Get results that last for the long haul with these smarter, R.D.-approved tweaks

If you want to lose weight, there's nothing more motivating than seeing fast results. With warmer weather on the horizon, trying a quick-fix diet certainly is tempting, and many speedy weight-loss solutions are popular for a reason; you get the immediate satisfaction of a seeing a lighter load on the scale (and of course a looser waistband). But strategies like juice fasts, skipping meals, and cutting way back on calories aren't sustainable in the long term, so any weight loss is likely to come back once you return to your normal eating patterns.

We talked to Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D. and author of The Doctor's Detox Diet: The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription and Melissa Joy Dobbins M.S., R.D., for their ideas on how to follow six common diets safely-and still lose the weight you want.

Juice Fasts


Christine says: "Swap one meal for juice or smoothie instead: Use a blender that retains the entire fruit and/or vegetable in the liquid (like a Vitamix that retains the pulp). That way, you get the full benefit of dietary fiber-both the soluble and insoluble portions"

Melissa says: "Skip the juice and instead try a 'fruit and veg binge.' Make most of your meals and snacks whole fruit and veggies with small amounts of protein and whole grains on the side."

Skipping Meals


Christine says: "Go for the opposite: More, but smaller, meals instead-a carton of yogurt, handful of nuts, half a sandwich. Think small/portable/quick blasts of food that have protein and carbs that stabilize your blood sugar and actually stave off hunger."

Melissa says: "Don't skip the meals but do skip the snacks. More research is showing that snacking simply adds calories and packs on the pounds. Focus on smaller, more nutrient-dense meals and try to avoid the extra nibbling."

Drastic Calorie Restriction


Christine says: "Don't go too low; this will shut your metabolism down all together, preventing you from losing anything in the long run. Eating five or six mini-meals of about 250 to 300 calories each will boost your metabolism and help you lose weight faster."

Melissa says: "Nothing wrong with a drastic calorie ‘reduction,' especially if you have a lot of extra calories to cut down on. The key here is to avoid going too low on calories, which will douse your metabolic fire and make you feel sluggish. Calorie needs vary based on gender, height, etc., but most women should avoid going below 1400 calories and most men should avoid going below 1700."

Doubling Up on Exercise


Christine says: "Doesn't a little more exercise and a little less food sound like a lot less work? It will also help [you] focus on a healthier diet and reduce your risk of sport-related and overuse injuries."

Melissa says: "Instead, try to make your workouts very high intensity to get more out of them (think harder, not longer). You might rethink your food choices after working out so hard and naturally gravitate to healthier foods."

Eliminating Entire Food Groups


Christine says: "Unless it's for personal or health reasons; you choose to be vegetarian, or have gluten intolerance, etc. The only food groups we should all be cutting out is the group of foods that have calories with few nutritional benefits, like candy, sweetened carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, and deep-fried foods."

Melissa says: "That's great if the food group is "junk food!" Try to eliminate a specific type of food like chips or pop or candy/sweets, not a nutrient like carbs or fats.

Detox Diets


Christine says: "If you want to clean out your colon for a medical procedure, then follow the doctor's orders. But if you want to strengthen your body's natural detox organ systems to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, like your liver and kidneys, eat a variety of vegetables, whole grains, protein, healthy fat, non-fat dairy, and herbs and spices so your body can purify itself."

Melissa says: "Your body is able to naturally detox through the digestive process. Your liver, kidneys, intestines, and other organs were built to do just that. Instead of "detox diets" try to cut down on overly processed foods and eat more whole foods."