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Are you tired of looking around the web for the best diet? You’ve heard so many different claims that you just don’t know what to do anymore! Plus, any Google search will just give you more choices and more confusion than you probably need.  

Everyone knows that dieting is tough. And the rollercoaster of trying something new can also be demoralizing. What’s trendy is not always what’s best for you. So how do you make sense of all the information and testimonials? Well, according to the US News & World report, you don’t need to look any further. A reputable panel of experts have analyzed the top 41 diets trending, right now, to rank them for your ease. But, again, how do you know if they are actually the best?  

At Low Fat Low Carb, we know that you are unique and your diet strategy needs to be as unique as you. We’re here to provide another unbiased look at the top 3 diets in the categories that we feel are of most interest to our community. Our intention is to help you come to your own decisions regarding what works and what doesn’t. Maybe another perspective from a source that you trust can help you better understand your next steps? Feel free to browse the other 3 categories from the original US News article.  

Let’s begin!

Best Diet Overall

The review begins with the Best Diet Overall. This ranking is attributed by the panelists scoring in all seven categories. Some categories, such as long-term weight loss and safety, obtained extra merit as the experts felt that these markers are much more important to health. And we agree! You don’t want to be following a diet that is unsafe. And, although short-term weight loss can be beneficial after the Holidays or before a wedding, generally people want to lose weight and keep it off. Again, we couldn’t agree more. So let’s have another look at which three diets scored the best in this category. We’ll explain each diet in more detail further in this article.

#1 – Mediterranean Diet

#2 – DASH Diet

#3 – The Flexitarian Diet

Best Weight-Loss Diet

The next category we’d like to highlight is the Best Weight-Loss Diet. This list was generated by scoring both short and long-term weight loss success equally. By focusing only on the goals of losing weight, the panelists declared the following three diets as the top for both short and long term weight loss.

#1 – Weight Watchers Diet

#2 – The Volumetrics Diet

#3 – The Flexitarian Diet

Best Diet for Healthy Eating

Of course, at Low Fat Low Carb, healthy eating is one of our foundational values. We know that feeding your body whole foods is one of the best ways to not only lose weight but to improve your health overall. So, naturally, we’d like dive into their top three choices in this category. They have chosen these top three diets according to their nutritional completeness and safety ratings, believing that a diet should provide enough calories and important nutrients without eliminating entire food groups.

#1 – Mediterranean Diet

#2 – DASH Diet

#3 – The Flexitarian Diet

Easiest Diet to Follow

Of course, we also understand that one of the best ways to ensure long-term weight loss success is to follow a diet that is easy. The easier the diet, the easier it is to follow it. Seems logical, right? Diets that drastically change multiple habits or food choices may be hard to continue for the long term. To score the 41 diets analyzed in the category of “easiest to follow”, the panelists had a look at each diet’s taste appeal, ease of initial adjustment, ability to satiate dieters and what kind of special requirements were necessary to implement to begin. Their top three picks were as follows:

#1 – Mediterranean Diet

#2 – The Flexitarian Diet

#3 – Weight Watchers Diet

With this wealth of information and scrutiny, let’s have a look at these diets in more detail. We’ll give our objective analysis of what works and what doesn’t in each.

The Mediterranean Diet

According to the US News report, the Mediterranean Diet is one of the tops for long term health and weight loss success. What exactly is the Mediterranean Diet? Perhaps you’ve already heard about it. Something along the lines of eating fish and olive oil. Well, you are definitely on the right path. This diet is really a look into the lifestyle of people living along the Mediterranean Sea. You see, studies have indicated that the people in this region, Greece, Italy and France, seem to live longer with lower incidences of heart disease or cancer. This is why researchers started analyzing their lifestyle. It is also for this reason that, although called a “diet”, the Mediterranean diet is actually a WAY of eating rather than a prescribed plan for weight loss. Also, with the different cultures in that area, there is no specific plan but rather suggestions for a healthy plate which will translate to a healthy body.

You’ll find that the meals in a Mediterranean diet prioritize plant-based eating. Lots of vegetables and healthy fats are pivotal in rounding out a nutrient rich plate. Protein often becomes more of a side than the focal point of a dish. When eating this way, you’ll also be limiting red meat, sugary foods and dairy. Your plate should be bursting with color.  

Another thing that people tend to like about the Mediterranean diet is that it allows for red wine consumption in moderation; believing that red wine contains potent antioxidants that support heart health. What is moderation? About 5oz daily.  

One of the most important elements of the Mediterranean diet has actually nothing to do with food! Meals in this area of the world are celebrated and shared. In fact, researchers have found that positive social connections, especially around the dinner table, are paramount in longevity. So, invite your friends and family over for dinner!

As we mentioned, the Mediterranean Diet wasn’t originally created for weight loss. However, if you are increasing your nutrient dense, plant-based foods while incorporating healthy fats, you are most likely crowding out the less nutritious and refined products. This will naturally help you to lose weight. In fact, studies have shown that those who switched to a Mediterranean diet lost more weight and maintained that weight loss for longer periods over some of the other well-known diets.

This diet is, however, recognized for its heart-health benefits. People who eat in this style tend to have lower risk of heart disease along with lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels. It also has been linked to lowering risk for breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. There is also new evidence that the Mediterranean diet offers protective effects for those struggling with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes by managing blood sugar levels and improving cardiovascular health.

What does this “diet” look like?

Traditionally, people who follow this way of eating tend to eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This is definitely one of the top reasons this diet is so healthy! If you, too, choose to start eating in this style, you’ll want to focus on the following foods:

VegetablesFruitsNuts and seedsLegumesWhole grainsFish and seafoodPoultryEggsDairyHerbs and spicesHealthy Fats
  • Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, arugula and other leafy greens.
    • Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which helps to reduce risk of certain cancers.
    • Arugula – This diet includes frequent servings of dark leafy greens (more than 6 times per week).  These nutrient dense veggies help detoxify, lower inflammation and improve mental health.
  • Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, pomegranate, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches and blueberries.
    • Pomegranate is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which may have even more anti-cancer benefits.
  • Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flaxseed.
    • Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which help your heart.  Walnuts may also improve your digestive health and gut microbiome.  
  • Lentils, peas, peanuts, and chickpeas.
    • Chickpeas are high in fibre, iron, zinc, folate and magnesium, making them superstars when it comes to health and diabetes prevention.
    • Lentils – Thanks to it’s high fibre content, swapping your rice for lentils may help lower your blood glucose by 20%
  • Whole oats, farro, buckwheat, whole-grain bread and pasta.
    • Farro is whole grain that is also high in protein.  Whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer.
  • Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, and mussels.
    • Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are great for heart health and lowering inflammation.
  • Chicken, duck, and turkey.
  • Chicken, quail and duck eggs.
  • Various cheeses (in moderation), Greek yogurt.
  • Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and turmeric.

What does a day of eating Mediterranean style look like?

Well, there’s no counting calories or macros on this plan. In fact, it’s not even a “plan”. It really is a way of life. Focusing on certain healthy foods, loading your plate up with veggies, having heart-healthy fish twice per week and avoiding processed foods is pretty much your only concern.

Sample Day

BreakfastSnackLunchSnackDinner

Whole egg omelet made with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and green olives

A couple of dates stuffed with almond butter.

An arugula and spinach salad topped with chickpeas, veggies, black olives, and a small piece of chicken.

A fresh peach and some plain Greek yogurt (can be sweetened with cinnamon and honey)

As you can see, whole foods are the staple of this diet.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

1 – It’s easy.  We feel this is paramount to your success. When a diet is easy, you can follow it without too much trouble. What’s also nice about this way of eating is that it is something your whole family can adopt. And, we know that’s important for parents. Most of us don’t have time to cook one meal, let alone two or more!  What’s also nice about the Mediterranean diet is that you can easily eat this way anywhere. No need to worry about going out for dinner or to a friend’s house. Since it doesn’t eliminate any food group and focuses on variety and flavor, this is a way of eating that you can adopt for a lifetime.

2 – It’s not restrictive – Seeing as how nothing is really “off limits”, it’s easy to build healthy meals any time, anywhere. All you need to do is focus on a variety, fresh and whole foods focusing on vegetables. Yes, you may need to make some tweaks when your out-on-the-town but that should be pretty easy to do.

3 – It’s low in saturated fat – When your diet is well-rounded with a good amount of healthy fats, you’re not going to feel hungry. Plus, by limiting red meat and processed foods, you’ll be naturally lowering your saturated fat levels and therefore, LDL cholesterol levels. This diet focuses on the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olives and fish. Not only do these fats benefit your heart health but they can improve many other systems of the body; along with your body composition.

4 – It reduces your risk of disease – A growing number of studies suggest that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to die of heart disease than people who follow a typical American diet. Evidence is also emerging to show that people who eat this way have a lower risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and some head and neck cancers, according to studies published in September 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer and in February 2018 in the Journal of Urology.

Cons

1 – There are some limitations (dairy, alcohol and fat) – Although there is no long-term risk to eating a Mediterranean diet, you may find it a challenge if you love drinking a glass of milk or having cheese and crackers as a late night snack. There’s also a cap on alcohol consumption.  For most, this isn’t a problem. The thing is, if you’re not a red wine drinker, you may be put off by the fact that other than red wine, alcohol isn’t really a part of this eating plan. And finally, fat isn’t unlimited. Which means that even though you’re lowering your saturated fat intake, you still need to be mindful of your daily intake of overall fat. On this diet, it’s easy to have more unsaturated fat than your daily allowance; which is 65g per day according to the American Heart Association.

2 – You need to make time for cooking – While you don’t need to spend hours every day in the kitchen, it’s important to note that this diet is centered around whole, fresh foods. There may be a learning curve for you as you build your skills in the kitchen and learn how to prepare delicious fresh meals.

Why We Love It

What’s great about the Mediterranean diet is that it focuses on high quality, fresh and whole foods. There’s no need to count calories or macronutrients. The only need is to focus on a wide variety of vegetables as the cornerstone of every meal. This gives your body a plethora of nutrients so that it can do its important work of keeping your healthy and vibrant.Processed food is limited if not omitted fully. Again, your body is designed to process whole foods. Limiting processed foods is a super plus when it comes to health.  

The DASH Diet

The DASH Diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was developed with the specific goal of reducing blood pressure.  Currently, the US, there is a very big concern for the spike in number of people with high blood pressure. The number has more than doubled in the last 40 years. This is a serious concern as high blood pressure is also linked to a higher risk of heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease remains the number one killer for men and women in the US. Since diet plays a major role in the development of high blood pressure, it only makes sense to look at diet as a way of reducing it.  

Research has shown that high blood pressure is much less common in people who follow a plant-based diet. The scientific research done around this concept has made the DASH diet very popular among doctors, dietitians and other health professionals.  

What does this diet look like?

The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, some lean protein options like chicken, fish and beans. It reduces the intake of red meat, salt, added sugar and fat. One of the founding principles of the DASH diet is it’s focus on being low sodium. The diet itself has two pathways; the regular DASH diet and the low-sodium DASH diet. The regular DASH diet program encourages no more than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) of sodium per day, which is in line with most national guidelines. The lower-salt version recommends no more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) of sodium per day.

By lowering sodium, focusing on whole and low fat foods, this diet not only reduces blood pressure but can also reduce your risk of certain cancers while helping you to lose weight. But the DASH diet works because it also limits saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which can contribute to heart disease. It also increases fiber, lean protein and other nutrients, through plant-based options, which help to lower blood pressure as well. Not only does this diet lower hypertension, it can also help with weight loss, decrease cancer risk, lower metabolic syndrome, lower your risk of diabetes, and heart disease. Most of these benefits come by simply altering to a more natural and whole food based diet focused on fruits and vegetables.

That being said, the DASH diet, like the Mediterranean diet, doesn’t list specific foods to eat. However, unlike the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet provides a list of servings that you should typically eat in a day or week. The number of servings will, of course, depend on the number of calories you eat in a day but here’s a general guideline:

Whole grainsVeggiesFruitDairyChicken, Meat, Fish and other lean proteinNuts, Seeds, LegumesFats and OilsCandy and Sugar
  • 6-8 servings
    • Foods like whole grain breads, quinoa, wild rice, rye, buckwheat etc.
  • 4-5 Servings Daily
    • All veggies are allowed on this plan.
  • 4-5 Servings Daily
    • All fruit are allowed on this plan.  In fact, if you are following this plan, you’ll be eating a LOT of fruit, including dried, fresh or frozen fruits and fruit juices.
  • 2-3 Servings Daily
    • Focusing on low-fat dairy options like low-fat yogurt, skim milk and mozzarella cheese
  • 6 or less Servings Daily
    • Limiting red meat consumption to a maximum of twice weekly.
  • 4-5 Servings per WEEK
    • Walnuts, chia seed, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils, black beans etc.
  • 2-3 Servings Daily
    • The DASH diet recommends vegetable oils over other oils. These include margarines and oils like canola, corn, olive or safflower. It also recommends low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressing.

Along with these suggested servings, there is also a daily recommended guide for other nutritional elements.  

  • Total fat intake should be no more than 27 percent of total calories
  • Saturated fat is limited to 6 percent of calories or less
  • Protein is ideally around 18 percent of total daily calories
  • Carbohydrates are approximately 55 percent of calories
  • Cholesterol is limited to 150 mg per day
  • Fiber is 30 grams (g) or more daily

Depending on weight loss or weight maintenance needs, you would adjust your DASH diet caloric plan to support your goals.

So, putting this all together, here are some general guidelines that can help you but the DASH diet plan together.

  1. Eat more vegetables and fruit.
  2. Swap refined grains for whole grains.
  3. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  4. Cook with vegetable oils.
  5. Limit your intake of foods high in added sugar
  6. Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, oils like coconut and palm oil.

Now, what does that translate to in a typical daily eating plan?

Sample Day

BreakfastSnackLunchSnackDinner

2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 1 teaspoon of margarine, 1 tablespoon of jelly or jam, 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice and 1 medium apple.

1 medium banana.

3 ounces of lean chicken breast with 2 cups of green salad, 1.5 ounces of low-fat cheese and 1 cup of brown rice.

1/2 cup of canned peaches and 1 cup of low-fat yogurt.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

1 – Long-term potential. Seeing as how this diet does not specifically restrict certain foods or food groups, it has the potential of being a diet that you follow long-term. This also makes it easier to follow than some of the more restrictive diets found online.

2 – Lowers health risk. This diet was specifically designed to help people lower their blood pressure and therefore their risk for heart disease. By eating a low fat diet, it also helps to lower bad or LDL cholesterol. This way of eating has also been shown to lower a person’s risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes when paired with calorie restriction and exercise.

3 – Better nutrition. By increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting red meat, added sugar, sodium and processed foods is a guaranteed way of increasing your nutrition.

Cons

1 – There is no specific plan. For people who like a lot of structure or a prescribed way of eating, this plan still leaves a lot of room for interpretation and may not be the approach. The guidelines are too loose for them, and they would do better on a fixed plan. However, for some, this is actually a plus!

2 – Too much fiber. The Standard American Diet is generally pretty low in fibre due to it’s high levels of processed foods and refined grains. Switching to a predominantly plant-based diet can cause some digestive distress for some people if it is done too rapidly. To adjust, some people might be better off to gradually add in high-fiber foods, such as whole grains and legumes, while ensuring that they drink a lot of water to avoid bloating and physical discomfort.

Why We Love It

There are some things to love about the DASH diet and others to really consider before making the switch. We love that it focuses on whole foods. We love that by removing processed foods, you’ll be lowering your daily sodium intake and minimizing your levels of saturated fats. We love that there are a couple ways of approaching the diet – either through servings per day, macronutrient balancing, caloric intake and/or simply adopting the suggested foods and eventually eliminating unhealthy choices.  

What we don’t love is how this diet doesn’t really look at the quality of food. Because this diet aims at being low-fat, it recommends margarine, low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk and other products of the like. The challenge with this is that, often, these foods are no longer considered “natural” and the manufacturers must replace the fat in the product with additives, artificial flavoring and, at times, sugar. It’s important to look at food labels and really understand how to lower fat intake without simply switching those foods out for a “low-fat” alternative.  

This diet, because it focuses mainly on sodium, doesn’t really pay much attention to sugar. Although they do recommend no more than 6 servings weekly of added sugar (What? Why?), they do include a lot of sugar coming from natural sources; fruit. Dried fruit, canned fruit, eating fruit alone, fruit juices are all natural sources of fruit that can greatly impact your blood sugar levels, impacting your insulin levels if you are sensitive to this. With this in mind, the DASH diet may not be optimal for those specifically looking to lose weight (who don’t have hypertension) or those who feel they may be pre-diabetic.

The Flexitarian Diet

Sometimes, you just crave a steak – even if your a vegetarian. And many vegetarians or vegans feel like they’re “cheating” if they have the occasional animal protein. Enter Flexitarianism.  

The Flexitarian diet was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to help people reap the multitude of benefits of eating a more vegetarian-based diet while still enjoying the occasional animal product. Vegetarians generally avoid eating meat and sometimes other animal foods like dairy, while vegans are more strict and avoid all animal products. The beauty of the flexitarian diet is that you can focus on receiving all of the benefits of a predominantly plant-based way of eating, while ensuring that you still get adequate protein and certain nutrients through the occasional animal-based food.

Due to its flexible nature and focus on foods to include, rather than exclude, the Flexitarian Diet has become quite popular over the last few years. Especially for people looking to improve their health, and their waistline.

Like most vegetarian diets, it seems that becoming flexitarian has a lot of benefits. A diet rich in fiber and healthy fats is good for your heart. In fact, vegetarians tend to have a 32% lower risk of heart disease compared to non-vegetarians. The percentage may not be as elevated for flexitarians depending on their meat consumption but it’s safe to assume that less meat means better heart health. By limiting processed foods and eating nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, flexitarians can also benefit from a reduction in weight, if that’s their goal. Eating predominantly plant-based may also help manage and prevent diabetes. And there is also evidence that fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes all have nutrients that help to prevent cancer.  

Becoming flexitarian can also benefit the environment. Reducing meat consumption can help to preserve our natural resources and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 7%. That may not seem like much but the more people switch to a plant-based diet, the better our environment and ecosystem will be.

What does this “diet” look like?

The Flexitarian Diet has no clear-cut rules or recommended calories or macronutrients. Much like the Mediterranean Diet, it’s more of a lifestyle choice than a diet.

It’s based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
  • Limit added sugar and sweets.

As you can see, the overall goal is to eat a more nutritious, plant-based diet with less meat. In Dawn’s book, she actually spells out a more specific nutrition plan to encourage people to transition to this lifestyle and to give them more guidance. Being “flexible” can sometimes be too loose of a term for people and they prefer to have more rules to follow. For example, there are some guidelines to exactly how much meat you should eat. A brand-new flexitarian should aim to avoid meat for at least two days per week and then consume a maximum of 26 oz of meat divided among the remaining five days.

Foods to eat regularly include:

ProteinsNon-starchy vegetablesStarchy vegetablesFruitsWhole grainsNuts, seeds and other healthy fatsPlant-based milk alternativesHerbs, spices and seasoningsCondimentsBeverages
  • Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, lentils.
  • Greens, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower.
  • Winter squash, peas, corn, sweet potato.
  • Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries.
  • Quinoa, teff, buckwheat, farro.
  • Almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, avocados, olives, coconut.
  • Unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp and soy milk.
  • Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, cumin, turmeric, ginger.
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, ketchup without added sugar.

When incorporating animal products, choose the following when possible:

  • Eggs: Free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Poultry: Organic, free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Fish: Wild-caught.
  • Meat: Grass-fed or pasture-raised.
  • Dairy: Organic from grass-fed or pastured animals.

The Flexitarian Diet not only encourages limiting meat and animal products but also limiting highly processed foods, refined grains and added sugar. Decreasing meat consumption while continuing to eat refined foods with lots of added sugar and salt will not lead to the same benefits.

Foods to minimize include:

  • Processed meats: Bacon, sausage, bologna.
  • Refined carbs: White bread, white rice, bagels, croissants.
  • Added sugar and sweets: Soda, donuts, cakes, cookies, candy.
  • Fast food: Fries, burgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes.

Now, this isn’t meant to be a working list. It does highlight that the foundation of this lifestyle is to focus on fruit, a lot of vegetables, legumes, whole grains and other minimally processed whole foods in order to reap the rewards of a plant-based eating plan.

Sample Day

BreakfastLunchDinner

Coconut yogurt with bananas and walnuts.

Whole-grain wrap with hummus, vegetables and chickpeas.

OR

BreakfastLunchDinner

Over-easy eggs with sauteed veggies and fruit salad.

Peanut butter sandwich with crushed berries on whole-grain bread.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

1 – Variety makes it easy. The beauty of this diet is the word “flex”. There are no real restrictions. The only thing you must do is add more plant-based foods, focus on whole foods and grains, and limit meat consumptions. Meaning, if you want a cheeseburger… You can have it. With more attention being spent on whole foods, the occasional BBQ at your brother’s place won’t throw you off of your health goals.

2 – Mirroring the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Although a flexitarian isn’t 100% committed to eating no meat at all, they do reap the benefits of eating in a more vegetarian-style. This means that, by choosing more veggies and less meat, you’ll lower blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, along with a moving towards a lower BMI.

3 – Could save you some $. By redesigning your grocery list to include soy, lentils, beans, fruits and vegetables, you’ll be maximizing your nutrition while minimizing your spending.

Cons

1 – You could risk nutrient deficiencies. Along with the benefits of being “almost” vegetarian, you also run the risk of missing out on some important nutrients like vitamin B12. This vitamin is only found in animal products and fortified foods. Depending on the amount of meat or animal products you choose to eat, you may need to supplement vitamin B12 to ensure you are getting adequate amounts. You’ll also need to watch your zinc and iron levels as they are best absorbed when coming from an animal source. And, finally, if you’re limiting dairy, you’ll want to make sure to eat a lot of calcium from plant-based foods.

2 – You might not feel satisfied. If you’re a big-time meat eater, changing your diet to eat less meat can be tough. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself finishing a meal and not feeling satiated, like something is missing. This might cause you to go hunting for carbs or nuts to fill the void. By focusing on plant-based proteins, and being strategic in the amount of calories coming from protein, you can curb this pitfall without too much trouble.

Why We Love It

There are actually a LOT of reasons to love this “diet”. The flexibility makes it more approachable for people who are trying to eat a plant-based diet without the fear of becoming 100% vegetarian or vegan. Plus, the health benefits are undeniably worth the effort it might take for someone to make the switch towards whole, plant-based foods. We understand that some people prefer more rigid rules around an eating plan but the beauty of this approach is that you can, ultimately, create your own rules that you will be able to follow for a lifetime. No matter what, it’s worth a try.

The only downside to this approach is that we know, from science, that a high protein diet is one of the best ways to lose weight. By becoming flexitarian, it will be crucial for you to really understand and research how you will be able to keep your protein levels optimal for your health goals.  

Here are some valuable tools, from our website, to get you in-the-know.

https://www.lowfatlowcarb.com/is-flexitarian-the-new-vegetarian/

https://www.lowfatlowcarb.com/the-different-types-of-protein-powder/

https://www.lowfatlowcarb.com/5-ways-to-complete-your-plant-protein/

https://www.lowfatlowcarb.com/boost-vegan-protein/

Weight Watchers

Believe it or not, Weight Watchers started when a Brooklyn homemaker, Jean Nidetch, started meeting once per week with her friends to talk about how to lose weight. Today, Weight Watchers is an international company and the largest commercial weight loss program in the United States. The fact that it is regularly recommended by physicians makes it an often sought out option for people who are trying to lose weight.

The program has two offerings: online or personal coaching sessions. There is group support and it uses a point system to help a dieter select their daily food plan. Ultimately, the dieter is allocated a certain number of points to eat, daily, in an attempt to get them to their goal weight or within a BMI of 20 to 25.  

Community support is one of the cornerstones of the Weight Watcher diet. By providing a network of support, people who want to lose weight can better accomplish their short and long-term goals through positive reinforcement. Weight Watchers also offers wellness meetings where attendees can learn about the positive effects of exercise, nutrition and maintenance.  

Since this diet is primarily focused on weight loss and the dieter can choose to eat any food that they want, there is no health benefit that is directly attributed to following this program. However, we all know that losing body fat is paramount to increasing longevity and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and cancer.

What does it look like?

As we mentioned, people who follow the Weight Watchers diet are not restricted to any specific foods. Instead, they use a point system to monitor their food intake on a daily basis. This helps to keep them accountable for their weight loss. By recording their food according to points, they also have the opportunity to gain more points when the participate in physical fitness. Foods are rated according to their protein, fat and sugar content. The higher the points allocated to the food, the less a dieter can eat of that particular food. The points are meant to encourage followers to eat more fruit, vegetables and lean protein, and less fatty, sugary food. For example, an egg is worth 2 points, chopped tomatoes, onions and herbs are 0 points and olive oil is 1 point. So, if a dieter ate a 2-egg omelet fried with olive oil topped with tomato, onion and herbs, they would use up 5 points of their daily allowance. If their target for the day is 30 points, they now have 25 points left. Points are determined according to a person’s current weight and how much weight they need to lose.  

Since Weight Watchers has been around for decades, it has gone through many improvements to keep up with current trends. Although the program encourages smart food choices, you can still eat foods that are traditionally off limits in other weight loss programs. This makes the plan feel less like a “diet”.

Sample Day

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack

Coconut yogurt with bananas and walnuts.

Grilled Chicken Sausage with Pineapple Salsa, 5 points

Pasta e Fagiole Soup, 2 points

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

1 – There are no forbidden foods. Unlike other diets, you can eat anything you want, as long as you stay within your daily points allocation.

2 – You’re not alone. There’s a whole network of support for dieters. From educational tools, personal coaching and meetings, to online applications for busy people. Plus, some locations even offer special meetings where parents can bring their children and teens.

3 – Encourages long-term success. First off, the program generally enables one to two pounds of weight loss per week. Slow and steady weight loss has been shown to create more success long-term. You’ll also learn portion control since you’ll need to measure your food to determine how many points you are eating per meal. This teaches you how to eat, not just what to eat.

Cons

1 – The cost. Unlike some of the other lifestyle choices, Weight Watcher is a business and that means there are costs involved. Depending on your goals, the plan you choose and how much weight you have to lose, this may end up being a significant investment for you.

2 – Weekly weigh-ins are mandatory. This is a requirement of the Weight Watchers program. This makes some people feel uncomfortable, especially if they’ve been doing everything as prescribed but haven’t lost any weight.  

3 – Counting points might not be your thing. If you don’t like counting calories, odds are you won’t like counting points either. The whole process can be quite time-consuming and complicated for dieters who want a more simple and quick approach to eating.

Why We Love It

Well, there’s no denying that Weight Watchers is a household name. There’s a lot to be said about a weight loss company that has been in business since 1963. It must, to a certain extent, “work”. And with the more recent updates, we love that the quality of food is taken into account, leading people to eat a more balanced and whole approach. We love the weekly accountability factor as this really helps people to stay on course when trying to lose weight. One concern, however, is the fact that no food is forbidden. Although this sounds enticing, it also means that if you want to go out for chicken wings and a beer, you can just choose to not eat all day, save up your points, and then splurge on junk in the evening.  

The Volumetrics Diet

This diet sounds more complicated than it is. Backed by scientific research, we understand why the name makes it sound so clinical. But, in honesty, it’s really just a diet focusing on low-calorie, nutrient dense, high fiber foods.

What does it look like?

The Volumetrics Diet is an eating plan designed by Dr. Barbara Rolls, PhD. The whole goal of her studies was to create a plan that would help people stop yo-yo dieting to adopt a way of eating for life. The plan focuses on the energy density of food, which is the part that sounds very sciency.  

Basically, Volumetrics relies on foods with a low-energy density and high water content, such as fruits and vegetables. Low-energy density is also another term for low-calorie. The plan is also centered around you feeling full, instead of deprived. Dr. Rolls believes that when you focus on low-energy density foods, you can eat as much and as often as you like without the fear of gaining weight. And, rather than focusing on how much you eat, you are encouraged to learn how to know when you’re full. Because generally, if given the choice, people will choose to eat more, not less. This plan doesn’t ban any food, and you can enjoy higher calorie foods, as long as you stay within a total daily allotment. The plan also teaches you to learn which foods are considered high energy-density foods and how to spot the calorie traps (foods that seem healthy but really aren’t).  

When following the Volumetrics Diet, you won’t have to cut out fatty foods, only eat vegetarian or agree to eating foods on a “free” list. Instead, you’ll learn how to enjoy any food without overeating. That said, it will teach you how to identify low-density foods. Foods that are high in water content and nutrients.  

These foods generally include:

  • Fresh fruits (rather than dried fruit or juice, for example)
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables (try swapping some in for half a portion of pasta in a pasta dish, for example)
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fiber-rich breakfast cereals
  • Low-fat fish
  • Poultry without skin
  • Lean meats
  • Minimal added sugars
  • Water (rather than sugary drinks)

Sample Day

BreakfastLunchSnackSnack

Oatmeal topped with apple slices, cinnamon, non-fat milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar, ½ a grapefruit and a cup of coffee

Grilled chicken salad with chopped romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of crumbled blue cheese, and chopped walnuts with light dressing. Whole-wheat pita bread on the side and strawberries for dessert.

Cheerios with skim milk and fresh blueberries.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

1 – Teaches you to eat good food. One of the biggest advantages is that this diet teaches you how to eat water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. By focusing on how to eat, instead of only what to eat, you learn skills for life. It simply promotes health.

2 – No crash dieting. Backed by science, this “diet” isn’t really a diet at all. It does allow you to limit calories and therefore lost about one to two pounds weekly. This tends to be a more sustainable weight loss and also gives you the time to really create new habits.

3 – No rigid rules. By learning about the different foods, you will also learn how to incorporate them into your life. This allows for more compliance since you don’t need to worry about never eating a piece of chocolate again.

Cons

1 – It can be time consuming. Although you can eat anything, you also need to learn which foods to eat, calculate their energy density and then plan how to put them into your daily caloric amount. This takes time. You will also need to eat more home-cooked meals. Depending on your current lifestyle, this may be a dramatic change. Eating out becomes a bit more of a challenge, too.

2 – Even though you focus on fullness, you may need to eat often. Eating a diet rich in high-water foods means that you’ll be feeling full but that may not last very long. Your body will digest the food relatively quickly and signal you for more. You may need to add protein and/or fat to your meals and snacks to keep you fuller, longer.

Why We Love It

We love that this “diet” focuses on eating water-dense foods that are low calorie. In other words, vegetables and fruits. This makes weight loss attainable and healthy. The fact that nothing is off-limits also leads us to believe that people who adopt this way of eating will be able to maintain it long-term; making it more of a lifestyle rather than a diet. The only drawback would be the learning curve, without too much direction. It will take a while for a user to understand the energy-density of foods, portion sizes and daily allowed caloric intake. Without buying Dr. Rolls’ book, we’re not sure how much guidance a person would find online, for free.

So, there you have it – the best diets, demystified. As you can see, even in this small list of the top 5 diets, there is a ton of information. But, some of the founding principles are the same. Limit meat consumption, focus on fruits and vegetables, reduce your portions and avoid sugary treats. Of course, this sounds so simple. We understand that dieting is much more complex than that. This is why it’s always best to speak to a professional. If you’re interested in meeting 1:1 with a health coach, we may have a solution for you!

https://ip.lowfatlowcarb.com/

As always, we’re here for your success and we wish you the best of health and whole-food eating in 2019, no matter what diet you choose to follow.


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