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5 Secrets to Steal From These Popular Diets

Here are the best weight loss tips from the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and more.

Medically reviewed in August 2022

Updated on August 19, 2022

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Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight both require regular physical activity and a balanced eating plan. But when the latest and greatest diets are everywhere you turn, how do you know which one is right for you?

It can be tough to tell. There’s no one-diet-fits-all, and the plan that works best for your body can depend on your age, hormones, schedule, activity level, and which foods are easily available to you. 

While you’re figuring out your approach, it may help to pick and choose smart, proven tips from top diet plans. With that in mind, here are helpful takeaways from popular diets.

weight watchers diet, meal planning
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Portion Control and Support: From Weight Watchers

WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) is based on a point system and emphasizes portion sizes. “It gives people control because they choose the portions and there are reward and support systems to help you stay on track,” says Eva Mina, MD, of Medical City Alliance in Fort Worth, Texas.  

“Members encourage you and hold you accountable,” Dr. Mina says. If you join WW’s online or in-person support groups, you can talk through challenges or exchange eating tips with other people. Mina also recommends eating smaller, more frequent meals—about five or six per day—to rev up your metabolism.

Whether you buy into the Oprah-approved trend or not, eating smaller portions and working on your diet with a friend are two moves to use during your weight-loss journey. 

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More Fruits and Veggies: From The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

Following Dr. Dean Ornish’s diet plan can help you reverse certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Its plant-based menu is made up of mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nonfat dairy, egg whites, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It doesn’t include refined carbs, sugar, white flour, and rice.

Research shows that diets high in animal protein may increase your risk of premature mortality from chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes, but a plant-based lifestyle may offer protection from these.

If you’re following a plant-based diet, don’t forget about plant-based protein sources including tofu and beans.

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Good Blood Sugar Management: From the Atkins Diet

Atkins is a low-sugar, low-carb approach to eating. Over the years, this diet has evolved from a high-fat, no-carb approach to one that recommends lower-fat foods and a carb intake of up to 100 grams daily.

“It helps you lose weight because it eliminates starches that put weight on,” says Mina. She likes that it makes you more aware of how many carbs you’re eating. “This is so helpful for people with diabetes or for people who have high blood sugar.”

If you’re trying to stabilize your sugar levels, avoid refined carbs in favor of protein, complex carbs, and veggies. “Eat foods that don’t raise your insulin levels, like fish and beans,” says Mina. Even if you don’t have diabetes, stable blood sugar helps your energy levels and decreases your sugar cravings.

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Healthy Fats: From the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet consists largely of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and a moderate amount of wine and dairy. The diet discourages eating a lot of red meat and eggs.

“I grew up on the Mediterranean diet and I love it. It can decrease your risk of high cholesterol and can improve your blood sugar because it has all of the healthy elements you need to eat,” says Mina. Some studies also show the diet may reduce your risk of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Bottom line? Add more olive oil, fish, and nuts to your diet, while greatly limiting saturated fats in red and processed meats and full-fat dairy. 

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Blood Pressure Control: From the DASH DIET

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet continually ranks as one of the healthiest in the annual U.S. News and World Report rundown of best diets. The goal of DASH is to help you manage blood pressure levels by reducing the amount of saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol in your diet. Some of the best ways to do this are by cutting back on red meat, sodium, and sugar. This style of eating can also lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer.

DASH also focuses on foods rich in potassium, fiber, calcium, and healthy proteins like low-fat dairy and fish, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Including these foods can potentially help you lose weight, too.

Shoot for seven to eight servings of whole grains, eight to 10 servings of fruits and veggies, two to three servings of low-fat dairy and 6 ounces or less of lean meats, poultry, and fish each day.

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Be realistic and choose an eating plan that works for you

When Mina talks to her patients about losing weight and starting a new eating plan, she emphasizes the importance of setting small, attainable goals and making gradual changes.

“If a person that never cooks adopts a diet where they have to cook everything from scratch, that diet will never work for them,” she says. Creating realistic goals can help pave a path to success and may help you maintain your weight loss.

Mina loves healthy meal subscription services, too. “Many of them provide fresh ingredients and give exact recipes, making meal prep a breeze,” she says.

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Don’t forget to drink water

No matter what your eating plan, water is essential for losing weight and keeping your body hydrated. Water helps to flush out toxins, carries vital nutrients to your cells, and keeps your ear, nose, and throat tissues moist and healthy.  

The amount of water you need each day depends on your age, overall health, activity level, sex, and other factors. You’ve probably heard that you should try to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. That is a manageable, healthy goal. But according to the United States Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, men should drink about 12, 8-ounce glasses of water a day and women about nine glasses.  

 

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

WW. How It Works. Page accessed August 2, 2022.
Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. Nutrition. Page accessed on August 2, 2022.
Atkins. The Atkins Diet: How It Works. Page accessed on August 2, 2022.
Mayo Clinic. Mediterranean diet for heart health. July 23, 2021.
U.S. News and World Report. DASH Diet. Page accessed August 2, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water and Healthier Drinks. Page last updated June 6, 2022.
MedlinePlus. Can you boost your metabolism? Reviewed May 26, 2020.
Esselstyn CB. A plant-based diet and coronary artery disease: a mandate for effective therapy. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017 May;14(5):317-320. 
Naghshi S, Sadeghi O, et al. Dietary intake of total, animal, and plant proteins and risk of all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ 2020; 370. 
Gardener H, Caunca MR. Mediterranean Diet in Preventing Neurodegenerative Diseases. Curr Nutr Rep. 2018 Mar;7(1):10-20.
Mayo Clinic. DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. June 25, 2021.
Mayo Clinic. Water: How much should you drink every day? October 14, 2020.
Salehi-Abargouei A, Maghsoudi Z, et al. Effects of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-style diet on fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular diseases--incidence: a systematic review and meta-analysis on observational prospective studies. Nutrition. 2013 Apr;29(4):611-8. 
Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. The Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets and colorectal cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec;92(6):1429-35.

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