PHOTOGRAPH BY KOHEI HARA/GETTY IMAGES
While there isn’t a plan that’s perfect for everyone, we found 10 weight-loss books that readers swear by. Download one (or more) today, and then let us know in the comments if your results are equally impressive! (Lose up to 15 pounds in just 30 days with this revolutionary superfood plan from the publisher of Prevention!)
“In 2004 I read an article in Prevention that was extracted from Jorge Cruise’s book 8 Minutes in the Morning. Because the article emphasized having ‘all-day energy’ (which I desperately wanted) rather than weight loss (which was not my main concern), I started doing the very easy strength-training circuit described in the story. After losing 20 pounds in two months, I bought the book in order to expand the range of exercises I was doing.
My progress was interrupted by over a year being homeless, but I continued to exercise even while living in a campground, and ultimately lost 90 pounds. Another round of housing insecurity and some serious aches and pains led toslowly gaining back about 15 pounds, but the vast majority has stayed off. I’m hoping to kick it back into gear this year and get even stronger before I hit age 50.”—Heather, Mendocino County, CA
“At the start of 2014, I was feeling sluggish and foggy-headed, my stomach was almost constantly upset, and my skinny jeans didn’t fit anymore. Having been told by my doctor that sugar is my enemy (and possessing a voracious sweet tooth), I knew I needed to kick my sugar habit. So I picked up The Sugar Smart Diet by Anne Alexander and followed it explicitly for a month, starting with zero sugar for a week, then gradually adding small amounts back in. Once the sugar cravings disappeared, I craved healthier foods like nuts, vegetables, and lean protein, and my metabolism sped up. I lost 10 pounds in about three months, got my energy back, enjoyed a flatter stomach, and felt better than ever.
Kicking my sugar addiction was the catalyst for reclaiming my health, and I eventually lost a total of 30 pounds. I recommend the book to everyone I know who wants to feel better, lose weight, and fit back in to their favorite jeans.” —Tabitha, Chandler, AZ
“I’m 62 and a grandmother of four, and I’ve been on many, many diets before. What I liked about this plan by Keren Gilbert is I found it to be doable for my lifestyle.
The plan lasts 12 weeks and emphasizes eating lots of water-rich foods like oats and beans as well as nutrient-dense foods like chia seeds that help with digestion and weight loss. The plan was so well-organized that it wasn’t hard to change my whole way of eating, and I started incorporating chia seeds into my everyday diet: I sprinkle them on my yogurt or put them in my oatmeal. I lost 25 pounds and I really feel great.” —Debby, New Hyde Park, NY
“I started the program by Joel Fuhrman because I felt like it was something I could wrap my brain around; it wasn’t daunting. It limited my choices a little bit, but it didn’t limit volume. I discovered that I like to eat a good amount of food. I had been on so many diets prior to this, and everything is about weighing and measuring things…which on Eat to Live, you don’t ever have to do. If I was hungry, I could eat rather than tough it out until my next meal.
The plan is big on vegetables, but that wasn’t a terrible transition for me. Cutting out sugar was hard for the first week or so, but it’s been six years now and there’s no going back. I’ve lost 220 pounds, and I no longer have type 2 diabetes—it went away almost immediately after starting the plan.
I also used to have hypertension, but that’s gone, too. Going to traditional doctors, it was never put on the table that you could get rid of these problems. It was always, ‘You have this now, so here’s a prescription for this.’ There was no talking about reversing stuff—just treating it.” —Susan, White House Station, NJ
“I like everything about it. The science made so much sense when I read David Ludwig’s book; I was so eager to start. The first few days I was very tired, but when my body fully adjusted, I had so much energy I didn’t know what to do with, and the weight started just falling off.
There are three phases. In the first one there’s no grain, whatsoever. No flour or anything. No starchy vegetables. It sounds difficult, but he has it setup so you’ll still feel full and satisfied. You need to eat plenty of good fats, and you need to make sure you get your protein, and good carbs from fruit and beans. And plenty of good, non-starchy vegetables for the first two weeks at a minimum. Most people end up staying in this phase because they’re so happy with it. I stayed in it for two weeks, and then I bounced between that and phase 2. In phase 2 you eat a little bit less fat, and you can add back in some of the starchy vegetables, along with whole kernel grains.
I found my body wasn’t ready for the reduction in fat, so I actually kept the higher fat content for a long time and I still managed to lose 37 pounds on this plan.” —Jenny, Norman, OK
“I’m an active 61-year-old without major weight or health issues. But once I left my 40s I noticed the number on the scale going up. For years I would return to The Fat Flush, which I could count on for weight loss, but it was a pretty miserable experience being on it, and the weight would slowly return.
A friend of mine told me about Wheat Belly by William David, and I read the book, watched a video, and then emptied my kitchen of all those whole grains I had in glass jars. I didn’t have much else to get rid of as I was already eating a pretty healthy diet.
I immediately felt better, had more mental clarity, and my appetite decreased. Now five months in, I’m holding steady at 16 pounds down.” —Kathy, Santa Fe, NM
“Whole30 is an eating plan by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig that eliminates inflammatory foods like milk, legumes, alcohol, grains, and sugar/artificial sweeteners from your diet. You concentrate on eating preservative-free, whole foods such as animal protein, vegetables, and fruits. If you cheat, you have to start over at the beginning. After 30 days, you slowly reintroduce one food group at a time to see how your body responds to it and by doing so can figure out the best diet for your body.
I followed it strictly this spring with amazing results. Not only did I lose 6 pounds, I was able to completely go off anti-anxiety medicine, the intense pain I had in my knees is almost gone, and my relationship with food has been completely redefined. I now crave vegetables, notice immediately when something I eat affects me negatively, and no longer crave sugar like I did. Since then, I’ve done a second round and continue to follow the plan about 80% of the time.” —Kimberly, Archbold, OH
“In 2011, I had ballooned up to 185 pounds. I weighed more than I did when I delivered my three children, only I wasn’t pregnant. For 10 years, I gradually added 5 to 8 pounds a year, and there appeared to be no end in sight.
Like most people, I tried many diet plans and nothing seemed to work. I also tried a vigorous exercise program of 3 hours per day of cardio and weightlifting for a year but, without a proper diet plan, I didn’t lose a single pound.
I finally stumbled upon Dr. McDougall’s book, The Starch Solution, and decided to give it a try.
It is a simple plant-based eating program with an emphasis on starchy vegetables. It’s so easy to follow, anybody can do it.
Before long, I was dropping weight, quickly at first, but as I got closer to an appropriate weight for my 5’9 frame, the weight loss slowed. My weight finally settled at a healthy 140 pounds. I’ve kept 45 pounds off for 5 years now.” —Shannon, Issaquah, WA
“I think that what distinguishes Lisa Lillien’s Hungry Girl from most other diets is it’s not all about portion control. It’s about finding good food, and then finding ways to bulk it up so you get to eat a lot without adding a lot of extra calories.
I found that the extra vegetables and fiber in the Hungry Girl recipes kept me fuller longer. I didn’t go hunting for sugar and caffeine at 3 o’clock every afternoon and after dinner. I snacked less, and when I did, I made much better choices
The plan was simple. The choices were limited, especially the first week, but I liked that. In weeks two through four there are more options, but the recipes were not complicated. After one month I lost 10 pounds and my husband lost 13. We both went to annual check-ups recently and both had downward movement of our A1c [which measures blood glucose levels]. Our respective doctors were thrilled.” —Nancy, Memphis, TN
“I love this plan by Pearl P. Barrett and Serene C. Allison because there is no counting Points or calories or measuring anything. It gives you freedom to eat how much you feel you need. You do have to completely cut out sugar andartificial sweeteners (stevia is OK), but otherwise there is not much you absolutely cannot have.
The plan is based on the way your body burns carbs and fats. The authors say that when you eat them together, your body will burn carbs and store the fats. When you separate them, your body only has one fuel to burn instead of two and therefore you start burning some of your stored fat.
You still eat fats and carbs on this plan—but you have to separate them. When you eat fats it’s called an S meal. An S meal can include any kind of meat, eggs, cheese, even bacon. You pair the fatty items in your meal with non-starchy vegetables, berries, and breads or desserts that are made from low-carb ingredients like coconut flour or almond flour. When you want carbs you eat an E meal. With this you can have lean meat, any kind of fruit, veggies (including sweet potatoes), and lower-carb breads like sprouted or sourdough.
There’s no magic number of S or E meals to eat. You change it up however you feel as long as you are getting both.
This plan has been much easier for me than other ones because I’m not worried about limiting portions or missing entire food groups. I’ve already lost 10 pounds.” —Alice, Smyrna, TN