How to Find the Weight-Loss Plan That Will Work for You
Bodies are not one-size-fits-all, and weight-loss plans aren't either. Here's how to find a personalized diet that fits your goals, health needs, and lifestyle.
If you know you can't do it alone
Consider: WW (formerly called Weight Watchers) or Noom
These plans aren't exactly alike (and each company offers variations), but both generally encourage followers to closely track their food intake and physical activity. Both plans also offer a social support element, either through real-life meetings, online chat groups, and/or online coaches.
Pros: The "you bite it, you write it" concept is a tried-and-true approach that's passed the test of time. You could also try food journaling on your own with the help of a free meal planner. Nothing is totally off-limits; you continue to eat many of the foods you enjoy, as long as you're willing to scale back on portion sizes. And the plans offer social support, which studies have found makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off.
Cons: Followers of these plans still need to make smart choices. "The issue with points and calorie-counting is that it can create a lot of manipulation around food, as people tend to 'save' up points or calories to binge on later," says Muhlstein. Food tracking "can be valuable for a little while to better understand accountability, but it doesn't allow you the freedom and knowledge to keep control without it."
If you think going cold turkey is best
This 30-day program is sort of a cleanse—designed to rid your diet of "inflammatory" foods and make you think more critically about how food makes you feel. Added sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, and baked goods, are all off-limits. After 30 days, you're encouraged to reintroduce foods slowly, while you attempt to figure out which foods make you feel great (and those that make you feel lousy).
Pros: This plan encourages you to eat healthy foods, which is hard to argue with. It also gives you the opportunity to learn about how certain foods impact your overall wellness. "Some people's relationship with food changes when they learn which foods make them feel best," says Montalvo. And while it's designed more as a wellness plan than a "weight loss" one, cutting out junk might help you shed some pounds. Identifying problem foods can be very helpful to people who are struggling with mysterious digestive symptoms or trying to fight fatigue. Wade into more pros and cons of the Whole30 diet. Here's how one woman lost 36 pounds on Whole30—and kept it off.
Cons: It's highly restrictive, and it eliminates many foods (such as legumes and whole grains) that most nutrition experts think are perfectly healthy. It requires you to eat protein at every meal, which can be tough for some people. Many find themselves Googling Whole30 breakfast recipes that don't include eggs. Learn everything you can—and can't—eat on the Whole30 plan.