All hail spinach, the original dark leafy green with a mega-dose of iron—one crucial nutrient responsible for maintaining strong energy levels. And don't forget to praise feta—this is one crumbly, savory cheese that's lower in fat and calories than most, meaning you can have more of it! Feta doesn't melt very easily, so try a blend of stringy mozzarella and feta for the perfect, light sandwich.
But the best part about the Mediterranean diet isn't that it's a concrete plan or dedicated to helping you drop pounds; rather, it's a way of eating that incorporates healthy fats, lots of fresh produce, and whole grains. Translation: You can do it for your entire life and never feel like you're actually dieting. (In fact, studies show you can lose weight on the Mediterranean diet without cutting any calories.)
After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.
Salmon boasts significant anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its rich omega-3 fatty acid content, meaning it’s an excellent source of protein for those looking to jumpstart their weight loss. In fact, one study that examined the effects of weight loss and seafood consumption showed wild salmon to be the most effective at reducing inflammation—better than lean white fish and a fish-free diet. According to a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, fishy fatty acids may also signal thyroid cells in the liver to burn more fat.
DASH stands for "dietary approach to stop hypertension" and was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a way to help reverse national trends of obesity and heart disease. Scientists combed through decades of research to come up with an expert-backed list of diet tips, along with a prescription for exercise. And it worked: The DASH diet has topped nearly every diet list for nearly a decade. Doctors particularly recommend it for people looking to lower high blood pressure, reverse diabetes, and lower their risk of heart disease. (Here's the basic list of DASH diet-approved foods.)
Another weight-loss-friendly substitute to keep in mind is favoring salsa over ketchup. While ketchup typically has around 19 calories and 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon, fresh tomato salsa has about 5 calories per tablespoon, no added sugar, and is packed with nutritious veggies. Tomatoes, for example, are loaded with fat-blasting fiber and vitamin C, a deficiency of which has been associated with increased body fat and larger waists. If you can handle spice, toss some jalapenos in your salsa to rev up your metabolism. For more on how you can switch your metabolism into overdrive, check out The 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism!
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.
Finding keto-friendly foods can be difficult at social gatherings — so consider bringing your own snacks. “If I know the restaurant where I’m meeting my family or friends, I usually look through the menu in advance and see if there’s something I can eat,” says Lele. “Salads are generally safe, with ranch or another low-carb dressing and a non-marinated protein. There are a lot of hidden carbs in restaurant food!”
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.