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Oct 1

The 16 Best Weight Loss Programs of 2020 – Healthline

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Every year millions of adults in the United States try to lose weight (1).

Along with exercise, dieting is one of the most common methods used to promote weight loss.

However, not all diets are created equal, which can make it challenging to find a weight loss program thats safe, sustainable, and effective.

The programs featured in this article were selected based on the following criteria:

This article looks at 16 of the best weight loss programs in 2020.

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating patterns of countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece.

A well-rounded Mediterranean diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, proteins, and healthy fats.

Meanwhile, added sugars and foods that have been heavily processed or refined are restricted (2).

Although the diet isnt specifically designed for weight loss, many studies have demonstrated that following the Mediterranean Diet could lead to weight loss (3, 4, 5).

For example, one analysis of 16 studies showed that those who paired the Mediterranean diet with physical activity and calorie restriction lost significantly more weight than those in a control group (6).

Plus, other research suggests that the Mediterranean Diet may help prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease (5, 7).

For an easy resource to help get you started on the Mediterranean diet, check out The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, which features a variety of delicious recipes and in-depth information about the diet.

Shop for The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook online.

Plant-based diets encourage you to eat foods from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, and legumes.

Unlike vegan or vegetarian diets, most plant-based diets dont eliminate meat or animal products entirely. However, these foods are only enjoyed in moderation and not generally considered to be the main focus of the diet (8).

Plant-based diets are particularly rich in fiber the parts of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are resistant to digestion. Fiber helps keep you full between meals to promote weight loss (9, 10, 11).

According to one review of 12 studies, people who followed a plant-based vegetarian diet lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than those who followed a non-vegetarian diet over 18 weeks (12).

Another review of 32 studies found that plant-based diets were more effective for weight loss, compared with conventional diets, and even led to greater improvements in blood sugar control, cholesterol levels, and inflammation (13).

To learn more about plant-based diets, check out the book The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners by Gabriel Miller, which offers a variety of resources, including recipes and shopping lists.

Shop for The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners by Gabriel Miller online.

Carb-restricted diets are often recommended to help support blood sugar control and increase weight loss among those with type 2 diabetes (14).

There are many types of carb-restricted diets, but most of them involve limiting the consumption of foods that are high in sugar or carbs, such as desserts, candy, bread, and pasta.

Although some carb-restricted diets, such as the Atkins or ketogenic diet, also require significantly reducing your carb consumption to 2050 grams per day, low carb diets are defined as any diet comprising less than 130 grams of carbs per day (15, 16).

One study in 49 people with type 2 diabetes found that a low carb diet was more effective at improving blood sugar levels than a low fat diet. Whats more, it led to reductions in cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) after 3 months (17).

Another study in 124 people with type 2 diabetes found that following a low carb, high fat diet was linked to improved blood sugar control and increased weight loss, compared with a control group (18).

If you want to learn more about carb-restricted diets, you can find valuable resources online, or check out this article to get you started.

Shop for books on carb-restricted diets online.

The Mayo Clinic diet is an eating plan originally developed by experts at the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit hospital system thats considered to be a leader in medical research.

The Mayo Clinic diet is focused on developing healthy habits like eating breakfast every day, exercising daily, and keeping a food journal.

It also promotes nutritious ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, while limiting added sugars and saturated fat from full fat dairy and high fat meats.

Although there arent any peer-reviewed studies on the Mayo Clinic diet specifically, studies show that following a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat may aid weight loss and blood sugar control (19, 20).

Other research suggests that reducing your intake of saturated fat or added sugars may also enhance your bodys ability to use insulin, the hormone thats responsible for carrying sugar from your bloodstream into your cells (21, 22, 23, 24).

You can learn more about the Mayo Clinic diet on the Mayo Clinics website, or find valuable information in books on the topic.

Shop for books on the Mayo Clinic diet online.

Low carb diets involve restricting your intake of carbs, including high carb foods like bread, pasta, and sweets.

Some research suggests that reduced sensitivity to insulin may play a role in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (25).

As such, low carb diets are often recommended to improve insulin sensitivity and help manage symptoms of PCOS.

One review of eight studies showed that following a low carb diet could help increase weight loss and improve hormone levels in women with PCOS (26).

Whats more, another review of seven studies showed that low carb diets could help balance hormones and improve fertility in women with PCOS (27).

Shop for books on the low carb diet online.

Anti-inflammatory diets emphasize foods rich in nutrients that have been shown to fight inflammation, including antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (28).

These diets are rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. They also typically limit processed products, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Studies show that increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts may be beneficial for weight loss (29, 30, 31).

In addition to promoting weight loss, following an anti-inflammatory diet may help alleviate symptoms of PCOS.

In fact, high levels of inflammation are thought to contribute to symptoms of PCOS and may be associated with increased levels of androgens, or male sex hormones (32).

One study in 100 women with PCOS found that pairing a calorie-restricted, anti-inflammatory diet with regular physical activity for 12 weeks significantly increased weight loss and improved hormone levels, menstrual cycle regularity, blood sugar control, and fertility (33).

Dorothy Calimeris and Lulu Cooks book The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners is an excellent resource for more information on the anti-inflammatory diet.

Shop for The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners by Dorothy Calimeris and Lulu Cook online.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan intended to promote weight loss, reduce blood pressure levels, and protect against heart disease (34).

The diet promotes nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Meanwhile, red meat and foods high in added sugar, salt, or fat are limited.

According to one review of 13 studies, participants who followed the DASH diet lost more weight and belly fat than those following other calorie-restricted diets for 824 weeks (35).

The DASH diet has likewise been shown to decrease levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol all of which are risk factors for heart disease (36, 37).

There are a variety of books and resources on the DASH diet, or you can check out this article to get you started.

Shop for books on the DASH diet online.

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is a plan developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program to support healthy cholesterol levels.

On the TLC diet, foods high in fat and dietary cholesterol are limited, while foods high in soluble fiber a type of fiber that dissolves in water are encouraged.

The diet also recommends aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.

Increasing your intake of soluble fiber and adding more physical activity into your routine are two common strategies for promoting weight loss (38, 39, 40).

Plus, several older studies have even found that the TLC diet can decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and enhance immune function (41, 42, 43).

Check out this free guide to the TLC diet online, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Although there are many styles and variations of intermittent fasting, most involve restricting food intake for 1424 hours at a time.

Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may be particularly beneficial for women during menopause (44).

It has been shown to increase weight loss to a similar extent as cutting calories, and it may also help boost fat-burning (45, 46).

Intermittent fasting may likewise reduce insulin resistance and help stabilize blood sugar levels, both of which can be especially beneficial during menopause (47, 48).

Whats more, other research suggests that intermittent fasting may help support mental health during menopause by enhancing self-esteem, as well as reducing stress levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression (44).

Some studies have found that intermittent fasting could affect men and women differently, indicating that women may be more sensitive to the effects of fasting (49, 50).

Therefore, women may benefit from a more relaxed approach to fasting, which could include intermittent fasting just a few times per week, consuming a small number of calories during fasts, or limiting fasting periods to 1416 hours at a time.

Be sure to also follow a healthy and balanced diet during non-fasting periods to maximize the potential benefits.

To learn more about intermittent fasting and how to incorporate it into your daily routine, check out Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens.

Shop for Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens online.

The pescatarian diet is a mostly plant-based diet that includes fish and seafood.

There are several variations of pescatarian diets, but most of them exclude meat and poultry from the diet but include other animal products like fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.

Studies suggest that pescatarians tend to have a lower BMI and improved diet quality, compared with non-vegetarians (51, 52, 53).

The diet may also be particularly beneficial for those with thyroid issues like hypothyroidism, as it encourages the consumption of seafood thats rich in selenium, a mineral thats essential for the production of thyroid hormones (54).

Plus, fish like cod and tuna can help protect against iodine deficiency, another factor that can contribute to thyroid issues (55, 56).

However, keep in mind that this diet may not necessarily be suitable for all thyroid conditions, and those with conditions like Hashimotos or Graves disease may benefit from an individualized dietary pattern tailored to their needs.

Many books can provide more information on the pescatarian diet, along with meal plans and recipes to get you started.

Shop for books on the pescatarian diet online.

The Ornish Diet is a low fat, plant-based eating pattern that promotes nutritious ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

While weight control is not the primary goal of the Ornish Diet, multiple studies have found that it may be effective for long-term weight loss.

For example, one study in 311 women showed that participants who followed the Ornish Diet for 12 months lost an average of 5 pounds (2.2 kg) (57).

Another small study found that the Ornish Diet was more effective for weight loss than other popular diet plans like Atkins and the ZONE Diet, resulting in 7.5 pounds (3.3 kg) of weight loss after 1 year (58).

Keep in mind that the Ornish Diet restricts fat intake quite a bit and limits the consumption of several healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and oils. Thus, careful planning is necessary to ensure that youre meeting your nutritional needs while following the Ornish Diet.

For more information about the diet, check out UnDo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases by Dean and Annie Ornish.

Shop for UnDo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases by Dean and Annie Ornish online.

Jenny Craig is a popular program that delivers prepackaged, portion-controlled meals to help simplify weight loss.

Jenny Craig may be an especially good fit for many older adults, as its simple, easy to follow, and doesnt require extensive planning or preparation.

Plans are tailored to your specific weight loss goals but typically provide 1,2002,300 calories per day.

One massive review of 39 studies found that Jenny Craig participants experienced nearly 5% more weight loss after 1 year, compared with those in a control group and people who underwent behavioral counseling (59).

In another study in 133 women with overweight, participants who followed Jenny Craig lost an average of 11.5 pounds (5.3 kg) over 12 weeks (60).

You can find more information about Jenny Craig and can get started on the program directly on their website.

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND diet, combines certain aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diets to help combat mental decline.

On the MIND diet, foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains are encouraged, while foods high in saturated or trans fats are limited.

Although research on the effects of the MIND diet for weight control specifically is limited, both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have been associated with increased weight loss (6, 35).

Additionally, studies show that the MIND diet may help preserve brain function with aging and be linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers disease (61, 62).

To get started, check out The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook by Julie Andrews, which provides shopping lists, meal plans, and recipes aimed at promoting better brain health.

Shop for The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook by Julie Andrews online.

WW, formerly Weight Watchers, is a diet program that uses a points-based system to promote long-lasting, sustainable weight loss.

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The 16 Best Weight Loss Programs of 2020 - Healthline

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