What Are the Top 10 Diet Plans?

Reviewed on 11/17/2020

The diet plan standbys Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers remain popular and effective. Low-carb and plant-based, whole-food diets are also big draws for dieters. Many different diet plans are effective if you can stick to them, so find one that's right for you.
The diet plan standbys Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers remain popular and effective. Low-carb and plant-based, whole-food diets are also big draws for dieters. Many different diet plans are effective if you can stick to them, so find one that’s right for you.

There is not necessarily a single "best" weight loss diet that works for everyone. The diet that works best for you is the one you are able to stick to. 

Some of the most popular diet plans include: 

1. Nutrisystem

  • Involves pre-packaged meals and portion-controlled menus
  • Average daily caloric intake is 1,500 calories for men and 1,200 for women

Advantages: 

  • Offers a number of different plans, including ones for men, diabetics, and vegetarians
  • Plans may be customized
  • Offers digital support services 
  • Shipping is free 

Disadvantages: 

  • Can be costly
  • Consists of mostly processed foods, which many nutritionists consider to be unhealthy
  • May not be suitable for people with certain food allergies

2. Noom

  • App-based plan focused on behavioral psychology to help people lose weight by changing their habits 
  • App creates a personalized diet plan based on your age, current weight and weight goals, motivations, triggers, lifestyle, eating habits, and health issues
  • Plan is based on caloric density 

Advantages: 

  • App offers a number of features including a food tracker, exercise log, step tracker, recipes, nutrition-related articles, and quizzes 
  • Offers personal coaching and group support through an online community 
  • Offers plans for hypertension and diabetes

Disadvantages:

  • Can be costly
  • Critics say the plan’s focus on caloric density may not take nutrients into account
  • Some customers claim coaches are “robotic” and not available on demand

3. Weight Watchers Reimagined (WW)

  • Based on “Smart Points,” which assigns point values to foods based on calories, fat, protein, and sugar
  • Also incorporates “Zero-Point Foods” that don’t have to be counted because they are unlikely to be overeaten 

Advantages: 

  • Good plan for long-term weight loss 
  • Offers three subscription plans ranging from app only to personal coaching
  • Encourages consumption of healthy foods including consumption of mostly fruits, veggies, and lean protein 
  • Consumption of sugar and unhealthy fats are discouraged
  • No foods are prohibited 

Disadvantages:

  • Food preparation and meal planning are left to the individual, which requires discipline
  • Dieters may use their “points budget” on foods that are less nutritious
  • Food can become a number, which can lead to a disordered relationship with food

4. Diet-to-Go 

  • A meal delivery service that helps dieters change eating habits to lose weight over time
  • Daily intake ranges from 1,200 to 1,600 calories, made up of 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat (except for the low-carb plan) 

Advantages

  • Offers several plans, including vegetarian, low carb, and diabetic
  • Meal plans are rotated every 5 weeks so food will not get boring
  • Food is flash-frozen while fresh so no preservatives are used
  • Everything is provided so there is no need for additional items from the grocery store
  • Meal plans are shipped in a recyclable package and in certain areas, may also be picked up from locations such as fitness centers

Disadvantages

  • One of the costliest plans
  • Does not offer snacks as part of the meal plans
  • Delivery is not free
  • Delivery is not available to Hawaii and Alaska

5. South Beach Diet

  • The South Beach Diet is a type of low carbohydrate (“low carb”) diet for weight loss that focuses on eating more protein and healthy fats and limiting carbohydrates to help the body burn fat
  • Unlike other low carb diets, the South Beach Diet distinguishes between “good” fats (such as that found in avocado) versus “bad” fats (such as in butter)

Advantages

  • Can result in quick weight loss in the early phases
  • Offers fully prepared breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • Shipping is free for 4-week plans 
  • Eliminates guesswork with a guide on how, when, and what to eat during each phase (guides also available on the South Beach Diet app)

Disadvantages

  • First phase cuts out most carbs and is very restrictive
  • Does not meet the criteria for a strict keto diet, for those interested in that approach

6. Vegetarian/Vegan/Whole Food Plant-Based

  • A vegetarian diet avoids all meat, poultry, and fish
  • A vegan diet avoids all animal products, so in addition to shunning meat, poultry, and fish, no eggs, dairy (which includes whey and casein), gelatin, honey, or anything that comes from an animal is permitted
  • A whole food plant-based diet is a type of vegan diet, but it involves avoiding processed foods and many sugars 

Advantages

  • Studies show vegetarian and vegan diets can reduce the risk of some cancers, promote heart health, and keep blood sugar levels in check
  • Also benefits the environment

Disadvantages

  • People who follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may need to take vitamin supplementation for vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and omega-3’s 

7. Low-Carb

  • Low carb diets such as the Atkins Diet and the Keto Diet emphasize the consumption of foods high in protein and fat, while limiting carbohydrates
  • The idea is to get the body to use fat instead of carbs as fuel
  • Grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables are not permitted 

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Can be high in fat consumption which may not be good for heart health. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 5% of daily caloric intake from fats per day.
  • May cause nutrient deficiencies
  • Weight comes back once the diet is stopped

8. Mediterranean

  • Based on diets typically eaten by people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea
  • Not a specific diet plan, but a way of eating that is typically high in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Includes olive oil as a main source of fat, and permits moderate consumption of wine
  • Allows for low to moderate consumption of fish, poultry, and dairy products, but minimal red meat

Advantages

  • Reduced risk of stroke compared with a low-fat diet 
  • Associated with lower overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality
  • Improved glycemic control 
  • Reduced incidence of major cardiovascular events in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease

Disadvantages

  • There are no calorie guidelines
  • Food preparation and meal planning are left to the individual, which requires discipline

9. Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

  • Endorsed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association, the American Heart Association, and the 2015 Dietary Guide for Americans
  • Developed to help people reduce blood pressure, prioritize the consumption of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and to abstain from sodium
  • Salt is substituted with herbs and spices

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Food preparation and meal planning are left to the individual, which requires discipline
  • Food lists are not comprehensive so it may be difficult to determine whether a food is allowed or not, or how much may be permitted

10. Intermittent Fasting

  • Based on the concept that humans were designed to eat for short periods of time followed by hours (and sometimes days) of fasting
  • Often practiced for health and religion/spirituality
  • There are no food or caloric restrictions, but restrictions on WHEN to eat
  • Popular methods include 16/8 (8 hours of eating followed by 16 hours of fasting), the “Eat-Stop-Eat” method (two 24-hour fasts per week on non-consecutive days); and the 5/2 method (only 500 calories for 2 non-consecutive days, and 5 days of normal eating per week)

Advantages

Disadvantages

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Reviewed on 11/17/2020
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