from starvation in part because it involves a systemic inflammatory response. It is associated with poorer outcomes. In the advanced stages of progressive disease, metabolism can change so that they lose weight even when they are getting what is normally regarded as adequate nutrition and the body cannot compensate. This leads to a condition called anorexia cachexia syndrome (ACS) and additional nutrition or supplementation is unlikely to help. Symptoms of weight loss from ACS include severe weight loss from muscle rather than body fat, loss of appetite and feeling full after eating small amounts, nausea, anemia, weakness and fatigue.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
How do you know if you’re getting enough water? A general rule is to check the toilet after you’ve gone to the bathroom. You’ll know you’re well-hydrated if your urine is clear or very light yellow in color. The darker your urine, the more water you need to drink, especially if weight loss is your goal. Try this Water Intake Calculator to see if you're staying hydrated enough for your weight loss goals!
This high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb fad diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body uses stored fat for energy. Research published in Clinical Cardiology suggests the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet can be an effective weight-loss method, but to be successful, you must follow the plan consistently with no cheat days — otherwise, you’re just eating a high-fat diet that may be high in unhealthy fats for no reason. (1)
Women's health refers to health issues specific to human female anatomy. There are some diseases that primarily affect women, such as lupus. Also, there are some sex-related illnesses that are found more frequently or exclusively in women, e.g., breast cancer, cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer. Women and men may have different symptoms of an illness and may also respond to medical treatment differently. This area of medical research is studied by gender-based medicine.
Similar to the CICO diet, the Body Reset has gained popularity via social media, and there isn’t any definitive research that suggests the approach is safe and effective. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak created the plan, which is essentially a three-phase liquid diet comprised of smoothies and moderate exercise. While U.S. News notes you may lose weight on the diet, it may be tough to stick with, and isn’t safe for people with diabetes and heart disease. (38)
Yet there is value in having a variety of diets to choose from, and in tailoring eating plans to help people with specific health concerns — such as diabetes or obesity — manage their conditions, says Andrea Giancoli, a California-based registered dietitian who, along with Katz, consulted on U.S. News & World Report‘s annual ranking of best diets this year. Comparing diets in this way may help steer people away from ineffective or unsustainable fads, Giancoli says.
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The best low-cal diet plan isn't a diet so much as it is a method. CICO stands for "calories in, calories out" and is based on the mathematically sensible principle that as long as you're burning more calories than you're eating, you'll lose weight. All you need to get started is a way to track your calories—there are plenty of apps on the market although a pen and paper works great too—and a food scale to keep you honest about your portion sizes. (Also read this guide on how to safely cut calories to lose weight.) People love the simplicity and straightforwardness of the plan. And while it may not be the fastest way to lose weight, you're guaranteed to have success long term. (Just know that some weight-loss experts actually don't recommend calorie counting.)
Though Katz also says it isn’t nearly enough. "That doesn't help you pick the most nutritious bread, or the best pasta sauce. A member of the foodie elite might say you shouldn't eat anything from a bag, box, bottle, jar, or can." That's admittedly impractical. "We do need to look at all the details that populate the space between where we are and where we want to be."