If a back-to-basics approach sounds appealing
The general principle behind the Paleo diet is that modern humans have strayed too far from the diet we evolved eating, and all these newfangled processed foods are making us sick and fat. The Paleo diet—aka Paleolithic diet, ancestral diet, caveman diet, Stone Age diet—entails eating meat, fish, produce, nuts, and seeds. If your pre-agricultural ancestors could obtain a food by hunting and gathering, it’s on the menu.
Pros: Studies have shown that people who follow the Paleo diet tend to lose weight while improving their blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
Cons: Most research on the Paleo diet has been limited to six months or fewer. Not only are most processed foods off-limits, but so are whole grains, dairy, legumes, and white potatoes. If you’re a vegetarian, this plan probably isn’t for you, says Geerts, because you’ll struggle to get an adequate variety of nutrients.
If you love animals and you like to cook
While veganism—which entails shunning all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey—was never intended for weight loss, going vegan has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss.
Pros: Some research has suggested that people who become vegan lose more weight than those who opt to follow other types of weight-loss plans. By eliminating animal products, you automatically cut out most sources of saturated fat. Going vegan can also have a positive impact on the environment, and, obviously, the welfare of animals.
Cons: “A vegan diet can require more at home preparation and planning,” says Geerts. “Also, if you travel regularly or eat out often, vegan options are usually less available.” Moreno adds that a vegan diet can be too restrictive and, in turn, trigger or mask an eating disorder. If you decide to become vegan, Moreno suggests consulting with a registered dietitian for help getting proper nutrition during the transition. There’s a tendency for vegans to run low on certain nutrients like Vitamin B12, which is found mostly in animal products; these are the 8 nutrients you may be missing if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian.
If you’re a seafood lover
Consider: Mediterranean diet
Plenty of produce and lean protein (especially fish), along with some olive oil, whole grains, and a little red wine are staples of this plan.
Pros: Numerous studies have shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet is among the best in the world when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Since it’s very well-balanced, most people find it satisfying. Major health organizations support it, and U.S. News & World Report named it number-one on its list of “Best Diets Overall” (for nutrition, not weight loss) out of 41 diets. People who stay committed to it tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) as well as less abdominal obesity.
Cons: If you aren’t a fan of seafood or vegetables, you’ll likely have trouble sticking with it. Certain components of the diet, such as fish, may be expensive. Don’t expect rapid or major weight loss. If that’s a top concern, check out these plans that emphasize slimming down rapidly.