The Best Diets For Weight Loss In 2022: Which One Is Right For You?

Emma

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

best diets for weight loss

With a new year upon us, many of us have our minds on our waistlines. A raw food diet? The Mediterranean diet? No measure is too extreme for those serious about getting fit the healthy way.

The best ways to earn your calorie deficit all focus on one thing: results. Forget fad diets for weight loss—everything on this list has been vetted and approved by both dieters and dieticians alike. Here are the best types of diets for your weight loss goals in 2022.

Which Kind of Weight Loss Diet Should You Choose?

What’s the most effective way to lose weight? The fact of the matter is that little matters in your diet aside from calorie intake vs. calorie expenditure. Any of these diets are worth trying if you’re fed up and ready for a change.

The best way to aid weight loss is to make a plan and stick to it. Eat well, track what you can, and get your body moving whenever possible. With enough drive and focus, you’ll lose weight in no time at all, all without putting your body at risk with a fad diet that’ll only leave you starving.

When choosing a weight loss diet, take your lifestyle, preferences, and medical needs into consideration. Every diet is different, and there’s a perfect diet plan for every possible type of person.

Diet type and examplesFlexibleNutritionally balancedSustainable for long term
Balanced
(DASH, Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers)
Yes, all food groups are allowed but processed foods, refined grains, sugary snacks, and canned goods are restricted.YesYes
High protein (Dukan, Paleo, Zone, South Beach Diet)Emphasis on lean protein and dairyPossibleNo, long-term may be hazardous to health
Low carb (Basic low-carb, Atkins, zero-carb diet, ketogenic)Restricts sugar and carbohydrate groups
(fruit, grains, dairy)
PossibleYes, but over-restriction of carbs long term increases mortality if replaced by animal products and fats
Low fat (HCG, Ornish)Restriction of animal-based foods, fat group, and high-fat snack foodsDeficiencies may develop if the long term and highly restrictiveYes, but maybe difficult to adhere to
Meal replacement (Slim Fast, Jenny Craig, Medifast, HMR)No, as the meal replacements take the place of one to two meals per dayPossible if good meal choices are madePossibly- maybe cost-prohibitive
Very low calorie
(Optifast)
No-Calories typically limited to 800/dayNoNo, meant to be used short-term only under medical supervision

Your New Weight Loss Plan in 2022: Low-Fat Diets, Low-Carb Diets, and Plant-Based Diets

The Paleolithic diet, also known as the Paleo diet or the “caveman” diet, is one of the most popular diets to help you lose weight. 

It’s notable in its focus on the way that human beings evolved to eat and digest food during the dawn of civilization, as well as technological advances of the Stone Age—notably, the adoption of the practices of both preparing meals with tools and cooking food with fire[1].

Most associate this diet with giant tomahawk steaks and a strict ban on refined grains like flour, but there’s much more to the Paleo diet than meets the eye.

Paleo Diet

How Does It Work?

One of the major themes of the Paleolithic diet is its emphasis on whole foods, just like the ones that our ancestors were eating way back when. It criticizes highly-processed convenience foods and even processed ingredients like flour and pasteurized dairy products.

What can you eat on a Paleo diet? Think about the way that ancient humans fed themselves before the cradle of society came into being—if a type of food couldn’t feasibly be acquired and prepared by a simple hunter or gatherer, the Paleo diet recommends avoiding it whenever possible.

A few Paleo diet staples[2] and food groups include:

  • Lean meats, poultry, and fish
  • Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and kale
  • Root vegetable
  • Fruits of nearly any type
  • Mushrooms and fungi

The list of foods not allowed by a Paleo diet, of course, concerns itself primarily with commercially processed, pre-prepared snacks and meals. You might be surprised to hear that many traditionally healthy foods[3] are also taken off of the table, however:

  • Refined and milled grains
  • Refined sugar and derivatives 
  • Dairy products
  • Separated fats and oils
  • Legumes
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes

It’s an odd list, especially when compared to other highly-regarded diets, such as the Mediterranean diet below. Think about it logically: it would be substantially difficult for our earliest ancestors to, say, boil a pot of beans without the relevant knowledge on how to cultivate and cure them, or even a pot to do so in the first place.

Pros

  • Perfect for weight loss with a lot of freedom; the only real restrictions you’ll find here are in the types of foods that you’re able to eat
  • Protective against cardiovascular disease and diabetes[4]

Cons

  • May be considered overly-restrictive by some
  • Less structured when it comes to portion control—if you prefer a prescriptive weight loss plan, this diet may be a bit too free-wheeling for you

The Paleo Diet has been shown to be particularly beneficial for reducing abdominal fat in postmenopausal, obese women while reducing triglyceride levels. The Paleo Diet can be beneficial for weight loss but puts its users at risk for calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

Kathy J. Shattler, MS, RDN

Mediterranean Diet

The famous Mediterranean diet’s primary claim to fame is its status as one of the five Blue Zone diets[5] enjoyed by some of the world’s longest-living populations. For this reason, this healthy diet is considered top of the heap when it comes to healthy diets devoid of processed foods and other questionable choices.

How Does It Work?

While not a plant-based diet per se, it does encourage healthy habits like limiting your weekly meat intake. Blue Zone diets are 95% plant-based and people in the Blue Zones tend to live longer and suffer less from cancer and obesity.

The main difference you’ll find between this diet and the Paleo diet above will probably be the inclusion of legumes, whole grains, and things like olive oil and organic, pasture-fed dairy products like cheese and yogurt. All fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are perfectly fine to include in this highly effective weight loss program.

A restriction on added sugar, alcohol, refined and overly-processed flour, trans fats and saturated fat, and things like deli meat and junk food helps you maintain a calorie deficit, allowing you to lose weight faster without even needing to think about it.

Pros

  • Preventative against heart disease, thanks in part to its elimination[6] of saturated fatty acids from your daily diet
  • You’ve got a lot of ingredients to choose from here—you can promote weight loss without feeling like you’re missing out, all while enjoying an endless variety of salads, soups, and grain bowls
  • Can easily be adapted into a vegetarian or a totally plant-based diet, which may further aid weight loss

Cons

  • The Mediterranean diet may prove to be more expensive than some of the other diets on this list
  • Not necessarily designed for weight loss—it’s one of the best healthy diets for a better lifestyle overall, however

The Mediterranean Diet is often recommended for those who have heart disease, depression or dementia and not necessarily for weight loss. It has topped the charts as the best diet to follow for the fifth year in a row as it emphasizes eating less red meat, saturated fat, and sugar while incorporating more healthy fats, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables into your meal plan. It is a diet based on long-lived traditions, simple preparations, and just enjoying food with others.”

Kathy J. Shattler, MS, RDN

Ketogenic Diet

This diet is probably the most famous out of all the low-fat diets at your disposal. It takes advantage of a process in the body known as ketosis. What is ketosis? How can low-carbohydrate diets help you lose weight?

How Does It Work?

When you go keto, you pledge to remove carbohydrates (carbs) from your diet nearly entirely. 

Ordinarily, the body uses glucose as its primary source of fuel. When there is no glucose to metabolize and your body is falling into a deficit, it turns instead to an alternative source of energy: ketones[7]. What are ketones?

Ketones are a small family of compounds produced in the liver out of the fat stored in our bodies. As we abstain from carbs or fast entirely, ketone production kicks into overdrive. The fat used to create ketones has to come from somewhere—this is mainly why losing weight on a keto diet is so easy for some.

Healthy fats, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and other low-carb healthy foods are all fair game here. For your average 2,000 calorie diet, those subscribing to a keto diet are advised to consume anywhere from 20 to 50 grams of carbs daily[8]. You also want to consume only moderate amounts of protein. The secret to entering a state of ketosis has more to do with the macronutrient makeup of your diet, as opposed to calorie intake strictly.

Pros

  • In obese individuals, a keto diet has been shown[9] to aid weight loss, improve body fat mass, triglyceride levels, cholesterol, and blood glucose in the long-term
  • Keto diets are great for those with diabetes[10] and other blood sugar issues; it’s a great diet for managing one’s body weight, glycemic index, and the like

Cons

  • If you live for carbs, the keto diet may not be an eating pattern that you prefer
  • Keto flu[11]” is one popular term used to describe the feeling of transitioning into a keto diet; it doesn’t usually last for long, fading as your body acclimates itself to your new eating pattern. It represents a group of symptoms occurring two to seven days after starting the diet and consists of diarrhea, foggy thinking, irritability, and difficulty sleeping

If your body mass index is over 40 or if you have insulin resistance without type 2 diabetes, the keto diet can be helpful. It can also be helpful as a short-term strategy to reset your metabolism as a weight-loss aid. Medically, it is used for uncontrollable seizures.

Kathy J. Shattler, MS, RD

Raw Food Diet

A raw food diet may sound extreme, but there’s more to it than the fact that you’ll be eating fewer calories by definition. Cooking food makes it carcinogenic, but that’s only one of the health benefits of a raw diet to take into account. 

How Does It Work?

Raw, live foods are considered to be any plant-derived, totally unprocessed ingredient that has never seen a cooking temperature over approximately 92 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Raw food can be puréed, soaked, dehydrated at low temperatures, or simply eaten whole, just as nature intended. Naturally, things like whole grains and other foods that require time on the stove will be off-limits, but don’t let this fact deter you.

While a raw food diet is generally regarded as being a vegan thing, there is also a vibrant community of people who adhere to a raw vegetarian diet and even a raw flexitarian diet. Raw eggs, raw fish, raw dairy, and even raw meat may also be considered acceptable to consume under this heading. Those on a raw food diet are advised to discontinue their use of refined oil, salt, sugar, flour, and even caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as well.

Pros

  • A naturally low-fat and heart-healthy way of living—you’ll enjoy lower triglyceride concentrations and total plasma cholesterol among other benefits[12], such as a greatly reduced risk of heart disease
  • An incredibly effective weight-loss method, especially among other low-fat diets
  • May be enhanced greatly[13] through the inclusion of things like intermittent fasting

Cons

  • A raw food diet is a notoriously low-calorie diet; it may disrupt natural processes like menstruation[14] if you’re eating fewer calories than you need daily.
  • Cooking food will often do just as much good for your meal as eating it raw, only in different ways—tomatoes, for example, contain lycopene, which becomes more bioavailable[15] after cooking them with some sort of lipid

A raw food diet is suitable for those who can follow good sanitation guidelines while embarking on a journey of increased vitality, improved overall health and who want to leave less of an environmental footprint on the planet.

 Kathy J. Shattler, MS, RDN

Dash Diet

The DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is one designed primarily to manage high blood pressure. 

It’s a list of daily intake suggestions for all the major food groups, mainly foods that are high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It encourages the dieter to steer clear of junk food, full-fat dairy, fatty meats, and excess sodium[16] in favor of whole grains, plant-based foods, lean fish and poultry, beans, and healthy vegetable oils like olive oil.

How Does It Work?

The DASH diet for weight loss takes a stand against your typical American food environment. It recognizes the danger of fast food and other convenient options as one factor that may lead a person to a chronic blood pressure-related metabolic syndrome. You lose weight and strengthen your cardiovascular health by steering clear of garbage your body doesn’t need.

While not a strictly low-sodium diet, since it restricts sodium to 2,300 mg per day, reducing one’s sodium intake is recommended heartily. The DASH diet focuses on minimally-processed food, preferably made in the home. In as little as two weeks, many report lower systolic blood pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg[17].

Pros

  • This is the ultimate diet for those with hypertension or any other blood pressure disorder
  • If you look to your diet plan for the dietary structure, this is one of the easiest to follow; you’ve got daily goals to meet, and if you meet them, you will succeed
  • It’s an incredibly simple lifestyle change to make, and you’ll enjoy a greatly-reduced risk of heart trouble, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity in the long run

Cons

  • Again, this is a diet geared more toward cardiovascular health than weight loss, but it does put healthier recommendations on your plate than what many hypertensive individuals are used to consuming
  • If you lead a busy lifestyle and have no time to meal prep, you might not lose weight on a DASH diet plan

While the DASH diet is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their diet by reducing their sodium content and eating more healthfully, it is particularly valuable for those who experience high blood pressure or fluid retention.

Kathy J. Shattler, MS, RDN

Other Types Of Diets For Weight Loss

If you’ve tried all of the above and your average weight loss every week isn’t lining up with your goals, we recommend trying another weight loss diet. Here are a few more ways to reduce your calorie intake and lose more weight faster:

  • Atkins Diet[19]: A low-carb diet popular in the 1970s
  • Intermittent Fasting Diet: Intermittent fasting for anywhere from 16 hours per day to several days at a time has been shown to purify the body of toxins[20] and help you lose more weight than reducing calorie intake overall
  • Vegan Diet: Relates to any of a number of plant-based diets that exclude dairy and other animal products entirely; highly conducive to weight loss in a general sense
  • Flexitarian Diet: A vegetarian weight loss diet that occasionally and opportunistically includes lean proteins like fish, poultry, and sometimes beef
  • Ornish Diet: This diet focuses on the prevention of heart disease and other chronic diseases exclusively—it’s rich with good carbs like whole grains and healthy fats like nuts and avocado and asks you to avoid sugar, alcohol, fried food, and other poor choices in these categories
  • Volumetrics Diet: A diet wherein the dieter consumes food high in volume and low in calories[21]; in many cases, a low-fat diet, but this will vary somewhat by personal preference

Many of these weight-loss diets can be combined in order to tailor your fit to your lifestyle and your favorite things to eat normally. Many vegans also partake in intermittent fasting, for example, and low-carb diets may become much more pleasurable and satiating by including a Volumetric element into the mix. 

It’s all about finding a way of living that you’re willing to commit to for good. There are no right or wrong answers to be found here, only choices, guidelines, and results.


+ 20 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Emma

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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