The 8 Best Diet Plans: sustainability, weight loss and more

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    It is estimated that almost half of American adults try to lose weight every year.

    One of the best ways to lose weight is by changing your diet.

    However, the large number of diet plans available can make the start difficult, since you are not sure which one is the most appropriate, sustainable and effective.

    Some diets aim to reduce appetite to reduce food intake, while others suggest restricting the intake of calories and carbohydrates or fats.

    In addition, many offer health benefits that go beyond weight loss.

    Here are the 8 best diet plans to help you lose weight and improve your overall health.

    1. intermittent fasting
    Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy that alternates between periods of fasting and eating.

    There are several ways, including the 16/8 method, which is to limit your calorie intake to 8 hours per day, and the 5: 2 method, which restricts your daily calorie intake to 500-600 calories twice a week.

    How it works: intermittent fasting restricts the time you are allowed to eat, which is a simple way to reduce your calorie intake. This can lead to weight loss unless you compensate by eating too much food during the allowed periods.

    Weight loss: in a review of studies, it was shown that intermittent fasting causes a weight loss of 3 to 8% for 3 to 24 weeks, which is a significantly higher percentage than other methods.

    The same review showed that this way of eating can reduce waist circumference by 4–7%, which is a marker of harmful abdominal fat.

    Other studies found that intermittent fasting can increase fat burning while preserving muscle mass, which can improve metabolism.

    Other benefits: intermittent fasting has been linked to anti-aging effects, increased insulin sensitivity, improved brain health, reduced inflammation, and many other benefits.

    Disadvantages: In general, intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy adults.

    That said, people sensitive to falls in their blood sugar levels, such as some people with diabetes, low weight or an eating disorder, as well as pregnant or nursing women, should talk to a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting

    SUMMARY
    Intermittent fasting cycles between periods of fasting and feeding. It has been shown to help you lose weight and is related to many other health benefits.

    2. Plant-based diets
    Plant-based diets can help you lose weight. Vegetarianism and veganism are the most popular versions, which restrict animal products for health, ethical and environmental reasons.

    However, there are also more flexible plant-based diets, such as the flexitarian diet, which is a plant-based diet that allows you to eat animal products in moderation.

    How it works: There are many types of vegetarianism, but most involve eliminating all meat, chicken, and fish. Some vegetarians can also avoid eggs and dairy.

    The vegan diet goes one step further by restricting all animal products, as well as products derived from animals such as dairy, gelatin, honey, whey, casein, and albumin.

    There are no clear rules for the flexitarian diet since it is a lifestyle change rather than a diet. It encourages mainly eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, but allows protein and animal products in moderation, making it a popular alternative.

    Many of the restricted food groups have many calories, so limiting them can help you lose weight.

    Weight loss: research shows that plant-based diets are effective for weight loss.

    A review of 12 studies that included 1,151 participants found that people on a plant-based diet lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) more than those who included animal products.

    In addition, those who followed a vegan diet lost an average of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) more than people who did not consume a plant-based diet.

    It is likely that plant-based diets help you lose weight because they tend to be rich in fiber, which can help you stay fuller for longer and have low-calorie content.

    Other benefits: plant-based diets have been linked to many other benefits, such as reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain types of cancer and diabetes. They can also be more ecologically sustainable than meat-based diets.

    Disadvantages: Although plant-based diets are healthy, they can restrict important nutrients that are usually found in animal products, such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

    A flexible approach or adequate supplementation can help explain these nutrients.

    SUMMARY
    Plant-based diets restrict meat and animal products for several reasons. Studies show that they help you lose weight by reducing calorie intake and offer many other benefits.

    3. Low carb diets
    Low carb diets are among the most popular diets for weight loss. Examples include the Atkins diet, the ketogenic diet (keto) and the low carb and high-fat diet (LCHF).

    Some varieties reduce carbohydrates more dramatically than others. For example, very low carb diets, such as the keto diet, restrict this macronutrient to less than 10% of total calories, compared to 30% or less for other types.

    How it works: Low carb diets restrict carbohydrate intake in favor of proteins and fats.

    They are generally richer in protein than low-fat diets, which is important since proteins can help curb appetite, increase metabolism and preserve muscle mass.

    In very low carbohydrate diets such as keto, your body starts using fatty acids instead of carbohydrates for energy by converting them into ketones. This process is called ketosis.

    Weight loss: Many studies indicate that low carb diets can help you lose weight and may be more effective than conventional low-fat diets.

    For example, a review of 53 studies that included 68,128 participants found that low carb diets resulted in a significantly greater weight loss than low-fat diets.

    In addition, low carb diets appear to be quite effective in burning harmful belly fat.

    Other benefits: research suggests that low carb diets may reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels and blood pressure. They can also improve blood sugar and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

    Disadvantages: in some cases, a low carb diet can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Very low carbohydrate diets can also be difficult to follow and cause digestive discomfort in some people.

    In very rare situations, following a very low carb diet can cause a condition known as ketoacidosis, a dangerous metabolic condition that can be fatal if left untreated.

    SUMMARY
    Low carb diets restrict your carbohydrate intake, which encourages your body to use more fat as fuel. They can help you lose weight and offer many other benefits.

    4. The paleo diet
    The Paleo diet advocates eating the same foods that their hunter-gatherer ancestors supposedly ate.

    It is based on the theory that modern diseases are linked to the Western diet, as advocates believe that the human body has not evolved to process legumes, grains and dairy products.

    How it works: the Paleo diet advocates eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. It restricts the consumption of processed foods, grains, sugar and dairy products, although some less restrictive versions allow some dairy products such as cheese.

    Weight loss: numerous studies have shown that the paleo diet can help you lose weight and reduce harmful belly fat.

    For example, in a 3-week study, 14 healthy adults who followed a paleo diet lost an average of 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg) and reduced their waist circumference, a marker of abdominal fat, by an average of 0.6 inches (1.5 cm).

    Research also suggests that the Paleo diet may be more abundant than popular diets such as the Mediterranean diet and low-fat diets. This may be due to its high protein content.

    Other benefits: Following the paleo diet can reduce several risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

    Disadvantages: Although the Paleo diet is healthy, it restricts several groups of nutritious foods, including legumes, whole grains, and dairy.

    SUMMARY
    The Paleo diet advocates eating whole foods, similar to how their ancestors ate. Studies show that it can help you lose weight and reduce risk factors for heart disease.

    5. Low-fat diets
    Like low carb diets, low-fat diets have been popular for decades.

    In general, a low-fat diet involves restricting your fat intake to 30% of your daily calories.

    Some very low-fat diets aim to limit fat intake to less than 10% of calories.

    How it works: Low-fat diets restrict fat intake because fats provide approximately twice the calories per gram, compared to the other two macronutrients: protein and carbohydrates.

    Ultra-low-fat diets contain less than 10% of calories from fats, with approximately 80% of calories from carbohydrates and 10% from protein.

    Ultra-low-fat diets are mainly of plant origin and limit meat and animal products.

    Weight loss: As low-fat diets restrict calorie intake, they can help you lose weight.

    An analysis of 33 studies that included more than 73,500 participants found that following a low-fat diet led to small but relevant changes in waist weight and girth.

    However, while low-fat diets appear to be as effective as low-carb diets for weight loss in controlled situations, low-carb diets appear to be more effective day by day.

    Ultra-low-fat diets have been shown to be successful, especially among people with obesity. For example, an 8-week study in 56 participants found that eating a diet that contained between 7 and 14% fat led to an average weight loss of 14.8 pounds (6.7 kg).

    Other benefits: low-fat diets have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. They can also reduce inflammation and improve diabetes markers.

    Disadvantages: restricting too much fat can lead to long-term health problems since fat plays a key role in hormone production, nutrient absorption, and cellular health. In addition, very low-fat diets have been linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

    SUMMARY
    Low-fat diets restrict fat intake, as this macronutrient has more calories than protein and carbohydrates. Studies have linked low-fat diets with weight loss and lower risks of heart disease and diabetes.

    6. The Mediterranean diet.
    The Mediterranean diet is based on foods that people in countries like Italy and Greece used to eat.

    Although it was designed to reduce the risk of heart disease, numerous studies indicate that it can also help you lose weight.

    How it works: The Mediterranean diet advocates eating many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, whole grains, fish, shellfish and extra virgin olive oil.

    Foods such as poultry, eggs, and dairy products should be eaten in moderation. Meanwhile, red meat is limited.

    In addition, the Mediterranean diet restricts refined grains, trans fats, refined oils, processed meats, added sugar, and other highly processed foods.

    Weight loss: Although it is not specifically a weight loss diet, many studies show that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can help you lose weight.

    For example, an analysis of 19 studies found that people who combined the Mediterranean diet with exercise or caloric restriction lost an average of 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than those with a control diet.

    Other benefits: the Mediterranean diet encourages eating many foods rich in antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation and oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. It has been linked to reducing the risks of heart disease and premature death.

    Disadvantages: Since the Mediterranean diet is not strictly a weight loss diet, people cannot lose weight unless they also consume fewer calories.

    SUMMARY
    The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of many fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy oils while restricting refined and highly processed foods. While it is not a weight loss diet, studies show that it can promote weight loss and overall health.

    7. WW (Weight Watchers)
    WW, formerly Weight Watchers, is one of the most popular weight loss programs worldwide.

    While it does not restrict any food groups, people in a WW plan must eat within their established daily points to reach their ideal weight.

    How it works: WW is a point-based system that assigns value to different foods and beverages, depending on their calorie, fat and fiber content.

    To reach your desired weight, you must stay within your daily point limit.

    Weight loss: many studies show that the WW program can help you lose weight.

    For example, a review of 45 studies found that people who followed a WW diet lost 2.6% more weight than people who received standard counseling.

    In addition, it has been shown that people who follow WW programs are more successful in maintaining weight loss after several years, compared to those who follow other diets.

    Other benefits: WW allows flexibility, which facilitates its monitoring. This allows people with dietary restrictions, such as those with food allergies, to adhere to the plan.

    Disadvantages: although it allows flexibility, WW can be expensive depending on the subscription plan. In addition, its flexibility can be a disadvantage if dieters choose unhealthy foods.

    SUMMARY
    WW, or Weight Watchers, is a weight loss program that uses a point-based system. Studies show that it is effective for long-term weight loss and highly flexible.

    8. The DASH diet
    Dietary approaches to stop hypertension, or DASH diet, is a meal plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure, which is clinically known as hypertension.

    It emphasizes eating many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and is low in salt, red meat, added sugars, and fats.

    While the DASH diet is not a weight loss diet, many people report losing weight with it.

    How it works: The DASH diet recommends specific portions of different food groups. The amount of servings you can eat depends on your daily calorie intake.

    For example, an average person on the DASH diet would eat about 5 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, 7 servings of healthy carbohydrates as whole grains, 2 servings of low-fat dairy products and 2 servings or less of lean meats per day.

    In addition, you can eat nuts and seeds 2 to 3 times per week.

    Weight loss: Studies show that the DASH diet can help you lose weight.

    For example, an analysis of 13 studies found that people with the DASH diet lost significantly more weight for 8-24 weeks than people with a control diet.

    Other benefits: The DASH diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels and several risk factors for heart disease. In addition, it can help fight recurrent depressive symptoms and reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancer.

    Disadvantages: While the DASH diet can help you lose weight, there is mixed evidence about salt intake and blood pressure. In addition, eating too little salt has been linked to increased insulin resistance and an increased risk of death in people with heart failure.

    SUMMARY
    The DASH diet is a low salt diet that has been shown to help you lose weight. Studies have also linked it to additional benefits for your heart and the reduction of risks of other chronic diseases.

    Speech summary

    Many diets can help you lose weight.

    Some of the best-researched diets and meal plans include intermittent fasting, plant-based diets, low-carb diets, low-fat diets, the Paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, WW (Weight Watchers) and the DASH diet.

    While all previous diets have proven effective in losing weight, the diet you choose should depend on your lifestyle and food preferences. This ensures that it is more likely to adhere to it in the long term.

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