“A lot of people think the foundation of a paleo diet is high-fat meat, but I suggest that it’s vegetables,” says Hultin. The concept is to eat only foods — including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. This means grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt are all no-no’s.

This meal replacement plan has mixed scientific evidence to support it. SlimFast promises a reasonable one- to two-pound loss per week, but you’ll need to buy its shakes, bars, and other products. The 1,200-calorie plan allows for one 500 calorie meal of regular food daily, with the rest of the calories made up of SlimFast products, fruits, and vegetables. The hard part will be sticking with the program; also, the SlimFast foods contain a lot of processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners. This isn’t for people younger than 18, or pregnant or breastfeeding women without medical supervision. Make the most of your one meal with 11 simple swaps that lead to dramatic weight loss.
If the diet is a quick fix rather than one that promotes lasting lifestyle changes, this could pose a problem. In particular, extreme diets that promise big weight loss up front aren’t always sustainable — and you may end up overeating or even binge eating if you feel deprived. “Consider if the diet’s habits are ones you can continue throughout your lifetime, not just 21 or 30 days,” says Angie Asche, RD, a sports dietitian in Lincoln, Nebraska.
A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this glucose before it burns off fat from a meal.
Clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore says intermittent fasting could be a great way to challenge the body to burn more fat and maintain muscle. Some studies have also found that regular short-term fasts could boost metabolism by 3.6 to 14 percent. Intermittent fasting is a convenient way to restrict calories without consciously trying to eat less. Many studies show that it is an effective weight loss strategy if people don’t overcompensate calorie-wise with their meals. Here are nutritionist-approved ways to speed up your metabolism.
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.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soymilk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
Aside from offering customizable diet plans, some companies offer consultants and diet experts for developing personalized diet programs for their clients. These experts help formulate diet plans or recommend food substitutes for people with health conditions such as diabetes for example. They could also help you come up with a diet program that is best suited for your budget.
Few things are more discouraging to someone on a weight-loss plan than the oft-cited statistic that 95% of people who lose weight will regain it within a few years. The difficulty in sticking with a long-term weight-maintenance plan is one of the main reasons that weight-loss programs fail. To uncover clues to successful weight loss, researchers have been collecting information on people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off for many years. This project, known as the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), records what these people did to achieve their goals.
Cutting out food groups is not the healthiest weight loss solution. “When you eliminate either fats or carbohydrates, you’re probably eating way too much of what’s left over,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For example, if you cut out fat, you could overdo it on carbohydrates or vice versa. Instead, Kirkpatrick recommends balancing your meals and having one whole grain carbohydrate at each meal and opting for low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Here is the worst diet advice nutritionists have ever heard.
This drug is an injected variant of a satiety hormone called GLP-1. It slows down how quickly the stomach empties and tells the brain that you don’t need to eat yet – a great idea for losing weight. As a bonus this drug works fine while one is on the keto diet and it works even better with intermittent fasting – for a rapid weight loss with no hunger.
The main advantage of the low-carb diet is that it causes you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
To stay motivated and deal with cravings, Juge has a couple of great recommendations. First, schedule a cheat meal on every seventh day. "Many of my clients have their cheat meal on Sunday, so then they're ready for Monday and the week to come," he says. If you feel deprived during the week, concentrate on the cheat meal to come, knowing you can eat absolutely anything you want to—pizza, lasagna, doughnuts, beer, chips, you name it. Remember, though, it's just one cheat meal, not an entire day of cheating. Afterward, get right back on the wagon with your next scheduled meal.
A favorite of health experts, the DASH diet has the primary goal of limiting sodium and lowering blood pressure, but the bonus is losing weight by shifting to a healthier way of eating. The DASH diet plan advocates building meals around fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Evidence demonstrates that the approach is effective, especially when you add in regular exercise. You can improve your results, suggests some research, by adding more lean protein to the diet. This is one of the healthier approaches, and it’s easy to adapt to your needs, though the salt restrictions make eating out tough. Looking for another way? Check out these other weight loss tricks that don’t require diet or exercise.
Keep stocked in your refrigerator or freezer a box of veggie burgers (look for low-sodium varieties). Veggie burgers are a much better choice for your waistline and heart than ground meat. Veggie patties have only about half the calories of regular red meat patties, and zero heart-hurting saturated fat. Plus, they’re so easy to cook – just one or two minutes in the microwave. While toasting your whole-wheat bun, take from your pantry a jar of roasted red bell peppers and top your veggie patty with a couple of luscious slices. Smear your bun with a little low-sodium Dijon mustard.
If you've seen the TV show, you get the idea: Six weeks of healthy food and regular exercise is celebrated as a great start to a weight-loss journey – as well as a way prevent or reverse various diseases. Fair enough. Experts determined that the Biggest Loser Diet is very likely to help you shed pounds, thanks to calorie restriction and exercise. To reap the other benefits of weight loss, however, you have to stick with it – something that's a lot harder for average Joes than for TV stars-in-the-making.
Some men can lose up to 5 lbs. per week, says Juge, if they follow the diet strictly. He recommends striving for a weekly 2- to 3-lb. loss for more lasting effects. "That way it's not such a drastic change and you'll be less likely to put all the weight back on when the diet's done," he adds. Weigh yourself naked just once per week, at the same time, preferably on the same scale. That way it'll be as accurate as possible.
"Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food," Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
This drug is an injected variant of a satiety hormone called GLP-1. It slows down how quickly the stomach empties and tells the brain that you don’t need to eat yet – a great idea for losing weight. As a bonus this drug works fine while one is on the keto diet and it works even better with intermittent fasting – for a rapid weight loss with no hunger.
Knowing what you're going to eat for dinner may help prevent those last-minute stops at the fast-food restaurant. Spend a little time once a week planning out your dinner menu and prepping ahead, such as defrosting your chicken and chopping veggies. Make a healthy chicken Parmesan by topping a 3-ounce grilled chicken breast with 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and 1 ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese, and serve it with 1/2 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti and 2 cups of steamed broccoli. This meal has 425 calories.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the placenta after implantation, and doctors sometimes prescribe it for fertility issues. But this hormone has also gained popularity as a weight-loss supplement — and using it as such can be dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against purchasing over-the-counter hCG, as these supplement products are illegal. (34)
This company’s latest plan, Turbo 13, promises you’ll lose 13 pounds (and seven inches from your girth) in the first month. When you join Nutrisystem (membership is required), you’ll mix their pre-packaged meals with food you buy at the grocery store. The plan recommends splitting up your meals into a six a day. As with many diet plans, the research backs the short-term results, but there’s little evidence that it works in the long term. Convenience is the biggest pro; cons are the price and the highly processed foods. Nutrisystem is not for you if you are under 18, pregnant, or breastfeeding, or if you have food allergies. For research-backed tips, try these scientifically proven ways you can start losing weight right now.
This nutritionally sound book-based food plan is based on the research of Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutrition at Penn State University. Rolls says you can lose one to two pounds per week on the plan. The theory is that by swapping out calorie-heavy fat-laden foods with fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water in them, you can eat more for fewer calories. To boost weight loss, you will need to be active—aim for 10,000 steps a day. You might not lose weight as fast, but Rolls has both short-term and long-term evidence to support her approach. Read more about it in Rolls’ latest book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
By planning your meals and logging what you eat and drink, you will start memorizing how many calories are in your favorite meals and ingredients. Best of all you will learn your own eating habits and cravings, so over time you can better plan your meals to suit your cravings. After a couple weeks if you see you consistently have a 3:00 pm craving for carbs, you can head off that craving in advance with a skinny sandwich at lunch. Or, a sweet craving at 10:00 am can be managed with a sweet oatmeal breakfast.
Portion control is another key element of weight loss. Part of the process is understanding an actual serving size. Measuring high-calorie ingredients will help you learn to eyeball portions. Even calories from healthy foods add up. “One of the foods people love are healthy fats, which are great,” Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian, and founder of Eat Chic Chicago says. Your definition of a handful of nuts might be four times bigger than an actual serving size, she warns.
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
Start with 40 grams of Net Carbs of carbohydrates a day. Net Carbs represent the total carbohydrate content of the food minus the fiber content and sugar alcohols (if in the product). The Net Carbs number reflects the grams of carbohydrate that significantly impact your blood sugar level and therefore are the only carbs you need to count when you do Atkins.

Consequently, researchers have widely discredited the hCG diet, which involves using hCG injections, pellets, sprays, or drops, and consuming  as few as 500 calories daily. The diet is problematic not only because there’s a lack of research on hCG supplements, but also because the calorie requirement is dangerously low, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, hormone imbalances, blood clots, and other issues. Thus, most experts agree the hCG diet is not safe for anyone, the Mayo Clinic notes. (35)


If you like eating meat and want to lose weight, you might be tempted to try this recent extreme diet fad that proponents have made some pretty outrageous claims about. One: that eating nothing but meat can cure you of autoimmune diseases. The problem is that there’s no good research to support that notion, or any other health claim, for that matter. Indeed, omitting foods known to be good for you — fruits and veggies among them — can lead to a bunch of unwanted side effects, including constipation and potentially dangerous nutrient deficiencies. Still, since you’re cutting out so many food groups, there’s a decent chance you’ll lose weight, experts say. Regardless of any possible benefits you might see, this restrictive approach is definitely one you’ll want to ask your doc about before you even consider diving in.
Open up a big bag of baby carrots and dip them into your freshly made no-oil-added, no-salt-added hummus. Simply whip up in your food processor a can of no-salt-added chickpeas/garbanzo beans, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, a jalapeno pepper (if you like your hummus hot and spicy), and fresh herbs like cilantro and dill. Add a little water, if necessary, until the desired consistency is achieved.
Diet plans can be a great resource for people looking to lose weight or streamline their nutrition. When choosing one program over the other, think about the individual foods allowed on the diet—if you must source some ingredients yourself, does this fit into your budget? Do the meals satisfy your preferred tastes, and do they incorporate alternatives for food allergies or sensitivities?
This high-protein, low-carbohydrate, diet plan claims you can lose nine pounds in two weeks. South Beach is different from other low-carb diets because it incorporates more unsaturated fats, such as those in olive oil and avocados, rather than saturated fats. On the downside, the cost can add up quickly if you’re buying the meals, and the first few phases of the diet don’t allow for eating out (or ordering in). No matter which diet plan you choose, avoid these 20 foods that are never worth the calories.
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.
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