When you want to lose weight, it’s important to find a diet that you can work with. But it’s also important to make sure your diet works for you too. That’s why we’ve taken a look at the best diets for quick weight loss. There are certain diets that work better than others. There are also certain diets that work faster than others. Now, it would be both unhealthy and unrealistic to expect to lose over 5lbs per week for a long period, but some of these diets have the ability to kick start your weight loss with a week or two like that.
US News & World Report has done an in-depth study of 41 different diets and ranked them according to various goals. Some of their rankings include the best commercial diets, best heart-healthy diets, the best diabetes diets, and easiest diets to follow. Today, we’ll walk through some of their picks for the best diets for quick weight loss. But if you’re looking for another specific kind of diet, you can take a look at their rankings here.
The diets that scored best for fast weight loss were judged on how much weight was lost on average in a 12-month period. Diets that offered higher weight loss towards the beginning moved up on the list. But each of the 41 diets they looked at was also evaluated for health and safety, so no unhealthy or risky diets made it onto the list.
With that said, let’s jump in.
First place for fast weight loss: The HMR Program
The HMR program is an intensive weight-loss program that combines meal replacement and lifestyle coaching. There are over 200 clinics offering supervised HMR programs that can increase the chance you’ll lose the weight. But the HMR program can also be done from home (with optional call-in counseling).
In each type of HMR diet, there are two phases. Phase 1 starts with the Quickstart meal box and lasts for a number of weeks depending on your individual weight loss goals. You’ll be eating mostly HMR prepared shakes and entrees, with the addition of 5 servings of fresh fruits or veggies per day (which you provide). The weekly phone coaching has the power to encourage you to keep going and can be a great resource.
Participants report losing an average of 13 to 20 pounds overall, and the number can be even higher with in-clinic support. You’re allowed to snack as long as you’re eating fresh fruits or veggies. These foods are naturally low in calories and will help you to lose weight. Phase 2 consists of eating HMR meal replacement shakes, 5 servings of fruits and veggies, but then adding in some regular food at meal time. This diet can be a little expensive ($185/two weeks), but that can help give you the incentive to keep going.
Second place: Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is probably one of the most famous diets. You’ve probably seen shakes, bars, and snacks in your local store made by the Atkins brand. One reason for this is that it’s been successful at doing what it promises: help you lose weight.
This diet is based on the notion that excess carbs are stored as fat—and to burn fat, you have to cut carbs out almost completely. There are a few versions: the Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100. These numbers stand for the grams of carbs you can eat each day. If it sounds like 20 grams of carbs is a small amount, you’re right. It is. You basically eat mostly meat, some fat, and some high-fiber carbs like legumes.
The good thing is this is a diet based on what you buy in the grocery store. There are no shipments to sign up for. But proteins are naturally more expensive than carbs, so you should be prepared to have a higher-than-normal grocery bill. People on this diet have reported losing 10lbs in the first month.
Third place: Keto Diet
This diet was ranked up in this spot for its ability to help you lose weight, but it also has a healthiness score of 1.8/5 according to US News & World Report. If you try this diet, talk to a doctor and pay attention to your body. The Keto diet is also about limiting carbs, but your main source of energy becomes fat instead of protein. In fact, fats are supposed to account for at least 70% of your diet. That’s good news for bacon lovers.
The high-fat content is to put your body in a state called ketosis where it burns fat instead of sugar for energy. The first few weeks will be hard (less than 20 grams of carbs are allowed), and after the fourth week, you’ll see changes in weight. The Keto diet is still a little new to have long termed data on weight loss, but it does show promising results in the short term. And like the Atkins diet, you’ll be spending a little more on fats and proteins at the grocery store than you’re used to.
Fourth place: Optavia Diet
This diet is known to provide users 12 lbs of weight loss within the first 12 weeks. Optavia 5&1 is their most popular plan. You take 5 of their “Fuelings,” or meal replacements, per day, plus one high-protein meal you prepare.
The Fuelings can be shakes, bars, snacks, smoothies, soups and more. All of them are low-carb and high-protein (Optavia keeps you below 100 net carbs per day). It’s a similar diet to the HMR program, but you’ll be eating more prepared foods and less fresh fruit or veggies throughout the day.
Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you can go to the 3&3 plan—3 Fuelings and 3 lean homecooked meals. They also have another plan if their main one sounds too extreme. This is the 4&2&1 plan which is 4 Fuelings, 2 meals high in protein and greens, and one healthy snack.
Fifth place: Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers is all about community support. One study even found that overweight and obese people were 9 times more likely to lose 10% of their body weight on Weight Watchers vs a self-guided kind of plan. With Weight Watchers, you can choose the level of plan for yourself, whether you want online chat support, phone support, or in-person meetings.
None of their plans include food costs, because you’re encouraged to eat whatever food you want. They assign a point value to any food you could choose, and you only have so many points to spend in a day. Some foods have zero points, and you’re actually allowed to eat as much of these as you want. One of those foods is grilled chicken breast. Their reasoning is that you’d get full from 0 point foods before there would be any effect on weight gain.
The people you chat with online or by phone are trained to help dieters along in their journey, and they are all people who have lost weight with Weight Watchers and kept it off. Average results are losing 1-2 lbs per week.
Sixth Place: The Biggest Loser Diet
This diet is a spin off of the popular show The Biggest Loser. All you have to do to start the diet is to buy one of their books and go grocery shopping—there are no meal subscriptions or monthly fees. It’s a good thing too because this plan is the most generic of the ones we’ve looked at so far.
The basics of this diet are just that: basic. It includes keeping a food journal, eating balanced meals, and exercising. If you follow the diet, you’ll get about 45% of your energy from carbs, 30% from protein, and 20% from fats. They do have one hard and fast rule: don’t eat any more than 200 calories in “extras,” which can be anything from sweets to snacks.
Since this diet doesn’t ban any specific food groups, it can be easier to stick it to. You’re allowed to eat out, you just have to control your portions and what you eat. This diet should get you in the ballpark of losing 1-2 lbs per week if you include exercise.
Seventh Place: Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig is another program that provides personalized coaching. Each of their plans includes at least weekly coaching, paid for monthly. In addition to coaching, Jenny Craig provides pre-made meals to participants. There are two phases on Jenny Craig. The first phase requires you to eat three Jenny meals and a snack per day, plus five servings of fruits or veggies.
You’ll meet with your counselor in person or via phone. Each counselor is trained to help you continue on the diet, though they don’t have to be certified nutritionists. Phase two starts when you’ve made it halfway to your weight goal, you can start cooking for yourself—twice a week. And once you’ve hit your goal, you’ll start a transition out of the program. People on Jenny Craig report losing 1 lb/week average, with more in some cases.
Decide what’s right for you
Do you need a plan with ongoing coaching? Are you looking for the simplicity of pre-prepped meals? There are many things to consider, but we hope this has been an informative stop on your journey to find a diet for quick weight loss.