The 10 best diets for fast weight loss

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Weight Loss Myth Busting

Quick and dirty

Did bikini season sneak up on you? Is your soon-to-be worn wedding dress still just a touch too tight? Did a last-minute invite for a beach getaway come your way? You're a lucky dog – and a panicked one too because you want to drop pounds, and fast. These 10 diets are likely to help you lose significant weight within a year, according to a panel of experts who reviewed 38 plans for the U.S. News Best Diets rankings. Just remember: Short-term weight loss is markedly different from long-term weight loss, which is more important for your health.

#1 (tie) Biggest Loser Diet

If you've seen the TV show, you get the idea: Six weeks of healthy food and regular exercise is celebrated as a great start to a weight-loss journey – as well as a way prevent or reverse various diseases. Fair enough. Experts determined that the Biggest Loser Diet is very likely to help you shed pounds, thanks to calorie restriction and exercise. To reap the other benefits of weight loss, however, you have to stick with it – something that's a lot harder for average Joes than for TV stars-in-the-making.

Overall rank: 11
Overall score: 3.6 out of 5

#1 (tie) HMR Program

The HMR Program uses meal replacements – think low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and hot cereal – in phases, coaching from experts, physical activity and an emphasis on fruits and vegetables to help dieters shed pounds fast. The plan is "very effective" in this measure, one expert said, adding that "the diet has improved over the years to incorporate a program to maintain the short-term weight loss." Just be prepared to say no to most restaurant invites and to potentially tire of pre-made foods.

Overall rank: 18
Overall score: 3.2 out of 5

#3 (tie) Atkins Diet

A large part of the appeal of the Atkins Diet, which aims to burn fat by limiting carbs and packing in fat and protein, is its claim of quick weight loss – as much as 15 pounds in two weeks, according to the company. Our experts agreed that's a legitimate pitch, but note that much of the initial weight loss is water, due to the diet's diuretic effect.

Overall rank: 34
Overall score: 2.3 out of 5

#3 (tie) Weight Watchers Diet

Weight Watchers – a plan that uses a point system to encourage followers to choose healthy, filling foods – claims you can shed up to 2 pounds a week. Our experts back its ability to deliver quick results. Better yet? Those results are likely to last, thanks to the program's emphasis on a balanced diet with no restrictions, as well as its built-in support system. Why not prepare for next bikini season as well?

Overall rank: 4
Overall score: 3.9 out of 5

#5 (tie) Eco-Atkins Diet

Think of this plan as the Atkins Diet for vegetarians and vegans. It calls for 31 percent of daily calories to come from plant proteins, 43 percent from plant fats and 26 percent from carbs. Experts agree that the Eco-Atkins Diet is likely to spur significant weight loss during the first year; most followers drop about 2 pounds a week for a few months. On the downside, the plan is "too restrictive" to maintain for two years, one panelist said, and offers no built-in support to keep dieters on course.

Overall rank: 25
Overall score: 2.9 out of 5

#5 (tie) Jenny Craig Diet

Jenny Craig's prepackaged meals and recipes help participants lose weight – up to 2 pounds a week, it says – through restricting calories, fat and portions. One recent review

of studies suggests it works: It found that participants lost more weight in a year on the plan than on other commercial weight-loss programs, including Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Medifast. Experts deemed Jenny Craig "very effective" for short-term weight loss, some praising its focus on teaching proper portion sizes and helping dieters learn to eat when they're hungry, rather than when they're bored or emotional.

Overall rank: 10
Overall score: 3.7 out of 5

#7 (tie) Raw Food Diet

Eating food that hasn't been cooked, processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically engineered or exposed to pesticides or herbicides (think berries, nuts and veggies) allows you to reap such foods' nutritional benefits, proponents claim. It also tends to cut your calorie intake in half. "One will lose weight" eating only raw foods, according to one U.S. News Best Diets expert panelist, "because it is a very restrictive diet."

Overall rank: 34
Overall score: 2.3/5

#7 (tie) South Beach Diet

The company claims most South Beach Diet followers will lose 8 to 13 pounds in two weeks and 1 to 2 pounds each week after that. Experts concluded such drastic weight loss is reasonable on this low-carb, high-protein plan, which unfolds in three progressively less restrictive phases. According to one panelist, "It offers the possibility of kick-starting a new diet by providing quick weight loss, which is very motivating." On the other hand, it's rule-heavy and may be too restrictive for some people to follow in the long term.

Overall rank: 21
Overall score: 3 out of 5

#9 (tie) Spark Solution Diet

If you successfully stick to this plan (created by the online diet and healthy living community, you'll be exercising regularly and limiting your calories to about 1,500 per day – a combination that's likely to help you drop a few pounds. Some panelists appreciated that the Spark Solution Diet encourages exercise and addresses topics like stress eating, which can often sabotage weight-loss attempts. But many worried about the long term, since the diet gives little guidance for meal plans after two weeks.

Overall rank: 15
Overall score: 3.3 out of 5

#9 (tie) Volumetrics Diet

By filling up on bulky foods with few calories (think carrot sticks rather than cashews), as the Volumetrics Diet dictates, you're likely to lose significant weight during the first year, experts said (1 to 2 pounds to be exact, according to the company). The plan is "realistic" and "allows people to enjoy all foods in moderation," one panelist said, by teaching portion control and how to choose foods that are low in calories but keep you feeling fuller longer.

Overall rank: 8
Overall score: 3.8 out of 5

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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The 10 best diets for fast weight loss

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