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Whether you’re trying to improve your cholesterol levels, stabilize your blood sugar levels, or reach and maintain a moderate weight, there are countless diet plans and programs available online claiming that they can help.
Though general eating patterns — like the Mediterranean diet or a plant-based diet — may be effective for many, others may prefer more structured commercial diets, which often provide clear guidelines, resources, and support.
However, not all commercial diets are created equal. In fact, while some are supported by research and proven effective, most are actually overly restrictive, unsustainable, and ineffective for long-term weight maintenance.
Many commercial diets promote unhealthy eating habits and foster a negative relationship with food. And in the long run, they can do more harm than good when it comes to your health.
Still, there are some options available that may fit your goals, budget, and preferences, including commercial diets as well as non-commercial plans that offer detailed guidance and structure on which foods you should prioritize.
Here are 9 of the best structured diets of 2022.
It’s important to consider a variety of factors when searching for a diet that works for you.
First of all, look for a diet that caters to your specific health goals. For example, some diets may focus on weight loss, while others may emphasize heart health or blood sugar management.
Ideally, you should also opt for a diet that can back up its claims with high quality research.
You should steer clear of weight loss diets that are overly restrictive or unsustainable. They can be difficult to follow because the limitations may prevent you from meeting your health needs. Plus, when you resume your regular diet, you’ll likely regain any lost weight.
Additionally, many commercial diets ask you to track your calories, a practice that has been linked to stress, poor relationships with food, and eating disorders. Be sure to consider whether calorie counting is safe for you before beginning a program built on it.
Be sure to consider the price and required time commitment for each diet as well, as these can vary quite a bit.
Some plans may provide additional resources, including digital apps or peer support, which might be an important factor for some.
Finally, be sure to check with a medical professional, such as a doctor or registered dietitian, before making any changes to your diet. This is especially important if you have any underlying health conditions or specific dietary needs or are taking any medications.
How we chose
We selected the commercial diets included in this article based on the following criteria:
- Clear guidelines. The diets provide simple, straightforward guidelines and are relatively easy to follow.
- Nutritional balance. Each plan encourages consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods to meet your nutritional needs.
- Sustainability. Plans are not overly restrictive and can be followed long-term.
- Evidence-based claims. The purported health benefits of each diet are backed by research.
- Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.
Best for one-on-one support
Noom is a mobile app that provides educational resources, weekly challenges, and support from a virtual coaching team to help you build healthy habits and improve your diet.
According to its creators, Noom focuses on fostering healthy habits to make long-term improvements to your diet and lifestyle. It also provides educational resources and peer support to help you stay on track and motivated.
Instead of focusing on quick weight loss, Noom claims to help users achieve long lasting, sustainable results by making small changes each day.
Noom requires a subscription, which includes access to a personal coach and daily lessons on topics like goal setting, physical activity, nutrition, and coping mechanisms.
However, Noom’s health coaches aren’t required to be registered dietitians or complete formal nutrition education.
Additionally, subscription plans can be pricey, especially if you’re following the plan long-term. In fact, though discounted rates are available for annual plans, subscriptions can start at $59 per month.
If you decide that the program isn’t for you, you can request a refund by messaging your coach directly on the Noom app.
Best for sustainable, long-term weight loss
Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet was specifically created to support long-term weight loss. It encourages healthy behavioral changes and offers a variety of resources on the app.
Developed by the team of health experts at Mayo Clinic, the Mayo Clinic Diet is designed to promote sustainable weight loss by making meaningful changes to your behavior and lifestyle.
The original diet is based on the book “The Mayo Clinic Diet.” It’s divided into two phases: a 2-week quick-start program and a long-term maintenance phase.
The plan encourages you to build healthy habits and provides detailed guidance on the types of foods you should eat as part of a balanced diet.
Optionally, you can purchase a subscription for their digital platform, which includes meal plans, a food tracker, and an extensive library of educational content and at-home workouts.
A 1-month plan for the app costs $49.99. However, discounted rates are available if you purchase a 3-, 6-, or 12-month plan.
If you decide that the Mayo Clinic Diet isn’t for you, you can cancel your membership within 5 days to receive a refund.
Best meal delivery
BistroMD is a weight loss meal delivery service that delivers ba
lanced and nutritious meals directly to your door.
The company offers meals for a variety of dietary restrictions and health conditions. They also focus on providing nutritionally balanced meals that they claim will support healthy weight loss.
They have several programs available, including plans specifically for heart health, menopause, and diabetes. They also offer plans tailored to men, women, and people following a gluten-free diet.
The menu includes more than 150 fully prepared meals and an assortment of snacks, which you can choose from to create your own custom plan.
Each dish is designed to provide the nutrients you need and contains 1–2 servings of vegetables, 4–5 ounces (113–142 grams) of lean protein, and 1 serving of complex carbs.
BistroMD costs around $199.95 per week for the full program, which includes 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners. However, you can also order just 5 days of meals, either with or without breakfast.
According to their website, they are unable to issue refunds or accept returns if you dislike the food, but note that they can credit your account if you experience issues with shipping or packaging.
Best for simplicity
WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers)
WW is a popular weight loss program designed to help you reach your goals.
WW uses a points-based system to encourage nutrient-dense foods and promote weight loss. Not only is it simple and straightforward, but it’s also flexible and allows you to enjoy your favorite foods as part of a balanced diet.
Each member is allotted a specific number of PersonalPoints per day. Foods are assigned specific numbers of points based on their content of calories, fat, and fiber.
Members also receive a list of ZeroPoint foods, which don’t count toward their daily budget of PersonalPoints.
The required monthly subscription provides access to the WW app and a variety of resources, including tracking tools, recipe ideas, and a workout library.
Plans start at $3.53 per week. Different tiers are available, including an option with in-person and virtual support from a WW coach, which starts at $6.92 per week. (As with Noom, WW’s coaches aren’t required to be RDs.)
Subscriptions are nonrefundable unless canceled within 5 days or canceled due to pregnancy or other medical reasons.
You can learn more and compare WW with Noom here.
Best for blood sugar management and inflammation reduction
The Zone Diet is an eating plan designed to reduce inflammation that was developed by Dr. Barry Sears, a biochemist and the author of “The Zone.”
The Zone Diet encourages lean proteins, healthy fats, and carbs with a low glycemic index, which could be beneficial for promoting blood sugar management and weight loss.
The diet consists of about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. It also encourages choosing lean proteins, monounsaturated fats, and carbs with a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how much foods impact blood sugar levels (
In addition to supporting weight loss, this eating pattern could be beneficial for improving blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes (
Though there is no cost for following the diet and no subscription is required, several supplements are recommended, including fish oil and polyphenol supplements.
Best for brain health
Why we picked it: The MIND diet includes a range of nutritious ingredients and has been linked to many benefits. It is also very simple, sustainable, and easy to follow. For all these reasons, it scored the top spot on the list.
The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet, or MIND diet, is an eating plan that combines the principles of the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet.
In recent years, the diet has been studied for its brain-boosting benefits and has even been associated with improved brain function and decreased decline in thinking ability in older adults (
It encourages consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including berries, leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains. It also recommends limiting red meat, fried foods, cheese, butter, and sweets.
Unlike other diet plans, the MIND diet has no strict rules or regulations. It’s one of the simplest and most straightforward diet plans available.
The diet is also completely free to follow and doesn’t require you to purchase any extra snacks, subscription plans, or supplements.
The Ornish Diet encourages following a well-rounded diet consisting of nutrient-dense foods. Additionally, plant-based eating patterns like the Ornish Diet may be beneficial for weight loss, blood sugar management, and chronic disease prevention.
The Ornish Diet is a low fat, plant-based diet that claims to help protect against chronic disease.
It encourages a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains,
legumes, soy products, and small amounts of certain animal products, such as egg whites and nonfat dairy.
Meanwhile, it eliminates meat, poultry, and seafood and recommends consuming only limited amounts of processed foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and foods high in fat.
Though research is lacking on the effects of the Ornish Diet for diabetes specifically, studies show that plant-based diets can increase weight loss, improve blood sugar regulation, and reduce the risk of several chronic conditions (
The diet is free to follow and does not require any specific supplements, subscription plans, or additional products.
However, you may need to plan your diet carefully. If you’re following the diet long-term, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin, which can help fill in any gaps and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Best for blood pressure management
The DASH diet has been shown to reduce several risk factors for heart disease. It also sets clear guidelines for which food groups you should eat and which foods you should limit.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating pattern designed to lower blood pressure levels.
The DASH diet recommends aiming for a specific number of servings of different food groups each day, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy products, and whole grains. It also limits your intake of sodium and foods high in added sugar.
The plan has been well researched, with studies showing that it can effectively reduce levels of blood pressure, low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar (
It’s free to follow and doesn’t require you to purchase any supplements or products.
Additionally, various apps and books are available that provide recipes, meal plans, and tracking tools for the DASH diet.
Best for heart health
Several components of the TLC diet have been shown to support heart health. The diet is also free, simple, and easy to follow.
Also known as the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, the TLC diet is a program created by the National Institutes of Health to help prevent heart disease and stroke.
It sets guidelines for the amounts of calories, fat, cholesterol, soluble fiber, and plant sterols or stanols you should eat and encourages dieters to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day.
It may be a good option if you’re hoping to improve heart health, as certain aspects — such as increasing your fiber intake and adding more exercise to your routine — can support healthy cholesterol levels and protect against other heart disease risk factors (
Additionally, no supplements are required, and guidelines for the diet can be found for free online.
A variety of books and other resources are available for additional support.
Here is a closer look at how these popular diet plans stack up against each other.
There are a wide range of structured diets available, each of which varies in terms of its focus, guidelines, and potential benefits.
Be sure to consider your goals, needs, and preferences when finding a commercial or non-commercial diet that works for you.
You should also opt for a program that is easy to follow, sustainable, and backed by research.