When it comes to dieting, it can be hard to find one that suits you and your needs. However, it’s important to note that some eating patterns have more scientific backing than others. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply boost your overall health, it’s best to follow diets that are supported by research. Here’s a quick look at some of the best, most effective diets out there (and a few to avoid).
Most Effective Diets
If you can’t afford to sun yourself in the Mediterranean, you can at least adopt their diet! The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods that were commonly eaten around the region during the 20th century and earlier. It includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, and extra virgin olive oil. This eating plan has been proven to be effective for heart disease prevention.
Low-Carb, Whole-Food Diet
The Low-Carb, Whole-Food diet is ideal for people who need to lose weight, optimize their health, and lower their risk of disease. It’s flexible, allowing you to fine-tune your carb intake. This diet is high in vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, nuts, and fats, but low in starches, sugars, and processed foods.
Despite the name, this diet has nothing to do with being in a hurry. DASH stands for “dietary approach to stop hypertension” and was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help reverse trends of obesity and heart disease. Doctors recommend it for lowering high blood pressure, reversing diabetes, and lowering the risk of heart disease. The DASH diet features plenty of veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy products, plus whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts. It offers limited portions of red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.
Least Effective Diets
Wine and Egg Diet
In 1977, Vogue magazine published a “crash diet” for women called the Wine and Egg diet. As the name implies, this unusual and restrictive eating plan includes lots of wine and eggs, plus some steak with lemon juice, and coffee.
It may sound pretty good, but that’s all you can eat for three days straight. You can have wine at breakfast and are encouraged to drink up to a bottle a day, with the diet promising that the follower will lose four pounds. Recently, the diet went viral online, with many women trying it. Most reported feeling dizzy and lethargic. They also experienced strong stomach pains. Even if they did lose a little weight, all the participants agreed that they would not recommend it.
Lemon Detox Diet
The Lemon Detox diet, or Master Cleanse, involves surviving solely on a concoction of water, lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for more than a week. For 10 days, dieters shun all solid foods and drink the strange spicy tea mix. Not only are you getting almost no nutrients or calories during this period, some users experience nausea and weakness as the days progress.
This may seem like an effective diet, since you will shed pounds, but all of the weight loss will be either temporary water weight or muscle mass, which will cause your metabolism to slow down. As soon as you start eating solid food again, expect to gain back what you lost — and then some.
Cabbage Soup Diet
This fad diet has been doing the rounds for a long time! This simple meal plan consists of only cabbage soup, which is eaten for every meal. While it sounds easy, and will make batch-cooking simpler, there are no health benefits from eating the same food over and over. A healthy diet requires eating a variety of foods to get adequate vitamins and minerals. Cabbage soup is also short on protein and heart-healthy fats, both of which contribute to feeling satiated. Balance is key, so this diet, along with other one-food diets like the grapefruit or boiled-egg diet, should be avoided.
Talk about extreme! The Tapeworm diet pushes the boundaries of how far people are willing to go to lose weight. The concept is that the dieter orders a tapeworm-egg capsule via a black market website. They then swallow the pill and “magically” lose pounds.
As you can imagine, various health issues can arise from swallowing a parasite. While the tapeworm grows and absorbs the calories, it also absorbs all the nutrients you consume. Side effects include severe malnutrition, debilitating pain, nausea, and diarrhea. The eggs also spread to multiple parts of your body and can cause life-threatening issues. The tapeworm is also hard to kill, and usually requires a hospital visit to remove.
Baby Food Diet
Created by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who works with clients like Gwyneth Paltrow, the Baby Food diet sees people replace two meals a day with jars of pureed peas and bananas. Each jar contains about 70 to 100 calories, which is dangerously low for adults. Save this one for actual babies!
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A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.