Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
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Different foods have different nutritional values, even if they sometimes have the same number of calories. And making a few simple food swaps could be beneficial for both your health and your waistline. Felicia Stoler, RD, an exercise physiologist, suggests swapping margarine for butter, corn oil for soybean oil, corn-fed proteins for grass-fed proteins, and artificial egg whites for farm fresh eggs. “Smart consumers are choosing grass-fed options because those tend to have more nutrients and fewer added hormones,” Stoler says.
To reach your get-lean goal, you must also follow a get-lean diet, filled with the best foods to burn fat. Why? Even if you work out hard for an hour every day, that still leaves 23 more hours for you to wreck all your hard work in the gym with just one slip-up: a measly handful of chips, a beer with the guys, or a burger at lunch. Diet is a huge, so to speak, part of the fat-loss equation. It's the backbone of your entire plan, the foundation of a hard body.
The HMR program’s approach makes the top of the list of best diet plans because the Decision-Free plan suggests you can lose up to 66 pounds in 26 weeks. You could also drop 37 pounds on its Healthy Solutions option. The Decision-Free diet is a medically supervised, very low-calorie diet of shakes and snacks; Healthy Solutions includes shakes, snacks, entrees, and your own fruits and vegetables. You should expect to exercise plenty to lose the most weight; you can also sign up for health coaching to boost success. The convenience is a plus—but you will get a very limited choice of foods and aren’t allowed to drink alcohol or eat out. And remember: You risk gaining weight once you go back to real food. Check out these 42 tips for losing weight fast.
Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”
Eat at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, daily. If your protein intake is too low on a restricted-calorie diet, you'll lose a lot of muscle in addition to any fat you're lucky enough to shed. A high-protein intake will help you preserve lean mass during your dieting phase. Choose lean, high-quality proteins like egg whites, poultry, lean red meat, and protein supplements. The diet provided here contains about 220-250g of protein daily, fine for a male weighing 200-250lbs. Up your protein only if you're heavier than 250lbs, or you're very hungry and need to add food during the day. Juge suggests an additional protein shake for an easy quick fix. (If you're under 180lbs, cut out 3oz of meat or chicken per day from the diet.)
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.