There is no "best" diet because every dieter is different and has a different lifestyle with different needs. The diet that will work best for you is the diet you can stick to. For some people, a do-it-yourself program is best. But others benefit from the structured approach of a commercial weight loss program. Ask yourself key questions about your lifestyle (do you cook? how much time do you have to shop for healthy food? what is your budget?) and then make a decision that fits your needs.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
Trying to lose weight is a lot like cleaning out the basement: It’s overwhelming and near impossible to know where to start—even when you don’t have a ton of weight to lose. But getting the body you’ve always wanted doesn’t have to be a source of stress. If the scale won’t budge and you’re looking to shed the last 10 pounds, there are plenty of ways to reach your goal. To help you get there, we spoke with a handful of celebs that have successfully slimmed down (and kept it off) and dozens of the fitness and diet industries top experts.
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.
If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent. One disclaimer: There are times when fat-free dairy isn’t the best option.
Speaking of intervals, high-intensity interval training (otherwise known as HIIT) has been shown to be incredibly effective for weight loss. Because the workouts are so intense, you don't need to put in an hour — or even 30 minutes — at the gym. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seven minutes is all you need to get in the best shape of your life.
“Eat vegetables before or with meals. Whether you are hungry on your way home or right when you walk in the door, snacking on veggies can help you keep your portions in check once you sit down to a meal. I also recommend starting your dinner with a vegetable salad or vegetable soup to fill you up and prevent overeating. — Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD, CDN, author of Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?
Stavrou, S., Nicolaides, N. C., Papageorgiou, I., Papadopoulou, P., Terzioglou, E., Chrousos, G. P., … Charmandari, E. (2016, July 31). The effectiveness of a stress-management intervention program in the management of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Molecular Biochemistry, 5(2), 63–70. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4996635/
In one recent study, the patients were randomized to a low carbohydrate breakfast (LCb) or an isocaloric diet with a high carbohydrate and protein breakfast (HCPb). In the weight maintenance period, the LCb group regained weight, but the HCPb group continued weight loss and they had lower craving score for sweet, high fat, carbohydrate or starch, and fast foods. Weight change had a positive relationship with the craving score. Table 2 contains the dietary composition changes that may affect weight loss maintenance.
“If I had to pick one food for weight loss, I would choose oatmeal. It’s a whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrate that sticks to your ribs, so it keeps you full and satisfied. Eating it also leads to a slow rise in blood sugar, which has been shown to keep insulin levels from spiking, leading to less fat storage. The key with oatmeal is how to make it so it’s not a calorie bomb. I recommend making it with nonfat milk in place of water, stirring in chopped raw nuts or natural nut butter, and topping with fresh or frozen fruits. If you need some added sweetness, a drizzle of maple syrup should do it. — Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, culinary-nutrition consultant and founder of Nutritioulicious
Both Weight Watchers and Noom provide lots of guidance. If you’re more of a self-starter — someone who just needs to be pointed in the right direction — The Mayo Clinic Diet provides pure resources. Picking up the entertaining, densely informative book is the only associated cost. You can also get the app for about half the cost of WW Mobile, but we didn’t find it as useful.
Identifying and resolving typical weight loss hurdles — like flagging enthusiasm — is something Noom excels at. The initial questions that set up your profile, match you with a coach, and place you with a group, all intend to diagnose your learning style and what flavor of support you need. What kicks you into high gear, tough love or words of affirmation? How do you like to show support? How do you feel about goal setting?
Next, you'll be asked about your goals. It's important to be realistic during this step. Your goal weight may be different than an ideal weight or a perfect weight. For example, you may want to weigh 120 pounds. But if you have struggled with your weight for most of your life and have never been lower than 150 pounds, then 120 may not be realistic at this time. Try to set a goal that you believe to be attainable. Once you reach your goal, you can always set a new one.
Weight Watchers, The Mayo Clinic Diet, and especially Noom provide a lot of behavior-based support to integrate these good habits. These include learning portions, logging food, and both giving and receiving external support. Nutrisystem doesn’t ask for any behavior changes save for subsisting almost entirely off their pre-packaged, pre-portioned meals.
Studies found that people who keep food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t. Watch out for weekends: A University of North Carolina study found people tend to consume an extra 115 calories per weekend day, primarily from alcohol and fat. Then cut out or down calories from spreads, dressings, sauces, condiments, drinks, and snacks; they could make the difference between weight gain and loss. Here are 50 easy ways to lose weight naturally.
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.