1. DASH Diet
Sadly not related to the Kardashians, DASH actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was designed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to lower and prevent high blood pressure by doing exactly what you already know is good for you: eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less red meat.
Ranked No. 1 by U.S. News four years in a row, this diet has one real caveat: math. You’ll have to calculate your own daily calorie allowance based on your age and activity level. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided both a long and short guide to help.
2. Ornish Diet
This hippy-dippy diet is laid out in the 2007 book The Spectrum. Followers can choose their commitment level based on their desired results, and they can make up for a “bad” day by following it with a “good” one. The plan looks at four lifestyle components — nutrition, exercise, stress management, and emotional support — and claims it can have a number of outcomes, from weight loss to reversing chronic disease. “It’s basically just healthy eating,” says nutritionist Amy Shapiro of Real Nutrition NYC. But if you need somebody to plan your every meal and cardio session, this is not the plan for you. If you like to go with the flow over to yoga class, then maybe.
3. The “Nothing White” Diet
This diet sounds crazier than it actually is; if you think about what foods are white, you won’t be surprised that a diet is telling you not to eat them. (Good-bye, regular pasta; hello, whole wheat!) As Shapiro puts it, “If you’re not going to eat anything white, then you’re not going to eat any crap.”
There are some exceptions to the “nothing white” rule: cauliflower, egg whites, milk, poultry, parsnips, and milk are all fair game. And you do still need to keep those portions under control, so this isn’t a brown-food free-for-all. The theory is that if you can stick it out for two weeks, you’ll stop craving white foods altogether. Eventually you can reintroduce them to your diet in small amounts.
4. Acid Alkaline Diet
You probably haven’t thought about your pH levels since Secret stopped running those “strong enough for a man but pH balanced for a woman” deodorant commercials. (A quick refresher on pH: It measures acids and bases, also known as alkalines, on a scale of 0 to 14, with acids ranging from 0 to 7, and alkalines between 7 and 14. Our bodies hang out between 7.35 and 7.45.) Supporters of the Acid Alkaline Diet (AAD) argue that foods that put our bodies into acid-forming mode — think red meat, dairy products, and sugar — are bad for our health, while foods that are alkaline-forming — like lentils, spinach, and other vegetables — are good.
The goal is to consume 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic ones at every meal. (Some people do 60/40.) “There’s nothing crazy,” says Shapiro. “It’s just, eat more whole foods.” So if looking up the pH values of all the foods you want to eat sounds like a good time, hop on the AAD bandwagon. Bonus: You’ll have plenty to talk about next time you run into Victoria Beckham, who popularized the diet when she tweeted about how much she loved the Honestly Healthy cookbook.
5. Flat Belly Diet
Any diet that says you can lose 15 pounds in 32 days is hiding something. The Flat Belly Diet’s secret is that most of that weight loss is water weight. “It gets you to lose a lot of water really fast,” Shapiro says. “That’s something you can’t maintain long-term.”
But hey — sometimes you just want a flat belly in very little time, amirite? If that’s the case, make yourself a batch of “Sassy Water” and start drinking it with your monosaturated fatty acid (MUFA)-heavy meals, which is a science-y way of saying “Mediterranean diet-inspired.”
6. The French Woman Diet
Once upon a time someone started a rumor that all French women are skinny. That turns out not to really be true. But the world still has a diet designed around the so-called French paradox. Why do the French eat croissants and chocolate and foie gras and not get fat? Supposedly because they CARE about their food more, and so they spend more time preparing it and enjoying it and less time mindlessly eating in front of the television à la us Americans.
That is the premise behind the book French Women Don’t Get Fat and several other iterations along the same lines: quality over quantity. Small portions of high-end foods like lamb chops and gratins and cheeses and zero portions of processed foods like Cheetos and Big Macs. It’s actually a good idea and a worthwhile premise. We should spend more time shopping and cooking — we would end up enjoying our food more. But will we lose weight this way? The jury’s still out.
7. Spark Solution Diet
This diet says it can rewire you into a vegetable-scarfing, sugar-scoffing fiend in just two weeks if you can follow the plan laid out in The Spark Solution. The basics are this: Your 1,500 calorie diet is 45–65% carbs, 20–35% fats, and 16–35% proteins. You will be given specific instructions for every single meal, snack, and even your fitness routine. You will not be allowed to order anything on Seamless. The mission, if you choose to accept it, will likely result in weight loss and better heart health. But will your results self-destruct after the two weeks is up? That depends on you and you alone.
8. The Chewing Diet
People who have been swallowing their food whole may be surprised to learn that they are missing out on the amazing weight loss effects of…CHEWING! Multiple studies find that the longer a person spends chewing their food, the less that person will eat. This is all well and good and makes scientific sense. But chewing for too long has drawbacks: “Participants in the prolonged chewing group were less happy after lunch and had reduced ratings of lunch enjoyment, and pleasantness of the texture of lunch, compared with others,” said one set of researchers in their report. :(
9. Macrobiotic Diet
If Gwynnie can do it, why can’t you? Because it’s insanely hard without a personal chef planning and making your every meal, maybe. But according to the centuries-old macrobiotic diet, your body is telling you what it wants, and what it wants is whole, “living” foods like vegetables and beans that are organic and locally grown. (If you think your body is telling you it wants Doritos, steak, or chicken, then you’re just not listening closely enough.)
Expect to eat lots of whole grains, like brown rice and oats, vegetables, beans, and soybean products like tofu and tempeh. You’ll get to indulge in foods like fruits, fish, seeds, and nuts once or twice a week. But say good-bye to dairy products, eggs, poultry, red meat, and anything processed or artificial. The good news is that the diet wants you to feel full, so you’re allowed to eat a lot of the things you’re allowed to eat.
10. Engine 2 Diet
This is perfect for anyone looking to throw away everything in their pantry, fridge and freezer, because that is basically what you’ll need to do for this vegan-plus, firefighter-designed diet. (What makes it vegan-plus? Not only are all animal products out, but so are processed foods and vegetable oils. Have fun!)
If this sounds like something you want to do, pick up the book for a full rundown on how you’ll be spending the next 28 days. Also be sure to look up the location of your closest food-drop spot so you can bring them all that verboten food currently in your kitchen.
11. The Baby Food Diet
Fantastic news for those secretly coveting their nieces’ pureed carrots: This diet will let you indulge a full 14 times a day. The only downside? According to Elle, by the end of it you may be “miserable and hallucinating.”
And psst… Rumor has it Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga have both tried this one.
12. The Vision Diet
Nope, not a diet for better vision. Actually the opposite: The whole diet is wearing tinted glasses so everything looks gross and you don’t want to eat it. Not only will you lose weight, you’ll get to look really cool while you do it!
Except that probably you won’t. As Everyday Health put it, “The most likely outcome: You’ll still eat whatever you want and you could hurt your eyes from wearing the specs too long.”
13. The Mouth Wired Shut Diet
I swear to you I am not making this up. People are seriously getting their mouths wired shut to force them to eat less. I will not link to these websites because THIS IS CRAZY AND YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT. But you should know about it so you that you can bask in the joy of chewing your next sandwich.