Best Weight Loss Programs | ConsumerAffairs

What works for one dieter doesn’t always work for another, which makes it tricky to find the right diet for you. For many people, the first step to finding the healthiest weight loss program is having an honest conversation with their health care provider. A doctor or nutritionist can help you decide if a low-carb and high-protein diet, low-fat and low-calorie diet, plant-based diet or meal replacement diet is the best personal weight loss program for you.

High-protein, low-carb dietsHigh-protein, low-carb diets replace starches and sugar with lean protein. Cutting carbs and sugar works because it tricks your body into burning fat for energy, which causes weight loss. Some of the most popular low-carb diet plans include Atkins, South Beach Diet, The Dukan Diet, FODMAP, paleo and keto weight loss programs. Diet plan reviews typically indicate that carbohydrate-restricted diets can be very effective for short-term weight loss, but it can be difficult to sustain long-term results using them.

Low-carb, high-protein foods

  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Peas
  • Green yogurt
  • Protein bars

Foods to avoid

  • Processed meats
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Legumes
  • Cereal
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Beer
  • Juice
  • Soda

What diet advocates think: Diet plans low in carbohydrates and high in protein are excellent for people who want to change their overall eating habits. Eating high-protein foods also protects against muscle loss and increases your metabolic rate, which in turn increases calories burned. According to a 2018 obesity treatment study, side effects of a low-carb diet can include halitosis, headache and constipation.

Low-fat, low-calorie dietsMost low-fat, low-calorie dieters eat 800 to 1,200 calories per day and limit dietary fat to fewer than 50 grams. Some low-fat diet plans completely eliminate trans fats as well. Popular low-calorie and low-fat diet plans include Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Ornish, Health Management Resources (HMR), WW, Volumetrics and The Biggest Loser diets.

Low-fat, low-cal foods

  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Oats

Foods to avoid

  • Oils
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fatty meats
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Packaged sweets
  • Fast food
  • White bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Flavored yogurt
  • Fruit juices
  • Alcohol

What diet advocates think: Some weight loss studies indicate that low-fat diets are less effective for rapid weight loss than low-carb diets. Ultra low-calorie diet plans can leave you feeling uncomfortably hungry most of the time, plus “low-fat” snacks are often full of sugars and refined carbohydrates. Never attempt an extremely low-calorie diet without consulting your doctor — there are serious health risks if you eat fewer than 800 calories per day.

Plant-based dietsPlant-based diet programs for weight loss encourage vegetarian and vegan meal plans. Some of the healthiest weight loss plans are plant-based diets that include raw, organic and whole foods and avoid animal products. Diet plan reviews are favorable for the Pritikin diet, macrobiotic diet, Eco-Atkins diet and Engine 2 diet. Many weight loss programs, like Diet-to-Go, Nutrisystem and WW, offer vegetarian-friendly meal delivery for weight loss as well.

Plant-based foods

  • Fresh fruit
  • Green veggies
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole grains
  • Uncooked grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Coconut oil
  • Legumes
  • Tofu, seitan and tempeh
  • Non-dairy milk substitutes

Foods to avoid

  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Alcohol
  • Prepackaged snacks
  • Processed foods
  • White bread
  • Baked goods
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Sugary drinks
  • Animal products

What diet advocates think: Plant-based diets require more effort and planning than many other options but are overall effective. Be aware, however, that it’s easy to overload on carbs, which won’t help with weight loss. Iron from plant-based foods is harder to absorb, so a vegan or vegetarian plan may not be a good option for dieters who are already at risk of anemia.

Cleanse dietsCleanse diets, sometimes called detox diets, are short-term, restrictive weight loss plans. Some cleanse diets emphasize nutrient-rich foods, while others replace meals with liquids and herbal supplements. The all-natural weight loss program Whole30 is a cleanse diet that replaces all sugar, dairy, grains and alcohol with fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Juice cleanse diet programs for weight loss, such as the Master Cleanse or lemonade diet, replace all meals with liquids and herbal supplements.

Cleanse diet foods and drinks

  • Organic vegetables
  • Unsweetened fruit juice
  • Herbal teas
  • Unrefined oils
  • Plant-based milks
  • Chia seeds

What to avoid

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
  • Animal products

What diet advocates think: Cleanse diets can support fat loss in the short term. Still, no studies prove these diets work for weight management or even removing toxins from the body, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Take caution with cleanse diet programs and be aware that unpasteurized juices and detox supplements could be harmful to your health.

Meal replacement dietsMany of the easiest weight loss programs rely on meal replacements. Meal replacement diets work by replacing one or two meals each day with low-calorie, nutrient-rich shakes and bars. Many meal replacements are supplemented with vitamins and minerals to burn fat. Meal replacement diets like Nutrisystem, Medifast and Jenny Craig (an Accredited Partner) provide many options for replacement shakes and bars as well as prepackaged meals for weight loss.

Meal replacement foods

  • Plant-based protein
  • Lean meats
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Oats
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Supplemental minerals

What to avoid

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn maltodextrin
  • Chemical preservatives

What diet advocates think: Meal replacements are a convenient weight loss tool for busy professionals who don’t have time to plan out every healthy meal, and studies show they are effective for temporary weight loss. When comparing meal replacement labels, look for options with at least 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving. Avoid meal replacement options with more than 400 calories or more than 4 grams of added sugar and saturated fat.

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