It’s estimated that roughly 45 million Americans choose to go on a diet every year. This is typically to lose or manage weight, but also for general health as well. 
There are many types of diets. Some are more suitable, effective, and sustainable than others. And it also depends on you and your lifestyle.
If you’re thinking of trying a diet, it’s best to know what types of diets are out there. Below, we’ve outlined 6 of the best diets for weight management and overall health.
1. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves cycling through periods of eating and fasting. There are many approaches to intermittent fasting. One of the most common would be the 16/8 method which focuses your intake of calories to an 8-hour block within a 24 hour period.
If you’re considering intermittent fasting, research the different types of methods and find one which suits you the best.
The goal: To limit your caloric intake. This can lead to weight loss, unless an abundance of calories are consumed during the eating period.
Weight loss: A review of studies showed that intermittent fasting led to a 3-8% loss in weight over a 3-24 week period. This is a much higher percentage than most weight loss methods. 
The review also found that intermittent fasting may reduce waist circumference by 4-7%. 
Downsides: Generally speaking, intermittent fasting is well-tolerated in healthy adults. However, those with blood sugar issues or other health conditions should discuss with their doctor first. It’s also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
2. Plant-Based Diets
Vegetarianism and veganism are the most common types of plant-based diets. They can help you lose weight, but many follow these diets for general health, along with ethical and environmental concerns.
Goals: In most cases, this elimination diet leaves meat off the plate, while other versions also exclude all dairy, including eggs.
Weight loss: Because many of the foods being eliminated in these diets are high in calories (and being replaced by low-calorie alternatives), people can lose weight on these diets.
A review of 12 studies found that those on plant-based diets lost, on average, 4 pounds more than those who included animal products in their diet. And those on a vegan diet lost 5.5 pounds more than those not on a vegan diet. 
Benefits: Plant-based diets have been linked to a range of health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart issues and other conditions. Plant-based diets can also be more environmentally friendly. [14, 15, 16, 17]
Downsides: Some forms of plant-based diets may lack certain crucial nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you choose this diet, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough of these nutrients elsewhere.
3. Low-Carb Diets
A low carb diet is one of the most popular types of diets for weight loss. You’ve likely heard of some before, such as the keto diet, Atkins, and the low-carb/high-fat diet.
Some are more strict than others, limiting carbs to only 10% of your calorie intake, where others allow up to 30%. 
Goal: To restrict carb intake in favor of fats and proteins.
In diets very low in carbs – like keto – your body can actually begin to use fatty acids for energy, instead of carbs, by converting them into ketones. This process is called ketosis and is where the diet gets its name. 
One review of 53 studies found that participants in low-carb diets lost substantially more weight than those following a low-fat diet. 
Downsides: Low-carb diets may result in higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as digestive issues. A very low carb diet can also eventually lead to a harmful metabolic condition called ketoacidosis. [31, 32, 33]
4. The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet advocates eating what our early ancestors would have eaten as hunter-gatherers. The idea stems from the notion that our bodies aren’t made to digest the foods found in the standard Western diet.
Goal: Different versions exist with slight variations, but generally speaking, the diet advocates eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. It restricts the consumption of processed foods, sugars, grains, and dairy.
One study involving healthy adults found that – on the paleo diet – they lost an average of 5.1 pounds and lowered their weight circumference by an average of 0.6 inches over the span of three weeks. 
Downsides: Some may find this diet quite restrictive, as it excludes nutritious food groups such as legumes, grains, and dairy.
5. Low-Fat Diets
Like low-carb diets, low-fat diets have been around for a long time. And they also vary as much as low-carb diets. Some call for only 10% of your caloric intake to be fat, while others allow up to 30%.
Goal: Since fat provides about twice as much calories per gram than things like proteins or carbs, the idea is to regulate the amount of fat consumed.
There are “ultra-low-fat” diets which only allow 10% of your intake to be fat, with the other 90% seeing 80% carbs and 10% protein. Generally, these tend to be plant-based diets.
A review of 33 studies found that a low-fat diet resulted in a small reduction of weight and waist-line circumference. 
However, studies have found a low-fat diet to be effective in participants with obesity. 
Downsides: Most types of fats are essential to a healthy diet, playing a role in nutrient absorption, hormone production, and cell health. As a result, low-fat diets can cause issues long term.
6. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is inspired by the diets of those living in countries like Italy and Greece.
Goals: The diet advocates fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. Eggs and dairy are to be eaten in moderation and red meat is quite limited.
The diet excludes highly processed foods, including refined oils, grains, and sugars, along with trans fats and processed meats.
An analysis of 19 studies found that people who combined this diet with exercise or calorie restrictions lost 8.8 pounds more than those on a control diet. 
Benefits: The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to improved heart health and overall health. One reason may be due to the abundance of antioxidant rich foods that one would consume while following the diet. [54, 55]
Downsides: There are no downsides to this diet in general, but if intended for weight loss, you may not find quick success on this diet unless paired with other measures, such as exercise or calorie management.
Which One Is For You?
You just read 6 of the most well-researched diets out there. Which one is for you depends on your personal preference – including your lifestyle, goals, and favorite foods. If you choose one that suits you best, you’re more likely to stick with it.
If you’re happy with your current diet, or if you’re looking to add something more to one of these diets, we know something that can help.
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References and Resources