The 9 Best Diets for Fast Weight Loss
These nine diets are likely to help you lose significant weight within a year, according to a panel of experts who reviewed 35 plans for the U.S. News Best Diets rankings. Just remember: Short-term weight loss is markedly different from long-term weight loss, which is more important for your health.
No. 1 HMR Program
The HMR Program (Health Management Resources Program) uses meal replacements – think low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and hot cereal – in phases, coaching from experts, physical activity and an emphasis on fruits and vegetables to help dieters shed pounds fast. For the second straight year, the diet has the No. 1 ranking to itself. “This diet makes it easy to lose weight fast and would likely be effective for someone who wants to lose weight for a specific event,” one expert said. “However, as far as long-term healthy-habit-forming, this diet falls short” in part because dieters don’t learn to make their own healthy food choices.
No. 2 Optavia Diet
Optavia, a brand from the team behind Medifast, is bound to lead to weight loss in most adults. After all, you’ll likely be limited to 1,000 calories a day coming from one daily meal and five 100-calorie “Fuelings,” whether shakes, bars, eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, pudding, soup, brownies or even cheese puffs. But don’t expect to stay on this plan longer-term: One U.S. News expert called the products “unpalatable” and, on the whole, Optavia ranked less-than-optimally on metrics like safety and nutrition.
No. 3 (tie) Atkins Diet
A large part of the appeal of the Atkins Diet, which aims to burn fat by limiting carbs and packing in fat and protein, is its claim of quick weight loss – as much as 15 pounds in two weeks, according to the company. Our experts agreed that’s a legitimate pitch, but note that much of the initial weight loss is water, due to the diet’s diuretic effect. “That means that the short-term weight loss looks much better than it really is, and when you stop the program, all the water comes back on,” one expert pointed out.
No. 3 (tie) Jenny Craig Diet
Jenny Craig’s prepackaged meals and recipes help participants lose weight – up to 2 pounds a week, it says – through restricting calories, fat and portions. One 2015 review of studies suggests it works: It found that participants lost more weight in a year on the plan than on other commercial weight-loss programs, including WW (Weight Watchers), Nutrisystem and Medifast. Experts deemed Jenny Craig “very effective” for short-term weight loss, some praising its focus on teaching proper portion sizes and helping dieters learn to eat when they’re hungry, rather than when they’re bored or emotional.