Let’s Review the Rankings: The Best and Worst Diet Plans

by Andie Mitchell on October 17, 2012

U.S. News and World Report recently evaluated 25 popular diets. Each was evaluated by a panel of health experts who considered how “relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease the diets were.”

The number one ranking? The DASH Diet. An acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, DASH and was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. DASH emphasizes a well rounded eating lifestyle rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet was number 2 on the list. The TLC diet works by setting a calorie limit and focusing on lowering cholesterol. The top 5 diets were rounded out by The Mayo Clinic Diet and Weight Watchers, both of which focus on counting calories (points) and educating people about food choices, and The Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and seafood.

The worst diets according to U.S. News are the Dukan Diet and the Paleo Diet. The Dukan Diet is a low carb plan which is very heavy in protein. It was considered a poor choice because it has strict elaborate rules that may be hard to follow and the health experts deemed it wasn’t nutritionally balanced.

The Paleo Diet has seen a massive surge in popularity lately. It’s based on the idea that our bodies were not meant to eat any of the processed modern food we currently consume. Its followers are encouraged to eat a diet similar to what humans ate 10,000 years ago which means no dairy or grains. It was ranked last on the list because of the perceived lack of nutritional balance, the cost, and the limited weight loss data.

Of the diets on the list, I can only speak personally about Weight Watchers, which I followed for about 4 months during my 13 month long weight loss. Weight Watchers served as a jumping off point for me, a way to learn the basics of proper nutrition and portion sizes. I respect the plan and I’m eternally grateful for what I gained in the brief period I participated.

But, because this plan is the only one mentioned above that I’m deeply familiar with, you’ll understand why my discussion of the others above seemed rather dry, rather clinical. In truth, I don’t have strong opinions one way or the other about many of them. I see the pros in each, the cons in each, but then- it’s still simply my own judgment, a reflection of my own needs and wants in choosing an eating lifestyle.  For this reason, I’m eager to hear your thoughts in the comment section. I believe you know me well by now. So I hope it comes as no surprise to you that my feelings about particular diets (Weight Watchers included) always begin and end with this: all I could ever want for myself, and you, is that we find a way of eating that suits us. A plan that doesn’t feel cage-like, that gives us breathing room and peace of mind.

Now, it’s your turn. Which diets or lifestyles have you tried? How do you feel about the rankings?

Click here to read the full report.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin October 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I’ve tried a lot of different diets but have never been able to stick to one long term. Mostly because they weren’t practical. I would limit myself to eating only Lean Cuisines or no bread or only salads and eventually I would always break and gorge on everything I had been depriving myself of. About a month ago I decided to approach my eating in a different way. I can eat whatever I want as long as I stay under 1200 calories a day and I track my calories on the myfitnesspal app. It has worked so well! I have the freedom to eat what I want but the discipline to stretch my calories out over the entire day and “splurge” on a cookie or some chips if I have the calories left over at the end of the day. It’s the most empowering I’ve ever felt when it comes to food. And I do not weigh myself ever. The scales only discourage me so I judge only by the way my clothes fit. Thank you for your encouraging blog posts. You’re inspiring!

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Anne November 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I did this exact same thing last year with the same app, and lost about 3 sizes (I’ve never prescribed to weighing myself so I’m not sure how many lbs I lost). I also did zumba strength training while loosing this weight. Then about a year into it I started daily cardio and became so hungry that I had no ability to stick to the diet anymore. Having restricted my calories so much for so long caused my body to be confused by the surplus of calories and I gained back all my weight within 2 months.

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Elizabeth October 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Firstly, your website upgrade is awesome! Secondly, anything deemed “low fat” like the DASH diet was tough for me. I was ALWAYS HUNGRY! And strangely when I allowed myself to eat- choosing the most unprocessed, natural food- my fat content is always in range. You won’t find skim milk or low fat yogurt in my fridge- whole milk all the way baby! I just find I feel full using a whole product rather than a sugar laden “low fat” product.

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Sarah October 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Agreed – I don’t drink a ton of milk, but I do eat a lot of yogurt. Switching from non-fat to 2% or whole milk yogurt REALLY increases my satiety with those products. Plus, oh so creamy and delicious (and really not that many more cals).

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Dan October 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Calorie counting combined with psychology and motivational reading turned out to be the best for me. Guess everybody has to find their own way…

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Sonal October 18, 2012 at 2:12 am

I agree with your last couple of sentences completely which is why i have never actually tried these diets. I know a day in and i’ll feel so restricted and craving will take over. Unintentionally I do agree with the Paleo diet in the sense of eating whole foods and avoiding dairy (but that is because I am lactose intolerant) :)

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T October 18, 2012 at 3:51 am

The lifestyle I lead right now, and the one that has been most successful for me, was inspired by you. Enjoy everything, but enjoy everything in moderation. I make sure to eat breakfast every morning, I have a big, satisfying salad for lunch, and dinner is something delicious paired with a mound of equally delicious vegetables. You’ve truly helped me understand how to listen to my body, how to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, and go for dessert at the end of the day (without eating the whole plate/box/container of dessert). It’s working well :)

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Alisha October 18, 2012 at 5:11 am

I started with myfitnesspal back in January with the whole 1200 calories thing. Man did I get sick of salad. But over time with that app, I’ve lost 30 pounds (29.2 lol), I eat about 1700 calories a day and roughly maintain my weight. I haven’t cut too much out. I don’t eat red meat nor do I drink cow’s milk – but I didnt do much of either before. I try to avoid white breads, choosing wheat instead. I’m currently trying to stop using splenda so much and just appreciate the ways things taste without added sugar. I make sure I get enough protein, I eat 2% yogurt instead of the non-fat stuff, plenty of fruits and veggies…

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Erin October 18, 2012 at 5:33 am

I tried the Atkins diet in my late teens. I lost ten pounds but I found myself exhausted and frequently light headed. I also had a lot of stomach upset from the sugar alcohols in the Atkins Brand foods.

The last year of undergraduate studies, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and was hospitalized. My insurance would not pay for more than a week of treatment and I left without gaining much insight on how to be healthy. I exercised and ate as healthy as I could but I then found myself obsessing over exercise. It was only until I became pregnant with my first son that I knew that my severely disordered eating needed to stop.

Breastfeeding did wonders for me. I lost all but a few pounds of my pregnancy weight. But then I became pregnant again and gained too much weight. Two months after bringing home my second son early this year I found myself stuck about 30 pounds over my prepregnancy weight.

I decided to try WeightWatchers and I haven’t looked back. Like you, it taught me about proper nutrition and portion sizes. I have been able to achieve my lowest weight in a HEALTHY WAY and I have been able to keep it off for a couple months now. I do not consider it a diet, but a lifestyle change. I have more energy and I feel healthier.

There are still times when disordered eating creeps up on me. I am an all or nothing girl and that can be difficult to manage when focusing on eating habits. But I am getting there…

Great post!

After I had my second baby this April,

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Donna October 18, 2012 at 5:55 am

Hi Andie,

I’m a newcomer to your blog and just love it. You write with a clear and beautiful voice. Best of luck on your book venture, too!

I am currently on Weight Watchers, the first serious effort I’ve ever made at losing weight. I’m 47 and don’t have a whole lot to lose, but I have experienced the middle aged spread (or was it that my mother in law moved nearby and I put on 20 lbs in 2 years?? :-) I’ve been slowly taking off these lbs that have crept on. Slow and steady wins the race, huh?

I agree with you completely. I dabbled in low carb, but couldn’t last more than 2 weeks, too narrow and not well rounded. For me, Weight Watchers is just about direction, not restriction. Helping me to stay on my own right path. I think I’ll do well without it, too. I just needed a little push.

Keep up the good work, sister!

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Linda Sue October 18, 2012 at 6:09 am

I am much older (I think) than most of your readers – I’ve had more decades to try every diet around (soup diet, medifast, optifast,nutrisystem, blah blah blah) anything works for a while then I want to eat Real Food. I am a very good cook and it is my one real life skill – so I like to cook. Being recently widowed and living alone I’m learning to make a single portion or at the most two of something so I don’t have to eat same food for a week. I did MyFitnessPal a little while – really brought home to me the necessity of variety and portion control So now I have a nice digital scale on kitchen counter and watch my protein intake (I need more protein than the average bear apparently) – if I’m getting plenty of protein and a variety of fruits/veggies I do well. Down about 12 pounds – need to lose at least 30 more to be in healthy bmi range for moderately active little old lady. OH and I was weak one lonely night and ordered that infomercial diet Food Lovers Fat Loss System – sent that one back! I gained weight on it!
Thanks for a practical approach to eating – Oh and I never eat white bread – whole grains only.

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Jennifer October 18, 2012 at 6:28 am

We tried the “clean eating” diet for 10 full days. I really liked the premise of the diet, but I felt it was a tad too constrictive. We checked ingredients on everything,(which we will do from now on & should have done before) I found that SO MANY of the foods we eat have ingredients that we may not have thought. Even though they say “All natural”, they could till have HFCS & other ingredients that we many not want in our diet.

I do have about 60 pounds to lose, and I know I need to cut back on the sweets. I think of all the “diets” out there, yours is the best. Moderation. Not completely cutting out a whole food group. Sounds too constrictive, since I will eat pretty much anything.

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Deena October 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

I am a Weight Watcher and I love your blog. I have been through a couple of the WW changes from Points to Points Plus as well as Simply Filling and the Core plans. The current plan is the best for me. Once I accepted that it took 37 years to put this weight on and it would take time to take it off the WW plan is very easy to follow and maintain.
I enjoy the flexability of the plan. I can cook for my family and I don’t have to make seperate things for myself. WW’s key is portion control which for me has always been a struggle.
Andi, you inspire me on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing.

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Johanna October 18, 2012 at 6:49 am

What I find most interesting about this article, is that a panel of experts is telling us what we really all already know. The healthiest “diets” are a lifestyle that emphasizes moderation, keeping an eye on portion size, eating lots fruits and vegetables and only a little bit of saturated fat. Yet when we find ourselves needing to lose weight — whether it’s a significant amount because our health is at risk, or five pounds because we were totally unprepared for that beach vacation– we look to something that’s going to work faster than a lifestyle of moderation, and perhaps more importantly we crave rules.

I’ve been there– I found myself carrying a few extra pounds after my Sophomore year of college, and did the South Beach diet over the summer. Combined with a gym membership, it certainly helped. The diet didn’t stick, but the exercise routine did — I learned that while I could teach myself to love exercise, I can never teach myself not to love chocolate and cheese. My favorite “diet” is the active lifestyle.

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Cinnamon Vogue October 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

Johanna is right. Moderation and Portion size is the key. But this is the hardest part.

One thing I observed when I lived in Hong Kong was that the Chinese on the whole are slim. Our family concluded it was because they drink Chinese tea during meals and eat fewer sweets than us Americans.

Lately I feel the best strategy to control portion size and quality is to do a PATTERN INTERRUPT. I got this idea from a Tony Robbins book. Pattern interrupt is a process to stop you from making the same mistakes over and over again.

We all know what needs to be done, but nobody tells us how to do it consistently. How can you not fall to temptation but also feel happy and satisfied with what you eat day in day out? I have decided the best pattern interrupt system is to keep a Camera Phone Picture Diary. Meaning taking a picture of everything you eat. Since most people have a Camera phone this should be easy to do. Hopefully that will highlight the mistakes in what I eat.

Andie how about doing a Camera phone diary for 30 days? We would love to see what you ate.

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Shannon October 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

I really like the idea of camera phone diary. It will be easier than writing down what I eat (that get’s old fast for me).

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Holly Hartzell October 18, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi Andie, Greetings from Minnesota! I have been reading your writing for a bit over a year now, and just appreciate how you are free to be yourself and empower others in a very public forum. In regard to diets, don’t you find it funny that there are so many thousands of diets out there, and none of them really seem to fit each person individually? I like what you said about using WW as a starting and a learning point. It is something you have been able to effectively use for the rest of your life.
I believe if there was more research and resources on how to teach people to do this in their own lives we would be much healthier and happier!
Keep up the great posts. Oh and btw, love your recipes. Keep them coming!!!

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Dava October 18, 2012 at 7:11 am

I lost almost 40 pounds with Weight Watchers. But let me say that I’ve been on diets since I was 7 years old (including many episodes with WW) and I believe that it was my mindset (I’m past 50-let’s get healthy) that got me to goal. WW helped with portion control, nutrition, exercise–a huge reason why it worked this time–and support. I did it the way no overweight person wants to hear: SLOWLY. It took me over a year to do it, but now I have habits and a lifestyle that have me in a better place. The most important key was focusing and being mindful of what I was eating–easier said than done in this hectic world. I now have a greater appreciation for local farmers and more distain for commercially prepared food.

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Michelle in N. Cal October 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

Love the new look on your site Andie! I’ve tried many a diet (and read about even more) and never have heard of their #1 pick, Dash. WW, South Beach, Clean Eating all worked pretty well for me considering what phase of life I was in when I did them.

I am struggling to lose the ten pounds I gained over the summer and I know I am only holding on to the weight because I need to start the “sweat more diet”. I am about four years into maintaining a forty pound weight loss and all the things I’ve learned seem to be working for me overall (portion control, getting in more protein, less sugar, being aware of my emotional eating). When my weight creeps up as it has, exercise is usually the missing component.

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Natasha October 18, 2012 at 7:34 am

Andie – I would like to pose a question…I think your blog is infomative and supportive…I would like to know if you have truly “maintained” your 135 pound weight loss. The pictures you shared with us of your trip to the Dominican – showed a pic of you – you looked beautiful btw – and you seemed heavier…if this is to be true – then I ask that you allow us to know this…a fluctuation in weight is not a bad thing…and I for one would like you to be forthright as walking the talk is paramount…yes?
With respect and admiration of who you are from the inside out.
- Natasha

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Serena October 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm

This was harsh. Andie mentioned in a previous blog that she gained weight. For anyone that has tried to lose/maintain weight that it’s not easy. I’m sure everyone goes through ups and downs during their weight loss journey.

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Michelle October 20, 2012 at 9:59 am

Natasha,
Think before you speak, but in this case read before you write! Andie has been open and honest about her losses and fluctuations. By the way, sandwiching a implied criticism between compliments is rude.

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Natasha October 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I have thought and read… – and it is important to be transparent. Just as Andie puts herself in an open forum, I am allowed to ask questions. Nothing is implied – it is right there in black and white. We all have our own story…

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Shelley B October 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

You seem like you’re from a different country, so maybe your culture is such that you can say stuff like this and no one will think twice about it, but it comes off as a bit rude to most of us.

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ellie October 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I don’t think Natasha’s question is rude at all. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable question to someone who writes (and makes money) writing about weight-loss. I don’t believe Natasha was implying criticism in any way – I read that she was just asking for transparency given the seeming evidence in Andie’s photos – which may or may not have been the camera lying. I believe walking the talk is paramount – not that anyone expects perfection, but if you put yourslef out there as a weight-loss expert or inspiration then it feels very reasonable that you share the whole story, not just the bits that look or sound good. And to be clear I am not saying that is what Andie does! Natasha asked a question, she in no way made a judgement. I do think that speaking on behalf of thousands of people you don’t know is arrogant, Shelley.

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Natasha October 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm

You are quite sharp Shelley. I do reside in a different country – CANADA. Thank you Ellie – for your intellect, and openminded response.
I am sure all of those who think that my question to Andie was off “colour” (how us Canadian folk spell it…)have spoken your minds, and voiced an opinion at one juncture or another…yes? yes.
enough said.

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admin October 21, 2012 at 10:15 am

Friends,
Natasha and I have emailed back and forth. She is not intending to be unkind, so while I thank you for your support, please know that I find her question valid and I respect her wanting to know.

Yes, I have gained somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds this year. 2012, with all its goodness and blessing, has been challenging emotionally. My post, “On Depression,” speaks only a fraction of this. 2012 has also been the first year that I have worked full time at home, as a writer, and I’ve parted ways with both Seattle and an eight year romantic relationship. I’ve written a memoir that exposes the most intimate details of my life. Not excuses, merely context.

I am ever-striving to live in and through my beliefs with regard to health and well-being. I am accepting and changing and open. I am, as always, balancing. The thirteen-ish pounds are not saturated with shame. In life, these fluctuations will come to me, and I’ll have to own them in the same way I own the other parts of me. They’ll go, slow and steady and without graying more of my hair, when I am, and they are, ready.

If I know one thing, it’s the value of being honest. In fact, I dare say its the whole vibe of this blog- me, being open, being as vulnerable as I’m able. And, it.is.hard. at times. It’s hard because I’m tender and sensitive, I bruise easily, I cry, and I feel deeply. Transparency is, always has been, and shall remain, my goal.

With more thigh jiggle,
Andie

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Natasha October 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

Sing it Sister…thank you – with love and tenderness.
- Natasha

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Jacey October 18, 2012 at 7:42 am

I first want to say “thank you.” Your blog and your incredible gift of expression have changed the way I approach this weight loss business. I have a lot of weight to lose and have carried it around for many years. I lost 60 several years ago, needed to lose more but felt great, then started to see it come back a few years ago. When I re-energized my efforts to lose again, it just wasn’t happening for me. Those first 60 had melted off, but this time, it was hard. Painstakingly hard. I have spent the last few years losing and gaining the same few pounds, frustrated when I did not see Biggest Loser-type numbers on the scale, which caused me to get discouraged and give up and eat a box of Zingers (the yellow ones, of course. They’re the best).

Your blog and your feelings about food and weight loss struck a chord with me. You learned to quit beating up your body with exercise and to just enjoy moving. You sit down and savor your food. You eat real meals instead of tiny little snacks all day long. You eat treats, for crying out loud! Your approach to your health and your weight are all about common sense. As I read through some of your old posts, my feelings about my own body and my own fat cells shifted. I realized that I needed to just learn to eat in a way that works for me, sensibly of course, and to just move every day, without trying to punish my body for being naughty with food. The only results I’d seen from doing that over the past few years were zero weight loss and injuries. Now that I’ve adopted your attitude, or at least am trying to, I’m seeing slow but sure results, and I’m learning to just be OK with that, rather than crying and throwing my scale through the window when it doesn’t cooperate with me. You probably think I’m kidding about that.

I’ve learned that slow, steady results are OK. They’re a move in the right direction. I can enjoy sitting down to a meal, as long as I’m keeping my calories in check and making sure I’m eating more of the things that are good for me and less of the crap (like Zingers). I am most grateful to you for your perspective and for your willingness to share it with the rest of us strugglers.

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JR October 18, 2012 at 8:08 am

I started trying to a follow Nourishing Traditions/Real Food-style diet, but I found that it was too hard/expensive to buy some of the foods. Plus, I don’t do organ meat (muscle is meat, organs are not) or a ton of sea food. It did teach me to be more conscious about eating whole, unprocessed foods, though. I then heard about “Wheat Belly” and the Paleo Diet, but I LOVE bread, so I knew I’d never be able to stick to these ones very strictly. However, I have been experimenting with reducing my wheat intake–I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. Most recently, I stumbled across your site and was impressed with your “eat what you like, but only a bit, plus a ton of plants” philosophy. So now I do something of a combination of all of the above. I was borderline overweight according to my BMI, so I’m on restricted calories right now, but I don’t feel too deprived, and I know that once I’m able to go back to 1800 or 2000 calories, I won’t feel deprived at all (and I’m greatly looking forward to saying adios to some flub).

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CHS October 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

I lost 60 pounds on Weight Watchers three years ago. I widely recommend Weight Watchers to friends and family because even a short period of time on the program arms you with the tools that you need to maintain a healthy diet without it. Plus, as long as you follow it faithfully, you are likely to lose weight at a steady pace.

Now that I am no longer trying to lose weight, I have replaced my diet with a food philosophy. I eat primarily fruit, vegetables, and whole grains (very little meat, very rarely), and I belong to an awesome CSA. I don’t count calories or prohibit any foods, and as a result I consume more fat (in the form of olive oil, nuts, chocolate, which I simply can’t resist, and full-fat dairy, which just tastes better) than I ever could have on the WW system. It looks like my body has found a balance – without actively trying, I am maintaining the healthy weight that I achieved on WW.

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Rachael October 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Andie,

I have followed your blog for quite awhile, basically since I graduated college and started focusing on my health and diet. I gained quite a bit of weight in school and by the time I graduated I was more than 25lbs over where I wanted to be. I was pretty miserable.

Over the next two and a half years I worked out a lot, ate healthier foods month by month as I learned more about nutrition, and eventually lost about 20lbs but could NEVER get past the last 5 and the bloated way I always felt. Last month I stumbled upon the book It Starts With Food which explains a 30 day “reset” of your diet so you can find out which foods or food groups you personally should avoid. It is pretty much a very strict version of paleo. I am 17 days into the 30 and have literally never felt this good. I eat only three times per day and stay full for 6-7 hours! I eat much more fat than I ever have and never crave sweets anymore! I am pretty much astounded. I am surprised that the paleo diet ranked last and it proves that people don’t really understand what the program actually entails. The whole9 forum (website for the Whole30 program) is full of people sharing their experiences, struggles, and successes and it is incredible to read.

I have no ties to the program, I just know that personally I feel tr best I ever have in my life and I have a much better relationship with food to boot! Check out http://www.whole9life.com if you are interested!

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Rebecca October 19, 2012 at 7:23 am

I too am trying this “reset” in the hopes that I can find a reason for my fatigue and chronic joint pain. I do not want to go to a doctor and have them give me a generic guess and put me on a prescription merry-go-round. I am going to try this simple test myself first.

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Dukebdc October 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

Very interesting report–I enjoyed your analysis and making the full report available to readers.

I have been a vegetarian for 13 years, so I guess that is my “diet” of choice. Given the prevalance of meat-eating in this country, I was surprised it ranked as high as #10. I am also surprised it was ranked BELOW the Ornish diet, which is a very strict low-fat vegetarian diet that is challenging to follow even for mainstream vegetarians like me.

Being a vegetarian frees me to focus on just a few things: reducing empty calories, and keeping an eye on protein and fiber. It is not a slam-dunk for weight loss–obviously you can’t eat a cheese pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, drown it with a Coke and expect to lose weight, but I do wish the general public looked at the diet as a healthy eating alternative, rather than a just a weight-loss effort.

I’ll never forget a woman I met a few years ago. She was dating a friend of mine, and came along to my birthday dinner that year. She heard I was a vegetarian and asked how long I intended to stay vegetarian. Confused, I told her I intended to stay on it forever. She replied, “Oh! I thought you were just doing it to lose weight!” Uh, thanks lady, for calling me fat on my birthday. ;)

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Rachel October 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thank you, Andie, for all your wonderful informative posts. I just found your blog a couple weeks ago and have been working my way reading through them starting with your earliest posts to the current ones. I am learning so much! I am inspired by your story and myself needed to lose about 90 lbs. Since following some of your ideas and starting to get moving and exercise more, I have lost 10 lbs of the 90 needed already in two weeks. I look forward to losing more.

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KT October 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

Hi Andie,

I am new to your blog and have powered through reading the entirety over the past week. I am at the beginning of my weight loss journey and have a long way to go. I have found loads of inspiration in your posts. Since I have finished your blog now, I was wondering if you could recommend some further reading on healthy eating and weight loss so that I can continue my education on nutrition. It would be much appreciated.

Love your recipes as well! I have already made your coconut coated chicken, the banana oatmeal, and a bunch of different lunch salads!

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Mindy October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

I’m a calorie counter – sometimes too much. Lately I’m trying to not restrict any foods (I LOVE my sweets!) but trying to learn to be reasonable. I truly try to eat as healthy and whole food as I can for all three meals and then allow myself some “splurge” calories – though truthfully I need to get those a bit more under control.

I have several friends who do WW and they all seem to love it!

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Lily Fluffbottom October 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

I feel like I’ve tried them all, but really I’ve only ever done Atkins, weight watchers and random bouts of calorie restriction that resulted in bingeing. I’m doing Weight Watchers online right now, and its’ been interesting. I still feel like I’m missing the magic piece that’ll pull it all together for me, but I’m excited because I’m pretty sure I’m ready.

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Sarah October 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers. I strongly believe that it is an excellent way to teach people what healthy is all about – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low fat dairy. It gave me the knowledge to know what a good food pick is versus a bad food pick without having to calculate points. After a while, I stopped doing Weight Watchers and just counted calories just to make sure I wasn’t over eating (which is hard for me not to do.) I’ve gained about 10 pounds back, so that clearly wasn’t the right choice. I started Weight Watchers again yesterday and am mentally prepping myself to be committed and stick with it. “It’s only 10 pounds – you’ve done this before and you can do it again!”

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Lindsay October 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Diets for me didn’t work as they were too prescriptive and didn’t jive with my lifestyle. I think WW provides the same sense of empowerment that you can choose what you want.

I lost roughly 35 pounds after reading Bethenny Frankle’s SkinnyGirl book. This book gave me the empowerment that I could be thin. That I was a grownup and could make my own decisions about food based on what my body wanted and ate reasonably. It was a lifestyle change and it worked for me. And I was READY. I was ready to make a change for the better and forever.

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Shawna October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

heyy… diggin the new look, Andie (and Camille!) :)

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Sylvia October 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I usually don’t ever like when my favorite blogs change format, but I do like this a lot.

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Leslie October 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Call me a conspiracy theorist but who was funding that study? Probably the same people who invented the absurdly unhealthy food pyramid. From my outrage you can probably guess that I have gone Paleo-ish. I’ve lost 50lbs in 6 months and have never felt weak or hungry. What I like about this style of eating is that although it’s restrictive it is incredibly freeing. If you can stick with it your energy will be stable and your cravings will diminish. I have tried many many diets and they didn’t work for me. I think some of us are very carb sensitive and diets that allow a lot of whole grains can sabotage our efforts. I also like that Paleo blames the sugar not the person. I am not a food monster, sugar makes me one. I liken it to gun control,laws. I feel like guns are bad and should be banned, others think that people can control themselves and use them in moderation. I am just not that trusting I guess ;0)

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Leslie October 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Also I am kidding about the funding/conspiracy thingie. Trying to keep it light, not sure if humor shined through

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ellie October 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

It’s a shame you were kidding, I think you’re absolutely right :-)

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Pamela October 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I, too, am losing on the Paleo diet and it is so easy. I replace flour with Almond flour, fry things in coconut oil, and eat vegetables, fruits, meats, and healthy fats. I have been very satisfied and I live with other family members who are carb-a-holics. I feel healthier, more energetic, and my mind is clearer. I don’t find it expensive or the ingredients hard to find.

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Em October 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm

The Paleo diet isn’t all bad, people got doughier after processed and simple cards were introduced. Some complex carbs are ok, but the 8 servings of grain on Canada food guide is ridiculous (it’s funded by the dairy and grain producers, not reliable in my mind) and the Paleo diet focuses on exercise. We were meant to sprint and play. It’s why sprinters have lean muscle and marathon runners look malnourished. A marathon was named after the first man to run to Marathon, Greece over whatever distance a modern marathon is. He dropped dead on arrIval. The Paleo diet, unless taken extremely, emphasizes a natural diet rich in leafy greens, nuts, protein, and exercise that challenges you for short powerful bursts.

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Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) October 19, 2012 at 3:52 am

To me, a diet is a way of life. So I like your thoughts on the matter, that any diet should offer us breathing room.

Lots of veggies. Whole grains. Lean protein. Fresh fruits. That’s the basics. The rest comes down to how much? Portions are everything, as is what goes on TOP of those foods. A 9″ plate filled half with vegetables, 1/4 with grains and 1/4 with protein is always a smart idea, and learning how this “plate method” can apply to things like salads and such, is a really nice visual guide.

Oh, and chocolate should always be available in any healthy lifestyle. Because that’s a necessity too, right? :D

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Brenda October 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Devi October 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm

As a mom my priority is not to give my kids food issues, so we make a family dinner each night and I eat that in correct portions with the family no matter what.

To keep my weight and health in check-I reach for fruit in the mornings (the sugar keeps me awake and the juiciness is fabulous since I wake up wanting to chug water), then I see if I am hungry still and eat something eles if needed. For lunch its always a salad with whatever we have thrown on it. In the warm? Seattle weather I have iced tea and now this is when my one cup of sweetened coffee with half and half comes into the picture.

Years of struggling has proven for me that putting something in the NO column makes me just run after it. So nothing off limits, but the longer I keep eating real food, the less I ever crave or enjoy junky chemical laden stuff.

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Leanne October 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

I think it depends on the person and it has a lot to do with the thinking. I have tried many different diets, but just haven’t been ready. Now that I am ready, it makes such a difference. I have tried WW, but I was ALWAYS hungry. And when I was hungry, I would always cave and I wasn’t nice to live with to be honest.
Right now I am trying to follow a low carb eating plan. Lots of protein, healthy fats, and veggies. I have found that by doing this it has largely turned off my need for sweets and I have ALWAYS been a huge sweet-tooth. I know that right now I am forced to eat less carbs than when I am at a maintenance weight.

The other thing I am doing is planning my cheats ahead of time. That way I mentally prepare for them and I can say no to more things in the moment because I know that I have a planned cheat coming.

This is what is working for me and it is difference for everyone.

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Beth October 22, 2012 at 7:12 pm

It’s simple Math: Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight. Myfitnesspal helped me keep up with this simple math (1200 calories a day) and I lost 1-1.5 a week until I was at my goal weight. I was able to eat healthy but also splurge some of my calories on sweets or a cheeseburger here and there so I never felt deprived. No fad diet is going replace this simple tried and true formula.

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Amie October 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

Did you see the success/fail votes? Weight Watchers is the only plan with more success votes than fails. At this point in the voting, it succeeds more than twice as often as it fails. I agree with you. WW teaches those with poor eating habits so much about discipline, alternatives and good nutrition. It works in the long run because it can help change behaviors, not just food intake. It’s a solid place to start.

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Anna October 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I have used the lose-it app on my phone and have had great success! The app has tons of food available and adjust how many calories you need per day based on your height, weight, sex and age. It has all sorts of foods in it. Combining this app with plenty of research on how to eat a balanced, healthy diet has helped me completely change my eating habits and my body!

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Natasha October 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Hi Andie,
I just want to let you know that you have been a huge inspiration to me throughout my weight loss journey. I’m only 22 years old, and as I was reading about how you felt during college it was like I had written it. I one day realized that you only have 10 years to be in your 20′s and I didn’t want to live mine embarrassed to leave my apartment. I missed out on many great opportunities because of how I looked/felt and it was then I decided to make a change. I did some research, found your blog, and finally got motivated to drop this extra weight.

I need to lose a total of 70 pounds to put me at my goal weight and so far I’ve lost 35 lbs by following the Paleo diet. Not only did I drop 35 lbs, but my face cleared up and actually looked like it was glowing. (I’ve never had acne but I have had trouble with pimples since I was young.. nothing serious, just annoying for a young girl!) Now that I have lost 35 lbs and know how hard it was, the next 35 seem to be hanging over my shoulder. I really, really, really, would love to start exercising but I lack total motivation to do so and I don’t know how to start. I’m clueless when it comes to exercise and I guess my question is How do you get motivated to do this? How do you keep doing it? and How do you keep reminding yourself that there is a light at the end of this never-ending dark tunnel? I know that it will be worth it in the end but the end just seems so far away! Every time I read a weight loss success story it gives me some hope and I want to eventually be that hope for someone else.

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Stephanie November 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I have started and quit WW many times, and failed more times than succeeded. And every time i fell off the wagon i ended up gaining even more weigt than i lost ugh! I know I could have stuck to it better and used my points more wisely,but I need more boundaries for losing weight. I had my baby 4 months ago and recently decided I need a drastic change to my diet so I started South Beach. I’m still in the first week and my clothes already feel looser and I feel better. It is really hard, but I am looking forward to week 3 when I can reintroduce multigrain breads and fruits.

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Lauren November 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I am in my late 20′s and have been struggling for a healthy, moderate belief system about food and my body since I was a very young girl. Aiming for a lot of veggies helps regulate my propensity toward black/or white, bulimic thinking. Not surprising, myfitnesspal is my comforting gadget but ultimately, my undoing (“I can’t go a single calorie over #, or I’m done for the day and might as well binge and purge”). The theme of being “ready” (to begin a change/to add exercise/to lose weight) throughout several posts is interesting to me because I don’t even have strong cravings for foods I harbor guilt about, but it feels like the more I think about food at all, the farther away I find myself from goals of upper calorie limit and sugar intake. What I hate most is when thoughts of food comprise 80% of my mental energy.
Thank you for your blog. It is a great comfort for shared feelings and community.

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Alicia November 8, 2012 at 8:07 am

I am not one to usually try the latest diet fad. That being said… When I saw my brother in law and sister in law have great success with the Dukan Diet my husband and I decided to try it. It works really well but it is a lot of work and with three kids it was too much work. It also felt impossible to try and eat as much protien as they were saying to eat. Seriously my jaw decided chewing wasn’t an option after three weeks. So that and having three kids was just..well the end. I had tried Weight Watchers when I had my first baby because it was thru a fitness thing at my work (when I worked) that was free. It worked and was easy to do. When I happened upon your blog it was the perfect timing. As I kid I struggled with an eating disorder. When I had kids my body changed and I haven’t really tried hard to loose the weight. It is stressful as a mom to try to fit it all in. After I read your blog I felt better. I realized I just need to be happy and healthy and not stress it. Your recipes are delicious and your blog is super inspiring. I love how real you are and you aren’t selling any form of weight loss magic you are you and real. It is rare to find that. Thank you! Also my children and husband thank you!

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Danielle November 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

Hey there! I’m new to the blog and new to changing my lifestyle, but my hubby and I have been doing the Mayo Clinic diet. I personally love it, but I don’t know that I follow it 100%. What is has taught me is that if I eat the fruits and veggie servings I should have daily, along with whole grains, I don’t have room for sugary stuff! I tried Weight Watchers in the past, but I think I am just coming to terms with the fact that I am NOT a calorie/point counter. :) The Mayo Clinic diet does recommend counting calories after two weeks of strict dieting, but I will just continue eating the good stuff and I think the calories will balance themselves out. (Hopefully I’m not just being naive.)

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Mary November 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

Please take the time to follow Andie and do pay attention to the study that she referenced. I have a degree in nutrition and have spent years in continuing education. Diets do not work in the long run. Proper eating, much like the Weight Watchers program, is a lifestyle that will allow for a safe reasonable weight loss. The weight can be maintained if one continues to eat in healthy moderation. With that said, exercise is of course important and it is possible to splurge now and then so as not to give up favorite foods!

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Janet November 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I’ve been on the ‘Stefano Pinto C Diet’ for two months. I’ve lost a modest 10 pounds, and I’m never hungry. I don’t count calories, but I’ve learned to eat sensibly and to apply what I already know in my heart is good for me. The diet is all done through social media (Facebook/Instagram) and it’s fun — I have to photograph everything I eat and email the photo to Stefan, who posts it to my group. He does have supporting brands that we are encouraged to try out, and they’re all great products that I can find at my local. I’m 49 and my goal over 3 months was to loose 10. Now I’m aiming for another 10 and I think I can do it. The best thing is I feel like I”ve broken free of the binging on sweets and fatty foods. I look at them now and think… Yuck! How could I have eaten that? Love your site!!!

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Stephanie Hanson November 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

I began my weight loss journey in January of this year and thus far I have lost 21.5 pounds (give or take depending on the day due to consumption of salt, etc.). I used the My Fitness Pal app and increased the level of cardio. It took me ten months to lose 21.5 pounds, but I tried really hard not to deprive myself if I wanted something. For me it is all about balance – and if that means a slice of cake to balance out my day, then so be it! I have a lot of friends who are into cleanse type diets and I just can’t do it – it’s just not realistic long term. The best method for me is tracking calories in, calories out – but that is what’s best for me, not necessarily the rest of the world. So far I have maintained for the most part, but it’s difficult not to be hard on yourself when you gain a few pounds here and there. But that’s when I know that I need to switch things up, either with food or exercise.

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Kandyce November 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Last year I started essentially counting calories with the goal to not feel deprived. I got a personal trainer and kept a food diary, The verdict, eat what i like, but first eat a ton of veggies, and eat fat. full fat dairy, olive oil, animal fat. avoid fat substitutes, which are often sugars. Shop the edges of the store most of the time. Move. I lost 27 lbs in three months. Then i got pregnant and ate whatever would stay down and hopped back on the sugar train (I didn’t avoid sugar before, just ate a lot less and usually in honey or maple syrup form). I will be going back to that way of eating soon, mostly because I generally enjoyed it and felt good.

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queenfan December 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I have struggled with my weight most of my life. The side of the family I take after tends toward carrying a little extra. I have always been healthy and active, then about 10 years ago my depression worsened and, like many people with the disease, I turned to food. Over the last 4 years I have lost roughly 70 pounds; I gained about 10 back, and hope to either lose it again or at least make it stop jiggling. :) Part of this was due to developing a gluten intolerance, so a reduction in processed foods helped, and then last year I became rather ill. I do not recommend that route.
I have always had what is politely called a “sensitive tummy,” so I just avoid certain foods, but I am also allergic to others. I eat mainly chicken or pork; maybe once a week red meat, but usually less than that. Rice and oats are the only grains I can eat without issue, and once in a while I can have white bread. Whole wheat makes me very, very sick. I avoid diet anything like the plague, and if I want something, I’ll eat it, but instead of the huge portions I used to eat I eat normal sizes. It’s all about moderation and exercise. There are no real secrets to this and no quick fixes, either.

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Beth December 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I really like Weight Watchers. It’s worked for me in the past and now that I’ve had my son, I’ll start up again to lose the baby weight (and then some). It’s easy to follow and gives you room for real life.

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Online Sunshine February 17, 2013 at 12:23 am

I’m surprised that The 17-Day Diet wasn’t on the list. It’s similar to the Adkins diet in that it wants you to get away from unhealthy carbs.

I don’t think this diet is for everyone, especially if you have other people in the house who you have to cook separately for. But for me, it’s just my husband and I and we both agreed to do it together.

My husband had blood-work done after he had been on the diet for a couple of months and his bad cholesterol had gone down a lot and his doctor said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”

The diet has three cycles, and knowing what you’re supposed to eat on which day can kind of get confusing, so I made a spreadsheet for each day’s meals so that I always knew ahead of time what we would be having. Have a plan in place really helped me not blow my diet.

The thing I liked about this diet is there is no counting calories or fat grams or points or anything. It’s just about healthy choices.

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Beth February 26, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I am currently on weight watchers. Your recipes look so delicious!! I see that a couple of the recipes have the nutritional value at the end and some do not. It’s helpful to have the information so the points can be calculated. Is there a reason that some do not?

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