Get the Skinny on 5 Popular Diet Plans

Learn about these diet giants and see which may be right for you.

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Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds, take control of your cholesterol or just want to feel better about your body, doctor-approved diets are a great way to get on track to a healthier you.  But with hundreds of diet programs and books claiming to be the best in the business, it can be hard to know which ones are actually worth your time – and which to avoid. That’s why we’ve done of most the research for you.

Click through to get a roundup of 5 popular diet plans and learn which may fit your lifestyle the best. 

#1. Weight Watchers

2 / 6 #1. Weight Watchers

The skinny:  This diet assigns a food “points value” based on its nutritional makeup and limits the number of daily points you can have. Weekly meetings help to keep you on track, give advice and provide an accountability system for your weight loss goals.

Why it works: It's convenient – most everything is online – and flexible, and even offers emotional support to help members stay accountable. Bonus: You’ll allowed weekly indulgences so you’re not deprived of your favorite foods. 

Who it’s right for: Aside from pregnant women -- who are advised not to go on the diet-- this program is for anyone looking to get his or her weight under control (even Oprah’s doing it!).

#2. The DASH Diet

3 / 6 #2. The DASH Diet

The skinny: DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The diet aims to help people with hypertension -- a.k.a. high blood pressure -- get their numbers under control, while also promoting weight loss.

Why it works: The DASH diet encourages dieters to switch their diet to one based primarily on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, while encouraging them to eat less sodium and fat than they were before. Foods not encouraged: sugar-blasted drinks, sweets and red meat.

Who it’s right for: This healthy eating model works for everyone -- even children. Plus, it has the backing of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who recommends DASH as a model for the American diet. 

#3. The Atkins Diet

4 / 6 #3. The Atkins Diet

The skinny: The Atkins diet promotes weight loss and improved metabolism. The basis of the program is to dramatically cut your carbs and slowly add them back in as your handling of carbohydrates changes.

Why it works: The Atkins diet is a 4 phase eating plan. During the first phase carbs are limited – as you progress, carbs are added in. Keeping your carbs low dramatically lowers your overall calorie intake and allows your body to more effectively regulate blood sugar. Protein, fats and fiber found in the allowed foods also leave you feeling fuller for longer.

Who it’s right for: This is great for people hoping to shed pounds quickly without having to completely ditch fatty foods.

#4. The TLC Diet

5 / 6 #4. The TLC Diet

The skinny: While this diet does show your body some tender loving care, this TLC acronym actually stands for "Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes" and, like the DASH diet, is a heart healthy eating plan.

Why it works: TLC is light in saturated fats and salts, so seeing less of red meats and trans fats is all part of its heart-boosting plan. What you'll be eating: lots of veggies, fruits and skinless meats. You’ll also be getting some more exercise and learning how to keep off the weight you lose long term.

Who it’s right for: Created by the National Institutes of Health and backed by the American Heart Association, the TLC diet is good for anyone.

#5. The Paleo Diet

6 / 6 #5. The Paleo Diet

The skinny: Thought a hunter-gatherer lifestyle was all in the past? Enter Paleo. This diet is one that’s full of animal protein and plants. All refined sugar, dairy, legumes and grains are out.

Why it works: Paleo-style eating emphasizes whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. The diet helps you drop pounds by pushing you to eat good-for-you low calorie foods.

Who it’s best for: It's unclear. Some studies have found that Paleo may be good for blood pressure, weight loss and even metabolic syndrome (which can lead to diabetes). But there are some concerns about eliminating some food groups, like whole grains and legumes which have heart and anti-cancer benefits.

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