If you’re looking for the best diets, you’ve likely come across many recommendations for eating plans promising fast and easy results—many of which are not only unsustainable, but possibly unsafe, too. To help guide you toward eating plans that may offer safe and sustainable results, the Forbes Health editorial team consulted a panel of eight nutrition experts on their top picks for diets and dietary patterns. Read on for their recommendations—but remember to always consult your doctor before beginning any new diet or weight loss program.


To determine our ranking of the best diets for weight loss, the Forbes Health editorial team surveyed a panel of eight nutrition experts on a diet’s efficacy. In particular, we asked panelists to gauge the efficacy for weight loss as a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, and the ability to maintain that weight loss over the long term.

Diets were ranked based on the highest average scores for weight loss, but required a minimum of four out of eight panelists providing scores to qualify for consideration.

What Makes a Diet Effective for Weight Loss?

Not all diets are created equal when it comes to weight loss. In addition to fitting into your individual needs and lifestyle, the most effective diet plans should also be sustainable and easy to follow, according to Su-Nui Escobar, a Miami-based registered dietitian and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“A great diet plan balances all the essential nutrients like proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats,” says Escobar. She explains that the exact amounts of specific nutrients can vary for different eating patterns (such as low-carb or paleo diets), but emphasizes that all food groups should be included.

Certain diet plans have also been studied more extensively for weight loss. According to one review, plant-based diets may prevent overweight and obesity while also promoting weight loss[1]. What’s more, another study linked a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet with a two-fold increased likelihood of maintaining weight loss long-term[2].

Regardless of which plan you choose, it’s also important to create a calorie deficit for weight loss, meaning you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming each day. For example, if your goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you should aim to reduce your food intake by 500 to 1,000 calories less than the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight. However, it’s also important to not reduce your calorie intake too much; it’s recommended to consume at least 1,500 calories per day for men and 1,200 calories per day for women.

Dr. Escobar also notes that an effective diet for weight loss should always come with an exit strategy for once you reach your goals to help you ease back into the swing of things. “It is easy to lose weight, but difficult to maintain,” she says.

How to Determine the Best Weight Loss Diet for You

Before starting a new weight loss diet, there are a few factors you should consider. For starters, Dr. Escobar recommends determining whether or not it’s realistic for your lifestyle, goals and preferences.

For example, plans that require you to prepare all your meals at home might not be the best choice if you have trouble fitting meal prep into your weekly routine or are regularly on the road. Similarly, switching to a vegan diet may not be realistic if meat is a mainstay in your meal plan.

Dr. Escobar also points out that people with certain health conditions should talk to a doctor before switching up their diet. If you’re taking medications, it’s also a good idea to check with your doctor and make sure your diet is a good fit.

When to See a Doctor

If you have any chronic conditions like diabetes or kidney disease, it’s best to consult with a doctor or dietitian before making changes to your diet, according to Dr. Escobar.

She also notes that you should keep an eye out for other symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Persistent irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to check in with a health care professional to reassess your eating plan.