Most of us are starting the New Year with fervent promises of shedding a few pounds and following a healthy lifestyle. And what better to lose weight than by changing your diet? The sheer number of diet plans we hear about day after day can be overwhelming, but here are a few science-backed, most popular diet plans of 2020 that will surely help you shed weight and improve your overall health in 2021.
This diet is based on the dietary styles of people living in the Mediterranean region. Though initially intended to aid people with cardiovascular ailments, its weight loss benefits have made it quite popular with weight loss aficionados. In essence, the Mediterranean diet advocates eating fresh foods such as seafood, whole grains, tubers, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables, olive oil, and fruits, while foods such as dairy, eggs, and poultry can also be eaten in moderation. Meanwhile, red meats are to be avoided as much as possible, while added sugars, processed meats, refined oils, trans fats, refined grains, and other highly processed foods are a strict no. We have many studies verifying the weight loss benefits of this amazing diet. For instance, a study concluded that people who combined the Mediterranean diet with exercise or calorie restriction lost an average of 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than those on a control diet.
Intermittent fasting is one of the best weight loss programs that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Different people follow different forms of this dietary strategy, including the 5:2 method where you can only consume 500 calories twice per week, or the 16/8 method which restricts your daily calorie intake to 8 hours per day, followed by 16 hours of fasting. Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight fast since it puts a cap on the time you’re allowed to eat, which ultimately cuts down your calorie intake for the day. However, it in no way means that you make up for the fasting hours by binge eating during allowed eating periods!
This strategy is backed by science as well. In one research, intermittent fasting was associated with 3–8% weight loss and a 4–7% reduction in waist circumference, over 3–24 weeks, which is so much better than other diet programs over the same time period. Intermittent fasting is also known to enhance your metabolism by burning fat while preserving muscle. In addition to its association with weight loss, intermittent fasting has been linked to reduced inflammation, enhance cognitive function, increased insulin sensitivity, and anti-aging effects.
Even though intermittent fasting is a safe option for most people, it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with an eating disorder, or people with diabetes, since it can lead to a drop in their blood sugar levels. These individuals should talk to their health physicians before commencing this diet program!
The Paleo Diet
This dietary program advocates eating the same foods that your hunter-gatherer ancestors are known to consume. Basically, Paleo diet works on the principle that most of our health issues are linked to a modern diet and that the human body hasn’t evolved to process dairy, grains, and legumes. People following this diet are allowed to only eat seeds, nuts, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole foods, while cutting down on dairy, sugar, grains, and processed foods. This diet not only reduces several heart disease risk factors, such as triglyceride levels, cholesterol, and high blood pressure, it also helps you lose weight and that stubborn belly fat without affecting your health or restricting calories. In one study, 14 healthy adults following a paleo diet for a period of 3-week, lost an average of 5.1 pounds and 0.6 inches of waist circumference, as compared to those on different other diet programs. We especially love Paleo diet due to its high protein content, which makes it much more satiating than other diets.
Weight Watchers Diet
WW diet not only helps you lose weight fast, it also focuses on improving overall well-being and helping you live a healthy life; which is what a perfect diet plan should be about. The program builds on WW’s SmartPoints system, where each food and beverage gets assigned a point value depending on its nutritional value. The program takes into account each member’s food preferences and lifestyle to recommend one of the three ways of following the program. The program also includes amazing workshops to help all members find support and learn behavior-change techniques. The aim of the SmartPoints system is to inculcate an eating pattern that is lower in added and concentrated sources of sugar, calories, and saturated fat, and higher in protein. In a study, 772 overweight and moderately obese people who followed the weight watchers diet lost an average of 15 pounds more than people who followed some other diet for the same time period.
The Flexitarian Diet
As the name suggest, this is a flexible vegetarian diet, in which you reap all the benefits associated with following a vegetarian lifestyle, while still being allowed to munch on an occasional steak or a burger when the urge hits. By including more vegetables and fruits in your diet, while limiting your meat intake, you not only lose weight, but also lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live longer as a result. Becoming a flexitarian is all about incorporating dairy, whole grains, non-meat proteins like eggs beans, and peas, fruits and veggies, and sugar and spice in your diet. The diet is built on the premises that vegetarians weigh about 15% less than non-vegetarians since vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories and have a lower body mass index.
The diet advocates keeping your breakfast choices to 300 calories, lunches 400, Snacks are about 150 calories each, while dinners should stay under 500 calories. All in all, you are allowed to consume 1,500 calories per day. While this diet is generally pretty affordable, you just need to purchase “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life,” by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, to be able to follow the plan. The book is packed with healthy and nutritious recipes, as well as detailed grocery lists and meal plans to help you plan meals in advance.
Mayo Clinic Diet
The experts at Mayo clinic developed an eating plan that is meant to help you recalibrate your eating habits, leaving behind bad ones and replacing them with good ones, such as keeping q daily food journal, regular exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, and so on. The diet advocates consuming more nutritional foods, such as healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, while staying away from high fat meat and dairy, saturated foods, and sugar laden foods. All the foods allowed by this diet, have low energy density, which means that you can eat more while keeping consuming less calories. This diet is based on the principle that a low fat, high fiber diet keeps your blood sugar levels in check and aid you in your weight loss journey. Proponents of the Mayo clinic diet say that on average, you can expect to shed 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks and continue losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly while on this diet.
All you need to follow this diet is get your hands on the latest edition of the “Mayo Clinic Diet” book, which incorporates two parts – “Lose it” and “Love it”. In the first part, you are expected to eat a healthy breakfast and include lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats in your diet, as well as indulge in 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Not only that, you learn a lot of healthy eating tips in this part of the book, such as not eating in front of the TV, eating out less, and staying away from high fat meat and dairy. In the second part of the book, you are supposed to follow what you learned in the first phase, but with some flexibility. This part of the book is more restrictive on portion sizes than what you are actually eating.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, is a dietary plan that was originally devised to prevent hypertension, but a lot of people are touting the weight loss benefits of this diet. In essence, this diet recommends specific servings of various food groups, such as lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and advices against consuming fat, added sugars, processed foods, red meat, and salt. While not actually a weight loss diet, you can calculate the numbers of servings and serving portions based on your daily calorie intake. Here’s what a day in the life of a DASH dieter looks like: 7 servings of whole grain, 5 servings of fruit, 5 servings of fresh vegetables, 2 servings of lean meat, and 2 servings of low-fat dairy products. In addition, you are allowed to eat 2-3 portions of nuts and seeds per week. In addition to its weight loss benefits, the DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure and combat recurrent depressive symptoms. However, eating too little salt has been linked to increased insulin resistance, so we recommend that you included moderate salt in your foods while following this diet.