Eat clean. No carbs. Lemonade only for a week. Eat raw. Substitute this delicious shake for lunch and dinner. Move more, eat less.
Weight loss is on the minds of millions this time of year, but a visit to the diet book section of the bookstore could have you running for comfort food. And every year, a new crop of weight-loss plans inundates the market, claiming newer, easier, yummier and quicker ways to shed those pesky pounds and possibly to kick a weight-related illness in the process.
The truth is, there is no magic pill, no quick fix.
However you choose to lose weight or get healthier, you should start with an attitude that to lose weight and keep it off, a lifestyle change is necessary. It's not a 50-yard dash; it's more like a marathon, said Pam Patty, a registered and licensed dietitian at Integris.
“It's a much more involved process, and it's going to take time,” Patty said. “But who wants to hear that answer?”
Recently, U.S. News and World Report evaluated 32 of the most popular diet plans, how they work and for whom they work best.
The report named the best diets for weight loss, diabetes and heart health, commercial diets, ease of following, and plant-based diets.
A standout on the list is the DASH diet, an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH plan received top honors for Best Diet Overall and Best Diet for Healthy Eating.
“It's kind of the same old song that we keep telling people,” Patty said.
The DASH plan is simple: Eat the foods you've been told to eat — fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy — and leave the processed, sugary and fatty foods at the grocery store.
But DASH is not specifically aimed at weight loss. Instead, the diet's goal, as the name implies, is to improve heart health by reducing inflammation that leads to hypertension. Weight loss is a bonus from following this diet.
Inflammation, Patty said, is the root of many health problems that can be improved or even eliminated by eating properly and exercising. Inflammation can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, the leading cause of heart attack) and diabetes.
For diabetics, the DASH plan placed second to “The Biggest Loser” plan, which is based on calorie restriction and exercise. There are several “Biggest Loser” books to choose from that will guide you through the plan.
And for weight loss, “The Biggest Loser” plan placed second to Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers' PointsPlus program focuses on the value of foods with a point system. Dieters are given a number of points to tally; nutritionally-dense foods that fill you up longer cost fewer points than empty calories.
Jenny Craig was a popular commercial diet, second to Weight Watchers. And the Ornish and TLC diets got some top honors on the list.
Sometimes, just getting started on a more healthful eating plan is the hardest part. Tosca Reno, fitness model, mother and author of “The Start Here Diet” hopes to gently help people get off their couches, making better food choices and moving more. Reno's “Eat Clean Diet” was on The New York Times best-sellers list.
Reno wasn't always a fitness model. At her heaviest, she was 70 pounds overweight, and her health was a mess. Having transformed her own body and lifestyle through her Eat Clean Diet, Reno's latest book is aimed to help people sort through the emotional triggers that cause them to overeat and to overcome those triggers.
In the book, she covers the three steps she followed in her journey: dive inward to identify your emotional triggers for overeating; uncover your hidden foods, the ones you think you can't live without that are your go-to snacks; and move a little — if you don't think you can, start with a five-minute walk and work your way up, she says.