One of the problems with many of the easy diets listed is that they include a lot of processed foods. Frozen products and microwavable meals are generally not as nutritious as a home-cooked meal. And if you get used to eating foods like brownies and chocolate shakes when you're slimming down you may continue to crave those foods after the diet is over. And of course, if you consume non-diet versions of those foods, the pounds will come back.
Ever come home from work, a shopping trip, or a day out with the kids and just grabbed takeaway because you had no time or energy to cook? Yep, we’ve all been there. It’s not the best option for our health OR our bank accounts. That’s why the best way to stay on track with your weight loss meal plan is to plan ahead and meal prep so you’ve always got something in the fridge or freezer that’s ready to go.
According to registered dietitian Manuel Villaoorta in his article on weight loss, as we age, our metabolic rates decrease up to 8% every decade. This means, of course, that once we hit that 50 mark, we can no longer eat like teenagers. Consuming healthy foods is of course essential when trying to lose weight, but portion control is also essential.
Unfortunately, most nutritional authorities tell you the exact opposite. Eat six times a day. Eat lots of snacks. Eat before you go to bed. Eat, eat, eat – even to lose weight! It sounds pretty stupid, because it is pretty stupid. Instead, it may be better to use intermittent fasting, a dietary technique used successfully for countless generations.
For those just starting out on their weight-loss journey, Rachael Lenzmeier Jencks, 43, wants you to know that cutting calories blindly, without thinking about the nutritional impact of the foods you're eating, isn't the answer. "The one thing that I would tell myself is that skipping fruit and veggies to save calories isn't EVER going to do the trick," she says. "What you put in your body does matter and no amount of exercise can undo a bad diet." (Need a little inspo? Check out the best pre- and post-workout snacks for every workout.)
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
The "all meat all the time" low-carb approach or strict veganism can be great options for people who thrive on clear diet rules (and those two are actually the most popular diets out there) but these extremes are not for everyone. If you prefer more of a moderate approach, the Flexitarian diet is the clear winner. The "flexible vegetarian" mindset allows you a healthy balance of plant-based foods, responsibly sourced meats, and quality fats. The best part? It's not super restrictive, so you have plenty of nutritious food options. (Start here: How to Adopt a Flexitarian Diet)
If you get enough protein and fat, your total calorie intake should take care of itself. Because you feel full, you won't binge on a can of Pringles and blow your calorie count for the day. The remaining 45 percent of calories in our plan comes from carbohydrates — enough to give your palate a full range of tastes and your body a combination of fast- and slow-burning fuel.
Add a cup of low-fat milk, a part-skim mozzarella stick, or a half cup of low-sodium cottage cheese to breakfast, and you may have a belly-busting win. While lots of research links calcium with lower body weights, results from a 2014 study suggest that calcium-containing foods may reduce waist circumference in those genetically predisposed to carrying weight in their midsection.
Don’t forget, non-animal sources of protein including lentils, leafy-green veggies, legumes, tofu, nuts, beans and grains are all excellent sources of protein, too. Finally, if you’re struggling to meet your daily protein quota, a quality protein powder, whey or plant-based (checkout our review of PlantFusion protein) can make it easy when you’re stretched for time.
Some diet plans, such as the MIND diet and the DASH diet, are meant to focus on certain areas of health — and weight loss may be a bonus. Others are created with weight loss as a primary goal. “It is important to remember that we are all very unique individuals,” says Kyle. “We all have different states of health and different lifestyles, which could affect what diet plan is best for us. That means that you should not be considering what is working for your friends or family members — and instead should pay attention to what works for you individually.”
Weight Watchers, The Mayo Clinic Diet, and especially Noom provide a lot of behavior-based support to integrate these good habits. These include learning portions, logging food, and both giving and receiving external support. Nutrisystem doesn’t ask for any behavior changes save for subsisting almost entirely off their pre-packaged, pre-portioned meals.
Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”
After 30 days on the diet, you’ll slowly add in one of the restricted foods — one at a time and for a few days only — to see how your body reacts. At this point, you can continue just avoiding the ingredients you suspect you’re sensitive to, or go to an allergy specialist to receive confirmation and see if there’s anything else you might be allergic to.
The secret to a slimmer stomach in no time? A whole lot of fiber in your diet. Although many people are loath to add carbs to their diet when they’re trying to lose weight, adding the right, fiber-rich ones can have inches off your belly in a hurry. In fact, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that every 10-gram daily increase in soluble fiber was associated with a 3.7 percent decrease in dangerous visceral fat over five years. Those who were active got even leaner, shaving off twice that much fat in the same amount of time. To start ditching that extra belly fat today, add the 30 Best Foods For Fiber to your menu!
Most women will need to eat and drink fewer calories and get the right amount of healthy foods to lose weight. Increasing exercise or physical activity may help with weight loss, but choosing healthy foods (lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits) is what works best for many people to achieve a healthy weight.1 Combining healthy eating with increased physical activity is best. Talk to your doctor or nurse before starting any weight-loss program. He or she can work with you to find the best way for you to lose weight.
I HAVE LOST WEIGHT ON THE DIABETIC DIET; HOWEVER I HAVE PANCREATITIS AND I MUST WATCH VEGETABLES AND FRUIT BECAUSE MY PANCREAS DOESN’T LIKE THE HIGH LEVELS OF CELLULOSE. EATING AN APPLE CAN SOMETIMES CAUSE A PANCREAS ATTACK. I ALSO HAVE TO BE CAREFUL EATING MEAT. HAM AND/OR SPICY MEATS ARE ALSO SOMETHING MY PANCREAS FIGHTS AGAINST. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
For more support and resources, check out NuMi, a digital product for do-it-yourself dieters that integrates with wearable fitness devices and health platforms, such as the Fitbit and Apple Health. Nutrisystem also runs a website called The Leaf, which provides recipes, tips on jazzing up Nutrisystem meals, fitness tips and more. Counselors are available by phone, chat or via NuMi from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Those same counselors (plus Numi) can help you wean off the program once you’re ready by giving your tips on how to get back in the kitchen and in front of the stove without sabotaging your weight loss.
Leafy Greens – Help you feel satisfied longer, boost your metabolism and turn off your hunger receptors. You will eat less and lose more belly fat just by increasing your leafy greens! They’re low in calories and high in fiber, making them the perfect weight loss food. Not a fan? Try one of our yummy green smoothies. Examples include spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, bok choy, arugula, chard, and mustard greens.