Really, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out which eating regimen will set fire to fat while maintaining muscle. Fortunately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition just released its position paper, which combs through all existing scientific studies to report how every diet will affect your body composition. Here, we’ve pulled five of the most six-pack-friendly diets and streamlined how they’re great, as well as why they might be right (or wrong) for you—according to the hard science.

While 1,200 may be the right number for some, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try basing your meals and snacks off this plan and double up on veggies at any opportunity — more fruit at snack time works too! You can also add an extra ounce or two of protein at all meals if you find yourself feeling hungry. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!
The HMR Program uses meal replacements – think low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and hot cereal – in phases, coaching from experts, physical activity and an emphasis on fruits and vegetables to help dieters shed pounds fast. While last year the diet shared the No. 1 ranking in this category with the Biggest Loser diet, this year it has the top spot to itself. "This diet makes it easy to lose weight fast and would likely be effective for someone who wants to lose weight for a specific event," one expert said. "However, as far as long-term healthy-habit-forming, this diet falls short" in part because dieters don't learn to make their own healthy food choices.
You don’t need to eat a truck-load of berries to get these effects either. Positive effects were seen in women who consumed only half a cup of blueberries or one cup of strawberries a week. So pick up your favorite frozen varieties at the supermarket. Grab a handful as a healthy pick-me-up, add them to yoghurts, cereal or blend ’em up with low-fat milk for a delicious smoothie!

Like many other overweight and obese people, particularly women, you may have tried time and time again to lose weight with little to no success. You may feel discouraged and wonder what’s the point in even trying? While you’re not alone in these feelings and frustrations, there are some key weight loss tips involved in women’s weight loss you might not know about — and that could make all the difference.


This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Really, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out which eating regimen will set fire to fat while maintaining muscle. Fortunately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition just released its position paper, which combs through all existing scientific studies to report how every diet will affect your body composition. Here, we’ve pulled five of the most six-pack-friendly diets and streamlined how they’re great, as well as why they might be right (or wrong) for you—according to the hard science.
If you haven't used your gym's rowing machine, you're missing out on one of the best pieces of cardio and strength equipment. Working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, arms, and back, you get a total-body workout that'll have you pouring sweat. Contrary to what most people think, the power of rowing mostly comes from your legs—not your arms. Engaging your quads and glutes, you drive your legs back to pull the handle towards your chest. Follow these pro tips to perfect your rowing form.
If you've been trying to eat healthy for a long time, you know how quickly you get sick of chicken breasts and broccoli. Break out of your diet rut with the Middle Eastern diet. It's based on the same principles as the Mediterranean diet but with more of an emphasis on plant-based foods and a different flavor profile. With all the tasty and healthy spices, you'll never get bored of making dinner and you'll get all the same heart-healthy benefits as its geographical cousin's diet.
What was the diet of the 1970s? They were eating white bread and jam. They were eating ice cream. They were eating Oreo cookies. There were not eating whole-wheat pasta. They were not eating quinoa. They were not eating kale. They were not counting calories. They were not counting net carbs. They were not even really exercising much. These people were doing everything ‘wrong’ yet, seemingly effortlessly, there was no obesity. Why?
Food preferences: Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating greens, you won’t like a diet filled with salads; but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes for meals might be more your speed. Consider a diet's overall approach to food and ask yourself, realistically, if you can eat the foods on this plan more or less for the rest of your life? And will you enjoy the foods on a given diet plan, or if it will feel like a “diet” food that you won’t be able to stick with long-term?
If you don’t have an established exercise routine, simply walking is the best first step toward weight loss. “Walking is a pretty good entry point for people,” says Gagliardi. This is particularly true if you have been out of the gym for a while and want to ease back into a workout routine. One small study published in The Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry found that obese women who did a walking program for 50 to 70 minutes three days per week for 12 weeks significantly slashed their visceral fat compared to a sedentary control group.
Many people chew gum as a way to stifle cravings or prevent mindless eating but this tactic may have an unfortunate side effect: belly bloat. Everyone naturally swallows a small amount of air when they chew but it’s magnified for people who chew gum, which causes gas and bloating. In addition, some artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase your appetite for junk food, so gum could be increasing your waistline on two fronts.
The plan promotes long-lasting, sustainable changes, and undoubtedly a bounty of research backs this up. In fact, one December 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine shows that people following Weight Watchers were close to nine times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight, compared to people following a self-help diet plan. (20)

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“Diet and exercise are a marriage that should never divorce,” said Giancoli, noting that the benefits of exercise aren’t restricted to the sheer number of calories you burn during thirty minutes on a treadmill. (Need one of those, by the way? We have some favorites.) Instead, research shows that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, proving that “muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”
Insulin is a fat-storing hormone. There’s nothing wrong with that – that is simply its job. When we eat, insulin goes up, signaling the body to store some food energy as body fat. When we don’t eat, then insulin goes down, signaling the body to burn this stored energy (body fat). Higher than usual insulin levels tell our body to store more food energy as body fat.
The main guiding principles of Nutrisystem are portion control, proper nutrition and daily exercise. By relying on foods with a low glycemic index (in other words, foods that release their sugars slowly and steadily, instead of rapidly and intensely), Nutrisystem meals provide a consistent amount of energy throughout the day. The prepackaged, portion-controlled meals eliminate guesswork, while their nutritional guides encourage you to incorporate fresh produce into your meals. Nutrisystem’s meals are rich in high-quality proteins to keep you feeling fuller for longer and incorporate healthy fats (like nuts) to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Their website allows you to track your progress and set realistic goals for yourself as well as giving you a large list of ten-minute exercises to do three times a day to help you stay active to lose weight even faster.

Take a walk through the supermarket, and you’ll be assaulted with aisle after aisle of low-fat and no-fat foods, “healthy” chips and cookies and juices and sodas galore. You likely already know that if you want to lose weight, cutting out processed foods and sweets is the first and most obvious step. But those healthy-sounding options can be just as bad, too.
If it all feels a little bit 90s, that’ll be because this was basically the diet that kept Rachel from Friends looking, well, like Rachel from Friends. Think of it as the 20th-century version of no carbs before Marbs. Thankfully though, the old premise of each as much as you want, as long as you don’t go near a carb, has had a makeover. The New Atkins diet reintroduces carbs in phases.

1Average weight loss for the Healthy Solutions at Home® program with phone coaching is 23 lbs. at 12 weeks and 28 lbs. at 26 weeks. Int J Obes 2007; 31:1270-1276; Obes 2013; 21:1951-1959. 2Average weight loss for the Decision-Free plan is 43-66 lbs. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1417-1421;Int J Obes 2007;31:488-494;J Am Coll Nutr 2005;24:347-353. Average weight loss for the in-clinic Healthy Solutions plan is 28-37.5 lbs. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1417-1421;Postgrad Med 2011;123:205-213;Int J Obes 2007;31:1270-1276;Obes 2013;21:1951-1959. These studies were supported and/or sponsored by HMR, including financial support in some cases. Some of the investigators in some of the studies were employees of HMR and/or members of the HMR Medical Advisory Board.

Satisfying your sweet tooth doesn't require a refined sugar-packed snack. The key is retraining your taste buds to recognize naturally sweet foods, like fruit. "To curb my hankering for treats, I eat mangoes," says Tamyala Ezell, who lost 105 pounds by making over her eating habits and working out three times a week. "They have a natural sweetness that does the trick. Plus, they're low in calories and high in fiber." Another example? "I top berries, nectarines, and cherries with homemade whipped cream, nuts, and dark chocolate," says Goetke.
The efficacy of Nutrisystem boils down to portion control. A tiny tray of frozen tuna casserole doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients or satisfaction, but if that’s all you have for dinner, you’re keeping calorie count low. We entered in a couple Nutrisystem meals and found their point count to be mid-high, between 7 and 9. Ultimately, tiny amounts of not-wholesome foods doesn’t teach you to eat well.
The low fat mantra has been the heartbeat of most of our public health recommendations for several decades, under the assumption that dietary fat caused heart disease and obesity. However, it seems much of that information was based on faulty science as even the recommendation of reducing saturated fat has fallen under scrutiny in multiple meta-analyses.
Lifestyle fit: Figure out whether a plan is compatible with your lifestyle before committing. Some meal plans are very simple; others require more work. Think about how much time and planning goes into each weight loss program. Some people find that meal planning and preparation takes up too much time, while others enjoy planning meals and spending time in the kitchen. 
Cons: That same study on the perks of being a keto athlete also found those same dieters had a lower exercise economy (how efficiently you use oxygen while moving). And whereas pretty much every other diet offers flexibility in the macro range, eating a few too many grams of carbs or protein will knock your body out of ketosis, so you have to be pretty committed to see the perks of this one. Lastly, the low protein count required to stay in ketosis may be holding you back here: A study analysis in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases found upping protein on a keto diet by just 5% tripled fat loss.

However, this approach has had limited long-term success. First of all, few people can continue for weeks, let alone months and years, using will power to limit calorie intake when they are hungry much of the time. Indeed, it is clear this strategy usually fails because while more Americans are going on diet and exercise programs, there has been a steady rise in the average American’s body mass index (BMI). Today, roughly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years, and adolescent obesity has tripled.
As we age, we tend to get less and less active for multiple reasons. Perhaps you recently retired and now have a ton of time on your hands. Maybe the kids are all grown and have moved out of the house. You may even just have more aches and pains that prevent you from moving around as much. Regardless of the reasons, women who are menopausal usually become less active due to the changes they endure.

Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict keto diet with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
In addition, the healthy habits and kinds of foods recommended on the Mayo Clinic Diet — including lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish and healthy fats — can further reduce your risk of certain health conditions. The Mayo Clinic Diet is meant to be positive, practical, sustainable and enjoyable, so you can enjoy a happier, healthier life over the long term.

The idea is that the fasting induces mild stress to the cells in your body, helping them become better at coping with such stress and possibly helping your body grow stronger. The verdict is still out regarding the diet’s long-term effectiveness with weight loss, according to a review of preliminary animal research published in January 2017 in Behavioral Sciences. (17)
While the deck seems stacked in favor of low carb, it is not so crystal clear that we need to throw out all other options and cash in our chips. That said, low carb also has the benefit of assisting with blood sugar levels and other health outcomes more than any other diet, too. In some cases helping people reduce or eliminate diabetes medications.

MyFitnessPal: An app widely recommended by trainers and fitness enthusiasts, MyFitnessPal is great for tracking macros. Goal macros: 50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein. It further breaks these general guidelines into specific gram amounts that make it easy to see how some macros add up quick (carbs) and others don’t (protein — hitting 64 grams takes conscious effort!).
"Feeling stressed can wreak havoc on our bodies. It can cause our body to produce the steroid hormone cortisol, which can make you crave sugary foods that provide instant energy and pleasure. Short-term bursts of cortisol are necessary to help us cope with immediate danger, but our body will also release this hormone if we’re feeling stressed or anxious. When our cortisol levels are high for a long amount of time, it can increase the amount of fat you hold in your belly."
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