It’s a new year, a fresh start, and the time when many Americas vow to improve their eating habits and get in shape. In honor of all those good intentions, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most popular diets out there — weight loss plans that have stood the test of time and helped countless others lose weight successfully. Still shopping around for the best diet plan for your needs and lifestyle? One of these top six just might be the right pick for you.
Though the Weight Watchers system has evolved over the years, this flexible diet’s tenants have remained the same: Eat a balanced diet, eat in moderation, and eat what you want. The diet uses a points system to track what you eat and provides motivation through local support meetings with weigh-ins (or dieters can attend “virtual meetings” online). Though the high level of flexibility and temptation can be difficult for some, Weight Watchers has had a high track record of success for more than 40 years and remains very popular today.
If a dinner of fish and veggies with a glass of red wine sounds like an ideal meal to you, you may have found your diet match in the Mediterranean Diet. This heart-healthy diet includes the food staples of people in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece and Italy. With an emphasis on heart-healthy fats — those containing omega-3 fatty acids — the diet is rich in seafood, nuts and legumes, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, as well as red wine in moderation.
Celebs like Jennifer Aniston may come to mind when you think of the Zone Diet, which maintains that changing the balance of the foods you eat (mainly, adding protein to balance the carbs at every meal or snack) will help you lose weight, reset your metabolism, and ward off chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Dieters follow a “30-30-40” breakdown to help control insulin levels and hunger, getting 30 percent of their calories from protein, 30 percent from fat, and 40 percent from carbohydrates. Devotees give the Zone Diet praise for variety and ease of use, though others warn that the rigid plan can feel restrictive and is light on certain nutrients.
Losing weight by eating fewer calories yet still feeling full — sound like the ideal option for you? Perhaps try Volumetrics, which proposes that foods that contain more water, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier because they have lower energy density than sugary and fatty foods. Less a diet than an approach to eating, Volumetrics is backed by sound research and strongly promotes eating to feel full; drawbacks include an emphasis on at-home cooking.
Advocates of the Raw Food Diet believe that cooking food and breaking down its enzymes leads to losing many of the food’s nutritional benefits. Restricting food that is cooked or heated above 116 to 118° Fahrenheit, the plan allows you to eat as much as you want, as often as you want as long as it is raw and vegetarian. Though nutritionists praise the focus on fresh produce and avoidance of processed foods, many say the diet is lacking in nutrients and is difficult to sustain.
If you desire a diet where the thinking and planning is done for you, Nutrisystem may be for you. With this plan, the meals are pre-made and engineered to deliver only a certain amount of calories per day based on your age and gender. While weight loss success is certainly possible — it’s an easy plan to stick to because everything is done for you, and it’s customizable — a major drawback is the cost of the packaged meals.