Losing weight has never been the easiest thing. In fact, millions of Americans have trouble doing it. But picking a diet that’s right for you can be a game-changer when it comes to sticking with your new healthy eating habits and shedding the extra pounds.
We’re here to talk about some of the diets that have made headlines in recent years for their efficacy and popularity. Each offers a user-friendly approach to dieting that also creates real results when used correctly.
Note: Always talk to a doctor or registered dietitian before making any major changes in your diet.
- Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is the gold standard of an effective and easy-to-follow diet. Its philosophy is simple but powerful: Base your diet around whole grains, healthy fats and fresh fruits and vegetables, with a moderate amount of seafood and cheese and small amounts of red meat. And it’s phenomenally popular, so much so that Mediterranean meal delivery services have emerged to make Mediterranean-style home cooking easier.
Its popularity is based on strong evidence that it really does work. Scientists have found that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and other common ailments. When researchers have compared the most effective diets, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top more often than not.
Perhaps more importantly, because the Mediterranean diet is relatively easy to follow, you stand a better chance of gaining its benefits. It’s a nutritionally complete diet that allows you to eat small amounts of things like red meat while still reorienting your relationship to food in a much healthier direction. In most versions of the diet, you even get a moderate amount of red wine built-in!
If the Mediterranean diet has a downside, it’s that the cost of fresh, high-quality foods can still make your wallet hurt. However, again, using options like a Mediterranean diet meal delivery service will help you cut down on food waste and cook more efficiently. Also make sure to investigate options such as local farmers’ markets.
- Flexitarian Diet
The flexitarian diet is another easy diet that emphasizes changing your general eating habits. Its core goal is to reduce your meat intake and substitute plant-based alternatives without completely forbidding the occasional burger or BBQ. Studies show that the diet really works, likely because eating more vegetables and less meat is associated with lower weight overall.
One big thing that stands out about the flexitarian diet is its bevy of options for delicious meals. This diet gives you the tools to cook stuff that tastes really good. And it also doesn’t require strictly sticking to the diet plan; you can be as hardcore or as casual about the flexitarian lifestyle as you want, although you’re a lot more likely to lose weight if you follow the diet’s prescriptions more carefully.
Many people find that combining the flexitarian approach with other diets, particularly the Mediterranean diet, is a natural fit. A Mediterranean menu offers tons of delicious dishes that fit the general flexitarian ethos, from Greek salad to falafel. The more you expand your culinary repertoire outside of meat, the easier the flexitarian diet gets, and going Mediterranean gives you additional useful tools to get there.
- 5:2 Fasting Diet
How does only dieting two days of the week sound? That’s the idea behind the 5:2 diet, an eating plan that offers five days of basically normal (but healthy) eating and two days of fasting on restricted calories. Intermittent fasting regimens have reasonably solid support from diet science, and the 5:2 diet is among the most popular expressions of the trend.
Just how restricted are we talking? On the two fast days, you’ll typically reduce your calorie intake to just 500 calories (for women) or 600 calories (for men). If you can handle strict calorie tracking on fast days, the rest of the week should comparatively be a breeze. Of course, it probably won’t work if you use it as an excuse to eat 4,000 calories a day on your non-fast days, but that kind of technical workaround won’t get you far in most diets — your body knows what you’re up to.
The 5:2 diet isn’t right for everyone. It requires more planning than other diets since you’ll have to account for your lower-calorie days and make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard. You’ll probably want to skip the gym on these days, for example. And even more so than other diets, it’s critically important to have a doctor’s supervision when undertaking any diet that involves fasting.
- Low FODMAP Diet
Finally, let’s take a minute to talk about another diet that’s gained popularity among health-conscious consumers: the low FODMAP diet. This diet restricts items that are high in a class of organic sugars called FODMAPs, and its primary goal is to prevent the gastric upsets associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Thus, while weight loss isn’t the main goal of a low FODMAP diet, many people find that they lose weight on this diet. That’s because cutting out FODMAPs requires removing things like sugary snacks and processed foods — the very things any doctor will tell you to cut out of your diet anyway. If you find that your diet is causing you symptoms like persistent stomach pain and indigestion, switching to a low FODMAP diet could potentially help both your weight and overall health.
Although its substantial food restrictions mean the low FODMAP diet is a little more challenging to follow than others on our list, it’s far from impossible. Increasing numbers of low FODMAP cookbooks are becoming available. Low FODMAP meal delivery services have also hit the market to make it easier to eat without FODMAPs while still enjoying delicious meals.
When you do begin a new diet, take time to align your lifestyle with it. Ask your doctor or dietitian about how to incorporate exercise, social support and other important elements of successful weight loss into your diet — these can make all the difference.