As someone who has tried a fair few different diets over the years, it’s safe to say that finding the right one for you can be challenging.
In this guide, I’ll share all you need to know about every diet there is, including what you can (or can’t) eat, any health benefits or implications, and the essential pros and cons.
With the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to decide which diet is best for you, your body, and your lifestyle, whether that’s cutting out certain foods, adding in new ingredients, or counting calories.
The right diet for you is just that – the right diet for you. What works for one person might not work for the next, and it’s always worth bearing that in mind before you get started.
You need to consider various factors when deciding to change your diet. First of all, your taste preferences are very important. If you don’t like what the diet is telling you to eat, then you won’t stick to it, and you won’t want to either.
But health implications are also important. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, following a diet high in grains and legumes probably won’t be your best fit. The same goes for any other allergies or intolerances.
It’s also worth thinking about other health conditions you have, or might be at risk of. Consider whether you have a family history of conditions that a diet can affect, such as diabetes or heart disease.
And last but not least, remember why you’re switching up your diet. If you want to lose weight, finding a diet with a sustainable calorie deficit will be just fine. But if you’re looking to add a few pounds, or you just want to improve your overall health, cutting down calories isn’t the way to go.
Remember that dieting doesn’t have to be difficult, and it certainly doesn’t have to cost you your entire paycheck, either. There are easy ways to eat healthy on a budget, no matter your goal. A few simple swaps here and there could be all it takes to lose those few pounds or increase your nutrient levels.
No matter what a diet tells you to cut out or add to your plate, some factors should always stay the same.
Lifestyle habits like your sleep, hydration, and activity levels, are essential for your overall well-being, and they’re also crucial for maximizing the success of your diet.
Any dietary changes are always worth discussing with your doctor first. They know you and all about your health, so they can also tell you what might or might not work so well. Plus, they can put your mind at ease about any potential health implications.
Although there are plenty of diets to choose from, it doesn’t mean they’re all good ones to follow.
Fad diets are more than just a fad. Most of the time, they’re dangerous and damaging to your health – which is exactly why it pays to be aware of them.
The wrong diet can cause horrible side effects like nausea, headaches, low energy, and malnutrition. And more often than not, fad diets lead to weight gain once the diet is over.
A good diet should be easy to stick to and be sustainable in the long term. But fad diets are usually the very opposite. Aside from the harmful health side effects, fad diets can be downright painful and boring to endure, especially when you’re left feeling very hungry.
So how do you spot a fad diet? Here are four key giveaways to help you know a fad diet when you see one.
Drastic calorie cutting
Fad diets usually have a very low calorie intake to increase sudden weight loss. As you’d expect, this can be dangerous, especially if you create a deficit of more than 500 calories a day. And most of the time, it’s only water that you lose.
Many fad diets promise a ‘magic’ pill, powder, or herb to kickstart weight loss, claiming that you won’t need to do any other type of ‘dieting’ alongside the supplement. Or they suggest that your actual input is minimal, because the magic supplement does all the work. But the only thing you’re losing is money.
Extreme limits on certain types of foods
You’ll usually find that fad diets completely cut out food groups, or label specific foods as ‘bad.’ Or, fad diets tell you to focus on only one type of food for the majority of your diet, promising that it’ll help you drop pounds fast. Actually, all you’re doing is creating a calorie deficit and limiting your body’s intake of essential nutrients in the process.
Promises of rapid weight loss
Fad diets come with bold claims of rapid and drastic weight loss. Most fad diets claim weight loss of over 2 lbs per week due to cutting calories dangerously low, skipping meals, or cutting our food groups altogether. Anything that causes you to lose weight that quickly is not good for you.
You’ve probably heard of some of the more well-known diets before. In fact, you may have even followed a few of them yourself. These classic diets typically follow a healthy, balanced approach to optimize your health and increase weight loss.
The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet that focuses on lowering insulin levels to boost weight loss. If you have diabetes, or have a family history of diabetes, it could help you manage your glucose levels more effectively.
It involves eating high protein and high-fat foods, while limiting your intake of carbohydrates, such as grains, legumes, and even some higher-carb vegetables and fruits.
Rather than cutting out carbohydrates completely, the Atkins diet focuses on a four-phase approach, which helps keep things varied if you’re not one for sticking to the same plan day in, day out.
You also don’t need to count your calories, which is perfect for those who don’t have the time to track every meal. You will miss out on stodgy, high-carb foods, though.
Phase 1: Induction
The induction phase involves consuming no more than 20g of carbohydrates a day. Ideally, these carbohydrates should come from vegetables, rather than a piece of bread. Your protein and fat intake should be high.
Phase 2: Balancing
Gradually add more carbohydrates to your diet, including vegetables and fruits. Every week, you should aim for around 20-30g of additional carbs per day.
Phase 3: Continuing weight loss
Increase your carbohydrate intake by around 10g per week until your weight loss slows down.
Phase 4: Maintenance
Stick to your personalized carbohydrate goal. By this point, you should have an idea of how many carbohydrates you can eat without gaining weight.
What to eat and avoid
Obviously, carbohydrates are off the menu. That includes all bread, pasta, rice, and other refined goodies, at least for the first few weeks. You can gradually add these into your diet as you continue through the phases.
Cutting out carbohydrates so drastically can cause side effects, though. Expect headaches, fatigue, and dizziness while your body gets used to using fat as its primary source of energy.
Ideally, you should consume high protein foods, including meats and fish, plus leafy greens and low-carb fruits. You should avoid any fruits high in sugar, including bananas, mangos, and pineapple.
High-fat foods are also allowed, but you should opt for unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocados.
Here’s what a day on the Atkins diet might look like.
Breakfast: Cheesy omelet with spinach and ham
Lunch: Salmon fillet and green beans
Snack: A handful of nuts/seeds
Dinner: Chicken and mozzarella bake with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes
The Mediterranean diet varies from country to country, but the majority of the time, it involves a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and fish. But it means you need to cut out most meat and dairy products
Rather than weight loss, the Mediterranean diet is primarily for anyone looking to move towards a plant-based or pescetarian diet. If you enjoy cheese, yogurts, and meats, it’s not the diet for you – unless you’re OK with plant-based alternatives.
Following a Mediterranean diet can decrease your risk of cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson’s disease. It’s also ideal for lowering blood sugar levels, which means it might help with diabetes, too.
What to eat and avoid
The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and fish. You should also include other healthy fats, including olive oil.
You can consume meat and dairy in moderation, but this should be no more than twice a week. And the Mediterranean diet favors poultry over red meat. Low-fat alternatives (including dairy) are also not allowed, as these are typically high in sugar.
One thing the Mediterranean diet does allow is red wine. In fact, you’re actually encouraged to drink one glass of red wine per day, alongside other fluids like water and herbal teas.
Here’s what a day on the Mediterranean diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with soy milk and raisins
Lunch: Tuna sandwich with wholemeal bread and salad
Snack: Portion of olives
Dinner: Salmon with roasted vegetables and a glass of red wine
The Paleo diet focuses on mimicking the diets of human-hunter gatherers by eating primarily whole foods, plus meat and fish. It’s believed to help with weight loss and disease prevention.
One huge advantage is that Paleo is very flexible. While some hunter-gatherers ate lower carbohydrates, others ate a diet rich in grains, so you can find the approach that suits you best.
As you’d expect, human-hunter gatherers didn’t have access to foods made in factories or anything processed, which means these are a no-go. But anything you can hunt or forage yourself, add to your diet.
With the Paleo diet being so popular, many companies offer delivery services to save you from cooking up your meals yourself. Check out the 10 best Paleo meal delivery services if you want to save yourself some time.
What to eat and avoid
You should load up on fruits, vegetables, and grains, which are high in fiber and increase satiety levels. You can also eat all kinds of meat and fish.
Dairy is strictly off-limits. If you’re lactose intolerant, it could be a good option for you. Remember, you can’t eat anything from a factory, so even dairy alternatives aren’t allowed.
Legumes aren’t allowed either, since followers of the paleo diet believe these are not easily digested by the body. Stay away from processed and refined foods, too.
You are encouraged to eat nuts, seeds, and different types of oils, but only in moderation due to the high-fat content.
Here’s what a day on the Paleo diet might look like.
Breakfast: Eggs fried in olive oil with vegetables
Lunch: Chicken salad with nuts and balsamic dressing
Snack: One portion of fruit
Dinner: Steak, vegetables, and sweet potatoes
The Zone diet is designed to reduce inflammation in the body to help you increase weight loss and lower your risk of conditions like heart disease.
It involves eating a set ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which are broken down into ‘zone blocks.’ Women are allowed 11 zone blocks per day, while men have 14, split across 3 meals and a snack.
Your ratio of each macronutrient is very personalized, but as a general rule, aim for 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.
While the diet is very flexible with no real strict rules on what you can and can’t eat, it requires a lot of tracking. It’s definitely one of the more complicated options, and it’s not designed for intuitive eaters.
What to eat and avoid
The Zone diet doesn’t exclude foods, but advises that you eat within your macronutrient ratios. That said, it does recommend healthier options, rather than processed and refined goods.
Aim for lean proteins, including meat and fish, fruits, vegetables, and low-glycemic-index carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, barley, and other grains. Ideally, you should stay away from starchy foods like bread and pasta.
You should also consume healthy fats, including avocados, nuts, nut butters, and oils.
Here’s what a day on The Zone diet might look like.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms
Lunch: Grilled chicken breast salad with quinoa
Snack: Boiled egg, fruit, and nuts
Dinner: Grilled salmon, sweet potato, and salad made with olive oil dressing
The whole food diet (or Whole30) is as you’d expect. It’s a diet consisting of whole foods, which you follow for 30 days only.
The idea is that it gives you a nutritional reset and identifies potential digestive issues through an elimination process, so it’s particularly beneficial for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Although it’s only for 30 days, the diet itself has a strict set of rules, including a complete list of foods you can and cannot eat, so it’s not for flexible eaters. It also calls for no tobacco or alcohol at all, plus absolutely no cheat meals of any kind.
Once your month is up, you should gradually introduce certain foods once again to see how they make you feel, both in terms of your body’s digestion and your overall health and energy levels.
What to eat and avoid
All meat and fish are allowed, as long as they’re minimally processed. One positive, though, is that it allows red meat and pork, which many diets cut out.
You can consume all types of fruit and vegetables, plus nuts and seeds. When it comes to dairy, only eggs are recommended. It cuts out cheese, yogurts, and all other dairy-based products completely.
The same goes for carbohydrates. All pulses, grains, and legumes should be avoided, plus sugar and artificial sweeteners, processed additives, and even soy.
Here’s what a day on the whole food diet might look like.
Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with berries and banana
Lunch: Grilled cod with mixed vegetables
Snack: Apple with peanut butter
Dinner: Chicken salad with berries, spinach, and lettuce
Some diets aim to decrease or increase your intake of one of the three macronutrients to manipulate weight loss. Usually, these diets involve high fat and low carb, or vice versa.
A ketogenic diet consists of eating very low carbohydrates, while increasing intake of proteins and fats.
Claims suggest it helps you burn fat more effectively by putting your body into a state of ketosis. This means your body uses fat stores for energy rather than glucose, which you’d get from eating carbohydrates.
There are numerous variations of ketogenic diets, with some opting for no carbs at all, others choosing a low-carb diet, or even eating keto for set meals.
Although ketogenic diets are primarily for weight loss, they’re beneficial for reducing blood sugar levels, which means they can reduce the risk of diabetes and lower blood pressure.
Tend to feel sluggish after eating carbohydrates? A keto diet can help to increase your energy levels and reduce bloating, once your body gets over the initial withdrawal phase.
Lower insulin levels also mean ketogenic diets can be beneficial for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). But removing carbohydrates as your primary source of energy takes some getting used to, and it can cause lots of headaches, fatigues, and nausea during the initial stages.
What to eat and avoid
The ketogenic diet calls for no carbohydrates, which means no bread, pasta, cereal, and other starchy foods. Most fruits and all root vegetables are also restricted, so opt for leafy greens, salad, and berries.
You’re encouraged to keep your protein levels high by consuming all types of meat and fish, including red meats. And you should increase fat consumption through eggs, nuts and nut butters, oils, and seeds.
You can also eat lots of high-fat foods like butter, cream, and cheese, but stay away from any products labeled as low-fat, as these are often high in sugar.
To make the keto diet easy, you can look into various meal delivery services, like Ketogenic Diet-to-go. These save on preparation and cooking time, since everything is delivered to your door.
Here’s what a day on the Ketogenic diet might look like.
Breakfast: Egg, ham, and cheese omelet, plus a small bowl of berries
Lunch: Salmon with creamed spinach
Snack: Handful of nuts
Dinner: Chicken satay stir fry with greens (no noodles)
The lazy keto diet takes a more relaxed approach than the traditional ketogenic diet. It involves using your common sense to eat lower carbs, while upping your protein and fat intake.
You don’t need to calculate every gram of carb you eat carefully, so it saves you a lot of planning time if you just want to lose weight without following the numbers. Although bear in mind that you might not reach ketosis without tracking your intake.
Your eating habits should be the same as the ketogenic diet, so you eat plenty of meat and fish, plus a lot of healthy fats, including nuts and nut butters, avocados, seeds, butter, and cream.
Aim for leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables and fruits such as berries to keep your carbohydrate intake down.
Here’s what a day on the lazy keto diet might look like.
Breakfast: Berry smoothie with peanut butter and protein powder
Lunch: Chicken and cheese bake with spinach
Dinner: Lettuce burgers with cheese and salad
The bulletproof diet aims to help you lose weight while simultaneously improving your energy levels and focus. It combines a moderate protein and high-fat diet with intermittent fasting, so that you only eat within a specific time frame.
Usually, you follow a ketogenic diet for 5-6 days a week, then have 1-2 refeed days where you increase your carbohydrate intake. The ketogenic days should be strict, with only 5% of your intake from carbohydrates.
You also have to drink bulletproof coffee every day for your breakfast, including coffee mixed with grass-fed butter. This is designed to suppress hunger and improve your focus, although essentially, you’re skipping a meal.
The bulletproof diet labels certain foods as toxic, which must be avoided. This includes pasteurized milk, oils, factory-farmed meat, raw kale and spinach, raisins, and dried fruit.
Here’s what a day on the bulletproof diet might look like.
Breakfast: Bulletproof coffee with grass-fed butter
Lunch: Avocado, eggs, and salad
Snack: Mixed berries
Dinner: Chicken thighs and greens
Carb cycling is a way of optimizing your carbohydrate intake by manipulating the number of carbs you eat on certain days, or at certain times during the day.
It’s designed to help you achieve your weight loss goals and minimize plateau, by continually ‘shocking’ your body.
Some eat carbs only before and after a workout, while others eat low carbs for three days, then have one high-carb day, and repeat.
You should keep your protein intake high, but you may also decide to change your fat intake. Usually, you eat higher fat on days with lower carb, and vice versa.
No foods are wholly restricted, but you must stick to your chosen plan. Opt for good quality proteins, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and grains and legumes on days with high carbs.
Here’s what three days on a carb cycling diet might look like.
It’s one of the tougher diets to get your head around, but it definitely keeps things varied if you want more flexibility. But keeping track of where you’re up to and what you can and can’t eat can be challenging.
The Dukan diet focuses on limiting carbohydrates and adding 20 minutes of exercise per day to increase rapid weight loss, while still keeping you full. As with all low-carbohydrate diets, the aim is to increase your body’s ability to burn fat quickly.
It’s a four-phase diet, with each phase varying in length. The diet is supposed to be sustainable, so that you can stick to it in the long term and maintain weight loss without plateauing.
Attack phase (1-7 days): Eat as much protein as you like, alongside 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran each day, plus 6 cups of water.
Cruise phase (1-12 months): Eat high protein and alternate between adding leafy greens every other day, plus another half a tablespoon of oat bran.
Consolidation phase (5 days for every pound lost): Eat as much protein and vegetables as you like, plus some carbohydrates and fats, and 2.5 tablespoons of oat bran.
Stabilization phase (ongoing): Eat whatever you like for 6 days, and follow the attack phase for 1 day per week, plus 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day.
What to eat and avoid
Unlike typical ketogenic diets, the Dukan diet restricts carbohydrates and fats. In the attack phase, you’re limited to mainly eating proteins in the attack phase, plus a few extras with minimal calories like pickles and non-fat dairy products.
Later phases are less restrictive, but you can still only eat a maximum of one serving of fruit per day. Most high-fat meats and carbohydrates are limited to a couple of times per week, and all other high-fat products are not allowed.
Following a Dukan diet requires heavy discipline, and it doesn’t leave much room for flexibility. It’s also very low in calories, although it doesn’t require you to actually count them, which is one advantage.
The wild diet is another low-carb, high-fat diet, but it’s designed for people who want to reduce their intake of processed foods and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, while also helping with weight loss.
Unlike other ketogenic diets, the wild diet focuses on whole foods, organic proteins, and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, rather than processed fats like nut butters and cheeses.
It doesn’t require any calorie counting, although it can be quite restrictive on the days you’re ‘on plan. But it does allow for one or two cheat meals every week.
To keep your carbohydrate intake low, you should also opt for leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables and fruits and avoid grains and legumes.
Here’s what a day on the wild diet might look like.
Breakfast: Organic fried eggs in olive oil with turkey bacon
Lunch: Chicken salad with avocado and cashew nuts
Snack: Full-fat Greek yogurt and a small handful of berries
Dinner: Salmon and roasted Mediterranean vegetables
A low-fat diet means eating high protein, moderate carbohydrates, and low fat. Nuts, full-fat yogurts and milk, oils, nut butters, and cream are off the menu.
You should also only eat lean proteins such as poultry and fish, rather than red meat and pork.
A low-fat diet is thought to aid weight loss and may also help you if you’re particularly sensitive to carbohydrates, such as regular headaches and bloating.
However, it cuts out many healthy fats, including nuts and seeds, which are beneficial for maintaining optimal health and full of nutrients.
Here’s what a day on the low-fat diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oats with skimmed milk and banana
Lunch: Turkey slices, tomato, lettuce, and wholemeal bread
Snack: A bag of popcorn
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognese with low-fat mince
The Dubrow diet is a combination of low-carb and intermittent fasting designed to help you lose weight, increase energy levels, and improve your overall health.
It’s divided into three phases, with specific recommendations of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates at each phase, but there’s no calorie counting. The Dubrow diet is quite rigid, so it’s great for people who like a strict plan and don’t mind not eating anything for several hours.
Phase 1 (2-5 days): Fast for 16 hours.
Phase 2 (until weight loss goal is reached): Fast for 12-16 hours.
Phase 3 (maintenance): Fast for 16 hours twice a week, and 12 hours on other days.
What to eat and avoid
Each phase is more lenient with recommended foods, but generally, it focuses on lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and dairy products.
In phases 2 and 3, you’re allowed some complex carbs, but phase 1 restricts these completely. One advantage is that in phase 3, it’s OK to have one cheat day per week, which adds some more flexibility and lets you have a little bit of what you fancy now and then.
You might be left feeling pretty hungry, though, since you need to fast for around 16 hours every day. That means you only get 8 hours to eat your meals, and it’s likely you won’t eat as many calories as you need within that time.
Here’s what a day on the Dubrow diet might look like.
Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with avocado
Snack: Greek yogurt and berries
Dinner: Baked salmon with greens
The South Beach diet is designed to aid weight loss and promote good heart health through lower carbohydrate intake.
It’s similar to the Dubrow diet in structure and recommended foods, only without intermittent fasting. If you’re someone who likes regular meals or doesn’t want to skip breakfast, it’s a better option.
Phase 1 (14 days): Eat 3 meals per day, including lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, and small amounts of healthy fats.
Phase 2 (once weight loss goal is reached): Focus on lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and limited portions of grains and legumes.
Phase 3 (maintenance): Consume the same foods as in phase 2, but allow yourself a cheat day per week.
While the South Beach diet benefits weight loss, it also offers some other possible health benefits. Some reports claim it can reduce inflammation and protect heart health through consuming more fatty fish, nuts, and olive oils.
Most diets are calorie-controlled in one way or another, but some diets actually recommend that you calculate and stick to a daily intake. Other diets also suggest that you should only eat at certain times of the day for optimized weight loss and added health benefits.
A macronutrient split diet is one of the most flexible options, but it can also be one of the more complicated, too.
It involves eating a set ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates every day based on a recommended calorie intake. The downside is you have to work this out yourself and plan how to split up your meals and macros.
While it is very flexible, people following the macronutrient diet have to bear in mind that 100 calories of ice cream holds a very different nutritional value to 100 calories of broccoli. It's up to you to decide what you eat and when, which might be too much flexibility for people who like a diet ‘plan’.
Typically, most macronutrient diets consist of 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbohydrates. But you can change these ratios based on your goals and preference.
What to eat and avoid
No foods are off-limits with a macronutrient approach, but it’s still recommended that you eat lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and grains and legumes, rather than processed and refined foods.
You can have cakes, candy, and sweet treats in moderation, though, as long as you can fit them within your daily calorie allowance and macronutrient intake.
Intermittent fasting involves only eating meals during set periods, with the majority of time being fasted.
Less-extreme intermittent fasting diets usually start with the 16/8 method. You eat within 8 hours of the day and fast for the other 16 hours. But there are many other popular variations, with some involving up to 24 hours of fasting.
Although no foods are off-limits, you have to, of course, restrict your intake of any food for several hours. It can take some getting used to, and the hunger pains can be hard to overcome.
If you suffer from dizziness or feel faint from not eating for long periods, definitely avoid intermittent fasting. But some people actually report better energy levels and feel less sluggish.
An ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM) diet follows the macronutrient approach, but it’s much less strict.
Although you still need to work out your set ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, you can basically eat whatever you like within those ranges.
A typical macronutrient diet emphasizes plenty of lean proteins, whole foods, and fruit and veg, but with IIFYM, anything goes. That means you can eat processed foods and refined sugars if you like.
Overconsuming unhealthy foods can damage your overall health in the long run, though. But an IIFYM diet can help dieters stay ‘on plan’ more easily, since it doesn’t feel much like a diet.
The military diet is more suitable for people who don’t want to diet all the time, and want to achieve quick weight loss.
It only involves dieting for three days a week, while the other four days you’re encouraged to eat healthily, but there are no real restrictions.
The three on-plan days are very strict, though, and the calorie intake is quite low at around 1,100-1,400 per day. You can only eat a set list of foods, including tuna, cottage cheese, grapefruit, bread, and vanilla ice cream.
Dropping your calorie intake so low isn’t beneficial or sustainable long-term, but it can be easier to stick to for only three days since you can refuel for the rest of the week.
Reverse dieting is typically designed for bodybuilders and athletes that have already been dieting for a set period.
It involves gradually increasing calories to improve energy levels, maintain a healthy appetite, and increase fat burning without gaining too much weight.
That means no calorie deficit, so it’s not for anyone looking to lose weight.
You will need to work out your macronutrient needs to get a set ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, then add a little to this every day. It usually involves an extra 50-100 calories per day for 4-10 weeks. After this time, you drop your calories again to kickstart weight loss.
There are no restricted foods, but you’re encouraged to opt for healthier options to avoid gaining extra fat. Choose high-quality protein sources, plenty of healthy fats, whole grains and legumes, plus fruit and vegetables.
Vegetarian diets have grown in popularity in recent years, but there are many variations to choose from. Some eliminate all animal-based products entirely, while others follow a more flexible and adaptable approach.
Vegetarian diets usually involve avoiding all meat and fish, but you can still eat animal-based products like eggs and cheese.
Some stricter dieters opt for the ‘lacto-vegetarian’ option, which cuts out meat, fish, and eggs, but still allows dairy, including cheese and yogurts.
Most people choose a vegetarian diet due to environmental or ethical reasons concerning the consumption of animal-based products, but some believe it can help with weight loss, too.
It can be beneficial for increasing nutrients through more vegetables and fruit, while consuming less processed and refined foods. But getting the same level of protein intake from soy and plant-based proteins as you would from meat and fish isn’t as easy.
Fish in particular also contains essential nutrients like omega-3, and cutting it out altogether can leave you at risk of deficiencies.
What to eat and avoid
Essentially, you can consume anything that isn’t meat or fish. If you’re following the stricter option, you may also have to cut out eggs and dairy products, but it’s up to you.
Fill your plate with all kinds of vegetables, grains, legumes, and plenty of healthy fats, including nuts, seeds, and olive oils. You should also add plant and soy proteins such as tofu, tempeh, and spirulina.
Here’s what a day on the vegetarian diet might look like.
Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with protein powder
Lunch: Superfood bowl with veggies, bulgar wheat, and nuts
Snack: Carrot sticks and hummus
Dinner: Tofu curry
The flexitarian diet is a more relaxed version of the vegetarian diet, where people eat vegetarian on certain days of the week or for particular meals each day.
It works well if you’re looking to add more plant-based foods and nutrients to your diet and want to reduce your intake of meat and fish.
Rather than going full vegetarian, the flexitarian diet also allows you to keep your protein intake higher, which is beneficial for avid gym-goers or people concerned about deficiencies.
Although no foods are strictly off-limits, you should opt for vegetarian options wherever possible and focus on whole foods most of the time. That means reducing your intake of meat, fish, and sometimes eggs or dairy, depending on your preferences.
Here’s what a day on the flexitarian diet might look like:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with oat milk and berries
Lunch: Tofu salad bowl with nuts
Snack: Apple and peanut butter
Dinner: Salmon, sweet potato, and roasted vegetables
A pescatarian diet is mostly vegetarian with the addition of fish, but you still avoid meat and poultry. You can decide whether to eliminate dairy and eggs.
Moving to pescetarianism can be an excellent place to start if you’re looking to reduce how much meat or animal-based products you eat.
It keeps your protein consumption high, plus increases your intake of omega-3 and other essential nutrients. However, a lot of fish can increase your exposure to mercury and other toxins found in seafood.
What to eat and avoid
You can eat all kinds of fish and seafood, and should focus on getting a couple of portions of oily fish at least twice a week.
You should also add plenty of whole foods, including grains and legumes, plus fruit and vegetables. Healthy fats are allowed, too, so add in nuts, seeds, oils, and nut butters. The only thing you can’t eat is any meat or poultry.
Here’s what a day on the pescatarian diet might look like.
Breakfast: Scrambled egg on toast
Lunch: Grilled salmon and salad
Snack: Greek yogurt and berries
Dinner: Baked cod with wholegrain rice and mixed vegetables
A plant-based diet is very much the same as the whole food diet. It involves mainly eating plant-based foods, and minimizing your intake of processed and refined products.
While you can eat meat and fish, a plant-based diet recommends you minimize your intake wherever you can. And if you do eat these foods, buy them from local farms to make sure they’re organic.
If you’re looking to improve your overall health, a plant-based diet can help you reduce your risk of chronic disease, including heart conditions, obesity, and diabetes. Many find that a plant-based diet also helps with weight loss.
What to eat and avoid
Opt for organic and sustainably-sourced products wherever possible. Focus on including plenty of vegetables and fruits, legumes, grains, and plant-based proteins such as tofu and tempeh.
You can eat meat and fish, but try to keep your intake down to a couple of times a week, or gradually reduce your consumption over time.
Avoid all processed and packaged foods, including vegan and vegetarian alternatives. And stay away from artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and fast foods.
Here’s what a day on the plant-based diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with coconut milk, chia seeds, and berries
Lunch: Sweet potato and jackfruit curry
Snack: Handful of nuts and a piece of fruit
Dinner: Corn-fed chicken with salad and quinoa
The vegan diet is one of the more restrictive vegetarian-variation diets, and it actually affects your entire lifestyle.
It involves cutting out anything animal-based, whether that’s food, clothing, shoes, furniture, or anything else. Anything containing any kind of animal ingredient is strictly off-limits.
Veganism is mostly for ethical reasons and attitudes towards animal-based products. It can be very restrictive and difficult to follow, since you’ll need to check the ingredients of every single thing you buy.
There are various types of veganism, although most typically follow a plant-based diet.
If you’ve followed a vegetarian or similar-style diet before, the jump to vegan might not be too drastic. But moving from an animal-based diet to vegan can be very intense, so make sure you know what’s in store before you start. You can make it easier for yourself by looking into vegan delivery services, so all the preparation is already done for you.
What to eat and avoid
Put simply, you cannot eat anything that contains any ingredients that have come from an animal. Rather than just eliminating meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, it also excludes foods you might not expect, such as honey and sweets. However, you can find many vegan alternatives.
You should eat mostly whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based proteins, including tofu and tempeh.
Although veganism limits processed foods and can benefit your overall health, it could lead to nutritional deficiencies since it cuts out so many foods. Anyone following a vegan diet should consider taking supplements, such as B12, to help reduce their risk.
Here’s what a day on the vegan diet might look like.
Breakfast: Avocado toast with tomato slices and fresh herbs
Lunch: Stir-fried tofu, vegetables, and brown rice
Snack: A piece of fruit and handful of nuts
Dinner: Portobello mushroom “burger,” wholemeal bun, lettuce, tomato, and oven-roasted potatoes
The pegan diet combines vegan and Paleo to reduce inflammation and promote healthy blood sugar levels. It can help with managing diabetes.
Although it’s mostly vegan, you’re encouraged to eat small amounts of lean proteins, including poultry and fish. Vegetables and fruit should make up the majority of your diet, with these being low-GI options to minimize spikes in blood sugar.
You should avoid gluten, refined sugar and oils, and dairy, making it beneficial for coping with digestive issues. Legumes and whole grains are allowed, but in small amounts, so it’s mostly low-carb.
Here’s what a day on the pegan diet might look like.
Breakfast: Green smoothie with apple, kiwi, spinach, and almond butter
Lunch: Mixed vegetable omelet
Snack: Homemade guacamole with carrot and cucumber sticks
Dinner: Salmon with steamed greens and quinoa
Eco Atkins is a vegetarian variation of the traditional Atkins diet, so more suited to those who want to eat less meat.
It’s still high in protein and low carbohydrate, but it focuses heavily on plant proteins and healthy fats.
You should eat plenty of tempeh, tofu, and meat alternatives like vegetable burgers.
Opt for legumes like lentils and soybeans, which will keep your protein and fiber intake high. It’s easy to eat too many carbohydrates with a vegetarian-style diet, though, so be careful not to overdo it.
Eco Atkins also minimizes intake of gluten, which might be beneficial for those with possible gluten allergies or intolerances.
Here’s what a day on the eco Atkins diet might look like.
Breakfast: Tofu scramble
Lunch: Bean chili and cauliflower rice
Snack: Apple and cashew nuts
The macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian-based, focusing on eating raw and organic foods. It’s designed to improve overall health and help you make lifestyle changes, rather than just a quick fix.
Since it limits animal fats, sugar, dairy, and refined foods, it’s beneficial for anyone suffering from heart disease or high cholesterol.
You should eat plenty of organically grown whole grains, such as oats, corn, and brown rice, plus locally-sourced vegetables, and plant proteins like tofu and tempeh. It also allows for a few portions of fish each week, so it doesn’t cut out animal proteins entirely.
Here’s what a day on the macrobiotic diet might look like
Breakfast: Greens and berry smoothie
Lunch: Vegetable and barley soup
Snack: Celery and cucumber sticks
Dinner: Tofu ‘smash’ with brown rice and vegetables
22 days vegan means following a vegan diet for just over 3 weeks. The idea is that it takes 21 days for you to create a habit, so by the time your diet is over, you’ll likely adopt some (or all) of the eating patterns. It’s a good tester if you’re not sure if you want to make the jump to vegan or not.
The nutrient breakdown is typically 80% carbohydrates, 10% fats, and 10% protein. It’s very heavy in carbs, so it’s not suitable if you’re sensitive to gluten and other grains.
You should eliminate all animal-based products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and anything else with animal-based ingredients. Focus on eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Here’s what a day on the 22 days vegan diet might look like.
Breakfast: Breakfast beans with sweet potato hash
Lunch: Mixed salad with cashew nuts and avocado
Snack: Vegetable sticks and vegan hummus
Dinner: Tofu and vegetable curry with bulgar wheat
The Ornish diet is low fat, high fiber, plant-based, and aims to reduce chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
It’s essentially a vegetarian diet, but better suited to those who don’t want to cut out dairy and eggs, since you can still eat these. However, it must be low fat, and you shouldn’t eat egg yolk, only the egg white.
You should eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains, but you can’t eat any meat or fish. Avoid refined carbohydrates, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
Unlike a typical vegetarian diet, the Ornish diet also restricts your intake of nuts and seeds to only a few times a week, as well as other types of fat, including avocado and olive oil.
Here’s what a day on the Ornish diet might look like.
Breakfast: Scrambled egg white, tofu, and tomatoes
Lunch: Stuffed bell peppers
Snack: Berry juice
Dinner: Lentil and vegetable stew
On the Engine 2 Diet, you should avoid processed foods and eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Avoid meat, fish, dried fruit, high-sugar foods, and processed vegan products.
It’s designed to improve your overall health, rather than increase weight loss, although it’s likely you’ll create a calorie deficit following the Engine 2 Diet.
Engine 2 is also very low fat, limiting your intake of nuts, seeds, nut butters, and vegetable oils. It can be difficult to follow and take some getting used to if you don’t usually cut out so many food groups, but it’s heavy in nutrient-dense foods.
Here’s what a day on the Engine 2 Diet might look like.
Breakfast: Overnight oats with soy milk and strawberries
Lunch: Vegetable soup with cucumber and bell pepper sticks
Snack: Portion of fresh fruit
Dinner: Red lentil curry with brown rice
Not every diet is designed for weight loss. Some diets are needed to increase health and alleviate symptoms of conditions, especially food allergies and intolerances. These diets typically involve eliminating one or more ingredients to help with digestive issues.
If you have celiac disease or you experience side effects such as bloating, gas, and headaches after eating certain carbohydrates, then a gluten-free diet can help you.
Gluten-free means eliminating all products containing wheat, rye, and barley to reduce the side effects of gluten intolerances. Some may only experience mild symptoms like stomach pains, whereas others are medically diagnosed with a gluten allergy and celiac disease.
Usual food suspects include bread, pasta, cereal, and other grains and refined carbohydrates such as cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
However, gluten can also be hidden in many other products you may not be aware of. Muesli bars, crackers, roasted nuts, chips, sauces, and alcoholic beverages typically contain gluten. Eliminating gluten completely can be quite challenging.
It’s a common myth that following a gluten-free diet is a healthier option. But unless you suffer from gluten intolerance symptoms, there’s no reason for you to cut it out.
What to eat and avoid
You should avoid all foods containing wheat, rye, and barley, so most carbohydrates aren’t allowed. Many supermarkets offer gluten-free alternatives, including bread, pasta, and cereal, so you can try these substitutes.
There are no restrictions on other foods, though, so you can eat as much protein, fats, vegetables, and fruits as you like, as long as you remember to check the labels to look for any hidden ingredients.
The dairy-free diet eliminates lactose, a type of sugar found in milk. But it’s also found in many other dairy products, including yogurts and cheese.
It’s designed for anyone suffering from lactose intolerance, which often causes stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. Skin issues and spots are also common signs of lactose intolerance.
Removing lactose from your diet can alleviate these side effects and help you cope with digestive issues.
What to eat and avoid
Swap all dairy products for dairy-free alternatives, including butter, milk, cheese, ice cream, and cream. You can still eat eggs, since these do not contain lactose.
All other foods are free from lactose, including meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, which easily fit into a dairy-free diet.
Remember to check labels to see if any products include casein or whey, as these ingredients can also trigger an allergic response for those with lactose intolerance.
You should also pay attention to convenience foods such as ready meals, processed meats, and refined baked goods. Many of these products contain lactose, even if you wouldn’t suspect it.
The DASH diet is primarily designed for preventing and treating high blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. It’s also beneficial for preventing types of cancer and reducing the risk of obesity.
It involves eating lots of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while minimizing your fat and salt intake.
While low salt is beneficial for heart health, too little salt can also create other health problems such as insulin resistance, so it’s perhaps not best for anyone at-risk of diabetes.
What to eat and avoid
You can eat lean meats and fish, including poultry and white fish, but you should limit your intake of red meat and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Any dairy should also be low fat.
The DASH diet encourages you to fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It actually recommends that you have 4-5 servings of each food group every day.
You can eat some refined carbs and sugary foods in moderation, so it’s a more flexible option for people who don’t want to follow a rigorous diet.
Here’s what a day on the DASH diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with skimmed milk and berries
Lunch: Tuna sandwich with low-fat mayonnaise and wholemeal bread
Snack: A portion of fruit
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, mixed vegetables, and brown rice
The MIND diet combines aspects of the DASH and Mediterranean diet, to improve brain health and prevent dementia.
While the DASH and Mediterranean diets emphasize eating lots of fruits and vegetables, the MIND diet is very specific in eating berries over any other kind to increase brain function.
You should aim to eat whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, green vegetables, and nuts (but only a few times a week). It also recommends drinking one glass of red wine per day.
Foods you should steer clear from include red meat, butter, fried food, and all pastries and sweets.
All high-fat dairy is restricted, so it’s not your perfect diet if you like to eat yogurts, cheese, and milk. However, you can choose low-fat alternatives.
Here’s what a day on the MIND diet might look like.
Breakfast: Low-fat Greek yogurt with mixed berries
Lunch: Grilled chicken pita with salad
Snack: Slice of wholemeal toast with almond butter
Dinner: Grilled salmon, mixed salad with olive oil dressing
The Nordic diet is low in processed foods and sugars to improve your overall health. It was designed to mimic the diet of people from Nordic countries, where they eat sustainably-farmed foods.
Everything you eat should be traditional and locally sourced, so packaged and processed foods from the grocery store are off the menu. If you like convenience foods, it’s not for you.
The diet itself is nutrient-dense, which is ideal for increasing your health. It can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as help with reducing chronic inflammation.
What to eat and avoid
The Nordic diet cuts out a lot of meat, recommending that you eat mostly fish and seafood. However, you can consume meat in moderation, but aim for lean proteins such as chicken, rather than red meat.
You should also load up on vegetables, berries, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and swap olive oil for canola oil. Opt for low-fat dairy rather than full fat cheese, yogurts, and butter.
You can’t eat anything that’s been processed, including refined carbs, added sugars, and sweetened foods.
Here’s what a day on the Nordic diet might look like.
Breakfast: Blueberry, strawberry, and almond butter smoothie
Lunch: Tuna salad with olives and canola oil dressing
Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt with raspberries
Dinner: Grilled salmon with spinach and leafy greens
The Mayo Clinic diet aims to teach you healthy eating habits and behaviors, help you lose weight, and find a diet that you can stick to long term.
It follows a two-phase approach, with the first being all about dropping fat, and the second being for maintenance.
You should avoid eating added sugar, stop snacking, avoid too much meat and full-fat dairy, and don’t eat in front of the TV or dine out.
You’ll need to exercise for 30 minutes daily, alongside eating a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, high-fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The focus should be on eating as much fruit and vegetables as possible, and supplementing your meals with the other macronutrients.
Each day, you should aim for 8+ servings of fruit and vegetables (combined), 5 servings of carbohydrates, 4 servings of protein and dairy, and 3 servings of fats.
While the Mayo Clinic diet encourages a healthy diet, it also cuts out some nutrient-dense foods, including egg yolks. Plus, no snacks might be too much for some people who need to eat regularly to stay full.
Here’s what a day on the Mayo Clinic diet might look like.
Breakfast: Apple pie oatmeal with skimmed milk and flaked almonds
Lunch: Large mixed salad, grilled chicken breast, parmesan, and lean bacon
Snack: Wholegrain crackers, peanut butter, and mixed vegetable sticks
Dinner: Prawns, wholewheat pasta, peas, zucchini, and tomato sauce
The volumetrics diet loads up on fruits and vegetables to increase your fiber intake and keep you full, while helping you lose weight.
It focuses on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, which should make up most of your plate. You can then add some lean proteins and grains or legumes alongside your meal.
The volumetrics diet groups foods into different categories based on their calorific content. Foods higher in water content typically have lower calories, which means you can add more to your meal, including most vegetables and fruits.
You also have to exercise for between 30-60 minutes a day to help weight loss.
What to eat and avoid
Every meal should include plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, and there are no restrictions on the kinds you can eat. This can help with satiety levels due to high fiber and water content, but this is usually only short-term.
Add in lean proteins such as fish and poultry, plus grains and legumes. Healthy fats aren’t allowed, so that means no avocados, olive oils, nuts, seeds, or nut butters. And stay away from all processed and refined foods.
Here’s what a day on the volumetrics diet might look like.
Breakfast: Green smoothie with apples, kiwi, and spinach
Lunch: Chicken sandwich with tomato and lettuce on wholemeal bread, plus an extra side salad
Snack: Boiled egg with carrot sticks
Dinner: Cod with brown rice and mixed greens
Low FODMAPs is primarily an elimination diet designed to alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It involves cutting out foods high in FODMAPs such as carbohydrates, sugars, and dairy for 3-8 weeks, then slowly reintroducing them to assess your body’s response. If you suspect a gluten or lactose intolerance, a FODMAPs diet can help you identify possible digestive issues.
You’ll need to restrict all dairy, including milk, butter, cheese, and cream, as well as legumes, and most carbohydrates. The FODMAPs diet also calls for very little sugar, so that means eliminating many fruits, honey, and additional sweeteners.
You can eat proteins, low-FODMAP grains, including brown rice and buckwheat, nuts, seeds, and certain fruit and veg, such as blueberries, spinach, Brussel sprouts, and kiwi.
Here’s what a day on the low FODMAPs diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with lactose-free milk and blueberries
Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, strawberries, and walnuts
Snack: Carrot sticks and peanut butter
Dinner: Omelette with spinach
An anti-inflammatory diet is designed for anyone looking to reduce chronic inflammation in their body. This can increase your risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.
It focuses mainly on reducing your intake of all processed and refined foods, including sugary drinks, sweet treats and baked goods, processed meat, certain oils, and alcohol. You should also limit your intake of dairy and meat.
Instead, you should eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats. However, it does allow for up to 140 ml of red wine every day.
The nutrient-dense diet can help you improve your overall health, and there’s no calorie counting, but cutting out dairy and meat might be too restrictive for some.
Here’s what a day on the anti-inflammatory diet might look like.
Breakfast: Oat and chia seed bowl with oat milk and berries
Lunch: Sardines on wholemeal toast with a side salad
Snack: Bell pepper strips and homemade guacamole
Dinner: Fish curry with brown rice and vegetables, plus a glass of red wine
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet aims to reduce inflammation, although it focuses specifically on rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease.
It works by eliminating foods that can cause a ‘leaky gut’ and can lead to brain fog, dizziness, headaches, and nausea, which are common side effects of these conditions.
The AIP starts with an elimination phase, cutting out foods like grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.
You also can’t eat eggs and dairy, and even certain herbs and spices aren’t allowed if they’re from a seed.
You should gradually reintroduce these foods to explore possible side effects, while still aiming for a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut and pickles.
Here’s what a day on the auto-immune protocol diet might look like.
Breakfast: Mixed fruit salad
Lunch: Turkey breast with salad and pickles
Snack: A can of tuna
Dinner: Sweet potato hash with lean steak
The Pritikin diet combines a low-fat, high-fiber diet with a set daily exercise routine, to decrease your risk of heart disease and help you lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change rather than just a diet, so ideal for anyone looking to improve their overall health.
You should avoid fatty foods such as red meat, processed oils, full-fat dairy, and fried foods. You’re encouraged to eat lean proteins and fatty fish, but these should be consumed only once a day. Load up on complex carbs, vegetables, and fruit instead.
As for exercise, you’ll need to do 30-90 minutes of cardio per day, plus some strength training, and at least 10 minutes of stretching every day.
Here’s what a day on the Pritikin diet might look like.
Breakfast: Low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Grilled chicken and tomato pasta (wholewheat)
Snack: Rice cakes and almond butter
Dinner: Vegetable stir fry
The Alkaline diet aims to improve your health by limiting your intake of acid-forming foods that alter the pH of your body, such as meat, fish, dairy, grains, and alcohol.
It’s more suitably designed for vegetarians or anyone that wants to limit their intake of animal-based products.
You can eat neutral and alkaline foods, such as natural fats, starches, sugars, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. But you still have to research the acidity levels of every food you eat, so it can be quite time-consuming, and there are lots of rules to remember.
Here’s what a day on the Alkaline diet might look like.
Breakfast: Chia and quinoa bowl with fruit
Lunch: Avocado salad with nuts
Snack: Spinach and berry smoothie
Dinner: Kale pesto ‘pasta’ with zucchini
With the raw food diet, you must eat foods in their rawest form to improve your overall health and increase your body’s absorption of nutrients.
It’s quite similar to the vegan diet, focusing on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, but eliminates dairy, meat, and other animal-based products.
It actually restricts how you prepare food. You can’t heat anything over 104–118°F, but you can juice, blend, and dehydrate foods instead.
You also can’t take any supplements on the raw food diet, which could be risky for your health since it cuts out so many food groups. While it focuses on nutrient-dense foods, it might lead to nutritional deficiencies overall.
Here’s what a day on the raw food diet might look like.
Breakfast: Fresh fruit and vegetable juice (homemade)
Lunch: Raw zucchini with tomato sauce and basil
Snack: Carrots and raw hummus
Dinner: Raw tuna sushi with salad
The lectin-free diet aims to reduce inflammation and alleviate digestive issues by cutting out foods that commonly contain lectin, particularly legumes and grains. You also can’t eat nightshade vegetables and most dairy products.
You can eat all types of proteins, as well as plenty of healthy fats, including avocados, nuts, and olive oil. However, some nuts contain lectin and will need to be avoided, especially peanuts, so you must do some research first.
Although the lectin-free diet can reduce digestive symptoms, it cuts out many nutrient-dense foods, including certain vegetables.
Here’s what a day on the lectin-free diet might look like.
Breakfast: Berry smoothie
Lunch: Baked cod with salad and olive oil dressing
Snack: Apple and almond butter
Dinner: Chicken and sweet potato curry with white rice
Celebrities are huge influencers in dieting, and many of these well-known diets have grown in popularity due to the number of famous faces that follow them. These diets adopt more of a community-based approach with support groups, books, and meal delivery services.
Weight Watchers is a point-based system diet primarily for weight loss. Foods are assigned points based on their calorific content and amount of protein, fats, and sugar.
It’s designed to educate you on healthier food choices by paying attention to the ingredients in foods.
You can eat any food you like within your daily points allowance. It requires quite a lot of tracking, but it can be helpful for those who want a less restrictive diet. And there’s an ongoing support group to keep you on track.
Ideally, you should stay away from processed and refined foods, and instead get your points from nutrient-dense, whole foods. You can also buy branded Weight Watchers food and meals in most grocery stores, with points already calculated for you.
SlimFast focuses on meal replacement shakes and snacks, alongside one of your own home-cooked meals each day. The shakes and snacks are generally high protein and high fiber to keep you fuller for longer.
It’s vital to stick to the routine with only one homemade meal per day. This meal should be heavy in vegetables, lean proteins, and grains, although no food is typically off limits.
The SlimFast diet is easy and convenient with meals already pre-made for you, but it lacks essential nutrients and isn’t sustainable long-term.
The 5:2 diet is a variation of intermittent fasting, which involves eating only 500 calories a day for 2 days each week. For the other 5 days, you should remain in a calorie deficit but eat healthily.
It’s designed to help you lose weight without being too restrictive. There are no lists of recommended foods, but you’re advised to make healthy choices rather than opting for processed and refined foods.
Your 500-calorie days can be hard to endure, though, and you might be left feeling very hungry. You can opt for nutrient-dense, high-water foods such as vegetables to help with satiety levels and keep your fiber intake high.
Always have a high calorie day in between your fasting days, and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Jenny Craig offers pre-packaged meals that are delivered to your door. The meals are typically low in calories and designed to help you lose weight. If you want to skip meal prep and planning, it’s a convenient alternative.
Your diet involves six meals per day, including three meals and two snacks, plus a dessert.
Convenience does come at a cost, so you might find it’s more expensive than purely making healthy meals on your own. There’s a regular subscription fee to pay.
Alongside the Jenny Craig meals, you should buy fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
NutriSystem is another meal delivery service, offering pre-packaged, low-calorie foods to aid weight loss.
It’s very similar to the Jenny Craig diet, with six meals a day, including three full meals and three snacks, over a four-week program. If you want to see how NutriSystem and Jenny Craig stack up against each other, check out our detailed comparison.
The meals are all nutritious and low in fat and sugar, but can be costly in the long term. In addition to the on-plan meals, you should opt for lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy, whenever eating out or cooking for yourself.
The SpecialK diet is a 14-day plan that involves replacing 2 of your daily meals with SpecialK cereal and skimmed milk. You can also have SpecialK branded snacks, such as bars or shakes, plus fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
It’s not designed for anyone looking for a long-term diet, but it might help with kickstarting initial weight loss. However, it lacks key nutrients, with only one home-cooked meal per day.
There are no real restrictions on what you can or can’t eat outside of the SpecialK products, but you should watch your portion sizes and opt for healthier options. You should try to create a balanced meal of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
There are plenty of other tried and tested diets out there, although you may never have heard of them.
More obscure diets tend to introduce unusual rules and restrictions on food groups, or suggest adding in a certain food to help with weight loss and health. However, these diets can be risky if not followed correctly, and some are just risky altogether.
A carnivore diet consists of eating purely meat and animal-based products to boost weight loss and improve overall health.
You should only eat meat, fish, eggs, and certain dairy products. But it doesn’t encourage you to eat any vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, or seeds.
Bone broth is another staple on the carnivore diet, plus plenty of water, though you can’t drink any coffee, tea, or other beverages.
It’s very low carb and is high in protein, which can be beneficial for weight loss. However, it cuts out a lot of food groups and essential vitamins and minerals, and can be high in cholesterol.
Here’s what a day on the carnivore diet might look like.
Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs
Lunch: Small glass of heavy cream, salmon, and sardines
Snack: Tin of tuna and hard boiled egg
Dinner: Chicken, turkey slices, and cheddar cheese
As the name suggests, the hard boiled egg diet consists of mainly eating hard boiled eggs, alongside lean proteins, low-carb fruits, and non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens.
Depending on which variation of the diet you follow, you’re also allowed some low-fat dairy, including skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt.
It’s primarily for boosting weight loss through a high-protein, low-carb diet that’s low in calories. However, it’s very restrictive as it eliminates many food groups, and it’s not sustainable for a long-term diet.
Here’s what a day on the hard boiled egg diet might look like.
Breakfast: 2 eggs and a portion of berries
Lunch: 2 eggs, chicken breast, and leafy greens
Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt
Dinner: 2 eggs, lean steak, and leafy greens
A fruitarian diet is mostly vegan, eliminating all animal-based products, including meat, fish, and dairy.
You can eat vegetables, nuts, and seeds in moderation, but most of your diet should come from fruit. Aim for around 400g of fruit per day.
Most legumes and grains are restricted, as is any cooked food. Dried fruits are allowed, but you can’t eat any boiled, baked, or cooked fruits.
The fruitarian diet is very restrictive, and while you may get added nutrients from eating more fruit, you have to cut out many food groups and other important vitamins and minerals. And fruit is high in sugar, whether natural or not.
Here’s what a day on the fruitarian diet might look like.
Breakfast: Freshly squeezed lemon, orange, and ginger juice
Lunch: Mixed salad with lettuce, avocado, strawberries, and mixed seeds
Dinner: Fruit salad with any five fruits of your choice
The rainbow diet is known as ‘eating the rainbow.’ You should add a mixture of vegetables and fruits at every meal, all different in colors. The idea is that different colors contain different nutrients and have a variety of health benefits.
Outside of the ‘rainbow,’ there are very few restrictions on what you can and can’t eat, making it very easy to follow and adapt.
You can eat plenty of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, although focus on cutting down processed and refined foods. Fill your plate with lean meats and fish, whole grains, and, of course, colorful fruit and veg.
Here’s what a day on the rainbow diet might look like.
Breakfast: Greek yogurt bowl with mixed berries, banana, and kiwi
Lunch: Chicken curry with red peppers, sweet potato, and green beans
Snack: Green smoothie
Dinner: Goats cheese salad with beetroot, lettuce, mixed pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber
The sirtfood diet is a low-calorie diet that involves adding sirtfoods into your daily meals to increase weight loss by raising your metabolism.
You have two phases that last three weeks in total. During these weeks, you should add in foods like capers, chili, cacao, red onion, soy, strawberries, turmeric, garlic, and walnuts, wherever possible.
You must also drink the recommended green juice each day, following a set recipe. It works out at around 1,000 calories per day at first, gradually increasing to 1,500, though even that is very restrictive for some people.
You’re free to create your own meals or follow the sirtfood diet recipes, outside of the recommended ingredients and juice, which adds some flexibility.
Here’s what a day on the sirtfood diet might look like.
Breakfast: Sirtfood green juice
Lunch: Garlic grilled chicken salad with buckwheat and strawberries
Snack: Sirtfood green juice
Dinner: Soy and chili-baked cod with mixed greens
The shokuiku diet is designed to help you create healthy eating habits by following an intuitive eating approach. You should stop eating meals when you feel 80% full.
You’re encouraged to eat various foods to create a healthy, balanced diet, which is good news for people who fail at restrictive diet plans. You can eat everything in moderation, but aim for whole foods wherever you can.
It also takes the focus away from calories and, instead of learning to listen to your body, helps you create positive relationships with food. But it’s easy to overload on processed, refined, and fatty foods rather than making healthy choices.
Fad diets are usually short-term, quick-fix diets that encourage rapid weight loss. But that also means they’re not sustainable and can be particularly damaging for your health. And most of the time, they don’t actually work.
The M diet is a 14-day meal plan involving replacing a meal a day with a mushroom-based meal.
You can consume mushrooms any way you like, which at least creates some variety. For example, you could have grilled mushrooms, a mushroom soup, or baked mushrooms.
Other than that, there are no recommended foods, so you can eat whatever you like for your other two meals and snacks.
It’s simple to follow and easy enough to stick to, but there’s no real science to prove it works.
On the taco cleanse diet, you should eat tacos with every meal. You’re also encouraged to eat plant-based side dishes, so you should stay away from meat, fish, and even dairy.
Opt for soy proteins, vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. But most importantly, eat tacos. You can make these from various tortillas, but one of the rules is that you must be able to hold the taco in one hand, so size matters.
You should eat more nutritious foods, and the taco cleanse diet at least keeps your carbohydrate intake high, but it’s likely to get very boring. Some recommended foods are processed, fried, and full of extra calories.
The grapefruit diet encourages you to eat or drink grapefruit alongside every meal. Aside from that, you should eat mostly high protein, and limit your intake of fats and carbohydrates.
Most meals contain lean protein with a side of grapefruit, although you can eat bacon.
You’re only supposed to follow the grapefruit diet for 2-3 weeks, but it can be difficult to stick to even during that time. Some variations suggest keeping your calorie intake to 800 calories per day, which is very low.
It’s thought that grapefruit contains fat-burning enzymes to create rapid weight loss, but there’s no real evidence to support this.
Juice cleanses are supposed to be a detox diet that clear your body of all toxins, reset your body, and help you lose weight.
Despite all the promises, though, they’re dangerously low in calories and only really offer short-term health benefits through increased veg and fruit intake.
You should eat (or drink) only juices for every meal every day, with usually five or six juices in total. All other foods are completely restricted.
The amount of time you follow a juice cleanse varies, but it can be anywhere between one week and a month.
Detox teas are designed to cleanse your body and promote weight loss through fat-burning properties.
You can basically eat whatever you like, as long as you drink a set amount of detox teas per day for around 7-14 days. Usually, this is a form of green tea or another herbal tea that contains a laxative to create short-term weight loss.
Drinking too much green tea can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron, which might lead to deficiencies. And any weight loss is usually just a result of the laxative effect.
The cabbage soup diet promises to help you drop 10 pounds in a week by following a diet consisting mostly of cabbage soup.
It shouldn’t be followed for any more than 7 days, but it’s supposed to help you drop as much fat as possible before you try a more sustainable, long-term diet.
You can eat 1-2 other low-calorie foods per day, although this mostly involves skimmed milk, fruit, and vegetables. Other than that, you have to follow the set cabbage soup recipe. The amount you can consume is unlimited, though, which might help keep you full.
The five bites diet allows you to eat whatever foods you like, but you can only have five bites of any meal. It’s a typical fad diet designed to create rapid weight loss.
There are no recommended or eliminated foods, but you should skip breakfast and drink a black coffee instead. Your other two meals can include any foods you like, but of course, you’re limited to 10 bites a day in total.
It’s severely low in calories, which naturally causes quick weight loss. But you’ll likely experience nasty side effects such as fatigue, headaches, nausea, and even dizziness as a result.
On the apple cider vinegar (ACV) diet, you should consume ACV with each meal (or 2-3 times a day). This can be in the form of a shot, a hot drink, a dressing, or something else, so you can choose.
It’s thought that ACV kick starts your metabolism and suppresses your appetite. Taking it in the morning before you eat anything is supposed to be best, although there’s no solid scientific evidence. And it can be damaging to your stomach as it’s very acidic.
You can eat whatever you like outside of your ACV shots, so there’s no guidance on other foods. It doesn’t teach you much about healthy eating habits.
The baby food diet is one of the more obscure fad diets. You should replace all meals and snacks with baby food, apart from one.
Your last meal of the day should be a balanced, nutritious meal, consisting of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Aside from the fact the baby food diet is low in calories and severely lacking in nutrients, it’s also not the nicest to follow. Baby food isn’t unhealthy, but it’s not designed for adult nutrition. The only real benefit is the one nutritious meal you get to eat each day.
HCG is a hormone that’s produced during pregnancy. Followers of the HCG diet take HCG injections to increase weight loss, while following a diet of around 500 calories per day for 3-6 weeks.
Your 500 calories should come from high fat, high protein foods, plus vegetables and fruit, although you won’t be able to consume much with that allowance.
Elevated HCG levels in the blood can cause headaches, fatigue, and depression, despite claims that it suppresses appetite. And dropping your calories that low for an extended time is not beneficial.
The Beverly Hills diet consists of eating mostly fruit for a 35-day introduction phase, then reintroducing foods in a specific order.
You can only eat proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in a certain combination. For example, protein can be eaten with fat, but not carbohydrates.
There are lots of rules to follow, despite no real restrictions on the actual foods you eat. You might lose weight, but only because it’s so low in calories.
There are also a handful of other, less well-known diets that stick around. These diets are more aimed at eating behaviors and approaches, sometimes with unusual rules.
Intuitive eating means being mindful of portion sizes and listening to hunger cues, rather than following a specific ‘diet plan.’
It can benefit portion control and develop a good understanding of what your body needs and when. And it can teach you the difference between emotional eating and physical hunger.
However, there are no guidelines on what to eat or avoid, so you’re left to your own devices. It’s very flexible, which can be an advantage and disadvantage for some.
On the Scandi sense diet, you’re encouraged to use your hands to portion your foods. However, you can choose any foods you like.
It’s designed to encourage mindful eating and teach you about portion sizes, which naturally leads to calorie-controlled meals. It’s not flexible with these portion sizes, though, so it doesn’t consider whether some people may need more or less.
The only real rules you should follow are eating 3 meals per day, avoiding snacking, and sticking to 4 handfuls of food per meal.
You should eat 3 tablespoons of fat and 10 ounces of dairy at each meal. Other than that, use your common sense to choose healthy foods, opting for a mix of lean proteins, grains, and legumes.
Here’s what a day on the Scandi sense diet might look like.
Breakfast: A handful of oats, berries, 10 ounces of skimmed milk, and 3 tablespoons of chopped nuts
Lunch: A handful of chicken breast, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 handfuls of vegetables
Dinner: A handful of wholewheat pasta, handful of grilled salmon, handful of peas, and 10 ounces of cream
A supercarb diet follows a macronutrient approach, balancing your intake of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
It focuses on the types of carbohydrates you eat and when you eat them. You should eat the most carbohydrates in the morning, and gradually decrease them throughout the day.
Opt for whole grains, such as wholewheat pasta and bread, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and bulgar wheat, rather than white bread, pasta, and rice. Plus, you have a set protein intake and fats to keep things balanced.
Here’s what a day on the super carb diet might look like.
Breakfast: Overnight oats with low-fat yogurt, berries, and nuts
Lunch: Large grilled chicken salad with sweet potato wedges
Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt and peanut butter
Dinner: Harissa chicken with bulgar wheat and mixed vegetables
The 80/20 diet encourages you to eat ‘clean’ 80% of the time, while saving the other 20% to eat any foods you like, including cheat meals.
It’s primarily for long-term weight loss, following the idea that a more flexible diet is easier to stick to and more sustainable over time.
You should opt for healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean proteins, and healthy fats the majority of the time. Then allow yourself refined, processed, sugary, and fatty foods (if you like) for each week’s remaining meals.
While it might stop you falling off the bandwagon, it can encourage an unhealthy relationship with food by labeling foods as good and bad, so beware.
Here’s what a day on the 80/20 diet might look like.
Breakfast: Two slices of wholemeal bread with eggs
Lunch: Tuna salad with homemade croutons
Snack: A chocolate bar
Dinner: Lean fillet steak with peppercorn sauce, greens, and wedges
Following a body type diet means eating a set ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates based on the shape of your body.
It’s thought that different body types process macronutrients in different ways, so it can help you optimize performance and enhance weight loss. For example, some people have a higher or lower metabolism, or may hold fat in specific areas.
No foods are excluded, but you should opt for mostly whole foods, with plenty of lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, and healthy fats.
It’s certainly one of the more flexible and personalized diets, and one of the more effective ones for weight loss. However, it does require a lot of planning and preparation, and you have to track all of your food intakes.
Rather than eating for your body shape, the blood diet recommends you eat a specific diet based on your blood type to optimize your health.
Here’s the breakdown.
Type A: Eat mostly vegetarian following a plant-based diet and avoid red meat.
Type B: Eat plant-based foods plus meats other than chicken and pork, plus some dairy. Avoid a specific list of foods such as wheat, corn, and tomatoes.
Type AB: A combination of the A and B diets. Eat fish, plant-based proteins, dairy, beans, and grains, but don’t eat any chicken or beef.
Type O: Follow a high-protein diet rich in meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables, but stay away from dairy, grains, and legumes.
Any one of these diets is healthy and balanced, so it’s likely to reduce your risk of certain diseases no matter your blood type. There’s no real scientific evidence linking your diet to your blood type, though, so it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
The 5-factor diet involves eating 5 meals per day, each containing 5 ingredients to regulate your blood sugar levels and improve your energy throughout the day.
Every meal must contain a protein, complex carbohydrate, fiber source, healthy fat, and a sugar-free drink.
You should load up on foods such as meats, fish, fat-free dairy, vegetables, fruits, low-GI carbohydrates, grains, legumes, olive oil, and nuts.
You can modify this diet no matter your preferences, making it easy to follow for vegetarians and pescatarians, as well as meat eaters. But it does require quite a bit of planning to make sure you hit the 5-factor ingredients every time.
Here’s what a day on the 5-factor diet might look like.
Meal 1: Overnight oats with low-fat yogurt, fruit, nuts, and protein powder
Meal 2: Grilled steak, sweet potato, mixed vegetables, and diet soda
Meal 3: Peanut butter with apple sticks and protein shake
Meal 4: Pesto salmon, asparagus, brown rice, and sparkling water
Meal 5: Low-fat Greek yogurt, peanut butter, protein powder, sugar-free granola, and blueberries
The vertical diet is designed to improve performance and recovery, and optimize gut health, especially for bodybuilders and power athletes.
It involves eating plenty of easily digestible foods and avoiding foods high in FODMAPs such as onions, broccoli, and brown rice. A large bulk of the diet comes from red meat and white rice to keep carbohydrate and protein intake high, so it’s best for meat eaters.
You’ll need to work out your daily caloric intake and change this to suit your goals, adding more calories as needed – this is the ‘vertical’ aspect. For this reason, it’s probably more suited to experienced dieters.
Here’s what a day on the vertical diet might look like.
Breakfast: Whole scrambled eggs with feta, spinach, and mixed peppers
Lunch: Grass-fed steak with white rice and mixed vegetables
Snack: Greek yogurt and strawberries
Dinner: Sirloin beef cooked in stock with white rice and carrots
Choosing the right diet can be hard. There are so many to pick from, and the best one for you depends on what you like and what's best for your health.
Regardless of whether you have predisposed health conditions or not, you should always discuss any dietary changes with your doctor first. Or a qualified nutritionist, who can help you find what’s best for your body.
And remember, while fad diets might sound tempting with rapid weight loss results, the long-term effects are often more damaging, and keeping the pounds off isn’t sustainable. The only thing you really lose is money.
If you’re worried that switching it up might add extra dollars to your weekly grocery bill, we’ve rounded up the best easy ways to eat healthily on a budget. Dieting can be fun, budget-friendly, and sustainable, as long as you choose wisely.
The Zone Diet