January is a crucial month. It is often a turning point for those who have struggled to make healthier decisions, such as moving more and eating healthier.
That is why, every year, US News & World Report evaluates the most popular diets (41 in total) and classifies them by category. They create a kind of hierarchy of meal plans, outlining which ones are best for general health and the maintenance of body fat, which ones are the most suitable for rapid weight loss and which ones are optimal if you want to take the trade route. By 2019, the Mediterranean diet reigned supreme, no. 1 in the best diets in general, in addition to leading the best diets for healthy eating, plant-based diets and the easiest diets to follow.
If you are trying to lose weight and optimize your health, check out the best nutrition plans, including what each one entails, below.
Best Diets Overall
- Mediterranean Diet
The goal: Melt fat and avoid chronic diseases, like cancer and diabetes.
Pros: You can enjoy poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation; eat sweets and red meat on special occasions; and have red wine with your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and seafood. There’s a plethora of research backing up this diet.
Cons: You have to be accountable for figuring out calorie consumption to lose or maintain your weight, as well as your workouts.
- DASH Diet
The goal: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan does what its name suggests: helps lower high blood pressure and encourages weight loss.
Pros: It’s straightforward. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy; eat less red meat, salt, and high-calorie sweets. Plus, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers free guides.
Cons: You might not lose as much weight as you would on other plans because it’s more catered to improving your health (not necessarily a bad thing).
- Flexitarian Diet
The goal: Cut fat and live longer with optimal health.
Pros: It’s said “flexitarians” (flexible vegetarians) weigh 15 percent less than meat-eaters, live nearly 4 years longer, and can dodge heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Cons: If you’re hell-bent on eating beef, this might be difficult to adhere to. You’ll also be cooking a lot of your own meals.
Best Weight-Loss Diets
- Weight Watchers Diet
The goal: Lose 2 pounds a week.
Pros: The meal plan’s flexible; you have access to a support group; and there aren’t hard limits on what you can and can’t eat. You’ll simply opt for the most nutritionally dense foods that keep you fuller longer. (i.e. your meals will be lower in calories, saturated fat, and sugar, and higher in protein.)
Cons: It can get a bit pricey, and tallying your meal points is a pain.
- Volumetrics Diet
The goal: Drop 1-2 pounds per week.
Pros: Created by a Penn State University nutrition professor, Volumetrics is more of an approach to healthy eating than a regimented diet. You’ll learn to identify and prioritize low-density foods, which are low in calories but high in volume (think: broth) to help you stay full. It’s also affordable, since you’re not purchasing a book, program, or special ingredients. You won’t feel hungry or starved either.
Cons: This might be easier to stray from because you have more freedom.
- Flexitarian Diet
Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets
- Health Management Resources (HMR)
The goal: Drop 1 to 2 pounds per week for an average of 23 pounds over the first 12 weeks; keeping the weight off is a main priority.
Pros: The crux of this diet is meal replacement, which is said to help people cut 3x as much weight compared to traditional diets. You’ll have low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars, multigrain hot cereal, and fruits and vegetables in place of other meals and snacks. You’ll also receive food for the first 3 weeks to drop weight as quickly as possible; then, you’ll transition to the second phase where the diet is less structured and you’ll receive food monthly, as well as weekly telephone coaching sessions.
Cons: The first phase can be difficult to adhere to. It’s a tad expensive, especially if you’re not used to buying fruits and vegetables in bulk. The initial 3-week HMR starter kit costs $301 and the 2-week reorder kit costs $185.
- Atkins Diet
The goal: The diet has four phases. You cut carbs, then eat progressively more until you hit your desired weight. Low-carb diets force your body to burn fat as an alternative source of fuel.
Pros: Protein and fat take longer than carbs to digest, so you’ll stay full on the diet. You’ll see weight loss fairly quickly (even if it’s initially due to water loss).
Cons: It’s difficult to maintain in the long run. People struggle with getting variety in meals and eating out is difficult.
- Keto Diet
The goal: Quickly lose weight by causing your body to burn fat versus carbs, entering a state of ketosis.
Pros: You’ll eventually have fewer craving and boost mood and energy, though it’s a tough transition at first.
Cons: You can experience headaches, fatigue, and mental fogginess during the first few weeks. This is difficult to sustain over a long period of time, too. It’s better for quick weight loss.
Best Commercial Diet Plans
- Weight Watchers Diet
- Jenny Craig Diet
The goal: Cut 2 pounds a week with the intention of keeping it off.
Pros: The properly portioned pre-packaged meals take away the guesswork. They’re personalized to you, as is the exercise plan. You’ll also receive a personal consultant to help you stay motivated to meet your goals.
Cons: You’re dropping some cash on this plan: $99 to enroll, at least $19 a month for the “Premium” program, and $15-$23 per day on food.
- Nutritarian Diet
The goal: Lose weight (and maintain it) by eating nutrient-dense foods, avoiding those that contain carcinogens and chemicals, and opting for carbs with a lower glycemic load.
Pros: You’re not counting calories and are free to eat as many raw veggies, cooked greens, and nutrient-rich beans/legumes, tofu, and fresh fruit you like.
Cons: For the 20-day and six-week weight-loss plans, you’re avoiding dairy, meat, animal products, fruit juices, oils, and not snacking between meals.