Diets That Work: These Are the Best Diet Plans for Weight Loss, According to Nutritionists

Do all diets really fail? That depends on your definition of the term “diet.” While many weight loss programs and meal plans promise results subscribers can never seem to get, many health professionals have developed plans that do work. And there’s research to prove it.

Why do these diets work? Because they aren’t structured like the unsustainable, ineffective celebrity-backed fad diets you’re probably familiar with. Developed by nutrition researchers, professors, and credible health institutions, these dietitian-approved diet plans are absolutely worth trying.

DASH diet

Even though the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was developed to reduce and prevent high blood pressure, it consistently earns the top spot on the overall healthiest diets you can follow. The foods it encourages and discourages don’t just improve blood pressure. They’re also part of an effective weight loss strategy.

Those following DASH guidelines eat multiple servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean meat or and fish daily. The diet also encourages individuals to eat a variety of nuts, seeds, and legumes, and allows the consumption of fats and sweets — but at minimal amounts.

The flexitarian diet

Healthy breakfast skillet

Healthy breakfast skillet | Source: iStock

Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner believed so strongly in the power of plant foods — and the occasional beef steak — that she developed a diet allowing both. You don’t have to be a vegetarian all the time to be healthy. Just most of the time.

The reason the flexitarian diet works is that it groups healthy foods into five unique categories: new meats (tofu, nuts, eggs, beans), whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and sugar and spice (herbs, salad dressings, agave nectar, and more). Dieters are encouraged to choose foods from each food group to fill their daily calorie intake. But if you’re hungry for a burger or pepperoni pizza, you can choose to be flexible. In moderation, of course.

A vegan diet

While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with meat or dairy, many people don’t eat either of these food groups fresh. Highly processed deli meat and full-fat cream cheese fit into their respective categories, but they’re not doing anything miraculous for your waistline. Eliminating these food groups completely can lead to weight loss in a fairly simple way.

Forced to eat foods derived strictly from plants, you eliminate the massive amounts of saturated fat that often contribute to weight gain. A plant-based diet also provides sufficient amounts of fiber, which discourages excessive calorie intake. It’s good for the environment, too.

The Volumetrics diet

Healthy vegetable diet

Healthy vegetable diet | Ben6/ iStock/Getty Images

Developed by a Penn State nutrition professor, the Volumetrics diet follows the belief that you don’t have to eat less food to lose weight; you just have to eat better food. On this diet, individuals eat mostly low-calorie foods that are “energy dense,” or highly nutritious per serving. An apple, for example, is more energy dense than a cookie — and healthier — despite being relatively the same volume.

Foods emphasized in the diet, such as fruits and vegetables, contain more fiber than foods such as cookies, potato chips, and ice cream. Fiber-rich foods digest slowly in comparison, which creates feelings of fullness more quickly and discourages overeating.

Weight Watchers

In 2015, Weight Watchers adapted its approach to weight loss when it launched its Beyond the Scale program. And it worked. Those who follow this program focus on developing techniques to create a positive weight loss mindset along with learning the healthiest and most convenient ways to eat healthy and stay fit.

Weight Watchers also offers three separate ways to join: individually online, through in-person meet-ups with other members, or working individually with a personal coach. In a nutshell, it caters to the needs and preferences of every individual who wants to eat better, get fit, and lose weight safely — and keep that weight off.

Effective weight loss diets apply the same core concepts using different approaches to cater to different needs. They encourage the consumption of foods that promote fullness, health, and sustainable weight loss, but don’t discourage “pleasure” foods. They don’t make promises they can’t prove.

And most importantly, they were developed to help people make smarter, healthier choices. Some, such as Weight Watchers, charge fees. But profit isn’t their primary driving force. Their marketing doesn’t mislead.

People keep coming back to these plans because — with patience and resilience — they do produce results. And those results really can last.

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