What are the Best Diets for Weight Loss?
One source for information on weight loss plans is U.S. News and World Report's 2013 Best Diets Rankings. Each year, the news magazine recruits a panel of experts in "diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes, and heart disease" to rate popular diets on seven criteria, including effectiveness, safety, and ease of use.
Which diet came out on top in the magazine's 2013 rankings? The answer is Weight Watchers, which racked up an overall score of 3.8 out of 5. Three diets tied for second place: The Biggest Loser Diet, Jenny Craig, and the Raw Food Diet.
The consumer review site ConsumerSearch.com is another source that evaluates weight loss programs. Like U.S. News, ConsumerSearch selected Weight Watchers as the best overall weight loss program. Other recommendations include the Jenny Craig program, the Volumetrics diet, and the online weight loss community eDiets.com.
How quickly can you lose weight on the Weight Watchers plan? According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2006, the average Weight Watchers participant lost six pounds in the first four weeks. That's comparable to the results people saw on Slim Fast and Eat Yourself Slim, but less than dieters lost on the Atkins diet. However, the Atkins diet's advantage only held up for the first month; afterwards, all four plans helped dieters lose weight at approximately the same rate.
As evidence of Weight Watchers' long-term effectiveness, the U.S. News article cites a study in which almost 60 percent of dieters maintained their weight loss for the first year after finishing the program. Thirty-seven percent of Weight Watchers participants were still within five pounds of their target weight after five years. That may not sound impressive, but it is a relatively positive outcome considering that many dieters quickly regain all of the pounds they've shed.
Yet another source for information on long-term weight loss is the National Weight Control Registry. Established in 1994 by respected researchers in the field of weight management, the Registry contains detailed information on more than 10,000 dieters who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more. The results point to some effective strategies for long-term weight loss. Over half the dieters joined a structured weight loss program, while forty-five percent lost weight on their own. A whopping ninety-eight percent of those who lost weight say they did so by changing the way they ate. Most continue to follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet and eat breakfast each morning.
But if you think you can maintain your goal weight through dieting alone, think again. Ninety-four percent of those in the National Weight Control Registry complemented their nutritional changes with an exercise program. In addition, nearly all continued to exercise after they lost weight. Walking is the most popular type of exercise, and the average participant works out for an hour each day. Where do they find the time? Partly by cutting back on television. Sixty-two percent of Registry participants say that they watch fewer than ten hours of TV per week. By comparison, the average American spends 34 hours a week watching television.
Keeping close tabs on your weight is another habit that may help prevent you from regaining the weight you've lost; seventy-five percent of Registry participants report that they weigh themselves at least once a week.
It's hard to lose weight, and even harder not to regain it. One piece of good news from the National Weight Control Registry is that weight maintenance seems to get easier over time. Once participants have kept their weight off for at least two years, it becomes much likelier that they will continue to be successful. This makes sense when you realize that successful weight maintenance requires lasting changes in your eating and exercise patterns. So if you want to lose weight and keep it off, skip the fad diets and think about ways you can permanently change your lifestyle for the better.
Author: Joshua Beidler, United States
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )