Glassman suggests starting with a calorie baseline: If you're trying to lose weight, she recommends a meal plan that contains (roughly) 1,500 calories, with 40 percent coming from whole, fiber-rich carbs, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from healthy fats. That balance is ideal for keeping energy levels up and helping you build lean muscle while squashing hunger and the cravings that come with it, she says.
Other factors that can influence your decision include the program’s overall cost and your budget, whether you prefer pre-packaged options or the flexibility to eat out and cook your own meals, and finally, the degree of community interaction. Multiple studies have found that weight loss and diet control are most successful when there’s a degree of accountability and peer support. Most diet plan programs have a wide range of interactive, community-building features that can also help you gage customer satisfaction with the diet plan.
Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly -- while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it's best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a "diet." Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
When it comes to cravings, protein drinks and bars may also help cure your need for sugar, says Juge. He recommends mixing a flavored protein powder in a blender with as much ice as possible, so it'll taste more like a milkshake. Day Five's protein shake includes a cup of berries, which will also help with sugar cravings. Once or twice per week, Juge adds, you can have a low-sugar, high-protein bar. The newest varieties taste more like candy bars, with state-of-the-art sweetening techniques.
Calories are an important part of your weight-loss journey, but so are the foods you choose to spend those calories on. It may not come as any surprise, but a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who fill their diets with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt tend to be thinner than those who eat more junk such as soda, potato chips and processed meat. Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may help you eat fewer overall calories, which helps with weight loss. These high-fiber foods slow digestion, holding off hunger. As for yogurt, the researchers theorize that the friendly bacteria in the fermented food may change the bacteria in your gut, which may help prevent weight gain.
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been a huge number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
Companies who offer diet plans should also include interactive and tracking tools for helping clients keep track of their progress. This enables clients to monitor their daily progress and assess the overall success of the diet plan. Tracking tools help clients monitor activities, exercises and calorie intake. Some tools also have reporting features that come with graphs to help individuals get a more detailed look. Some companies also have mobile apps that can monitor your progress and even sync with other fitness tracking devices.
Even if you do meet your goal, it's nearly impossible to keep off the weight over the long term: "The amount of restriction required [to maintain that number] will make you so hungry that you’ll eat everything in sight—it’s survival instinct," Dr. Seltzer says. And since calorie restriction gradually slows your metabolism, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you binge on, he adds. That could mean gaining more pounds than you lost in the first place.
Your habits and cravings may both rear their heads at restaurants, where it's easy to blow your diet in seconds. To stick to the plan, says Juge, be diligent in ordering. "Ask them to grill your meat without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either fat-free dressing or a vinaigrette." After his 14 years in bodybuilding, Juge testifies that he's found many restaurants are accommodating, so there's no reason to avoid them as long as they'll cook to your preferences.
This high-protein, fat-rich plan claims you will lose up to 15 pounds in two weeks, but the unhealthy fat content drops the diet’s ranking. Similar to the ketogenic diet, the idea is that by severely restricting your carb intake, your body will have to burn fat for energy. Atkins has a decent amount of short-term research to support the premise, but the results are mixed. The American Heart Association links saturated fats—prevalent in this plan—to heart disease. Other negatives for Atkins are that it’s tough to sustain, and you’ll miss out on fiber and other nutrients in complex carbohydrates like whole grains. Check out the 15 best Atkins diet foods you can get at the grocery store.
Vegetarians tend to be slimmer than omnivores, according to research. But you’ll have to have a lot of discipline and willpower to pull off a vegan diet. Support is out there—the American Diabetes Association gives its approval to the plan, and there are plenty of resources online such as the Vegetarian Resource Group if you need guidance. Following this rigid way of eating may mean could miss out on important nutrients such as vitamin B12 and calcium, but overall going vegan offers some powerful health benefits. You can expect to lose about two pounds a week. Check out the 13 things that happen to your body when you go vegan.
You will likely lose weight on any diet if you eat less than 910 calories a day. But losing 10 pounds in 3 days is both unlikely and unhealthy. To lose just 1 pound of body fat, you need to reduce your daily calories by about 500 a day for a whole week. That’s giving up 3,500 calories over the course of 7 days. To lose 10 pounds in 3 days would mean decreasing your calorie intake by 35,000 calories in just 3 days! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a slow and steady weight loss of no more than 1/2 to 1 pound a week. Otherwise you are losing muscle and water, as well as weakening your bones. You also are much more likely to gain it all back.
Becky Duffett is a contributing nutrition editor for Fitbit and a lifestyle writer with a passion for eating well. A former Williams-Sonoma cookbook editor and graduate of San Francisco Cooking School, she’s edited dozens of cookbooks and countless recipes. City living has turned her into a spin addict—but she’d still rather be riding a horse. She lives in the cutest neighborhood in San Francisco, spending weekends at the farmers’ market, trying to read at the bakery, and roasting big dinners for friends.