If you’re about to embark on a weight-loss regimen, then you know how many options exist these days—and how incredibly confusing they all are. High this, low that, no whatever—it’s tricky to get a handle on which ones are just fads and which are based on solid research And despite the fact that diets are discussed and analyzed 24-7 all over the media (and quite likely your friend group), no one has actually done a non-biased scientific comparison of various regimens to discover the principles that the most effective Weight Loss Plans have in common—until now, that is.
David Katz, M.D., who heads up Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, and his colleague Stephanie Meller took on the task of comparing the existing medical research on popular plans. Their results were just published in the journal Scientific Reviews. Right off the bat, Katz and Meller write, they skipped Diets that didn’t “constitute a complete dietary pattern.” That ruled out plans that involve juicing or intermittent fasting. They also left out regimens that they felt few people could realistically stick to, like a raw-food diet.
They Focus on Unprocessed Foods
It’s no secret that heavily processed items have lots of (a) sodium, and (b) mystery ingredients, some of which may disrupt the way your hormones operate. When you cut back on processed items, you’ll naturally start replacing them with more whole foods. Which brings us to the next trait of effective diets…
They Recommend Eating Mostly Plant-Based Foods
Eating less meat and more fruits, veggies, and whole grains comes with lots of health benefits, including for your waistline: One 2010 study found that people who consumed about one half-pound of red meat, poultry, or processed meat a day gained more weight over the course of five years than those who ate less meat—even if they ate the same number of calories overall. Find out how to become a part-time vegan.
They Emphasize Lean Meat, Fish, and Poultry Over Other Types of Meat
Surprise, surprise: If and when you do eat meat, choosing leaner cuts can help you Lose Weight say researchers. Can’t bear the thought of eating bland chicken yet again? Check out these 50 ways to cook chicken to beat your kitchen boredom. And if you’re more of a fish fan, find out which fish are most contaminated—and which you should eat instead.
They Ditch Products with Added Sugar
You know that added sugar means added calories. But if you’re not careful, you could be consuming added sugar from sources that seem like they’re perfectly healthy. Just check out these five foods that have more sugar than a candy bar.
They Limit Saturated Fat Intake
While new research suggests that saturated fat may not cause heart disease, that doesn’t mean it’s doing you any huge health favors—particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. So focus on consuming healthy fats like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and omega-3s (in moderation, of course) if you’re looking to drop pounds.