The number of Americans who go on a diet each year hovers somewhere around forty-five million.
Yet, an estimated ninety-five percent of those starting a diet eventually give up on their original plan and start a new one after some months. The sheer number of new diet fads cropping up each week makes it impossible to stick to a single one.
And this ultimately leads to the creation of an endless cycle of failed attempts, and finally an obese population.
So, to help you avoid the same fate, we’ve got a list of the best diet plans that you can follow for long term weight loss. Each diet on our list serves a specific purpose and based on your needs, you can start the one that helps you best.
So, without further ado, let’s dig in.
This is an interesting dieting strategy that blends periods of eating and fasting. In intermittent fasting, the time during which you are allowed to eat is restricted, with the target of achieving reduced calorie intake. This is naturally expected to lead to weight loss.
Multiple forms of intermittent fasting exist, such as the 16/8 method that requires you to limit your calorie intake to a period of eight hours every day. Another variant is the 5:2 intermittent fasting, in which your daily calorie consumption is restricted to about 600 calories, twice a week. For the rest of the week, however, you are allowed to eat a normal portion.
Results suggest that intermittent fasting can help to bring about a 3-8% reduction in body weight over a period of six months. These figures are considerably better than the results obtained from other dieting methods.
Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous other benefits as well. Improved musculature, better metabolism, and enhanced cognitive functions are just some of the benefits that intermittent fasting has been associated with. Some studies even suggest that the diet can have anti-aging effects.
And while intermittent fasting can be beneficial for any healthy individual, you might expect a few hunger pangs before the body settles in with the regime. Also, those with medical complications such as diabetes should always consult with a registered medical practitioner before starting the diet.
One of the most popular dietary techniques, intermittent fasting can be a great way to lose a significant amount of weight. With multiple regimes under the system, the method is convenient, safe and has multiple benefits such as improved musculature, and possibly even anti-aging effects.
The Ketogenic Diet
This diet is meant to send the body into a state of ketosis, which essentially means that your stored body fat is utilized for energy. The highlight of this diet is a high-fat, low-carb food regime that provides adequate protein. However, consistency is critical in the case of a ketogenic diet. Any form of cheating and you end up throwing the entire regime off-balance.
The mechanism behind the ketogenic diet is simple: fat intake is increased, and carbs are restricted. This brings about ketosis, in which state the body starts burning fats for energy by converting it into energy-supplying molecules called ketones. After your body gets used to burning fats for energy, this becomes the dominant energy production process, and it naturally leads to weight reduction.
As compared to other low-fat diets, the results are in favor of ketogenic. Apart from weight loss, other benefits of a ketogenic diet include improved muscle mass, increased levels of ketones, and an improvement in Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels.
While a ketogenic diet is suitable for any adult, it’s best if you consult your physician before starting the regime. This way, you can be sure that the diet won’t affect you adversely.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that works by sending the body into a state of ketosis. The concept behind the diet is to burn extra fat by converting it to energy-rich molecules called ketones. Together with weight loss, this diet has the effects of improved muscle mass and better cholesterol levels.
The Paleo Diet
In this diet, you are expected to take a step (or many) back and return to the dietary regime that our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to follow. The Paleo diet is built upon the theory that the human body is not evolved to process certain food groups such as legumes and dairy, and should avoid such food items. As per Paleo diet proponents, diseases are a result of modern food habits; and by changing them, we can achieve better health.
In this dietary regime, you are expected to consume whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Nuts and seeds can also form a part of your diet. Consumption of sugars, carbs, and any form of processed food is strictly restricted. Some variants of the Paleo diet allow the consumption of dairy products as well.
Due to the high protein content of the Paleo diet, it’s expected to be a more filling dietary regime. Further, numerous studies have shown the efficacy of the Paleo diet. Apart from weight loss, the Paleo diet is also known to reduce heart disease, control bad cholesterols, and regulate blood pressure.
And while the many benefits of this diet cannot be overlooked, it must be remembered that it prevents the dieter from consuming multiple food groups which are nutritious in themselves.
The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, proposes that we go back to the dietary regime of the hunter-gatherer times. The crux of the diet revolves around the concept that the human body is not well developed to process all food groups. Hence the diet recommends sticking to select food categories.
The Mediterranean Diet
As the name suggests, the Mediterranean diet is based on the food habits of the residents of Mediterranean regions such as Greece and Italy. Primarily designed as a technique to lower heart disease risk, this dietary system has been shown to be beneficial in reducing weight as well.
In this diet, you are expected to eat veggies and fruits, along with a sizable portion of nuts, seeds, and legumes. Also to be consumed are seafood, whole grain, and that pride of the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil.
As for the restricted side, this diet recommends you avoid all forms of processed food, refined oils, and processed sugar as well. Combining this dietary form with regular exercise can be highly beneficial in reducing weight.
Another benefit of this diet is that it promotes the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants, which help to reduce stress by neutralizing free radicals. It also helps to reduce inflammatory diseases, heart problems, and prevents premature death.
As it’s not strictly a weight loss diet, you need to combine it with controlled calorie intake if you want to achieve the best results.
Not a strictly weight-loss diet, the Mediterranean regime works best if combined with regular exercise. Avoiding all forms of processed food, this diet recommends going natural with fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes. For flavor, you can add a dash of olive oil. Rich in antioxidants, this diet helps to reduce heart problems and promotes longevity.
Plant-based diets come in many forms. There’s the vegetarian diet, in which the focus is on the consumption of vegetables, though certain animal products such as eggs are also allowed. Then, taking the degree up one notch is the vegan diet, which advocates the avoidance of all forms of animal products. While ethical and environmental reasons form the crux of switching to this diet, many seek to adopt it for weight loss as well.
Another plant-based diet to go for is the flexitarian diet, which gives you greater freedom in terms of the amounts of animal proteins you consume. Flexitarian diets fix no calorie limits, although 1500 calories a day is the preferred option for many. It has been found that dieters who stick to the flexitarian diet long term have lower BMIs and lower metabolic syndrome than meat consumers.
Plant-based diets have many other benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart attacks, diabetes, and even cancer. Further, they are more eco-friendly and help to reduce animal cruelty. The trouble is, despite being beneficial in certain respects, plant-based diets can result in your becoming deficient in critical animal-sourced nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and fatty acids.
Plant-based diets come in many forms such as vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian. While all focus on non-veg avoidance to varying degrees, the consumption of greens is definitely encouraged. Eco-friendly and wholesome, these diets help you avoid diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Low-fat diets are one of the most popular dietary variants and have been around for a long time. Typically, low-fat diets advise limiting the fat intake to approximately thirty percent of the daily calorie limits. Some ultra-low variants of the low-fat diet take the concept to extreme-ends by limiting the fat intake to only ten percent of the total daily calorie limit.
Low-fat diets work because compared to proteins and carbohydrates, fats supply twice the number of calories per gram. Therefore, by limiting the fat intake, this diet tries to restrict the total calories consumed and thus leads to a weight reduction.
Research suggests that low-fat diets can bring about moderate changes in body weight, though low-carb diets are more beneficial in terms of weight reduction. However, low-fat diets have shown promise in reducing the risks of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Be advised that fat is one of the most critical components of your diet, and reducing fat intake can lead to several long term problems. Among them, metabolic syndrome and hormonal imbalance can take dangerous turns. So, before beginning this regime, make it a point to consult a certified dietician or your doctor.
One of the most popular dietary regimes, a low-fat diet reduces weight by restricting the number of calories consumed. This diet is one of the best ways to avoid stroke and heart disease. Low-fat diets are best undertaken under medical supervision.
Low-carb diets are one of the most effective paths to take for weight loss and are naturally popular among the health-conscious crowd. We’ve already discussed one variant of the low-carb diet on our list (the Keto diet); some similar regimes are the LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) diet and the Atkins diet.
Low-carb diets promote protein and fat intake while restricting carbohydrates, and generally involve higher levels of protein consumption than low-fat diets. They are known to boost metabolism, improve muscle mass, and lower food-craving. And as mentioned above, studies do suggest that low-carb diets may be more effective at reducing weight than low-fat ones.
Low-carb diets are also known to reduce the chances of heart disease, lower harmful cholesterol levels, and normalize blood pressure. However, low-carb diets may also increase LDL cholesterol levels, which are linked with increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. In sporadic cases, they may result in ketoacidosis, which can be fatal unless treated timely.
Low-carb diets have been proven to be more effective than low-fat diets, and work by restricting carbohydrate intake. This diet helps to improve metabolism and muscle mass and reduces weight. They are also linked to reduced heart disease and stabilized blood pressure.
The WW Diet
Also known as the weight watchers diet, this is one of the most widespread weight-loss diets in the world. The WW diet does not focus on restricting food groups, but instead emphasizes food consumption within the daily prefixed points and reaching the ideal weight.
WW works based on a points-based system in which foods, as well as beverages, are assigned a particular value based on their fat, fiber, or calorie content. To reach your desired weight, you must remain faithful to the point system.
A review of multiple dietary studies found that people on a WW diet lost 2.6% more weight than people on other regimes. What’s more, people following WW regimes have proven to be more successful at maintaining lower body weight over more extended periods than regular dieters.
The most significant advantage of WW is that it allows you the widest choice in terms of foodstuff; this makes it very simple to follow. Further, individuals with dietary restrictions can also choose their food categories and begin the process.
One of the most popular diets in the world, the WW diet works based on a point-based system. Here each food item has a specific score attached to it, and dieters are expected to stick to their specific points limit while eating. The WW diet provides a wide choice of food, and provides better weight loss capabilities.
The Volumetrics Diet
The concept behind the volumetric diet is rather straightforward; you need to consume food items that are most fulfilling, most nutritious, but with minimal calories. In this diet, foodstuff is classified from least energy-dense items, such as veggies, fruits, and soups to most energy-dense like chocolates and nuts. The target is to plan your diet around the least energy-dense items.
The Volumetrics diet has been proven to be one of the most effective ones for long term weight loss. After all, the correlation is rather straightforward: the fewer calories you consume, the more weight you lose.
The concept behind the volumetrics diet is simple: consume the most nutritious foodstuff with the least calories. This diet is one of the most effective ones for long term weight loss and focuses on sticking to least energy-dense foodstuffs such as fruits and vegetables.
At the end of the day, one thing is clear: there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to weight loss diets. Whether you go with the low-carb variants or want to stick to intermittent fasting, the truth is, each person has to choose the menu according to their metabolic tendencies.
And keep in mind that the above list is not exhaustive; there are other diets such as the DASH diet, which is designed to reduce hypertension but is also useful in weight reduction. The bottom line is this: the diet plan that you choose must be decided based on your food habits, lifestyle, and dietary goals.
And we’ve mentioned this before, but we’d like to reiterate: never embark on a diet plan without consulting your physician. The wrong diet can take a severe toll on your body, and if practiced improperly can even be fatal.
So, take care, choose wisely, and above all, remain healthy.