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Best Diet Plans

Whether you're looking to get in shape for the summer, get rid of baby weight after a pregnancy, or simply feel more confident in your own skin, a diet plan can help you achieve your weight loss goals. There are a lot of weight loss plans to choose from, including smoothie delivery services, portion-controlled meals delivered to your door, and exercise plans. Whichever diet plan you choose, make sure it gives you the right amount of motivation, support, and a great plan of action to carry you to success.

Raw Food Diet

South Beach Diet

South Beach Diet Review

On the South Beach Diet, there are good carbs and fats, and there are unhealthy carbs and fats. The key to weight loss is choosing the best of each. That means lots of nonstarchy vegetables, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy, protein like chicken and turkey, whole grains and nuts. South Beach is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and healthy fats than the typical American diet.

South Beach doesn't categorically eliminate all carbs. The ones you do eat are low on the glycemic index, a ranking of how carbs affect blood glucose. Low-GI carbs are said to keep your blood sugar and metabolism steady – and you feeling fuller longer – while high-GI "unhealthy" carbs do the opposite.

What kind of fat you're getting counts, too. Say goodbye to unhealthy trans fats and omega-6 vegetable oils. Healthier monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and avocado, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish are on the menu, as well as saturated fats from full-fat dairy and plant-based sources like coconut.

Weight loss without hunger or deprivation is the goal on South Beach, along with promoting heart health.

Pros & Cons


  • Yes to mindful snacking
  • No calorie counting


  • Could seem awfully restrictive at first
  • Lots of time prepping and cooking meals

South Beach Diet Cost

The plan costs around $339.99 or about $12.33 per day on the program. A la carte items start at $2.49. You'll have to budget more, too, to add in fresh items; the company supplies its ham and vegetable frittata, for instance, but you supply the avocado slices.

WW (Weight Watchers) Diet

Weight Watchers Diet Review

Although still used to shed pounds, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is also focused on inspiring healthy living and improving overall well-being. That includes taking a holistic approach to help members eat healthier and move more. Its myWW program, launched in late 2019, is one of most customized and flexible program yet. The program builds on WW's SmartPoints system, which assigns every food and beverage a point value, based on its nutrition, and leverages details about food preferences and lifestyle to match each member to one of three comprehensive ways to follow the program. A backbone of the plan is support via the WW app and expert-led workshops to provide practical tools and behavior-change techniques for help along the way.

Pros & Cons


  • Eat what you want; no foods off-limits
  • Flexibility to shape your own diet


  • Participation can be pricey, though often deemed a good value, depending on the program you choose

WW (Weight Watchers) Diet Cost

WW's cost varies, with promotions throughout the year and depending on whether you choose to attend weekly in-person or virtual workshops, work with a personal coach, use the digital tools only or all three. All new members pay a $20 starter fee and then select an offering that fits their needs:

  • Digital, which includes access to the WW app and a 24/7 chat service, costs $19.95/month. The WW app offers trackers, recipes, fitness, community and rewards for healthy behaviors.
  • Workshops + Digital, which includes access to the WW app in addition to unlimited in-person or virtual workshops with other WW members, costs $44.95/month. Or, if you don't want a monthly Workshops membership, you can pay-as-you-go at $14 to $15 per week.
  • Personal Coaching + Digital, which includes dedicated one-on-one support with a coach and access to the app and digital tools, costs $54.95/month.

None of the costs include food, as there are no required food purchases on the program. WW encourages members to choose the foods they want, which helps make the program sustainable for the long term.

SlimFast Diet

SlimFast Diet Review

SlimFast makes losing weight as simple as restricting calories and portion sizes – and allowing for some variety and structured flexibility. You'll likely drop 1 to 2 pounds per week, research suggests. SlimFast products (shakes, smoothies and meal bars) replace two meals a day and snacks, so you get the right amount of the right nutrients. But you also prepare or eat out a 500 to 600 calorie meal each day, which the company calls your sensible meal, so there's room to enjoy small portions of your favorite foods. SlimFast is best for people who need to lose about 20 pounds, which should take eight to 10 weeks; most people are likely to have trouble sticking to the regimen longer than that. Still, many dieters use SlimFast products as occasional meal replacements even after losing weight to make maintenance easier.

Pros & Cons


  • Convenient – grab and go
  • No math or guesswork


  • The shakes and meal bars could be a turnoff
  • Same old, same old, meal after meal

SlimFast Diet Cost

An eight-pack of SlimFast Advanced Nutrition shakes runs about $15, and five 100-calorie snacks about $6.50. A five-pack of SlimFast Keto Meal Bars costs about $10. You can order online at sources like amazon.com and jet.com, or buy the products at most grocery and convenience stores. The SlimFast website allows access to hundreds of recipes, plus tools and success stories.

Atkins Diet

Atkins Diet Review

The Atkins Diet was created by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist whose interest in the health benefits of low-carb diets first culminated in the 1972 book "Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution," according to Atkins.com. The diet involves four phases, starting with very few carbs and eating progressively more until you get to your desired weight.

Generally speaking, the theory is that by limiting carbs, your body has to turn to an alternative fuel – stored fat. So sugars and "simple starches" like potatoes, white bread and rice are all but squeezed out; protein and fat like chicken, meat and eggs are embraced. Fat is burned; pounds come off.

But reducing total carbs isn't all there is to Atkins. Limiting the carbs you take in at any one time is also in the game plan. A carb-heavy meal floods the blood with glucose, too much for the cells to use or to store in the liver as glycogen. Where does it end up? As fat.

Pros & Cons


  • Fatty food that's guilt-free
  • Quick weight loss


  • Strict limits on breads and other carbs
  • Low-carb dieters may eat too much fat, raising health concerns

Atkins Diet Cost

Meat and fresh veggies are pricier than most processed and fast foods, so the Atkins Diet is typically more expensive than the average American's. How much more than usual you'll spend will depend largely on your choices of protein sources. Are you buying mostly ground beef or springing for veal? Chicken or turkey? Chuck vs. New York strip? Buying in season should keep the veggie tab reasonable.

Zone Diet

Zone Diet Review

Food is like a drug, says Zone creator Barry Sears, a biochemist. You have to take the right dose at the right time. According to Sears, elevated levels of insulin coupled with omega-6 fatty acids cause you to pack on pounds because they generate other hormones that promote inflammation, which he believes is a chief driver of the obesity epidemic. The aim of the Zone Diet is to make sure your insulin and other inflammation-promoting hormones stay "in the zone," not too high or low, by eating foods at every meal in the right proportions: 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. The body needs the right balance of these nutrients to stay healthy and slim, and operate at peak performance, Sears says.

Pros & Cons


  • All foods welcome
  • Frequent meals and snacks


  • Tedious portioning
  • Limited daily calories

Zone Diet Cost

Online membership is free. Your grocery bill shouldn't change much as you'll be eating a variety of foods that you select. For options, the Zone website offers the PastaRx line of orzo and fusilli at about $20 for a four-pack, as well as bars and cereal. The book "A Week in the Zone", which will guide you through the diet, is available in paperback and e-book. And another book, "The Mediterranean Zone", is available in hardcover and e-book.

HMR Program

HMR Program Review

The Health Management Resources Program is a weight loss system/plans designed to reduce calories via meal replacement with added fruits and vegetables. Through this program, the aim is to learn healthy lifestyle strategies, increase physical activity and personal accountability.

Any diet may help you lose weight, but people who change their lifestyle through the HMR program maintain significant weight loss through either the medically supervised, in-clinic or at-home options. Three times as much weight is lost and kept off using meal replacements, compared to traditional diets, experts say. The HMR Program was developed more than 30 years ago by Lawrence Stifler, a behavioral psychologist and former president of HMR. HMR meal replacements – low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and multigrain hot cereal – are eaten in place of other meals and snacks. In addition, eating fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in calories, helps displace higher-calorie foods from a diet. By mixing vegetables and fruits with HMR meal replacements, you have filling, nutritious meals. Physical activity is essential for successful long-term weight management, and a little exercise – just 10 to 20 minutes of walking per day – will help you attain weight-loss goals.

Pros & Cons


  • Meals delivered to you
  • Phased approach for quick start on weight loss


  • Eating out limited
  • Shakes could get humdrum

HMR Program Cost

The retail value of the three-week HMR starter kit is $301.65, with new members able to buy a starter kit for $179 to $199 (and free shipping when joining the program. The standard two-week reorder kit costs $185. Individually, shakes, cereal and soup run between roughly $2 and $2.50 per serving. Entrees cost $3.70 per serving and can be ordered online. You'll save on costs in the meat and processed-food sections of your grocery store, while possibly spending more money than you're used to spending in the produce aisle.

Dukan Diet

Dukan Diet Review

This diet is based on the theory that counting calories isn't the key to weight loss; protein is. It's a weight-loss powerhouse – it's filling, takes time and work to digest, and has very few calories for each gram of food compared to carb-heavy foods. Limiting carbs, the body's preferred energy source, forces the body to turn to an alternative fuel – stored fat. By following the Dukan Diet, it's claimed you can lose up to 10 pounds within the first week and continue to lose 2 to 4 pounds a week after that until you've reached your goal. That's motivation enough for dieters to follow a strict plan that rewards the faithful by slowly adding back the bread, cheese and fruit they so dearly missed.

Pros & Cons


  • Filling
  • All-You-Can-Eat


  • Lots of rules
  • Could fall short nutritionally

Dukan Diet Cost

Animal protein, vegetables and dairy products are pricey, especially if you're eating a lot of them – which you will be.

You can buy books like "The Dukan Diet" and "The Dukan Diet Made Easy". Plus, coaching is available for $29.95 per month.

Whole30 Diet

Whole30 Diet Review

The Whole30 is not a diet, a weight-loss plan or quick fix – it's designed to "change your life," the founders say, by eliminating cravings, rebalancing hormones, curing digestive issues, improving medical conditions and boosting energy and immune function. The theory behind it is that all sorts of physical and mental health issues – ranging from acne to depression to allergies – could be due to your diet. But you can't know which foods are to blame for what ails you unless you cut out all traces of sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. By day 31, you'll be free from your food fog and may not even miss your nightly wine ritual or morning muffin fix. If and when you reintroduce food groups, your body's reaction will tell you which foods you should continue to avoid – or at least limit.

Pros & Cons


  • Short-term
  • No calorie-counting or exercise required


  • Goodbye to grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and alcohol
  • Only the highly committed and organized need apply

Whole30 Diet Cost

All that produce and meat can add up – especially if you opt for the "best" options on the Whole30 sample grocery lists, which include 100% grass-fed and organic choices. On the other hand, you probably won't be paying much to eat out. And again, it's only 30 days.

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