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The Best Weight Loss Diets That Are Also Good For Your Health
Updated on August 16, 2022
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Diet / Weight Loss
The Best Weight Loss Diets That Are Also Good For Your Health
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Weight loss diets have been around for as long as I can remember. 

Some were nothing more than fad diets that went in style and eventually lost their popularity. Meanwhile, diets that promote healthy eating stayed on.

The Best Weight Loss Diets That Are Also Good For Your Health 3

Can You Lose Weight Just by Eating Healthy?

Yes. You can lose weight if you eat healthy foods. 

The best food tracking apps can help you keep track of your foods. Most of these apps provide nutritional information on each food, such as:

  • How many calories they contain
  • Macronutrients (e.g., protein, carbohydrates, and fats)
  • Micronutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals)

But if you’re having trouble deciding which foods to eat and avoid, you can start with weight loss diets. These diets are designed to help you lose weight.

The Best Diets for Weight Loss

  • Low Carb Diet
  • Calorie Restriction Diet
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Keto Diet
  • Vegan Diet
  • Noom Diet (Volumetrics)
  • Weight Watchers (Calorie Counting)
  • DASH Diet
  • Flexitarian Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • Paleo Diet
Meet the Expert

Elise Harlow is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences. She is the founder of an online nutrition consulting and coaching business.

Elise helps people use the power of food to lead healthier lives. She works with various clients, including those who want to achieve a healthier weight, improve their gut health, lower cholesterol, manage their blood sugar, or balance their hormones.

The Low Carb Diet

There are many different variations of a low carbohydrate diet. While all of them limit your carb intake, there's no official definition.

The usual recommended carb intake is between 45-65% of your daily calorie intake. Anything less can be considered a "low carb" diet. Some studies suggest this could be anywhere between 10 to 26% of your total calorie intake.1

How Does Low Carb Diet Work?

Most of our energy is derived from carbohydrates. But when we eat too many (especially simple carbs), they get converted into fat.

A low carbohydrate diet encourages the body to convert stored fats into energy.  Studies show that a low carb diet leads to faster short-term weight loss than a low fat diet.2

Low Carb Diet Meal Plan

You can start with little to no carbs and gradually eat more. Or you can consume more carbs at the beginning and slowly reduce the amount you eat each day.

Atkins and keto are some examples of low carb diets.

Low Carb Diet Foods

Low carb diets encourage you to eat more proteins and non-starchy vegetables like:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Salad greens

You should limit your intake of simple carbs, fruits, and low-fiber vegetables. These foods tend to be high in sugar and starches.  

Some examples of foods that contain carbohydrates are bread, refined grains, pasta, starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. You may need to limit or avoid eating them.

The exact foods you should limit or avoid will depend on how much you want to restrict your carb intake.

Calorie Restriction Diet

Calorie restriction reduces the amount of calories you consume each day by 15 to 60%. Most of these diets cut your intake by 100 to 500 calories.3

How Many Calories A Day Should You Eat On Calorie Restriction?

According to Elise Harlow, a registered dietitian, determining the amount of calories you should eat is highly individualized.

This would depend on factors like age, current weight, activity level, muscle mass, and stress level — among others.

"It is best to work with a dietitian to determine your calorie needs."

Elise Harlow, M.S., R.D.N.

She says that consuming too few calories while following a calorie restricted diet can slow your metabolism. Eventually, this may cause you to regain the lost weight.

"I see many women who try and follow a 1200-calorie per day diet. They down regulate their metabolisms and end up gaining weight back," explains Harlow.

The Calorie Restriction Diet Plan

When reducing your calorie intake, you can choose which food groups to restrict. But it is best to still maintain a good balance of carbs, protein, and fats.

The goal is to eat fewer calories than you usually do. So if you eat 2,500 calories each day, you should consume less than that on a calorie-restricted diet.

You can instantly cut your calories or slowly taper them down until you reach a calorie deficit. This would depend on your health and comfort levels.

To make calorie restriction easier: Use a calorie counting app to keep track of your daily calorie consumption. Here’s our review of the Best Calorie Counters.

Foods That Restrict Your Calories

Calorie restriction doesn't have to deprive your body of nutrients. If done correctly, you can consume fewer calories without sacrificing your nutrition.

The trick is to choose low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Non-fat dairy

Foods with low calorie density contain very few calories. You can eat them in large quantities without drastically increasing your total caloric intake.

Since they are rich in vitamins and minerals, consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables will help your body to get the nutrients it needs.

Keep in mind: A calorie-restricted diet is not the same as a low-calorie diet, which doesn’t consider the nutritional value of food.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a pattern-based diet. It encourages you to eat and fast on a schedule. You can choose which hours or days you’ll be eating or fasting.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss?

When you’re on a fast, you don’t get any food. This forces the body to burn fats and convert them into glucose for energy.

If you fast long enough and avoid overeating when you’re supposed to eat, you can decrease your total caloric intake and burn body fats. Both can lead to weight loss.4

What is the Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan?

Your meal plan will depend on your chosen fasting schedule. Here are some popular fasting methods that you can try:

  • The 5:2 fasting diet involves eating normally for 5 days a week. But for 2 days a week, you have to restrict your calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories per day.
  • Alternate day fasting is when you only have to fast every other day.
  • Time-restricted fasting involves daily fasting that lasts 12 or more hours and eating during the remaining hours.
  • Eat stop eat requires that you fast for 24 hours at least 1 to 2 times a week.
  • The Warrior Diet involves eating certain foods throughout the day. At night, you can eat one large meal.
  • Periodic fasting limits your food intake for several days in a row each month but allows you to eat on other days.

Intermittent fasting apps like DoFasting can make it easier to follow this diet.

Foods to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

Unless you’re on a warrior diet, there are no off-limit foods for intermittent fasting. You can decide which foods you will eat during non-fasting hours or days.

But if you want to enjoy the most health benefits, you must eat nutritious foods.

The Keto Diet

A ketogenic diet is a type of low carbohydrate diet. It limits your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams per day, depending on which system you follow.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The lack of carbs as an energy source forces your body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis. During ketosis, the body converts fats into ketones for energy.

This can help you burn body fat and lose weight. 

Moreover, proteins and fats keep you satiated for longer periods. They can decrease your appetite and reduce your overall food intake.

What is the Keto Diet Plan?

The keto diet replaces most of your carbs with proteins and fats. There is no standard ratio on how many calories you should eat for each macronutrient.

Generally, you want to get 70 to 80% of your total calories from fat, 10 to 20% from protein, and 5 to 10% from carbs. If you have a 2,000-calorie diet, you’ll need:

  • 165 grams of fat
  • 70 grams of protein
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates

Compared to other low-carb and high-protein diets, the ketogenic diet recommends eating moderate amounts of protein.

Too much protein can cause your body to convert amino acids to sugar. In turn, this prevents ketosis. The keto diet provides enough protein to preserve lean body mass (such as muscle), while promoting ketosis.5

Keto apps like Ketocycle can make it easier to follow the diet plan.

Keto Diet Foods

Most keto diets let you eat foods high in saturated and unsaturated fats. But you can also substitute these foods with keto meal replacement shakes.

Unsaturated fats are “healthy” fats because they raise your good cholesterol. Nuts, seeds, avocados, plant-based oils (e.g., sesame oil), and fish with omega-3 fatty acids are examples of keto foods that fall under this category.

Saturated fats are unhealthy and can increase your bad cholesterol levels. They can be found in butter, lard, processed meats, and fatty meats.

If you have high cholesterol, stick to a keto diet that requires eating more healthy fats. This can help lower your bad cholesterol.

You can take an at-home cholesterol test to determine your cholesterol levels.

The Vegan Diet

Veganism is a plant-based diet. It’s more restrictive than a vegetarian diet because it excludes all animal products from your meals.

Can You Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet can help you lose weight by decreasing the number of calories you eat. Research shows it’s more effective for weight loss than other plant-based diets.6

What is the Vegan Meal Plan?

How you portion meals is entirely up to you. But according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics guide, you should try to aim for these daily serving sizes:7

  • Six (6) servings of grains — e.g., brown rice, quinoa
  • Five (5) servings of plant-based proteins — e.g., nuts, legumes, plant butters (like peanut butter), tofu, potatoes, and plant-based milks (like almond milk)
  • Four (4) servings of vegetables and two (2) servings of fruits
  • Two (2) servings of healthy plant-based fats — e.g., coconut oil

Vegan Foods

Vegans only eat plant-based foods. They do not eat meat, fish, poultry, and other animal products like eggs, milk, cheese, and other dairy items.

This can limit the types of food you can include in your diet. If you're struggling to find things to eat, you can use vegan meal replacement shakes.

There are also vegan alternatives to many foods, such as vegan bread and ice creams. However, they aren't necessarily healthier.

"Often times these foods are highly processed. They contain additives and sweeteners to try and mimic the traditional food item," explains Harlow.

As a registered dietitian, Harlow recommends sticking to whole foods and limiting processed foods if you subscribe to veganism — just like any diet.

Noom Diet

The Noom diet is a volumetrics-inspired diet. It’s part of the Noom weight loss program, which uses psychology, coaching, and education to help you establish healthy habits.

You can read our full review of Noom here.

How Does Noom Help You Lose Weight?

Noom offers a well-rounded and personalized approach to weight loss. While they have a recommended diet and custom meal plans, the program will also help you:

  • Make healthier food choices
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Engage in exercise
  • Manage your stress
  • Become mindful of your lifestyle 

All of which play a role in your eating habits and overall health. They can either make or break your weight loss goals.

What is the Noom Meal Plan?

The Noom Meal Plan is based on volumetrics or calorie density. The only difference is that it uses a color-coded system to categorize food.

According to Noom, there are 3 major food groups — green, yellow, and red foods. If you want to lose weight, you have to portion your meals as follows:8

  • 35% Green Foods
  • 45% Yellow Foods
  • 25% Red Foods

You can also create your own meal plan. Just make sure that you eat yellow foods moderately and red foods in limited quantities. You can eat green foods as much as you like since they contain few calories.

Noom also offers customized meal plans on their weight loss app. These are meals designed by a registered dietitian.

Noom Foods List

There are no off-limit foods on the Noom diet. You can still eat foods you like.

The key is to have a diet that mostly consists of low calorie-dense foods, and less high calorie-dense foods. 

Foods with low caloric density (such as green and yellow foods) contain few calories but are packed with nutrients. Examples include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains and whole-grain products
  • Non-fat and low-fat dairy
  • Unsweetened milk alternatives
  • Lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Poultry

High caloric density foods (such as red foods) are high in calories but low in nutrients. Preserved fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils are some examples.

Weight Watchers Diet

Before its 2021 rebrand, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) was strictly a point-counting app. Users were also limited to 3 weight loss programs that they had to choose from.

WW currently offers a new weight loss approach. Instead of just using the point-based system to help you pick the right foods, it now encourages healthy habits.

How Does Weight Watchers Work?

WW uses a point system to manage your food choices and encourage healthy habits. Each user is assigned a SmartPoints® Budget, equivalent to your daily calorie budget.

You can spend your budget on food however you like. Healthy behaviors such as exercise are rewarded with extra points, so you will do them more.

These extra points can be spent on your favorite foods or a cheat day. It's when you allow yourself to eat more without exceeding your daily limit.

The Weight Watchers Meal Plan

WW doesn’t have a prescribed diet plan. They simply encourage you to eat more ZeroPoint™ foods and other low-point foods.

Keep in mind that ZeroPoint™ foods aren't necessarily low on calories. They consist of lean proteins, fibers, and healthy fats.9

"There are lots of high calorie foods that are really healthy," says Harlow. Some examples include salmon, almonds, and avocado.

Unfortunately, planning meals on Weight Watchers isn't as easy as Noom. They do not group foods based on specific criteria, which would be easier to remember.

Here we compare Noom vs. Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers Food

Foods are assigned points based on their nutrition rather than their calorie density. Low-point foods are also recommended as they have little impact on your calorie budget.

You have to use the WW app to find out which foods to eat.

Other Diets That Can Help You Lose Weight

Here are other weight loss diets that you can try:

  • DASH diet — encourages you to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
  • Flexitarian diet — mostly a vegetarian diet that allows you to eat some meats and animal proteins once in a while.
  • Mediterranean diet — known for its balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. Red meats and cheeses are discouraged.
  • Paleo diet — focuses on meats, fish, egg, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It excludes processed foods, sugar, grains, white potatoes, most dairy products, and legumes.10

If you want to lose weight, it’s best to pair a healthy diet with exercise and other lifestyle changes. Weight loss apps like Noom can help you achieve these goals and maintain a healthy weight.

"It can be confusing to try and find the right diet to follow. The truth is that there is no one right answer."

Elise Harlow, M.S., R.D.N.

Harlow recommends working with a dietitian who can evaluate your health history, lifestyle, food preferences, and overall goals to determine which diet that is best for you.

The Best Weight Loss Diets That Are Also Good For Your Health 4

Noom Weight Loss

What makes the Noom app truly special is that it doesn’t stop once you lost weight. By offering health coaching, peer support, and education, it establishes healthy habits which can last a lifetime.

Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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