Finding a diet plan that works can be a challenge. An Internet search for weight-loss methods can overwhelm you with meal ideas, quick fixes, and a variety of supplements and pills that guarantee losing a certain amount of inches or pounds within a short time. A reliable program should include reasonable goals, a balanced meal plan, regular exercise and a behavior component to keep you motivated. In a 2014 "U.S News and World" article, 32 different diets were ranked based on effectiveness, nutritional balance, safety and ease of following. Overall, the Weight Watchers, TLC, Volumetrics and Mediterranean diets were found to be both popular and successful.
Weight Watchers is a conventional diet approach that uses a food points system to encourage you to create a balanced diet without going over a certain number of points per day. Lower point values are assigned to foods that are more nutritionally dense. For example, fruits and vegetables are considered point free, encouraging you to eat more from these food groups. The major goal of this diet is weight loss. Along with monitoring food intake as a lifestyle change, exercise is also encouraged.
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Diet was created by the National Institutes of Health to lower heart disease risk and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Specific guidelines are outlined within the TLC plan. Fat should provide a total of 25 percent to 35 percent of daily calories. Restrict saturated fat intake to 7 percent or less of total calories. Limit cholesterol intake to 200 milligrams or less per day. Reduce sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams or less per day. Also essential to the TLC diet is eating the right level of calories to support a healthy weight and including a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise. Foods promoted on this healthy diet regimen are fruits, vegetables, whole-grain sources, reduced or fat-free dairy foods, fish and lean poultry.
Modifying your eating habits to incorporate nutrient-rich foods and cooking at home are two components of the Volumetrics Diet. The plan supports healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss. Food is divided into four different categories based upon the energy density. Weight loss is achieved by watching portions and eating lower-density meals and snacks. No specific foods are eliminated on the Volumetrics Diet, but fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meat sources, legumes and grains are encouraged.
There are many different versions of the Mediterranean Diet, but according to the American Heart Association, the most common version promotes intake of fish, fruit, vegetables, bread, beans, nuts, olive oil, dairy products and limited portions of meat, poultry, eggs and wine. This diet helps reduce heart disease risk because it limits unhealthy saturated fat intake. Research varies in regard to weight loss with the Mediterranean Diet. Regular exercise and creating a calorie deficit are necessary to support weight change with this heart healthy diet.
- Nutrition.gov: Interested in Losing Weight?
- U.S. News and World Report: Health: Best Diets Overall
- NHS Choices: Top Diet Reviews for 2014: Weight Watchers
- U.S. News and World Report: Weight Watchers Diet Overview
- TLC Diet: Your Key to a Healthy Lifestyle
- U.S. News and World Report: TLC Diet Overview
- The Washington Post: Paleo? Volumetric? DASH? Popular Diet Plans Have Pros and Cons That Should Be Weighed: Volumetrics
- U.S. News and World Report: Volumetrics Diet Overview
- American Heart Association: Mediterranean Diet
- U.S. News and World Report: Mediterranean Diet Overview