30 of the Best Diets that Actually Work

Every single year, there seems to be a new fad diet that everyone flocks to, treating each one like a miracle cure for those extra pounds… Trista - June 20, 2019

Every single year, there seems to be a new fad diet that everyone flocks to, treating each one like a miracle cure for those extra pounds around your mid-section. However, each diet is different from the next, and not every health plan is suitable for the average person. In fact, some foods can actually be harmful to some people due to their different metabolisms and dietary requirements.

However, instead of floundering around trying to find the one that’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top 30 best diets that have proven to show results. Be sure to contact your doctor before you decide to drastically change your diet so that you don’t jeopardize your health.

1. Mediterranean Diet

One of the reasons more people lean towards the Mediterranean diet is because research has shown that people living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular issues and cancer. This notion is because the diet has no red meat, no saturated fats, and no sugar. The focus is on healthy seafood and a lot of vegetables, healthy oils, and nuts.

What’s great about this kind of diet is that it’s very diverse in the types of foods you can eat. Greek food is much different from Italian, for example. The menu provides a very balanced form of items from various food groups. However, the one drawback to the Mediterranean diet is that it can be a little expensive to maintain, and there’s a lot of prep work involved.

2. DASH Diet

This diet is closely tied to the Mediterranean diet and stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” It’s one of the diets that is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to achieve an overall healthier lifestyle. The menu encourages lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, as well as small amounts of low-fat dairy. DASH Diet also focuses on reducing a person’s sodium intake, capping it at 2,300 mg per day.

It’s a diet that can definitely be adhered to for the long-term without any ill effects. However, this is another diet that can be a bit on the expensive side to maintain and does require a lot of cooking and prep time for each meal.

3. Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet is a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian to create a meal plan that anyone can adopt. The “flexible” part comes in by not wholly cutting meat out of your diet. Instead, you eat mostly vegetarian meals each day with the occasional meat added in when you feel like it. It’s supposed to be a gradual way of including more vegetables into your diet instead of going cold turkey on meat.

With this kind of diet, you’ll lose more weight and have higher energy levels. You can also reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It can be a tough choice to make, however, if you’re already not a fan of vegetables and fruits. Still, it’s something to consider.

4. MIND Diet

Another combination of two diets, the MIND diet draws from the principles of both DASH and Mediterranean. It focuses on foods that are important for the health of the brain to reduce mental decline in later years. MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” which was developed by the nutritional epidemiologist, Martha Morris.

Although this diet is heavily focused on keeping the brain healthy, it’s not for everyone. The exact details of what foods should be included in meals aren’t exactly clear, and the majority of recipes are lacking, leading to a pretty monotonous and uninteresting diet scheme.

5. Weight Watchers Diet

One of the more popular diets out there, it’s considered a very freestyle diet that doesn’t control exactly what you eat. Instead, each food is assigned with a point value, and you have to add them up at the end of the day to meet a specific target. Some foods like fruits and vegetables are given a score of 0, while other foods score much higher.

This dieting concept gives each person the freedom to control what they do and don’t eat without making the diet feel like torture. However, the one downside to this is that joining the program costs money. Most people consider the costs worth it, though.

6. Mayo Clinic Diet

If you have some bad eating habits, then the Mayo Clinic diet is the perfect way to break them. They have a unique food pyramid that helps you to develop better eating habits that will help you lose weight. It focuses on fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, which all have a lower energy density than other foods. This menu means that you can eat more of them throughout the day while still taking in fewer calories.

By not listing forbidden foods, you can tailor the diet to your specifications, as long as you’re focusing on the target groups of foods. The most significant problem people have had with this diet is that it can become expensive to maintain. Not only that, but creating different meals every day to keep the menu interesting takes a lot of work.

7. Volumetrics Diet

The Volumetrics Diet isn’t a diet per se in the way that it focuses on specific food groups. Instead, it tries to encourage a different approach to eating altogether. This diet supports dishes with specific energy densities, wanting you to eat more low-density energy foods and minimize the high-density energy ones. Foods are generally split into four different categories with fruits and vegetables at the bottom and fattening, buttery meals at the top.

You also have the freedom to choose what kinds of foods you want to eat for each meal. Unlike some others, this diet plan even has recipes where you can replace a high-density energy food with a low-density energy food to create a healthier dish. This type of menu can leave you feeling full throughout the day, but if you’re making everything from scratch, then that’s much time gone from your day. It’s also not the best choice if you’re not a fan of fruits, vegetables, and broth-soups.

8. TLC Diet

TLC stands for “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes” and was created to help people cut back on their cholesterol. It’s rife with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. There are no set guidelines either so the diet can be tailored to your specifications.

Another great thing about this diet is that it’s very heart-healthy, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases in the future. However, it does require a careful examination of all nutrition labels for you to figure out what you should and shouldn’t be buying. Without much guidance in this department, you’re pretty much on your own to figure things out.

9. Nordic Diet

The Nordic diet is a return to the Scandinavian concept of meal preparation. It focuses on ten main principles, but it mostly has to do with more of the good stuff. Get ready to add more whole grains, seasonal produce, fruits, and vegetables. Not only that, but include more food from seas, lakes, and wild landscapes. Use high-quality meat but eat less meat overall. Incorporate organic whenever possible, but produce less waste and avoid food additives. Finally, the last principle is to cook more at home. The aim is to lead a healthier lifestyle while reducing any negative impact on the environment.

It’s definitely a way to head “back to nature,” looking at produce and ingredients that are more ethically-sourced. However, it can be time-consuming to look for such components, especially with grocery stores nearby. Moreover, the expense of looking for and finding these ingredients doesn’t make it sustainable for many people.

10. Ornish Diet

This popular diet is the first on the list that focuses on factors other than food. There is an emphasis on less fat, refined carbs, and meat, but also exercise, managing stress, and maintaining personal relationships. Food is categorized into five different groups from healthiest to unhealthiest, forcing you to take a look at what you’re loading into the shopping cart.

In regards to stress, it recommends aerobic exercises and flexibility training, and for reducing stress, one should look to meditation and deep breathing exercises. Relationships with people are also crucial for the mind and the body to keep both healthy. The diet portion itself isn’t very cheap to maintain, however, and you could find it challenging to stay on task trying to keep everything in your life balanced.

11. The Fertility Diet

This diet had been around since the 1970s; it suggests that tweaking certain aspects of a woman’s diet can increase ovulation. The Fertility Diet, as the name suggests, aims to increase the success rate of pregnancies by recommending “good” fats, plant protein, and whole grains. Red meat is also out of the picture, so don’t bother with hamburgers or steaks.

However, this doesn’t mean that this diet is for everyone. For one thing, it’s a diet that’s only for women. Secondly, it’s not recommended for those women who have blocked Fallopian tubes, as there can be some undesirable side effects of this diet.

12. Jenny Craig

Another diet made famous through the power of television; Jenny Craig focuses on restricting calories as much as possible. There’s no work to do on your part, as prepackaged meals are sent to your door when you sign up. Each person is provided with a personal consultant to help them on their journey to losing weight, promoting changes in lifestyle like becoming more physically active. That means that you don’t have to go through the process alone.

There are two options to choose from: the standard program and a program for those who have type 2 diabetes. So although the program makes it easy for you to lose weight, look forward to spending a lot of money on the packaged food. Homemade meals are also off-limits, so you should either have friends over to eat the food out of your fridge, or it’s all going to go wrong.

13. Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian has been the way to go for most people, as it’s considered the healthiest way to lose weight. There are many different kinds of vegetarian diets to appeal to different palates, so it’s all a matter of finding the right one for you. You can choose to cut out only meat and still eat milk or eggs, while others prefer the strict vegan route.

The focus on vegetables allows for variation, so you can use whatever ingredients you like in any of your recipes. You may start to miss the taste of meat at first, but sticking with it will change your palate eventually that you may not notice anymore. Food preparation and finding ingredients do also take a lot of work and experimentation but aren’t too tricky.

14. Asian Diet

To say that there’s an Asian diet you can stick to would be faulty. Instead, and Asian diet pyramid was created to incorporate foods that are traditional staples in Asian cuisine into more recipes. These include whole grains, noodles, rice, seeds, nuts, legumes, and vegetable oils. Fish and seafood can be consumed as a choice. On the other hand, you should eat eggs, desserts, and poultry once a week. Red meat is exclusive to once each month. Drink six glasses of water or hot tea each day.

The great thing about this diet is that it allows for diverse flavors so that you’re never bored. You can customize each dish precisely the way you like it. The downside is that if you’re not a fan of rice or noodles, then you’re not really going to love this one.

15. Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Although based on the Mediterranean diet, there are a few other foods included that the former excludes. It’s based on a diet of 2,000 to 3,000 calories, with a focus on the majority of those calories coming from carbs. Otherwise, it focuses on fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Don’t worry about any vague guidelines, however. With each component, they state that you want to focus on carbs that are designed to keep your blood sugar low, such as whole grains and berries. The price of this diet can get up there, and it can be lots of work to maintain, but if you’re determined to see it through, you’ll start seeing results.

16. Flat Belly Diet

This particular diet is geared towards shedding those pounds around your stomach. It promotes adding monounsaturated fats to your diet, which are designed to get rid of belly fat. It won’t leave you hungry between meals either, so you won’t find yourself snacking. These monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, chocolate (of all things!), avocados, seeds, and nuts. They don’t clog arteries, so there’s no risk for cardiovascular disease either.

You have the potential to lose at least 15 pounds in the first month as well as several inches of belly fat. However, there has been scant evidence that “good” fats are going to remove the inches around your waist — exercise caution with this diet.

17. Nutritarian Diet

The Nutritarian Diet isn’t about losing weight by counting calories. Instead, it’s all about plant-based meals that are dense with nutrients so that you’re getting every ounce out of what you’re eating. Animal proteins are limited and are replaced with plant-based ones for healthier, more natural meals. That way, your body spends all of those calories digesting instead of storing it for a rainy day.

This diet is very careful about what it considers healthy, though, so don’t jump headfirst into it. Vegetables have to be prepared a certain way to make it nutrient-rich, which mostly amounts to salads. Moreover, a salad every day for every meal can get kind of boring.

18. Spark Solution Diet

The Spark Solution diet gives you two weeks to start losing weight and seeing results, all while reducing your calorie intake. Exercise is also an essential part so that you can maintain a positive outlook about your results. Daily calories are capped at 1,500, with the majority of them coming from carbs, then fats, then proteins. Specific recipes are provided for you to work from if you’re a little clueless on what you should be preparing.

There are very rigid guidelines as to what you should be eating each day; this notion can be difficult to work around regularly. Also, forget about eating out; without having control over what goes into your meal, you don’t know how many calories you’re taking in.

19. Engine 2 Diet

Created and developed by a firefighter, it’s a diet that’s rooted in low fat and more vegetables and fruits. Throughout the Engine 2 Diet, you should expect to see lean muscle mass, higher energy levels, and a sharper mind. It’s similar to a vegan diet by eliminates even more foods such as grains and shakes. It’s all raw and fresh fruits and veggies all the time.

Because of this, it can be a difficult diet to stick to for the long term. You don’t have any calories to worry about, but you are going to spend a lot of time preparing meals, which can get tiring.

20. Eco-Atkins Diet

There are no strict rules on losing weight, other than the percentages of how you consume your daily calories. The majority — 43% — should come from plant fats, with the rest split between plant proteins and carbs. Some people choose to remove meat altogether while others opt for leaner, white meat.

Plants fats will mostly come from buts, olives, and avocados, to name a few, and carbs should come from whole grains. Otherwise, there’s very little guidance on what you should and shouldn’t eat, nor is there any leeway when it comes to meat products.

21. South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet divides foods into good fats and carbs, and bad fats and carbs. The key to losing weight is to choose the best from both worlds. The focus is on increasing protein intake so that you feel fuller for longer and aren’t likely to snack between meals. That means more lean meats, as well as vegetables and whole grains.

Not all carbs are gotten rid of, as that can be detrimental to the health of those who suffer from low blood sugar. However, by focusing on the right carbs, you can keep your blood sugar levels regular without putting on additional pounds. The focus points can make your food choice feel restrictive at first, but with a little flexibility, you can start to appreciate the end goal. You will have to make all of your meals yourself, however, if you have that kind of time.

22. Biggest Loser Diet

This diet is based on the television show “The Biggest Loser” and hasn’t really brought anything new to the table in the world of dieting. Exercising, portion control, and eating more balanced meals are at the core of this diet, which everyone has heard before. 45% of your daily calorie intake should be coming from carbs, while the rest comes from proteins and healthy fats.

It is a pretty balanced way to achieve your goal without any extremes if you’re looking for the basics. However, it can get a little expensive over time, and you have to put in the leg work to make all of your meals every single day.

23. Glycemic-Index Diet

Do you need to control your blood sugar? Then this is the diet for you. The “good” carbs, the ones that come from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are much lower on the glycemic index than carbs with processed sugars. This notion is because the former is digested much more slowly so that you’re not getting a sudden “sugar rush” right after eating. They’ll leave you feeling fuller for much longer, and your blood sugar won’t be devastatingly affected.

So what does this mean for everything else? Nothing. The Glycemic-Index Diet is targeted towards those who want to keep their blood sugar under control and nothing else. There’s no promise this diet will make you lose weight either, though it’s likely if you’re already in the bad habit of eating many foods with refined sugar in them.

24. Nutrisystem Diet

This popular diet is similar to Jenny Craig is that you sign up to receive prepackaged meals in the mail. That means no prep time, and everything is already set out for you, so you just have to stick with the program — no more measuring or portion control since it’s already done for you.

Along with controlling your calories, it is also designed around controlling your blood sugar levels. There are also different programs for different types of people, such as seniors, diabetics, men, women, vegetarian, et cetera. The one downside to the Nutrisystem Diet is that you’re stuck with what they give you. That means no eating out at restaurants or treating yourself to a home-cooked meal.

25. Zone Diet

Created by Barry Sears, this diet was designed to redefine food. He treats it like a drug: the right dose has to be taken at the right time. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. The zone diet targets the production of insulin within the body, as it is in control of other hormones that cause inflammation. By keeping the insulin under control, then you’re less likely to store extra pounds on the body.

Each set of ingredients is set out in different proportions that you have to follow. These rules include having 40% of the meal as carbs, 30% protein, and 30% good fats. You’re allowed to snack if you need to, as long as they’re healthy. This diet plan does limit your calories each day, however, which can leave you feeling hungry, and there’s no flexibility in changing the proportions.

26. Macrobiotic Diet

The Macrobiotic Diet, as the name sounds, aims to prevent disease and promote overall health by introducing healthy bacteria into the body. Focus on whole foods that are listed as macro- or probiotic. These options are shown to increase the good bacteria in the gut to aid with specific digestion issues.

With all that said, maintaining this kind of diet is very expensive and hard to manage, especially with certain foods. Your meals will start to look too similar because of the lack of variety.

27. Slimfast Diet

Almost everyone has heard of the Slimfast Diet, and its miraculous results. That’s because of strict portion size control and reducing calories. You’re supposed to replace two meals a day with one of their products, be it a shake, smoothie, or meal bar, to obtain the right amount of nutrients. These are great for those who want to lose weight fast.

However, it can be a hard regimen to stick to because of the absence of two entire meals in your day. It is convenient having them on hand when you need them, but they aren’t that tasty and can get monotonous.

28. HMR Program

HMR stands for “Health Management Resources” and is a weight loss system designed to reduce calories by replacing meals with fruits and vegetables. It’s designed to change your lifestyle altogether instead of just providing you with a quick solution to lose weight. Your weight loss is also monitored, or you can choose the at-home option to keep track of your progress yourself.

Meal replacements are provided, such as shakes and meal bars; these are supposed to be eaten in place of meals, similar to the Slimfast diet. Additionally, you’re supposed to supplant your diet with even more fruits and veggies to help you lose weight. Again, this is a very convenient process, but the shakes can get dull day after day, and you can’t eat out at restaurants with friends.

29. Optavia Diet

This high-protein diet focused on macronutrients: low-density foods that force the body to work on the digestion process. The guidelines state that your meals should consist of one meat, one vegetable, and one healthy fat to help your body stay full and nourished at the same time. Also, because of the high amounts of protein, you won’t lose muscle mass in the process.

However, this diet says nothing about including carbs in your diet, so you’re going to have to cut them out. This action forces your body into overdrive and to start using some of the fat that’s already stored. The meal options, however, leave much to be desired, as some are prepackaged as powders that only need water.

30. Alkaline Diet

Finding balance within the body is essential. Some research has stated that people are eating more and more acidic foods such as red meat that through off the natural pH of the stomach. This type of diet leads to poor health but can be undone by shifting the balance back with alkaline foods. In its natural state, the body tends to lean more towards alkaline so it should be kept that way with diet. Food isn’t the only thing either; other activities can add acid to the body, such as smoking and drug use.

The Alkaline Diet seems like a natural diet to follow, as you’re not entirely restricted from one category of food; however, there are many rules to remember to the point that it can get confusing. There’s also no real science to back up these findings, so take this diet with a grain of salt.