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.
Low-calorie diets are also referred to as balanced percentage diets. Due to their minimal detrimental effects, these types of diets are most commonly recommended by nutritionists. In addition to restricting calorie intake, a balanced diet also regulates macronutrient consumption. From the total number of allotted daily calories, it is recommended that 55% should come from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 30% from fats with no more than 10% of total fat coming from saturated forms. For instance, a recommended 1,200 calorie diet would supply about 660 calories from carbohydrates, 180 from protein, and 360 from fat. Some studies suggest that increased consumption of protein can help ease hunger pangs associated with reduced caloric intake by increasing the feeling of satiety. Calorie restriction in this way has many long-term benefits. After reaching the desired body weight, the calories consumed per day may be increased gradually, without exceeding 2,000 net (i.e. derived by subtracting calories burned by physical activity from calories consumed). Combined with increased physical activity, low-calorie diets are thought to be most effective long-term, unlike crash diets, which can achieve short-term results, at best. Physical activity could greatly enhance the efficiency of a diet. The healthiest weight loss regimen, therefore, is one that consists of a balanced diet and moderate physical activity.
How does a calorie counter work? After you input data, it uses a formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation to calculate your resting metabolic rate. That's the number of calories your body needs to function when it is at rest. Then, based on your personalized lifestyle information, the calculator adds the number of calories you need to fuel your body for daily activity. Finally, it either adds calories to gain weight or subtracts calories to help you lose weight.
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
“For busy people, [planning ahead] is the most efficient way to get done what you need to get done — whether it’s your job, your workout, meal planning ... It’s not easy and we have so many things going on. Putting things down on paper clears your brain. Now you don’t have everything in your head; it frees up the space to focus on what you need to do. “
In other words? “Drinking makes you more likely to eat sh*t,” Dr. Seltzer says, referring to drunk foods. At the same time, he stops short of asking patients to quit alcohol cold-turkey to lose weight. Plus, research suggests you don’t have to, as long as your intake is moderate—i.e., less than about a drink a day. “If you drink a glass of wine every night and notice you eat more afterward, eat less early to account for this,” he says. “Or, if you’re drinking four glasses of wine a week, drink three instead so you’ll won’t feel such a big difference.”
“Oolong, or ‘black dragon,’ is a kind of Chinese tea that’s packed with catechins, nutrients that help promote weight loss by boosting your body’s ability to metabolize fat. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost a pound a week, without doing anything else to change their diet or exercise habits.” — Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse
If you’re logging just a few hours of sleep a night, you may actually find yourself gaining weight. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that subjects who slept just four hours had a harder time processing carbs. "When you're exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which includes burning calories efficiently," says Talbott.
Giancoli also recommends finding a diet that fits in with how you really live. She notes that if you enjoy going out to eat but try to commit to a diet that forbids you from ever going to a restaurant, you’re just going to cheat. “It’s not sustainable… You’re most likely going to have a healthier meal if you’re going to cook yourself, but you’re depriving yourself of that social interaction if you never go out.” To put it another way: Your eating practices shouldn’t isolate you or keep you from having fun.
Another product intended for weightloss is powdered beverage formulas or shakes- often mixed with a glass of milk and substituted for one or more meals. Those who consume these beverages may lose weight initially, though it is usually regained once the beverages are discontinued. By relying on shakes instead of whole foods, dieters follow artificial dieting methods and avoid learning how to incorporate healthy food choices into their lives.
One breakfast staple you should probably avoid is orange juice. Most store brands contain a considerable amount of sugar. The same goes for all juices, so if juice is your drink of choice in the morning, have water instead. If you're dead-set on juice, your best bet is to squeeze it yourself, but even that doesn't have the same health benefits as eating whole fruit. When craving the taste of oranges, go for the real thing: peel one and eat the segments whole.
The customized support and abundant resources come at a price. This varies based on the intensity of your weight loss goals; we paid $60 per month. (We made an account before purchasing and received a 50% off offer by email to incentivize our membership. Tease them in the same way and see if you get the same deal.) If you want to get a look at all these perks before you purchase, you can try Noom free for 14 days.
Commercial weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem and Diet Center, usually offer a 1,000 to 1,500 calorie diet and individual or group counseling. Though many individuals find long-term success with these programs, some participants still struggle with healthy weight-maintenance. In the past, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought action against some of these companies, challenging their weight loss and maintenance claims.
… that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead, especially if you show signs you’re eating too much sugar. Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. Also, avoid partially hydrogenated foods, and look for more than two grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products. Finally, a short ingredient list means fewer flavor enhancers and empty calories. Sounds impossible, but you can actually learn how to give up sugar without missing it.
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/
“A study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate foods high in monounsaturated fats for lunch (in this case, half an avocado) reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Monounsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, nuts and avocados can reduce cholesterol, promote weight loss, even boost memory.” — David Zinczenko, author of the Zero Belly Cookbook
It can be difficult to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle if you don't have adequate social support. Some weight loss programs offer in-person support group meetings, others offer one-on-one counseling via telephone or text messaging and still others use online message boards or forums to connect you with others using the plan. Corresponding with like-minded people can make your fat-loss journey easier and more productive, but what level of accountability and interaction do you want or need?
Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.
Choose your splurges. Sometimes you’ll be faced with indulgent foods in the moment, say, at a family event or social get-together. Strive to differentiate between your everyday foods and your indulgences, and then determine which splurges will be most satisfying. Couples may want to talk about this decision at dinner and choose either a dessert or an alcoholic beverage, but not both.
One study from the University of Adelaide in Australia suggests you may lose more weight when you work out towards the end of your menstrual cycle, as opposed to right when a new one begins. That’s because the hormones estrogen and progesterone tell your body to use fat as an energy source. "Women burned about 30 percent more fat for the two weeks following ovulation to about two days before menstruation," study author Leanne Redman says.
This may at first seem counter-intuitive, but don't skip meals. When you skip a meal, you're likely to eat more later because of how hungry you become. Instead, make sure you eat at least three meals a day, and try not to go more than five hours between meals. Some people have more luck eating smaller meals throughout the day, but you have to be careful with this trick. It's not an excuse to eat a full meal five times instead of three times a day. Instead, you eat very small portions of healthful foods every few hours to keep yourself from getting hungry and grabbing a bad-for-you snack.
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.