10 Effective Diets for Losing Weight Permanently – Weight Loss Plans You Can Stick To

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Diets for Losing Weight Permanently

Losing weight isn’t about shedding five pounds for a wedding and then piling it all back on. It’s about finding a regime that you can sustain long term. The best weight loss diets are the ones that easily integrate into your lifestyle and leave you feeling healthy and full. Here are ten of the best diets for long-term weight loss.

We at Medtep are a big supporter of the Mediterranean Diet. While it’s true there are many diets that you can choose – and we get that the Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone – this particular diet is by the easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle.

A new “diet’ is gaining traction – it is called the Ozempic 6 Week Belly Weight Loss Plan.
The Ozempic 6-Week Weight Loss Plan is a program where you use a medication called Ozempic to help you lose weight. Ozempic helps control your appetite and blood sugar. Over six weeks, you slowly increase your dose while also eating better and getting more exercise. The idea is to help you feel less hungry, feel full longer, and lose weight in a steady, manageable way.

1. Mediterranean Diet

Why It Works

The Mediterranean Diet is considered the benchmark for healthy eating for good reason. Based on the traditional cuisine of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, this diet aims to promote overall health, not just weight loss. The Mediterranean Diet focuses on whole foods including fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and healthy fats, especially olive oil. Fish and poultry are consumed in moderation, with red meat reserved for special occasions.

The Benefits

The diet is packed with antioxidants and healthy fats that promote heart health, and whole foods rich in fibre keep you feeling full and content. Research shows that those who follow this diet lose weight and are more likely to keep it off compared to other eating plans.

How to Stick to It

The Mediterranean way of eating is just that – a way of life, not a diet of restrictions. Eat with family and friends, savouring foods and taking your time. Incorporate activity into your daily routine and you’ll find this regime easy to stick to.

Pros

  • Heart Health: Rich in healthy fats like olive oil, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, providing a wide range of essential nutrients.
  • Flexibility: Not overly restrictive and allows for a variety of foods, making it easier to stick to long-term.
  • Weight Management: High fiber content helps you feel full, which can aid in weight loss and maintenance.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Includes foods rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation.
  • Enjoyable Meals: Focuses on flavorful, satisfying meals, often enjoyed with family and friends.
  • Longevity: Associated with longer life expectancy and lower rates of chronic diseases.
  • Sustainable: Encourages seasonal and local produce, which is good for the environment.

Cons

  • Preparation Time: Cooking with fresh ingredients can be time-consuming.
  • Cost: High-quality olive oil, fresh fish, and other key ingredients can be expensive.
  • Limited Dairy: May not provide enough calcium for some people who rely on dairy for this nutrient.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Includes moderate wine consumption, which may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Potential Overeating: Without portion control, it’s easy to overconsume high-calorie foods like nuts and olive oil.
  • Adjustment Period: May require a significant shift in dietary habits for those used to processed foods or fast food.

2. DASH Diet

Why It Works

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed to prevent high blood pressure, but it’s also one of the best diets for losing weight. The plan involves lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, and lean protein with less salt, red meat and added sugar.

The Benefits

The diet is low in saturated fat and cholesterol promoting heart health, and rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium; nutrients that help lower blood pressure.

How to Stick to It

Begin by slowly lessening your salt intake and adding more veggies to meals. Increase the amount of fruit and wholegrains in your diet and fill up on lean proteins like chicken and fish.

Pros

  • Heart Health: Specifically designed to lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, providing a wide array of essential nutrients.
  • Balanced Diet: Includes a variety of food groups, ensuring a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Weight Loss: Can help with weight loss due to its emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods and portion control.
  • Lowered Cholesterol: Can improve cholesterol levels by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
  • Flexible: No special foods are required, and it can be adapted to fit different cultures and preferences.
  • Evidence-Based: Supported by numerous studies showing its effectiveness in lowering blood pressure and improving overall health.

Cons

  • Preparation Time: Requires meal planning and preparation, which can be time-consuming.
  • Cost: Fresh produce and lean proteins can be more expensive than processed foods.
  • Adjustment Period: May take time to adjust to reduced salt intake and increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Limited Eating Out: Eating out can be challenging due to high sodium content in restaurant foods.
  • Restrictive for Some: Some people may find it difficult to limit salt, sugar, and fats, especially if they are used to a diet high in processed foods.
  • Potential Nutrient Imbalance: If not carefully planned, there may be a risk of not getting enough fats or proteins.
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3. Weight Watchers (WW)

Why It Works

Weight Watchers (now known as WW) has been helping Australians to lose weight for over 50 years with a proven track record. The plan is based on a points system that tracks the food you eat, is easy to follow and allows for personalisation.

The Benefits

WW encourages balance and involves all food groups which makes it sustainable. The plan also comes with supportive communities and resources such as recipes and meal plans.

How to Stick to It

Utilise the WW app to track your intake and keep you motivated. Go to meetings or join forums online for support from those who are doing it with you.

Pros

  • Flexibility: Allows you to eat any food you like, as long as you stay within your daily points allowance.
  • Support System: Offers a strong community support network through meetings, online forums, and the WW app.
  • Education: Teaches portion control and healthy eating habits that can lead to long-term lifestyle changes.
  • Personalization: The points system can be tailored to individual needs, preferences, and weight loss goals.
  • Balanced Diet: Encourages a well-rounded diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Tracking Tools: The WW app provides tools for tracking food intake, activity levels, and weight loss progress.
  • Evidence-Based: Supported by research showing its effectiveness for weight loss and maintenance.
  • Emphasis on Physical Activity: Encourages regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Cons

  • Cost: Membership fees can be expensive, and additional costs may be associated with meetings or premium app features.
  • Time-Consuming: Tracking points and planning meals can be time-consuming.
  • Dependency on Points System: Some people may become overly reliant on the points system and struggle to transition to intuitive eating.
  • Potential for Overeating Zero-Point Foods: The allowance of zero-point foods (like certain fruits and vegetables) might lead to overconsumption.
  • Social Pressure: Group meetings might feel intimidating or uncomfortable for some individuals.
  • Variable Results: Weight loss results can vary greatly depending on personal commitment and adherence to the program.

4. Low-Carb Diet

Low-Carb Diet

Why It Works

A low-carb diet involves consuming fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fats, such as the Atkins or ketogenic diets. By limiting carbs, you stabilise blood sugar levels which can bring about quick weight loss.

The Benefits

A low-carb diet can help minimise cravings and keep you feeling fuller for longer. It also forces the body to use stored fat for energy, aiding weight loss.

How to Stick to It

Meal plan in advance and try to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Have healthy, low-carb snacks handy so you don’t get hungry and tempted.

Pros

  • Rapid Weight Loss: Often leads to quick initial weight loss due to reduced water retention and lower insulin levels.
  • Reduced Cravings: High protein and fat intake can help reduce hunger and cravings, making it easier to stick to the diet.
  • Improved Blood Sugar Control: Can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
  • Increased HDL Cholesterol: Tends to raise levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol), which is good for heart health.
  • Lower Triglycerides: Typically results in lower triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Mental Clarity: Some people report improved mental clarity and focus when following a low-carb diet.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Can help reduce inflammation markers in the body, which is beneficial for overall health.

Cons

  • Nutrient Deficiency: Restricting whole food groups can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Initial Side Effects: Can cause side effects such as headaches, fatigue, constipation, and irritability during the initial phase (often referred to as the “keto flu”).
  • Sustainability: May be difficult to maintain long-term due to its restrictive nature.
  • Social Limitations: Can be challenging to follow in social situations or when dining out, as many common foods are high in carbs.
  • Potential for Unhealthy Eating: Some people may rely too heavily on processed low-carb foods, which can be high in unhealthy fats and additives.
  • Kidney Concerns: High protein intake may put strain on the kidneys, particularly in individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions.
  • Digestive Issues: Lack of fiber can lead to digestive problems like constipation for some people.

5. Flexitarian Diet

Why It Works

A flexitarian diet is based on the principles of a vegetarian diet, with the occasional inclusion of meat and fish. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the health benefits of more plant-based foods, without completely sacrificing meat.

The Benefits

The diet is fibre-rich and low in saturated fat promoting heart health, while consuming a variety of foods provides a balanced intake of nutrients.

How to Stick to It

Begin by adding more vegetarian meals into your diet and slowly decrease your intake of meat. Try new recipes and alternative plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu.

Pros

  • Flexibility: Allows for occasional meat and fish consumption, making it easier to stick to compared to strict vegetarian or vegan diets.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Emphasizes plant-based foods, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Health Benefits: Associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity due to its focus on whole, minimally processed foods.
  • Environmental Impact: Reduces your carbon footprint by encouraging less meat consumption, which is beneficial for the environment.
  • Variety: Offers a wide variety of foods, preventing boredom and promoting a balanced diet.
  • Weight Management: Can help with weight loss and maintenance due to its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins.
  • No Food Group Exclusions: Does not completely eliminate any food group, making it more inclusive and easier to follow.
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Cons

  • Meal Planning: Requires thoughtful meal planning to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients, especially when reducing meat consumption.
  • Nutrient Gaps: Possible risk of nutrient deficiencies (such as vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids) if not carefully planned.
  • Social Situations: May still pose challenges in social settings or restaurants that are heavily meat-focused.
  • Transition Period: Individuals used to a meat-heavy diet might find it challenging to transition to a predominantly plant-based diet.
  • Misinterpretation: Flexibility can sometimes lead to overindulgence in less healthy foods if not properly balanced.

6. Intermittent Fasting

Why It Works

Intermittent fasting alternates between periods of fasting and eating. The most popular methods are the 16/8 (fast for 16 hours, eat during 8 hours) and 5:2 (five normal days followed by two calorie-restricted days).

The Benefits

Intermittent fasting aids weight loss by lowering calorie intake and improving metabolic health. The body is forced to use stored fat for energy during fasting periods.

How to Stick to It

Select a method that suits your lifestyle and daily routine. Keep hydrated and ensure you eat nutrient-rich foods during your feeding windows.

Pros

  • Weight Loss: Intermittent fasting can help reduce calorie intake, leading to weight loss. By restricting eating to certain windows, it often results in fewer overall calories consumed.
  • Improved Metabolic Health: It can enhance metabolic processes, including better insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels, which are beneficial for both weight management and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Simplicity: Unlike traditional diets that require meticulous planning and calorie counting, intermittent fasting is simple to follow. You only need to focus on when you eat rather than what you eat.
  • Increased Longevity: Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can promote longevity by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and improving cellular repair processes.

Cons

  • Initial Side Effects: The beginning stages can be tough, with side effects like hunger, irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating as your body adjusts to the new eating pattern.
  • Social Challenges: Intermittent fasting can be difficult to maintain in social situations or family gatherings that revolve around meal times, making it potentially isolating or inconvenient.
  • Risk of Overeating: There’s a risk of overeating during eating windows, especially if you’re not mindful of your food choices, which can negate the benefits of fasting and lead to poor nutrient intake.

7. Plant-Based Diet

Plant-Based Diet

Why It Works

A plant-based diet focuses on whole, minimally processed foods from plant-based sources. This includes fruits, veggies, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Animal products are consumed in very little or no amounts.

The Benefits

Plant-based diets are fibre, vitamin and antioxidant rich which aids weight loss and overall health. They have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

How to Stick to It

Begin by making one meal a day plant-based and slowly increase the amount. Try new plant-based recipes and find alternatives for your usual animal-based dishes.

Pros

  • Nutrient-Dense: Plant-based diets are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which are essential for overall health and can help prevent chronic diseases.
  • Weight Management: Typically lower in calories and higher in fiber, plant-based diets can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight by keeping you full longer.
  • Heart Health: High in heart-healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, and low in saturated fats, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Environmental Impact: Reduces your carbon footprint and conserves natural resources, as plant-based foods generally require fewer resources to produce than animal products.
  • Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases: Associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, and other chronic diseases due to its emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Digestive Health: High fiber content promotes a healthy digestive system, reducing the risk of constipation, diverticulitis, and improving gut health overall.

Cons

  • Nutrient Deficiencies: There’s a risk of deficiencies in essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein if the diet isn’t well-planned.
  • Social and Dining Challenges: Can be difficult to follow in social settings or when dining out, as plant-based options may be limited, leading to potential inconvenience or feeling left out.
  • Transition Period: Switching to a plant-based diet can be challenging for those accustomed to a meat-heavy diet, requiring significant lifestyle and habit changes, and possibly leading to initial digestive discomfort as the body adjusts.

8. Volumetrics Diet

Why It Works

The Volumetrics Diet involves consuming low-calorie, high-volume foods such as fruit, vegetables and broth-based soups, allowing you to eat less but still feel satisfied.

The Benefits

The diet promotes weight loss as you can eat large volumes of food while staying under your daily calorie needs. It teaches healthy eating habits and is easy to personalised.

How to Stick to It

Add more low-calorie, high-volume foods to your diet. Fill up on plenty of fruit and veggies, and begin meals with broth-based soup or a salad to minimise hunger.

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Pros

  • High Satiety: The Volumetrics Diet focuses on eating foods that are low in calorie density but high in volume, such as fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups. This helps you feel full and satisfied while consuming fewer calories.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Emphasizes nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, contributing to overall health and well-being.
  • Flexible and Balanced: Allows for a variety of foods and doesn’t exclude any food groups, making it easier to stick to and more balanced than many restrictive diets.

Cons

  • Preparation Time: Requires significant meal planning and preparation to ensure you are eating the right types of low-calorie-density foods, which can be time-consuming.
  • Potential for Overeating Low-Calorie Foods: While the diet promotes eating low-calorie foods, there is still a risk of overeating if portion control isn’t practiced, which can hinder weight loss efforts.
  • Limited Dining Out Options: Finding suitable low-calorie-density options when dining out can be challenging, potentially making social situations and restaurant meals difficult to navigate.
  • Initial Adjustment: May require a significant change in eating habits, especially for those used to high-calorie, highly processed foods, leading to an initial period of adjustment and potential digestive discomfort.

9. The Zone Diet

Why It Works

The Zone Diet aims to manage insulin levels and decrease inflammation by balancing macronutrients in your meals. Each meal consists of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.

The Benefits

The diet helps to regulate blood sugar levels and decrease cravings. It promotes a balanced intake of nutrients and teaches healthy eating habits.

How to Stick to It

Base meals around the 40/30/30 rule. Utilize the Zone Diet food block system to simplify creating balanced meals.

Pros

  • Balanced Macronutrients: The Zone Diet promotes a specific balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat), which can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes.
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: By controlling insulin levels, the diet can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
  • Encourages Healthy Eating Habits: Focuses on whole, unprocessed foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, which can improve overall health and wellness.

Cons

  • Complexity: The need to balance macronutrients in specific ratios can make meal planning and preparation more complicated and time-consuming.
  • Restrictive Nature: Some people may find the limitations on carbohydrate intake, especially from grains and starchy vegetables, too restrictive and difficult to maintain long-term.
  • Potential Nutrient Deficiencies: If not carefully planned, the diet may lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients, particularly if it limits the variety of foods consumed.

10. The Nordic Diet

Why It Works

The Nordic Diet is based on the traditional cuisine of Scandinavia. It involves eating plenty of whole grains, fatty fish, root veggies, berries and rapeseed oil.

The Benefits

The diet is rich in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants which aids weight loss and overall health. It promotes sustainable and seasonal eating.

How to Stick to It

Add more wholegrains, fatty fish and root veggies to your diet. Eat seasonal and local produce whenever possible.

Pros

  • Nutrient-Rich: Emphasizes whole grains, fatty fish, root vegetables, berries, and rapeseed oil, providing a wide range of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Heart Health: High in omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and healthy fats from rapeseed oil, which can support cardiovascular health and lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Sustainable: Focuses on locally sourced, seasonal foods, making it environmentally friendly and promoting sustainable eating practices.
  • Weight Management: Encourages the consumption of fiber-rich foods like whole grains and vegetables, which can help with satiety and weight control.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Includes many anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries and fatty fish, which can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
  • Culinary Variety: Offers a wide range of flavors and food options, making it more enjoyable and easier to stick to long-term.

Cons

  • Cost: Some ingredients, such as fresh fish and certain berries, can be expensive, potentially making the diet less accessible for some people.
  • Availability: Depending on your location, some Nordic Diet staples might be hard to find, making it challenging to follow the diet as intended.
  • Preparation Time: Cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients can require more time and effort in meal planning and preparation, which might not be convenient for everyone.

Key Take Aways

When it comes to the best diets for long-term weight loss, it’s not just about what you eat. Any diet plan you choose should suit your lifestyle, keep you feeling full and promote healthy living.

The Mediterranean Diet takes our number one spot with its balance, taste and overall health benefits, but any of these diets will help you reach your weight loss goals. The best diet is the one you can sustain long term so choose the one that suits you and enjoy.

Resources

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and mental well-being: a systematic review

The Mediterranean diet and health: a comprehensive overview

The Mediterranean diet: science and practice

Public views of the benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet

Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes