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You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: The best diets aren’t just diets, they’re lifestyles. There are no quick fixes for sustainable weight loss and long-term health. You’ve gotta stick to it lest the pounds stick right back on.

But some diets and exercise plans outshine others when it comes to health benefits and how easy they are to follow. Here are 10 pound-shredding plans worth pondering.

Exercise not included

Physical activity is part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle, and it can boost your weight loss efforts.

While exercise isn’t covered in the following diet plans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that the average adult get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week for general health.

And don’t overlook strength training. Lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest than fat does, so make sure to flex from time to time.

Aim for two strength training sessions on non-consecutive days of the week that target all your major muscle groups, and do at least 1 or 2 set of 12 to 15 reps.

Conscious eating, also known as “mindful eating,” means just that: being aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. The idea is to be more present while you’re eating and more mindful of how your food affects you.

How it works

Conscious eating is pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Mastering mindful eating means unlearning habits that aren’t serving your needs — like, say, eating lunch at your desk or getting your snack on while catching up on your favorite TV series.

As far as this “diet” is concerned, your standard healthy eating rules apply (plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and unprocessed grains), but it’s more about how you eat than what you’re eating.

Start with smaller portions and eat slowly, without any distractions, so you can follow your body’s natural hunger cues and stop eating before you’re stuffed. The same rules apply whether you’re eating a salad or a burger. Bon appétit!

Weight loss benefits

If you’ve struggled with binge eating or emotional eating, research suggests conscious eating could help reduce those behaviors and might also lead to some weight loss without requiring you to follow any weird rules.

Because there’s no menu planning or restrictions, you can practice mindful eating in any circumstances, even if you’re dining out or on vacay.

But if binge eating or other difficulties with food are interfering with your life, addressing those issues and repairing your relationship with food is more important right now than trying to lose weight.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you think you need it. Talk to your doctor — they’ll connect you with a mental health pro who can help you find the right approach to make peace with food again.

Other benefits

Establishing more regular eating habits and possibly losing weight aren’t the only upsides to conscious eating. This approach to eating can work wonders on your noggin too.

Improved mental health and reduced anxiety

Diets can trigger a lot of guilt and frustration, especially when you “mess up.” When you’re limited to certain foods, eating out or breaking your routine can cause a lot of needless anxiety. With conscious eating, the only thing that’s not on the menu are all those negative feelings around food and dieting. Delicious!

The downside

Underlying health conditions aside, there really is no downside to eating mindfully, although some people may find it easier to follow a plan with specific rules about what and when you’re supposed to eat.

Learn more about mindful eating here.

Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a wildly popular dieting method in recent years. With IF it’s not so much about what or how you eat as when you eat.

How it works

Despite what the word “fasting” might connote, IF is not about starving yourself. Instead, you fast for relatively short intervals — whether it be 14 to 16 hours per day or one 24-hour fast twice a week.

Weight loss benefits

The most obvious reason IF works is that people tend to eat less when restricted to a certain window. Gone are the days of late night snacking. IF has also been proven to trigger various hormonal responses that make weight loss even easier.

Other benefits

In addition to helping push that number downward on the scale, IF has other potential pros. Studies suggest short bouts of fasting may give you a fat-burning edge as compared to traditional diets and may even help you live longer.

The downside

If you have any health issues, like advanced diabetes or hypoglycemia, IF may not be right for you. If you’re tempted by the idea but not sure how it might affect your health, make sure to loop in your doctor first.

IF could also lead to an unhealthy fixation on weight management behaviors and put a damper on spontaneous plans or just plain enjoying food. If you have a history of eating disorders, IF — like many other restrictive diets — could trigger a relapse. Simply put, IF isn’t for everyone.

Keto (short for “ketogenic”) diets are essentially extremely low carb diets, not unlike the Atkins diet you may remember. Keto regimens restrict carbs to 20 to 50 grams per day.

How it works

Without getting too much into the biological nitty-gritty, cutting carbs to a bare minimum forces your body to burn stored fat for fuel.

Weight loss benefits

While it may not be for everyone, a keto diet can be effective for weight loss, especially in the beginning. Since carbs hold on to water in your body, you’re likely to drop a significant amount of water weight in the first week or two, and that might just be the motivation you need to keep going.

Other benefits

In addition to maximizing fat-burning potential, keto diets have shown to help reduce appetite. Plus, putting an emphasis on protein helps you retain lean muscle mass, which in turn helps protect your metabolism.

The downside

Keto diets may feel like an aggressive approach if you’re used to eating a more varied diet, and they aren’t the most sustainable option — at least not in their strictest form. Some experts also suggest that long-term keto might not be the healthiest choice.

Plus, while keto may be effective in the short term, recent research suggests the long-term weight loss results of keto dieters aren’t much different from those of people who opt for a healthy low fat diet.

The DASH diet focuses on the usual suspects — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats — but it was specifically designed to combat hypertension (high blood pressure) and slash your risk of heart disease. DASH stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.”

How it works

The DASH diet was modeled after a vegetarian diet, as plant-based folks don’t typically have high blood pressure. It encourages eating lean protein sources like fish, beans, and chicken; keeping red meat consumption low; and limiting salt to ¾ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day.

And you’re not likely to feel deprived on this diet, since it also includes two or three servings per day of fats and oils (like olive oil, butter, or mayo) and up to five servings of sweets per week.

Weight loss benefits

The DASH diet wasn’t designed for weight loss, but many DASHers lose weight without even trying. This make sense, because blood pressure and weight tend to increase or decrease in tandem, so losing weight also tends to reduce blood pressure.

The DASH diet is definitely a healthy way to eat, but if weight loss is your goal, you’ll still likely need to expend more energy than you consume. The program includes healthy activity recommendations as an important factor.

Other benefits

In addition to lowering blood pressure and potentially the number on the scale, the DASH diet has some other noteworthy health benefits:

  • It’s good for your heart: In a 2013 study, a diet similar to DASH decreased participants’ risk of stroke by 19 percent and their risk of heart disease by 20 percent.
  • Metabolic syndrome be gone! According to a study published in 2015, the DASH diet reduced women’s chances of developing metabolic syndrome by as much as 81 percent.
  • Take that, diabetes: DASH appears to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes to boot.
  • Slash your cancer risk: Some studies suggest that DASHers have a decreased risk of certain cancers, including breast and colorectal cancers.

The downside

While the DASH diet is good for a lot of things, including kidney health, it’s not an option for folks on kidney dialysis. As the National Kidney Foundation notes, dialysis patients require a special diet, and they should discuss their nutritional needs with a registered dietitian.

Also, keeping salt intake extra low can be difficult when dining out.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the healthy (and delicious) traditional ways of eating native to the Mediterranean region — Greece, Italy, France, and Spain. Ooh la la, indeed.

How it works

Instead of counting calories, which can be real pain, the Mediterranean diet focuses on certain types of foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, healthy fats, and whole grains. Hummus, anyone?

Heavily processed foods (including processed flours), red meat, and sugary treats are not as welcome. Certain alcohols, like red wine, are perfectly acceptable in moderation. Cheers to that!

Weight loss benefits

If low carb just isn’t your style, you’ll be pleased that the Mediterranean diet may be just as effective for slimming down: A 2015 study found that Mediterranean dieters lost up to 22 pounds in a year. This diet can also blast belly fat, if that’s your goal.

Other benefits

Apart from being downright tasty, the Mediterranean diet has a buffet of worthwhile health benefits that have nothing to do with the scale.

Heart health? Check. Lowering your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes? Check and check. Reducing inflammation? You bet.

The downside

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, which can be a bit more expensive. Some might find the food selection limiting or difficult to adhere to. Also, the alcohol that’s allowed on the Mediterranean diet is of course not suitable for pregnant folks.

If you wake up feeling great but have some serious stomach issues throughout the day, this plan might be for you. FODMAPs are a type of carb found in beans and wheat, which some peeps have trouble digesting.

FODMAP is short for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols.” Talk about a mouthful. Some common FODMAPs you may have heard of are lactose and fructose.

How it works

Low FODMAP diets limit your consumption of these digestively troublesome short-chain carbs. So you can say buh-bye to milk (hard cheeses and butter are OK, though), high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, wheat, certain fruits and vegetables, certain beans, and lentils.

Weight loss benefits

Low FODMAP diets are not intended for weight loss, but it can happen. Cutting back on certain carbohydrates can have slimming effects. But these diets are most often used to treat various digestive issues.

That being said, having a less bloated tummy and generally feeling better may be all the “weight loss” you need (and definitely a weight off your shoulders).

Other benefits

If you have trouble digesting FODMAPs, cutting them out of your diet can decrease the occurrence of gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain.

A low FODMAP diet has been found to help ease symptoms in about 75 percent of people with irritable bowel disease (IBD) and appears to be especially promising for those with ulcerative colitis. It may also ease acid reflux.

And with your digestive worries behind you, you may also experience a psychological boost and a decrease in anxiety as well.

The downside

Low FODMAP diets can be especially restrictive, especially if you’re following an elimination protocol (i.e., cutting out all potential offenders at once to see which ones trigger your symptoms).

Cutting back on animal products has helped many people lose weight, and you don’t necessarily have to become a full-blown vegan to eat a more plant-based diet.

You could opt for a less intense vegetarian regimen or simply cut back on certain animal proteins. And yes, it may just help you slim down.

How it works

When it comes to eating plant-based, there are four main approaches to choose from:

  • Vegan: no animal products whatsoever (that means no honey, dairy, or eggs too)
  • Ovo-vegetarian: eggs are OK, but all other animal products are off the menu
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: yes to eggs and dairy; no to all other animal proteins
  • Lacto-vegetarians: no eggs, meat, poultry, or fish, but dairy is a-OK

Weight loss benefits

While eating more plant foods promises a wealth of health benefits (more on those below), some people may find it easier to lose weight on a plant-based diet than others.

Other benefits

Well-rounded vegetarian diets have proven effective at treating and preventing a number of diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Even better, they’ve been found to reduce the risk of cancer. Eliminating red meat in particular has been found to protect against colorectal cancer.

The downside

If you have an iron deficiency or a vitamin B-12 deficiency, it may not be in your best interest to forgo all animal products. And a potential lack of protein may actually leave you feeling hungrier.

When it comes to weight loss, there’s nothing magical about a vegetarian diet. Whether or not you’re eating animal products, if you overdo it on portions or go ham on starches and sugar, you probably won’t lose weight.

The Paleo diet has become wildly popular in recent years. To go Paleo, you’ll have to take your plate back in time and give up all processed foods.

How it works

The Paleo diet was designed to resemble the eating patterns of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, before the advent of things like flour mills. While we can’t be certain of what they were eating, you can be sure pastries and fried foods weren’t on the menu.

Certain other foods deemed generally healthy are also off-limits. The basic items to avoid are processed foods, sugar, grains, most dairy, vegetable oils, margarine, trans fats, soft drinks, and artificial sweeteners.

Weight loss benefits

A number of studies have shown the Paleo diet to be effective for weight loss. In one study, participants lost an average of 5 pounds in 3 weeks. Another study involving postmenopausal women found an average weight loss of nearly 10 pounds in 5 weeks, plus a notable reduction in liver fat.

But in the long term, there may not be a significant weight loss advantage to the Paleo diet. More research is needed to compare the outcomes of Paleo to those of other weight loss diets.

Other benefits

The Paleo diet may help you more than just shed a little excess weight. It’s also been found to lower blood pressure, increase glucose tolerance, and improve cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors.

The downside

Eating out or getting something to eat on the go isn’t always easy when processed food isn’t an option. And depending on your usual habits, grocery shopping for only whole, unprocessed foods may cost quite the pretty penny.

Low fat diets have waned in popularity, and the science doesn’t quite hold up like it used to. That being said, cutting back on fat will save you quite a few calories.

How it works

Generally speaking, following a low fat diet means getting no more than 30 percent of your calories from fat. Very low fat regimens recommend no more than 10 to 15 percent.

Weight loss benefits

Fat contains 9 calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein contain only 4, so cutting back on fat will often result in a caloric deficit and weight loss. In highly controlled settings, low fat diets appear to be just as effective for weight loss as low carb regimens.

It’s important to realize that many of our favorite carb-rich foods are also high in fat (desserts, pizza, pasta, etc.), so cutting carbs may lead to a lower fat intake as a side benefit.

Other benefits

Back in the day, saturated fat was considered the sworn enemy of heart health. While that doesn’t seem to be the case today, replacing saturated fats with anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fats does appear to boost heart health.

The downside

Compared to low carb diets, which can help you feel fuller and fight cravings, low fat diets don’t appear to have these benefits and therefore might be harder to stick to. Furthermore, cutting out fat may encourage you to lean on less healthy options like refined sugars and carbs.

A 2007 study found that people who followed a low carb diet reported less hunger and better moods than those on a low fat diet. In other words, a low fat diet might make you slightly more hangry.

From its humble beginnings in founder Jean Nidetch’s Queens, New York, home in 1963, Weight Watchers went on to become one of the most popular weight loss programs in the world.

How it works

The Weight Watchers diet is based on a system that assigns points to food — healthier foods are lower in points than less healthy ones. Each Weight Watchers “member” is given a number of points per day depending on their age, gender, height, and weight loss goals.

In recent years, Weight Watchers reformed their points system to favor lean, high protein foods. For example, foods like eggs, fish, yogurt, and skinless chicken breast have a point value of zero and can be eaten liberally.

Weight loss benefits

Research has shown that Weight Watchers is an effective program for consistent long-term weight loss and weight maintenance. The weight loss isn’t necessarily fast, but the pounds do seem to come off and stay off.

Other benefits

Between the lack of restrictions on certain food groups and the 24/7 support of the program, many find Weight Watchers easier to stick to than other diets. Plus, it’s highly adaptable to food intolerances and preferences. There are also plans tailored for those with diabetes.

The downside

Weight Watchers isn’t free, so there’s that. Plus, some people may find tracking their points tedious, frustrating, or all-consuming. If you struggle with moderation when it comes to certain foods, you might benefit from a stricter program that eliminates them altogether.