Losing weight can be hard, especially if you’re not used to it. That is why a lot of people turn to a dietary menu for weight loss. There are so many different menus that it can be overwhelming though. Some menus focus on only one thing at a time while other menus focus on multiple things. If you want to lose weight and are looking for a diet menu I suggest picking one that covers multiple aspects of your life, weight loss and diet related issues included.
How to Pick the Best Diet Plan for You
Before choosing a health or weight loss approach, it’s important to do some self-evaluation by asking yourself some questions.
What Can You Live With in the Long Term?
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
If the diet is a quick fix rather than one that promotes lasting lifestyle changes, this could pose a problem. In particular, extreme diets that promise big weight loss up front aren’t always sustainable — and you may end up overeating or even binge eating if you feel deprived. “Consider if the diet’s habits are ones you can continue throughout your lifetime, not just 21 or 30 days,” says Angie Asche, RD, a sports dietitian in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Which Diet Program Is Best for Your Overall Health?
Some diet plans, such as the MIND diet and the DASH diet, are meant to focus on certain areas of health — and weight loss may be a bonus. Others are created with weight loss as a primary goal. “It is important to remember that we are all very unique individuals,” says Kyle. “We all have different states of health and different lifestyles, which could affect what diet plan is best for us. That means that you should not be considering what is working for your friends or family members — and instead should pay attention to what works for you individually.”
Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Is the Diet Approach Safe for You to Follow?
Make sure that the diet has been studied extensively for safety — and discuss any changes with your physician or registered dietitian before beginning a new diet. (If you don’t have a dietitian, find one in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.) And do a self-check to ensure the diet fits with your own values and preferences.
“Don’t like eating meat?” asks Ginger Hultin, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Seattle and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then don’t be paleo! Travel a lot and rely on eating out? The DASH diet may end in frustration for you.” The bottom line: The diet you choose needs to be safe and effective, while taking into account your lifestyle.
To lessen the confusion and get on the fast track to success, we got the skinny on some of the most popular diets out there today. So read on to see which plan might be best for you — and which diets to run away from at full speed!
Top Diet Plans That Are Actually Worth Trying
Fun fact: As soon as January rolls around, women are bombarded on the TV or Internet with diet messages every three seconds. In January last year, the word “diet” was used nearly 870,000 times across social media channels, according to an audit performed by Lean Cuisine. That’s a lot.
Thirty-eight percent of people have health and weight loss goals in January and they’re ready to try something new — so long as it works. But there’s one key thing to remember: There is no one-diet-fits-all plan (though that would make things easy). You have to find one that fits your lifestyle so you actually stick to it. With that in mind, here are the top diet plans that actually get results. All you have to do is pick one…and grab a fork.
Whole30 is super popular, and if you’ve been having digestive issues, it’s an especially good one to try. Because you mostly only eat veggies and protein for 30 days — and cut out common problem foods like alcohol, sugar, dairy, and some nuts — you can figure out what you body likes (and doesn’t!) as you slowly introduce them back into your diet.
The macrobiotic style of eating has roots in Japan, but it’s becoming popular around the world for a good reason: The primarily plant-based diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and small amounts of fish could help ward off everything from heart disease and diabetes to cancer — mostly because you’re not eating sugar, processed food, or a ton of animal products.
The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet isn’t just touted as a way to help you lose weight; research has also shown that it may be an effective tool for keeping your mental health in check. Laboratory rats fed ketogenic diets — which consist of lots of fish, natural fats, plenty of vegetables, and very few starchy, high-carbohydrate foods — showed improvements in their depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
The concept behind this diet is pretty simple: ditch all processed foods for bites that come just as nature made them. Proponents of the plan dig in to foods like wild salmon, fresh veggies, local eggs and, of course, chocolate (because what is life without chocolate?). Abel James is the creator of these nutrition guidelines, and he promises that if you avoid artificial ingredients you’ll be able to “feast all day, yet stay lean and healthy.”
Tacos all day every day? Yes please. The Taco Cleanse promises weight loss from eating one of your favorite foods exclusively, and you can actually get a decent amount of nutritional variety because, well, you can put anything in a taco. It’s only supposed to last for 30 days — though going at it for only a week is cool, too — and that’s why this diet can help you hit a reset button (you shouldn’t be using it as a full-time nutrition plan.) Plus, a lot of the recipes are actually vegan, so you’ll typically be reaching for healthy ingredients over processed ones.
This plan isn’t a new one: the Dissociated Diet was invented in 1911, but thanks to the popularity of “food science,” (aka really looking at how different foods play with others), it’s seen a resurgence. If you follow it, the main rule is not to combine acidic foods (think meats, fish, dairy) with alkaline ones (legumes, vegetables, nuts). Why? It’s said to be easier on your digestive system, which in turn helps boost weight loss results (though, to be honest, the science behind this is controversial). Of course, you’ll also load up on plenty of fruits and veggies, and since those are a part of any healthy diet, that certainly plays a role in any success you’ll see.
It’s a diet that’s been long heralded and has churned out many a success story. The focus is on SmartPoints—or points assigned to foods based on calories, saturated fat, protein, and sugar—which you add up to reach your daily allotment (fruits and veggies are free). And you know what: it works! One study analyzed the effectiveness of a variety of diets, and declared Weight Watchers to be such a great option for keeping weight off long-term that docs should prescribe it to their patients. And the U.S. News & World Report deemed it the best weight-loss diet. The secret sauce to their success? The support of Weight Watchers meetings and accountability at weigh-ins, keeping you motivated to reach your goals.
The French and Italians have something right: fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, fish, and lots of olive oil is a tasty—and slimming—way of noshing. Oh, and wine. Did we forget to mention wine? In a meta-analysis on 16 studies, researchers realized the plan helped dieters lose an average of 8.5 pounds. But it’s not magic—you have to cut calories, exercise, and stick with it for more than six months for the best results, the research found. So if you’re going to go for it, put away the entire bottle of vino and pour yourself a sensible glass instead.
“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” emphasizes fruits and veggies and slashes sodium, fat, and saturated fat. Cutting sodium can help minimize bloat, and eating more low-calorie, high-fiber foods is a bright idea for any woman who needs to fit into her skinny jeans. More than that, it’s a heart-healthy way of eating that can keep blood pressure in check. So you’ll feel good, too.
Take two high-powered diets—Mediterranean and DASH—and combine them for brain-boosting power. That’s the idea behind MIND, a plan designed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by focusing on foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and (hooray!) wine. That’s why U.S. News & World Report just ranked MIND as the second best diet overall (tied with the TLC diet). They note that early research found MIND reduced Alzheimer’s risk by as much as 53 percent.
Weight Loss Tips For This Simple Meal Plan
Here are (truly) simple tips that can make a BIG difference.
1. Track What You’re Eating
Tracking what you are eating can actually be an incredibly helpful tool. It does NOT have to be something you do forever – even tracking for a few days can be an eye-opening experience. As you keep a journal of what you are eating, you will notice where most of your calories are coming from. This way, you can see what is really worth it to you.
If pen and paper is not your style, use an app. I like the app Lose It (versus My Fitness Pal) because there are fewer foods, i.e. less confusion when you are trying to pick a chicken.
How do you determine the correct calorie amount for you? I honestly have found that app algorithms and calculations based on your height, weight and gender are pretty inaccurate – because they do not take into account your metabolism!
This is where tracking your meals becomes really helpful. I recommend keeping track of what you are eating normally for 3-5 days (without restriction!) and then subtracting 100-250 calories from that average. This way, your new calorie goal will suit your metabolism, and will be doable for the long term (it does not make any sense to follow a 1200 calorie per day diet only to go back to your “normal” way of eating later on, and gain the weight back, right?)
2. Reduce Starchy Carbohydrates
Please note I did not say “eliminate,” just reduce! I do not believe that deprivation helps your overall goals.
Reducing total carbohydrates in the diet is significantly proven to:
- reduce your appetite
- cause faster weight loss when compared to high carb diets
- boost your metabolism while losing weight if eating adequate protein
What are starchy carbohydrates? Starches include grains like bread, rice, pasta, and quinoa, and they also include starchy vegetables like beans, peas, corn, and potatoes.
Starch serving sizes are generally 120 calories and equal to a slice of thicker bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or beans, or 1 cup of starchy vegetables like corn.
The best way to lower your starch content is to make substitutions that feel equal. A medium russet potato contains approximately 30 grams of starch. A medium sweet potato contains only about 8 grams. When you make that switch, you still get to have a potato with your meal.
Eat your veggie burger wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. Then you are still getting a favorite lunch with only a small tweak to better suit your goals.
When you start tracking your calories, pay attention to how many servings of starches you are eating. Can you eat 1 or 2 fewer servings without feeling deprived? Can you swap something out for a less starchy option and still enjoy your favorite dinner?
3. Add Non-starchy Vegetables for Volume
This is really the best trick! Carbohydrates are primarily found in both starches (listed above) and non-starchy vegetables, but you can get so much more bang for your buck (both financially and in calorie count) by filling up on the veggies.
For example, would you prefer to eat 1/2 cup of rice, or 3 cups of cauliflower rice?
Making these small substitutions will help you feel full longer. You won’t end up running back for another snack an hour after dinner.