Have you made up your mind to lose weight, but you're stuck trying to decide which diet plan is the best one for you to go with? There certainly is no shortage of options, as there seems to be a plan out there to cater to every individual’s preference.
High protein, low fat, high fat, low carb, eat-as-you-please, and restrictive plans all abound.
Pinpointing the program that appeals to you most can be a challenge, so getting a little help to sort through the many choices is certainly welcomed. (Of course, before you start on any type of diet plan, be sure to get the go-ahead from your doctor or healthcare professional.)
Here is a rundown of 16 of the top contenders when it comes to a diet plan to lose weight. We’re sure you’ll find one among them that’s just perfect for you!
Diet Plans to Help You Lose Weight
“3-2-1” is how SlimFast describes its weight loss program. During the course of a day, you get to consume three 100-calorie snacks, two SlimFast meal replacements, and one 500-calorie meal that you cook or buy. The SlimFast meal replacements include shakes, smoothies, and bars, while for your snacks they give you a choice of SlimFast snack bars, vegetables, fruits or nuts.
This popular diet plan for weight loss promises that you can lose a pound or two each week while still eating tasty food. No foods are completely banned on this diet, and you are even given alcoholic recipe options when making the shakes. #winning
The SlimFast program can easily be adjusted to suit vegetarians, but vegans and people on a gluten-free diet will have to use it with caution. Daily physical activity is encouraged, but it is not incorporated into the plan.
Slim Fast Original, Meal Replacement Shake Mix, Rich Chocolate Royale
Slim Fast Advanced Nutrition Drizzled Crisps Snacks, Cinnamon Bun Swirl
Weight Watchers fits into the category of a lifestyle-change program, encouraging you to eat healthier and to become more physically active. When you get on the Weight Watchers diet plan to lose weight, you are allowed to eat what you want, but the program makes an effort to steer you towards healthy food choices with its SmartPoints plan.
There are no pre-packaged foods in this plan, so it is easy to follow if you are vegetarian, vegan, or eating gluten-free. All foods are allowed, but healthier choices have lower SmartPoints values, so you get to eat more of them!
The website provides recipes, exercises, and progress charts for you to use. One-on-one consultation by phone, text, and email is also available, as well as the option to attend in-person group meetings.
Weight Watchers: Punch! 3 Complete Workouts
Weight Watchers: One Pot Cookbook
3. Atkins Diet
Limit your carbs and enjoy your fill of tasty alternatives – that’s the rule behind the Atkins Diet. It focuses on a high intake of proteins and healthy fats along with high-fiber vegetables. The plan has no strict rules for protein consumption but does set some limits on your fat intake.
The Atkins diet takes you through four phases to decrease and manage the amount of carbs you consume. At first, your primary carb source will be vegetables, but you later add in other sources such as beans, whole grains, and fruits.
Atkins is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free followers. People used to a largely processed sugar and starch intake (including snacks like chips) will have to make some big changes. It is easier to stick with the plan if you prepare your own meals from scratch.
New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great
Atkins Endulge Treats, Peanut Butter Cups
4. Jenny Craig
This system offers one of the most complete packages you will find when it comes to weight loss plans. You get 70 of Jenny Craig’s pre-packaged meals to make up your weekly menu. You also get access to a personal consultant for support, whether in person, via video chat, or on the phone.
Apart from the pre-packaged meals, you are allowed to have reduced-fat dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables. Once you close in on your weight loss goal, you can eat less of the pre-packaged foods and more of what you make for yourself. There is also an exercise plan and online tools that make planning and tracking your meals easier.
Most vegetarians and vegans will have to opt out of going with Jenny Craig since the pre-packaged foods will not fit into their diet.
Jenny Craig Weight Loss Starter Kit
Jenny Craig Anytime Chocolatey Peanut Butter Bar
Nutrisystem promises to keep things simple for you to lose weight. There is no calorie-counting, no need to mind your carb intake, and no proper portion sizes to stick to. You simply get most of what you eat from Nutrisystem – shipped right to your door. That includes your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert! Yes, we said dessert...
You get to buy your own snacks, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and alcohol is mostly frowned upon. You will find that with this plan, eating out is pretty much off limits too. Vegetarians and those with diabetes can have plans tailored to them, but vegans would not be able to use Nutrisystem. Additionally, the plan is not gluten-free.
The system comes as a four-week plan, priced according to the extras you select. These include varying levels of access to the items on the Nutrisystem menu, as well as support from nutrition professionals.
Nutrisystem ® On The Go Bar Variety Pack
Nutrisystem ® 5 Day JUMP START Weight Loss Kit
The Special K Challenge is a quick fix, lose-weight-fast option that promises you can “Drop a jean size in 2 weeks.” On this program, you are required to have Special K cereals or the brand’s other products for both breakfast and lunch. You are then allowed to eat your dinner as you regularly would.
A drastic cut in your calorie intake is the secret behind how well the plan works for you to lose those initial six pounds. The Special K Challenge is, however, essentially a short-term, low-calorie meal replacement program. If you wish to maintain weight loss for the long-term, you will need to implement other dietary and lifestyle changes.
The Challenge is budget-friendly with Special K’s variety of shakes, cereal bars, and enhanced water on the “what you can eat” list. The Special K Challenge also comes with a separate vegetarian plan.
Special K Protein Meal Bar, Double Chocolate
Special K Protein Meal Bar, Strawberry
With a focus on the “right” carbs and fats, the South Beach diet sets you on a three-phase diet plan for weight loss. The program promises substantial weight loss within the first two weeks, and the ability to lose more weight later on and keep it off for life.
The first phase, those first two weeks, is quite restrictive, with rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, dairy, alcohol, and fruit completely off limits. *gasp* During the next phase, some of these foods are re-entered into the diet. *whew*
The diet is very usable for vegetarians, vegans, and people on a gluten-free regimen. It steers you towards high-fiber and nutrient-dense food options. By the third phase, you are able to eat whatever you please, having been guided in how to make healthy food choices.
South Beach Diet Snack Bars, Fudgy Chocolate Mint
South Beach Diet Gluten Free Chewy Nut Bar, Chocolate Chunk
Although it was developed specifically as a treatment for high blood pressure, this diet is quite suited for weight loss and weight maintenance. The DASH diet consistently ranks high among diet plans to lose weight. It emphasizes a high consumption of fruits and vegetables with a moderate intake of carbs.
This diet requires that you spend a bit of time initially reading through the material to find out how many calories you should be eating, considering your age and level of activity. Then, it provides comprehensive guidance on the best food choices to provide those calories. As an overall healthy-eating plan, it can be customized to suit vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free followers.
The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution
The DASH Diet Action Plan
The Paleo diet goes by the more descriptive names of the Caveman Diet and the Stone Age Diet. It is built on the premise that our prehistoric ancestors had the best idea when it came to what we should eat.
This is not necessarily a reduced-calorie diet, but it cuts out many of the empty calorie sources in the average diet. As a result, you are instructed to avoid all products with refined sugar. Also off limits are grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined vegetable oils, and potatoes.
The diet is not intended for vegetarians or vegans as it stresses the intake of meat, fish, and eggs. Without grain, however, people on a gluten-free diet should do well with the Paleo diet plan. You get to fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, eggs, healthy fats and oils, nuts and seeds.
The Paleo Diet
HealthyWiser Ketone Test Strips
This diet by Dr. Dean Ornish groups food on a spectrum from the healthiest to the most indulgent. It then encourages you to select the majority of your foods from the healthy end of the Spectrum.
The diet’s official website makes the point that "for most people, being on a diet -- any diet -- is not sustainable." It goes on to say that, "In contrast, the Spectrum approach is all about freedom and choice."
The Spectrum Diet provides helpful chef-designed nutritional recipes for you to work with. While meat lovers might need extra willpower to stick to the plan, vegetarians and vegans will have a much easier time with it. Being gluten free on this diet will require a bit more work.
Having a circle of support is emphasized as playing a role in the diet’s success. Also important are your level of activity and your use of techniques such as meditation to manage stress.
Relaxing Yoga Meditation Om Peace Singing Bowl
11. The Kind Diet
If you love her movies, you might just like her diet plan as well. Alicia Silverstone uses recipes and simple how-to information to give you a few suggestions for successfully adopting this vegan diet. She promotes the program as a safe method of weight loss and general good health.
Of course, there are no pre-packaged foods here, and all animal products are strictly off limits. Though naturally perfect for vegetarians and vegans, not all of the recipes are gluten-free.
You ease into the Kind Diet by slowly eliminating animal-based foods, before going all out vegan in both diet and lifestyle. If you are up to it, the diet’s final stage, called “Superhero,” also sees you limiting nightshade vegetables such as eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes, as well as many processed vegetable foods.
The Kind Diet
But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Chees
12. Body for Life
If you want a diet plan for weight loss that promises to give you your best body in twelve weeks, then this is the one for you. The goal is achieved not just with dieting alone, but there are also intense daily exercise routines you will have to stick to. The diet includes eating six small meals daily, centered around lean proteins and healthy sources of carbs with strict limitations on fat intake.
To make it a bit less restrictive, the Body for Life diet plan allows you a somewhat “free” day each week to indulge in some of the foods that are normally off limits. Even on your free days, however, you will still not be able to eat processed and sugary foods. Likewise, butter, coconut oil, mayonnaise and full-fat dairy are always no-nos.
Gluten-free eaters and vegetarians might be able to make this plan work for them but vegans will have to seek out another option.
Body for LIFE: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength
Body for LIFE for Women: A Woman's Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation
This diet was formulated by the experts at the Rush University Medical Center with the intention of helping to maintain good brain health. Although it can contribute to weight loss, the MIND diet is hailed as a way to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The diet tells you how many times per week you should eat from specific food groups. For example, it allows five servings of nuts and at least three servings of beans per week. It specifically includes foods whose nutrients are scientifically proven to enhance brain function and so other foods such as red meat, cheese, and butter are restricted. Gluten-free adherents should find no issues with this diet, while vegetarians and vegans can easily adjust it to their needs.
The MIND Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia
The Everything Guide to the MIND Diet
14. Mayo Clinic Diet
This lifestyle changer is not your regular “lose weight diet plan.” It focuses on the formation of healthy habits through its two phases called "Lose It" and "Live It."
In the two-week Lose It phase, you are guided to lose up to 10 pounds to jumpstart your weight loss efforts. In the second phase, weight loss slows down as you learn to eat healthy, be active, and adopt healthful habits as a part of your lifestyle.
The plan can easily be followed by anyone on a special diet including vegetarians, vegans, or gluten-free fans. It gives you a wide range of foods to select from, with limitations to suit your personal situation.
Daily moderate-intensity exercise for a minimum of thirty minutes is encouraged while on the plan.
The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight
The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet
15. Flexitarian Diet
On the “flexible vegetarian” or Flexitarian diet you don’t have to avoid meat altogether, just most of the time.
While there are no restrictions, you are advised to slowly increase your intake of plant-based foods as you cut your meat consumption to a minimum.
According to the diet’s creator, you are a beginner flexitarian if you schedule two meatless days per week, and your average weekly meat or poultry intake is about 26 ounces.
Advanced flexitarians go 3 – 4 days weekly without meat. And then there are the experts who have managed to cut their consumption to around 9 ounces and go meatless for 5 or more days weekly.
This is a diet to consider if you are thinking of becoming a vegetarian or vegan. It allows you to slowly cut out meat altogether if that is your wish.
If you are going gluten-free, it can easily be adjusted to your needs.
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health...for Good
The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight
This diet requires the same intense dedication you see from the show’s contestants. It promises a reward of weight loss coupled with increased strength, improved self-image, lowered blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.
Vegetarians and vegans will find the diet easy to undertake (regarding the food anyway – you make a huge commitment when it comes to exercise). The diet can be gluten-free if you put a little extra effort into your food selection.
You eat according to the Biggest Loser’s 4-3-2-1 pyramid and get four fruit and vegetable servings, three servings of lean protein, two whole grains servings, and then the “extras” of 200 calories. No food groups are restricted, but you are encouraged to avoid caffeine and to drink plenty of water as you stock up on high-fiber foods.
The Biggest Loser Cookbook
The Biggest Loser Bootcamp: The 8-Week Get-Real, Get-Results Weight Loss Program
When you are on the road to losing weight, diet plan options can provide a more structured approach than if you go with the no-plan approach. To ensure you settle on a program that you can stick with, find out as much as you can about how your body loses weight and how each plan proposes to help.
Some of the best diet plans to lose weight are those that include exercise or increased physical activity. If you choose a program that doesn’t incorporate exercise, just try to boost your activity level a bit each day. By doing that and remembering to drink plenty of water, you will see much more satisfying results.
What diet plan has worked for you? Which weight loss programs have you tried and failed at?