Accessibility to foods: Some diet plans ship foods straight to your door, while others require you to shop for very particular ingredients. There are also a range of price points, with some diets costing substantially more than others. Consider whether the food allowed on a particular diet will fit into your budget and be relatively easy to find at grocery stores.
Determine your weight loss goals. Recall that 1 pound (~0.45 kg) equates to approximately 3500 calories, and reducing daily caloric intake relative to estimated BMR by 500 calories per day will theoretically result in a loss of 1 pound a week. It is generally not advisable to lose more than 2 pounds per week as it can have negative health effects, i.e. try to target a maximum daily calorie reduction of approximately 1000 calories per day. Consulting your doctor and/or a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) is recommended in cases where you plan to lose more than 2 pounds per week.
Simply putting your focus on eating fewer calories than you burn is a losing strategy, because this oversimplified numerical approach treats all calories as equal — which they are not, says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, a Harvard Medical School professor and internationally respected obesity researcher. It’s not so much the quantity of calories we eat that drives weight gain and loss, he asserts, but rather the nature and quality of those calories.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
We pulled the top 14 of the best commercial diets (marketed to the public for profit) and the top 12 of the best diets overall. We also threw five of the most popular diet apps into the mix. Since these are largely tracking devices that don’t espouse unique eating habits, they don’t appear to meet US News’ definition of diet, but are still potentially effective weight loss tools.
OnlinePlus provides tracking as well as community through WW Mobile’s clean and sophisticated Connect news feed, and it costs you just under $36 a month. If you like the idea of getting together IRL, Meetings+OnlinePlus costs about $77 a month. Our tester found the meetings genuinely nice, if a little cheesy. And if you need extra help, there’s a Personal Coaching option for about $107 a month. At every level of membership, you have access to a live coach via Expert Chat.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
Protein is also important for preserving muscle mass as you lose weight. If you cut back dramatically on calories and drop weight too fast, your muscles can suffer. Your body starts pulling from lean tissue like muscles and organs to fuel itself, and your metabolism slows to conserve energy. That’s why super restrictive diets that have you dropping weight fast aren’t healthy over the long run.
“Before you begin to change your diet, spend a week recording everything you eat—and I mean everything. Before I made any changes to my diet, I journaled everything I ate each day for a week, including little things like gum or breath mints. If you have a piece of candy from your coworker’s desk, snag a few spoonfuls of your boyfriend’s ice cream, or finish the few bits of grilled cheese your kid left on her plate, write it down! It all adds up, and you just don’t realize how much you’re eating until you actually see it all on paper in front of you. I, for one, was stunned.” — Maria Menounos, author of The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness, on how she lost 40 pounds
The best diet for losing weight is Weight Watchers, according to the experts who rated the diets below for U.S. News. Volumetrics came in second, and Jenny Craig and the vegan diet were third on this overall weight loss ranking list, which takes into account short-term and long-term weight loss scores. Some other diets performed as well or better in our rankings for enabling fast weight loss, but long-term weight loss is more important for your health.
After you've settled into the workout routine, and the excitement of those first ten pounds has worn off, your challenge will be keeping yourself from plateauing. If you're getting bored with your exercise or feeling frustration that your body mass has hit a plateau, don't start skipping the gym. If anything, substitute the physical activity. Go to the park. Take a martial arts class. Spend an afternoon kayaking with your friends. Dance or play basketball. Working out doesn't have to be boring, and when you feel that fatigue, it's time to change things up a little. Plus, finding your exercise in an alternate venue will take your mind off losing and put you in the mood for some fun.
Keep in mind that a number on a scale won't give you the full picture. The scale does not discriminate between fat and muscle, nor will it tell you about the health of your heart or your increased endurance. If you are burning fat while gaining muscle, your weight may not change. Instead of giving up, consider non-weight-related goals, such as how many laps you can swim in one go.
Teaming up with other people who are also looking to lose weight may make individuals more likely to reach their weight loss goals. People can find weight loss support from friends, family, and online communities dedicated to healthful lifestyles. Studies have shown that simply receiving text message support can promote healthful behavior that can lead to lasting weight loss.
Green tea isn't known only for its cancer-fighting benefits: It may help boost your metabolism, too. People who took green-tea extract three times a day saw their metabolic rate increase by about 4 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Translation: You could burn an extra 60 calories a day, which equals about six pounds a year!) It may be because green tea contains catechins, which increase levels of the metabolism-speeding brain chemical norepinephrine, says Joy Bauer, a New York City nutritionist and author of Cooking with Joy.
You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes. If you eat a 1:1 ratio of grains to veggies, the high-fiber veggies will help satisfy your hunger before you overeat the grains. Bonus: Fiber is highly beneficial for preventing constipation, which can make you look bloated.
Choose a method to track your calories and progress towards your goals. In the likely case that you have a smart phone, there are many easy-to-use applications that facilitate tracking calories, exercise, and progress among other things. Many if not all of these have estimates for the calories in many brand name foods or dishes at restaurants and if not, can estimate calories based on amounts of individual components of foods. It can be difficult to get a good grasp on food proportions and the calories they contain – which is why counting calories (as well as any other approach) is not for everyone – but if you meticulously measure and track the number of calories in some of your typical meals, it quickly becomes easier to accurately estimate without having to actually measure or weigh your food each time. There are also websites that can help to do the same, but if you prefer, manually maintaining an excel spreadsheet or even a pen and paper journal are certainly viable alternatives.
Getting enough protein every day, whether you’re in a quick-fix or long-term mindset is important for keeping your muscles and metabolism healthy throughout weight loss. Make sure you’re having some chicken breast, lean ground turkey, fish, seafood or tempeh that’s the size of a deck of cards at every meal. When snacking, have 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of nuts, or 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to meet your protein needs and stay full and feel slim.
“(Users) could range from people with conditions such as elevated blood pressure to families looking to make healthier lunch choices for their kids at school,” said Huffman, who collaborated on FoodSwitch. “The app is designed to meet people where they are. … I understand that some people will still be eating (Froot Loops), so we’re trying to help people find alternatives closer to what their interested in.”
When the pounds start coming off, some people are tempted to increase their amount of gym time to accelerate their progress. Don't give in. As with your dietary changes, working out is a lifestyle change, and those don't happen in a week. While it is possible to increase the amount of time you spend at the gym, you don't want to do it all at once in such a way that you either get injured or burn yourself out & start to hate the gym.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. “Do what you like because it’s good for you,” Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.