Back in 2009 when I finished my residency, I was an overworked doctor, eating the standard American diet — cereal for breakfast, bread with every meal, lots of cheese, sugar, etc. I was tired, overweight and always eating on the go. Around that time, I began attending some nutrition conferences, and I learned more about how food and my stressful lifestyle were affecting my body, especially my weight. It was shortly after that time that I made some changes to what I ate and how I lived.

If I showed you a picture of what I looked like back then, you probably wouldn’t believe it — my puffy cheeks went down, the fat around my thighs melted away. I can’t necessarily change the fact that I have to eat on the go sometimes, but what I eat and do is different. Not only do I like the way I look better now, but I feel better, too. I have more energy, more mental focus, better sleep, the list goes on.

It’s that time of year when people get motivated to lose weight and many women are searching for the best diet for weight loss. There are a lot of weight loss plans to choose from — some better than others — so I thought I would put the most popular diets together and look at the pros and cons of each. As a doctor, I’m looking at these not only from the perspective of how successful they are for weight loss, but also how they measure up for your long-term health and wellness.

The “ingredients” of a successful weight loss plan

Do you have weight loss resistance?

Weight loss resistance happens when your body physiologically blocks weight loss due to a systemic imbalance. Systemic imbalances can include hormonal, thyroid, adrenal, or neurotransmitter imbalances. Digestive imbalances, detoxification issues and inflammation can also cause weight loss resistance.

Find out if you have an imbalance that’s blocking weight loss. Take our Weight Loss Profile.

The changes that made the biggest difference for me were cleaning up my diet (taking out gluten, dairy, sugar, etc.) and minimizing my stress (getting more sleep, finding exercise I enjoyed, having fun). There are loads of diets out there to choose from. Some help you lose weight the healthy way, others are short-term fad diets. Here’s what goes into a healthy — and lasting — weight loss plan:

  • Gets to the root of weight loss road blocks, also known as weight loss resistance
  • Feeds the body all its necessary nutrients
  • Incorporates healthy meal ideas and recipes that taste good (low in major food offenders like gluten, dairy, and sugar)
  • Offers fresh ideas for exercise
  • Emphasizes the importance of emotional wellness
  • Provides information on the importance of restoration (stress-relief, sleep, and fun)
  • Supports healthy metabolism (with natural supplements like green tea extract, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, and B vitamins)

Compare popular diets

Diet PlanProsCons

Women’s Health Network Weight Loss Resistance Health Packages

I mention our Weight Loss Resistance Health Packages first because they are healthy, custom-fit to your body, and very effective for weight loss. We built the eating plan on a Mediterranean-style diet, use herbal support to unlock weight loss resistance and include lots of added support to ensure your success.

Addresses metabolic imbalances that may have been keeping you from successful weight loss

Provides an easy to follow meal plan, a top-quality multivitamin, a snack-replacement shake, and herbal metabolic support

Offers loads of yummy family-friendly recipes that will satisfy you

Connects you with one of our Wellness Coaches for personalized support and guidance

Offers tips for exercise and restoration

If you’re used to eating out, this approach will have you spending more time in your own kitchen (could be a good thing!)

LOW-CARB

  • The Paleo Diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Perricone
  • DASH diet
  • Schwarzbein I & II

Healthy food combinations

Energizing

May not get to the root metabolic imbalance/s leading to weight loss resistance

HIGH-PROTEIN/LOW-FAT/LOW-CARB

  • Atkins
  • Protein Power

Loss of fat

Creates muscles

You feel full

Doesn’t address metabolic imbalances and may even lead to metabolic issues if followed for too long

Poor choice for those with kidney problems

CALORIE-CONTROL / PORTION CONTROL

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig
  • NutriSystem

Emotional support (included in some plans)

Easy to follow

Encourages lifestyle changes

May not get to the root of weight loss resistance

Point-tallying, calorie counting, and packaged meals can be hard to continue long-term and may be expensive

Often very high in carbs and known food allergens

Can be socially isolating

LOW/NO MEAT & LOW CALORIE

  • Raw food diet
  • Vegetarian & Vegan Diets
  • The Flexitarian Diet

Lots of fruits and vegetables

Cardiovascular benefits

Can be very tedious to prepare meals (especially for the raw food diet)

Could leave you with low energy

May make digestive issues worse

Tips to keep you motivated — no matter which diet or eating plan you’re on

Now that I’ve changed the way I eat, it doesn’t mean I don’t slide off course every once in a while, especially on special occasions. Remember, we are looking for progress, not perfection. Here are some tips to keep you motivated:

  • Clearly define your goal and identify your 'why.' The 'why' will determine the 'how.' You need a compelling reason why losing weight is a MUST instead of a SHOULD. Change happens when there is a change in perspective and awareness. Transformation occurs when there is a driving force to keep you committed. Once you understand why you need to lose weight, set goals (i.e. incorporating more vegetables, a number on a scale, a dress size, etc.) that make sense for your path.
  • Seek mentorship and stay connected. The most successful people in any endeavor work with a coach who implements daily practices for better results faster. Everyone benefits from having someone to hold them accountable. People thrive when they are surrounded by like minded people. Having support and encouragement from others is a key ingredient of success. If one of our Weight Loss Resistance Packages sound like a good fit for you, you’ll have regular phone calls with our Wellness Coaches.
  • Reward yourself when you hit milestones. Keep in mind these “milestones” don’t have to be actual pounds you’ve lost, but may be a set number of days you’ve been on your new eating plan, your first holiday without binging on sugar, your clothes fitting differently, etc. Rewards may include getting a massage, going out to buy a new dress, getting a facial, indulging in a nap or an afternoon on the couch — just make it something that doesn’t involve sugar.
  • Be your own chef. You can make your own version of healthy “fast-food” and surround yourself with easy snacks. I’ve found that preparation is key to my success. Make meals and snacks on the weekends and freeze or refrigerate them. You might cut up a bunch of veggies and keep them on hand with hummus in your fridge. I always keep a protein shake and a bag of nuts with me at the office when I’m seeing patients — this way when I’m hungry, I reach for something healthy.
  • If you splurge one day, enjoy it instead of feeling guilty or bad, and get right back on your eating plan the next day.

Reclaim your power

Real weight loss means making a sustainable lifestyle change, honoring your body, and empowering yourself to make choices that nourish you on all levels. A key is letting go of the past and recognizing that you have the power to write a new chapter in your book of health. We are here to help!

References

US News and World Report. 2013. Best diets. URL: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet.

Feinman, R., & Fine, E. 2004. “A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutr. J., 3, 9. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC506782/.