Popular Diet Plans Reviews

Medically reviewed by Anthony Dugarte M.D.

popular diet plans

There are so many Popular Diet Plans for weight loss that it is almost impossible to list them all. However, many have features in common, such as high protein levels or avoidance of certain food groups. Because of this, diet plans can be assessed based on the way that they advocate eating:

Types of Popular Diet Plans

  • High protein
  • Low carbohydrate
  • High fat
  • Gluten free
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Vegetarian/Vegan
  • Calorie tracking
  • Small, frequent meals
  • Large, infrequent meals

There are many more things that can be considered when assessing a diet plan, but these are some of the common ways that popular diet plans advocate eating. Other methods of eating are chosen by evaluating foods less directly related to weight loss, such as personality type or emotions. There are many types of prepared meal plans available as well, but the composition of these foods and the way that they are intended to be eaten vary widely. This means that prepared food can be part of almost any type of diet plan.

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Popular Diet Plans to Lose Weight Fast

There are many popular diet plans to lose weight fast. The question is, do any of them work? If they do work, are they safe? Is the weight loss sustainable, or only effective in the short-term?

Plans intended to help people lose weight fast often severely restrict calories. They may include other features that are supposed to increase weight loss or cleanse the body, but the effects that are seen are largely, or entirely, from the extreme calorie restriction.

Evidence shows that in most cases, extreme weight loss is not sustainable. Even medically-supervised very low-calorie diets have a high failure rate when it comes to keeping the weight off. To lose weight to become eligible for weight loss surgery, for example, these diets may be effective. For long-term weight loss, they are not.

The safety of weight loss through extreme calorie restriction is also an important question. For most healthy people, a short period of extreme calorie restriction is unlikely to be acutely harmful, especially if the food that is consumed has sufficient protein. However, these diets can be harmful to people who already have a medical condition, or if they are continued for any length of time.

Another side effect of extreme low-calorie diets is the yo-yo dieting problem. Weight cycling, which is the proper term for yo-yo dieting, involves gaining and losing weight repeatedly. It has been proven to be bad for your health, and each cycle may make losing weight harder. So, from this perspective, it may be easier for a person to lose a hundred pounds if they have never been on a diet than if they have repeatedly been gaining and losing weight.

Weight cycling also results in about one in three dieters ending up heavier at the end of each cycle than they were before, which is entirely counterproductive. Because dieters lose both muscle and fat when dieting but tend only to put fat back on, there is an overall increase in the percentage of body fat when weight cycling.

Popular Diet Plans

For people who have a hard time sticking to a diet, the 5:2 diet, or intermittent fasting, is popular. A variety of forms of this diet exist, but basically, dieters eat how they like five days a week and fast or eat very few calories the other two days of the week.

Because it does not ban any foods and the deprivation aspect of the diet is only in effect for two days of the week, it is easier for many people to stick with. It may cause side effects during fasting days, and some people are prone to overeating on other days to make up for the loss of calories. There is not a lot of scientific evidence on this diet.

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet appeals to people who want to eat in a less processed, more natural way. Again, there are a variety of forms, but this diet involves eating like cave dwellers were purported to have eaten. The only food that can be hunted or gathered can be eaten, which eliminates grains, dairy and processed foods.

The South Beach

The South Beach diet is a good plan for people who want advice on how to eat a balanced, healthy diet that does not rely on severe restrictions. The first two weeks of the diet involve eating lean protein, unsaturated fat, and vegetables, but after that, it broadens into a diet plan that incorporates low glycemic-index carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein.

There is the potential for side effects during the initial phase of restricted eating, and it does not offer a simple list of prescribed and prohibited foods like some diets do, but it meets the criteria for healthy eating based on scientific evidence.

Slim-Fast

Slim-Fast makes a line of prepared foods and shakes that make it extremely simple for dieters who want this kind of structure. In the beginning, dieters are advised to eat only Slim-Fast products, which provide all essential nutrients. After a while, the plan broadens into eating a meal replacement shake, two Slim-Fast snacks and two healthy meals a day.

This kind of diet requires that the dieter enjoy the Slim-Fast products, or they are unlikely to be able to stick with it. In addition, careful planning is required to meet the recommended allowance of fruits and vegetables every day while on this plan.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers offers a support system for dieters as well as the diet plan itself, which can be appealing to some people. Meetings help keep dieters accountable and may increase motivation to stick with the diet.

Weight Watchers revolves around a point system, where dieters are given a certain amount of points to spend each day, plus a safety net of a certain amount more points for the week. Every food is given a point value based on calories, fat, fiber and protein content. Fruit and vegetables are unrestricted, and no foods are off limits. However, learning the points system can be tedious, and the program may not teach dieters very much about the principles behind healthy eating.

Atkins 20

Atkins 20 or Atkins 40 maintains many of the familiar features of the previous form of the diet. Dieters are started on an extremely low-carbohydrate allowance of 20-25 grams per day. Fat and protein are unrestricted, and dieters may eat any fat and protein that they like.

After the initial period, carbohydrates are added back in until dieters reach their ideal carbohydrate balance for weight loss and maintenance. Unfortunately, while a low-carbohydrate diet may not be a bad thing, a diet that does not emphasize the role of healthy fat, fruits and vegetables run counter to current knowledge about healthy eating.

Alkaline Diet

Proponents of the Alkaline diet believe that certain foods make the body too acidic, which causes fat retention and eating differently can cure this problem. The diet itself advocates cutting back on foods such as meat, grains, processed carbohydrates, dairy and alcohol, in favor of fruits and vegetables.

The theory of how this diet works has very little evidence behind it and the body is known to self-regulate its acid-alkaline balance. However, the diet itself contains mostly healthy foods and sticking to it can induce weight loss by switching out high-calorie foods for lower-calorie ones such as vegetables.

Final Thoughts on Diet Plans for Weight Loss

Popular diet plans to lose weight all run into the same hurdle: compliance. People who do not stick with their diet do not continue to lose weight, and in fact, many regain it all and more. Short-term diets that come to an end usually fail to keep people from regaining weight because they rely on deprivation and do not provide a long-term solution. Popular diet plans that severely restrict foods may leave dieters with unbearable cravings.

So, how do the top diet plans for weight loss beat this issue? They don’t. You do. The best diet, according to research, is the one that you can stick with. It must, of course, meet all of your basic nutritional needs, but once that hurdle is overcome, the best diet for you is the one that you will stay on.

The bottom line for dieters is to aim for sustainable lifestyle changes rather than diets with end dates. Make these changes small enough that you can accomplish them so that you don’t lose motivation. If you want to follow a particular diet plan, choose one that meets certain criteria:

  • Includes all food groups
  • Allows for a bit of indulgence here and there
  • Emphasizes fruits and vegetables
  • Reduces consumption of processed foods
  • Teaches the principles behind healthy eating
  • Encourages exercise and physical activity
  • Deals with mental and emotional eating issues

It sometimes seems like there are almost more popular diet plans to lose weight than there are people to follow them. However, the diet that you choose is ultimately unimportant if it meets the requirements of healthy eating and promotes long-term lifestyle changes. When researchers looked at four different popular diet plans compared, they found that all caused about the same amount of weight loss. Don’t be fooled by promises that only a particular diet can make you thin overnight because no diet works overnight. Weight loss should be a gradual process that leaves you with the skills to understand how to eat and why nutrition is important.

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