By Kath Ross, PhD.
It’s no secret that as a species we’re getting fatter, which is why finding a diet to keep you at a healthy body weight is critical. Never has it been more important for consumers to be informed; that rule is especially applicable to those who are shopping for weight loss diet plans.
The weight loss market in the US alone is worth over $66 billion, and that number only continues to grow, being forecasted to be worth $245 billion by 2022. This booming industry has spawned an army of would-be “armchair dietitians” that have flooded the internet with a whole host of bogus “lose weight quick guides” to cash in.
It seems like every week there’s another new diet book entering the market, claiming to be “the best“, falsely promising its followers remarkable results with no effort whatsoever. Deception and false-statements are running rampant within the diet industry, as many shady companies have realized the fastest way to make a quick buck is to simply lie and swindle.
Everybody knows that losing weight is a very difficult task to do on its own; the last thing you want is additional added stress worrying that you’ve been conned into buying a fad diet plan that simply doesn’t work.
To guide you on your path towards a slender and healthier body, we’ve narrowed them down to this top 10 list:
1. The Hard & Fast Diet
After reviewing just about every single weight loss plan out there, we had to place The Hard & Fast Diet in the #1 position. Without mincing words, this is the most effective we have come across bar none.
This best-selling diet is proving to be extremely popular, as it’s designed to produce results in the shortest possible amount of time.
After thoroughly researching it, we’ve concluded that this is very likely the most effective one out there; you could be looking at drastic changes to your body fat in a matter of weeks, not months or years.
As is implied in the name, The Hard & Fast Diet is both hard and fast! It’ll require some willpower, but if you follow the plan as instructed we believe it’s a fool-proof method of rapidly losing weight.
The author Michael Keane has put the Hard & Fast Diet together for those who just want to be looking good and feeling good as soon as possible, which is probably 99% of people.
2. VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet)
We’ve placed the VLCD (very low calorie diet) in the second slot of our list due to the clinically-proven nature of the diet itself. As is implied within the name, the VLCD is essentially a crash diet that puts followers on a massive caloric deficit, triggering weight loss at a constant pace.
The VLCD has seen a surge in popularity, being utilized by various different meal replacement shake companies.
While the VLCD is often stuck to using low calorie meal replacement shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can actually eat any type of food you’d like; you just need to ensure the you do not exceed the daily allocated amount.
Again, this is another diet that’s going to require some willpower.
3. The Ketogenic Diet
You’ve probably already heard about how the Keto Diet is one of the best diets for losing body fat. We have placed it in slot #3 of our list due to it being so effective and very user-friendly.
Following it involves sticking to a caloric deficit while also keeping your carbohydrate intake to a minimum; in doing so, you’ll eventually push your body into ketosis – a state where the body starts burning body fat reserves as its primary source of energy.
The keto diet is one that requires a little more monetary investment than others on this list, simply due to the foods required to sustain it. As you’ll be dropping almost all of your carbohydrate intake, you’ll be eating a lot of protein and healthy fats, which can be a little costly.
Costs aside, we believe that if you’re genuinely looking for a good weight loss diet, keto will be an excellent choice and the results will speak for themselves.
4. The 5:2 Diet
Without a doubt, the 5:2 diet had to appear on this. This particular weight loss plan utilizes a modified intermittent fasting method and combines it with a traditional calorie controlled diet.
The name 5:2 literally describes the format; five days per week (the “non-fast days”) you will stick to a maximum of 2000 calories consumed each day – these calories should come from non-processed, low-in-sugar organic foods. The remaining two days per week (the “fast days”) you will not exceed 500 calories consumed each day.
This method of “crash dieting” two days per week is what makes the 5:2 diet so effective for consistent weight loss, as those two days work to jumpstart your body into fat-burning mode.
While it isn’t renowned for causing “rapid weight loss”, it will deliver consistent results if you follow the directions carefully over a sustained period of time.
5. The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet is a highly effective weight loss method, but also has some excellent general health benefits too.
Created by Dr. Barry Sears in the 1990s, the Zone Diet helps to prevent diet-induced inflammation (which, according to Sears, is beneficial for longevity) and supports healthy, gradual weight loss.
While sticking to it, you will be keeping your intake of grains and starches to an absolute minimum, and will only be consuming meals that contain macronutrients in a very specific ratio – each meal will contain exactly 33% protein (from lean meat), 66% carbohydrates (from green vegetable sources), and a 1% “dash of fat”.
The Zone Diet is an ideal plan for somebody who doesn’t particularly want to limit their carb intake, yet wants to balance out their calorie intake.
6. The Low-Carbohydrate Diet
One common theme you’re probably noticing is that many weight loss diet plans are preaching minimal carbohydrate intake, and it’ll come as no surprise that the Low-Carb Diet adds to this chorus!
If it seem suspiciously similar to the Keto Diet, that’s because it is. The main fundamental difference is that the Low-Carb Diet is significantly easier to stick to (i.e. requires less willpower and commitment) and is less harsh on the body; it is designed for slow and steady weight loss rather than for rapid results.
The biggest selling point for it is that it can actually be sustained indefinitely to help keep you at a natural body weight for years to come.
Research has shown that the Low-Carb Diet has numerous health benefits and is often referred to as a diet for longevity and good health.
7. The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet (sometimes known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach) is a low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet with a difference. It was released by nutritionist Dr. Robert Coleman Atkins, back in 1972 as “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution”.
Since its original launch, it has gone through multiple revisions, and in its current modern state is one of the most effective diets for losing body fat.
Rather than just being your typical run-of-the-mill carbohydrate-limited deficit diet, it takes a very unique approach unlike many other weight loss plans out there. The Atkins Diet puts those who follow it on a protein-rich diet that limits carb intake to around 20-40 grams per day, the plan also doesn’t apply any restrictions on how much fat the follower can consume (however there is a daily caloric amount that you must not exceed).
The diet itself is broken up into 4 different phases:
An “introductory” phase that adjusts you to a low-carb eating pattern, an “ongoing weight loss” phase which will help you reach a health body weight over a sustain period of time, a “pre-maintenance” phase which gradually grants the follower additional carbohydrates and finally, a “maintenance” phase which is sustained indefinitely to help sustain the follower’s new weight.
8. The Paleo Diet
Coming in at number 8 is the Paleo Diet, also known as The Caveman Diet. What makes it so unique is that it’s based on the eating habits of the hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic era.
This diet really is a “back to basics” style diet and puts into practice a whole load of things you probably already knew; you are not allowed any processed foods, no sugar or snack-foods are tolerated and certainly no alcohol is allowed. The Paleo Diet is all about eating clean and healthy – low-carb and high-protein foods will populate the majority of what you’ll be eating; if the cavemen couldn’t have it, you can’t have it either!
What’s more, you don’t even need to count your calories for this one (though we recommend that you do if you find yourself having a tendency to binge eat no matter what the food) – the general theory is that by significantly overhauling your consumed-foods to healthier options, the weight will naturally start to come off.
Rather than being something that delivers fast weight loss, the Paleo Diet is designed to be followed for life, and has many people who swear by it.
9. The Banting Diet
Another highly popular weight loss diet is The Banting Diet – this is another calorie-restricted program that reduces the follower’s carbohydrate intake over a gradual period of time. The Banting Diet particularly focuses on eliminating high-in-starch foods and specifically foods that contain refined sugars.
Unlike most other diets on this list that were created by those of a nutritional background, this diet was actually formulated back in the year 1820 by a British undertaker named William Banting. Despite the rather unorthodox origin, “banting for weight loss” has become something of a phenomenon, with millions of people worldwide vouching for it!
Since its initial release, the Banting Diet has undergone numerous revisions and closely resembles the Atkins 4-step program, with one or two key differences. Followers of this diet will undergo: an “observation phase” which helps the dieter transition and adjust to the new medium-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free diet. A “restoration phase” which will slowly remove the carbohydrates from your diet. A “Transformation phase” which will help you reach a healthy body weight, and finally a “Preservation phase”, which as the name suggests, will set you onto a diet that’ll preserve your new body weight.
10. The Dukan Diet
Last but by no means least is the Dukan Diet, a nutritional 4-step program that shares similar traits to the Aktins Diet and the Banting Diet. Formulated in 2000 by Pierre Dukan, a French doctor and nutritionist, the diet has continued to climb in popularity, having sold over 7 million copies worldwide.
Followers of the diet will be placed on a high protein, low fat and low carb diet, and provided with a list of 100 different “approved foods” to mix and match. They will go through an “attack phase”, a “cruise phase”, a “consolidation phase” and finally a “stabilization phase”.
Dukan states that his diet is designed to help followers reach their “true weight”, which is essentially the weight that your body is genetically meant to be at.
If you’re looking for a rapid weight loss diet, this isn’t it – the Dukan Diet is not designed to produce such results, rather it should be viewed as a “diet for life” that’ll help you reach a natural healthy weight (i.e. your “true weight”) and sustain it indefinitely.
Weight Loss Diet FAQ
Below you'll find a list of the most commonly asked questions about diets for weight loss.
People just assuming that they’re destined to be overweight is, for the most part, a fallacy (in fact we’ve written a whole article on it).
For the vast majority of folks, being obese is something caused by diet and lifestyle – your bodyweight is not a genetic inheritance. While age, mobility, and certain medical conditions can make gaining weight much easier, most of those who are obese are so due to excessive calorie intake – and no, being “big boned” isn’t a thing!
Gaining weight unusually fast? Your top priority should be to speak to your doctor prior to starting a diet plan for weight loss
Firstly, if you feel that you’re gaining an unusual amount of weight, your first port of call should be a healthcare professional, just to rule out whether or not your weight may be the result of an underlying medical issue (such as Hypothyroidism, Depression etc.).
If you’ve been given a clean bill of physical and mental health then you really have no excuses to hide behind; your weight is a direct result of your excessive eating patterns. That in itself may sound bad, however with impactful changes to your diet, you will 100% be able to lose weight (and keep it off) with some willpower and self-discipline.
There’s no doubt that the main “diet killer” is hunger (or more specifically cravings). Following a low calorie diet plan takes a lot of self-control, especially if you’ve been habitually overeating for a sustained period of time.
Often, when dieters claim they’re “always hungry”, they really mean that they’re always battling cravings. The most effective way to stave off any unwanted hunger pangs is to drink plenty of water – a huge majority of us actually mistake feeling for hunger for thirst. If you are actively dieting, you should be ensuring that you’re consuming at least half a gallon of water per day.
In addition to water, you could use appetite suppressant supplements that contain Glucomannan. Glucomannan is an natural dietary fiber that swells up and expands inside the stomach, producing a natural feeling of fullness – all while being calorie-free.
Another great way of preventing yourself from reverting back to your old eating habits is to take up a hobby or interest. It is not unusually for those who have previously overate to do so out of boredom. Filling your spare time with a pleasurable activity (ideally one that burns calories) can be an excellent way to keep you from breaking your daily caloric intake limit.
When taken to the extreme, dieting can in certain cases become unsafe, but for the most part, being classes as “overweight” presents a significantly higher amount of danger than any diet could.
We’d only class dieting as “unsafe” in two primary circumstances:
- If the individual sustains the caloric deficit diet into an unhealthy BMI range (i.e. becomes underweight).
- If the individual goes too long without consuming the vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the body requires to continue functioning correctly.
Outside these two main circumstances, dieting cannot really be unsafe (but there are certain diets that we would class as “unhealthy” if sustained for too long a period of time).
For the average person, muscle loss while following a caloric deficit diet will not really result in the loss of any significant amount of lean muscle mass – the body will always burn stored body fat as its primary source of energy.
For those who are concerned about retaining their muscle mass while dieting, we recommend keeping your protein intake high and regularly weight training throughout the duration.
After you reach your target body weight, the last thing you should do is return to your old eating patterns – this will result in Yo-Yo dieting 99% of the time.
Instead, you will need to move onto a weight maintenance program, which is essentially a diet that will continue to moderate your food intake to ensure the weight lost will not return.
There are many different reasons why you’d continue to gain weight, but the actual reason is irrelevant. If you’re still gaining weight on your current diet, you need to eat even less.
If eating 500-600 calories under your daily caloric maintenance doesn’t produce any results, you’ll need to push it to 1000, or even 1200. Continue to reduce your intake until you find the sweet spot.