Balanced plate method
Paulina Lee, a registered dietitian in Sugar Land, Texas and founder of Savvy Stummy, a wellness program designed to support gut health, notes that the balanced plate method can be an easy way to add more variety to your diet. “Instead of counting calories or tracking macros, just fill your 9-inch plate where half of the plate is veggies, a quarter of the plate is lean protein, and a quarter of the plate is starch,” she explains.
According to Lee, this diet is sustainable, realistic and effective for long-term weight loss. “Not to mention, finishing a meal with fiber, protein, and healthy fats will keep you feeling full longer, which can reduce between-meal snacking and other cravings,” she says.
A review of 23 studies concluded that portion control plates, which contain the same guidelines from the balanced plate method, may help support weight loss in people who are overweight and obese or have type 2 diabetes. The review also noted that portion control plates were associated with several positive dietary habits, including an increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Gisela Bouvier, registered dietitian and owner of Gisela Bouvier Nutrition in Punta Gorda, Florida, recommends the Mediterranean diet, noting that it can support weight loss and overall health. According to Bouvier, the Mediterranean diet “encourages the intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds, and lean protein.”
One study found that both menopausal and premenopausal women experienced significant fat loss when following a low-calorie Mediterranean diet. In fact, women lost an average of nearly five pounds of body fat over the course of the eight-week study, even with minimal aerobic exercise.
Inspired by the traditional diets of Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has also been linked to a long list of health benefits beyond weight loss, including improved heart health, improved brain function and longer life . Plus, unlike other popular diets, it’s easy to follow and doesn’t have strict rules like counting calories.
While no foods are technically off limits on the diet, several should be restricted, including red meat, processed foods, refined grains, and added sugar. Other parts of the diet often include staying active, sharing meals with family and friends, and enjoying red wine in moderation.
The volumetric diet is an eating plan that encourages eating low-calorie-density foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to promote feelings of fullness while cutting calories. The diet, described in a book by food scientist Barbara Rolls, categorizes foods based on their calorie density and provides guidelines for which foods should be included in a balanced meal.
“What people like best about a volume-based approach is that it makes you feel like you can eat a lot — without constantly thinking about ‘restriction,'” says Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian in New York.
London also notes that there are no food restrictions on the volumetric diet and it’s easy to adapt to your needs and preferences. Plus, it can even help improve your relationship with food. “By emphasizing plants, volumetrics not only encourages a shift in what you eat, but how you think about what you eat,” she says.
A study inside The Nutrition Journal found that lower energy density foods improved appetite control, reduced cravings and increased feelings of satiety in overweight or obese women, all of which could contribute to weight loss.
Also known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, the DASH diet was originally developed to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. However, according to London, the diet “could be both an overall healthier way of eating and a smart approach to weight loss.”
The plan recommends filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with legumes, nuts, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy. Meanwhile, foods high in added sugar or saturated fat should be limited, including red meat or full-fat dairy products, and the plan recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. The DASH diet also provides guidelines on how many servings of each food group you should eat each day.
Many of the foods encouraged on the DASH diet are low in calories, yet rich in important nutrients such as fiber and protein, which can be beneficial for weight loss. In addition, foods that are restricted, including foods high in added sugar, have been linked to weight gain and obesity when consumed in excess.
“A big emphasis on this plan (and any good diet, really) is that the diet tells you what to eat, without overemphasizing any important nutritional component,” says London. In addition to supporting weight loss, London also notes that the diet contains several important nutrients to support heart health, including omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium.
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