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12 Diet Books That Are Actually Worth Reading

 

When it comes to healthy eating books, there’s no shortage of options. Log on to Amazon or—gasp—head to a bookstore, and it seems like every celebrity, nutritionist, doctor, and trainer has *the* answer to slimming down. So how can you tell which diet books are legit and which are just hype? Start here—these are the best weight loss books for people who want results.

1. Weight Watchers: The Ultimate Starter's Guide to Losing Weight Rapidly the Smart Way

By Oliver Sweet, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2017)

Diet philosophy: Everything in moderation
Best suited for: Someone who loves tracking their every move (and bite)
Why it’s worth a read: The famous diet has a legion of fans—including Oprah and Jennifer Hudson—but that’s not why it earned the top spot for weight loss diets on the 2017 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings. Rather, it’s because the plan really works. A meta-analysis of 2,400 studies found that Weight Watchers was one of the only programs where the average participant lost more weight after one year than dieters who were doing it on their own or finding advice from other sources. This healthy food book comes with a brief history of the program, recipes, and advice from a Weight Watchers member of 10+ years.
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2. The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off 

By Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., and Mindy Hermann, William Morrow Cookbooks (2013)

Diet philosophy: Yes, you really can eat food and lose weight
Best suited for: People who hate feeling hangry
Why it’s worth a read: The whole point of the Volumetrics diet—which was ranked the second-best diet for weight loss in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings—is to eat the same amount of food as you usually do, just with fewer calories. No, that doesn’t require ~magic~. It just means eating less energy-dense foods (AKA foods with fewer calories per gram), like fruits and veggies. The New York Times best-selling book features tons of tools and recipes to help you drop pounds without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
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3. Wheat Belly: 10-Day Grain Detox: Reprogram Your Body for Rapid Weight Loss and Amazing Health

By William David, M.D., Rodale Books (2015)

Diet philosophy: Unhealthy carbs are a major cause of obesity
Best suited for: Those who think their carb addiction has gone too far
Why it’s worth a read: Anyone struggling to pass the bread basket will appreciate cardiologist William Davis’s 10-day wheat detox, which he created after his original Wheat Belly book became a New York Times best-seller. During those 10 days, the program follows recipes that wean you off of unhealthy wheat and grains ASAP, while simultaneously teaching you how to recognize withdrawal symptoms (because pretzel addiction is real!) and how to avoid common diet saboteurs.
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4. The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

By Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015)

 

Diet philosophy: Press the reset button on your entire diet to help you find out exactly which foods are causing health issues
Best suited for: Someone who’s able to stick to a strict, month-long diet program
Why it’s worth a read: Surely you’ve heard of Whole30 by now? This restrictive diet plan requires you to nix all sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy for 30 days. If that sounds impossible to do solo, founders’ Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book provides a step-by-step plan that basically holds your hand through the process. Its regular appearance on the New York Times best-seller list solidifies its status as one of the best healthy eating books out there.
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5. Daily Dash for Weight Loss: A Day-By-Day Dash Diet Weight Loss Plan

By Rockridge Press (2014)

 

Diet philosophy: To lose weight, eat more nutritionally dense foods
Best suited for: People who can’t handle restrictive diets
Why it’s worth a read: DASH—or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—has been named the best overall diet in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings for seven years in a row. This healthy eating plan was originally designed to help lower blood pressure, but followers found it significantly contributed to weight loss as well. (Here are 5 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally.) There are no wild restrictions here—just a call for more fruits and veggies, lean meats, mostly whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. The recipes, a 28-day meal plan, and lots of scientific backup in this book make it pretty easy to convert to the DASH diet if that’s your jam.
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6. The Lose Your Belly Diet: Change Your Gut, Change Your Life 

By Travis Stork, Ghost Mountain Books (2014)

Diet philosophy: The key to weight loss is having a healthy gut
Best suited for: Dieters with constant bloating and digestion issues
Why it’s worth a read: Gut health plays a crucial role in weight management, and The Doctors’ Dr. Travis Stork dives deep into the science that explains why a microbiome-friendly diet can help you lose weight, stop bloating, regulate your digestion, and feel more energetic. (Check out these 5 Good-Bacteria Foods You Need for a Healthy Gut.) His meal planner book is full of daily diet recommendations and recipes, so it’s really no surprise that it’s been on the New York Times bestseller list all year.
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7. Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less: Your Guidebook for Living a Low-Carb and Low-Sugar Lifestyle

By Colette Heimowitz, Touchstone (2017)

 

Diet philosophy: Eat high-fat, low-carb meals
Best suited for: People who don’t have a problem giving up carbs
Why it’s worth a read: Don’t scoff at the Atkins Diet just because Kim Kardashian swore by it to get back to her pre-baby weight. Science says that people who followed high-fat, low-carb plans like Atkins lost more weight after six and 12 months than people who received their nutrition advice from an expert. While Atkins is still about cutting your carb and sugar intake, this new guide focuses on helping you make all-around healthy decisions—and it’s packed with the healthy recipes, meal plan strategies, and goal-setting tips to get you there.
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8. The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy

By Neal D. Barnard, Grand Central Life & Style (2017)

 

Diet philosophy: Cheese is as addictive to heroin
Best suited for: Those who OD on dairy on a regular basis
Why it’s worth a read: If cheese is your weakness, this nutrition book is your bible. Dr. Neal Barnard’s book made headlines with his attention-grabbing claim that cheese is as addictive as heroin, and it delivers a realistic program to help people curb their cravings. Barnard spends the majority of the book explaining why he calls cheese “dairy crack,” and how—thanks to the fact that it’s loaded with calories, sodium, and saturated fat—it can contribute to problems like blood pressure and arthritis. (Did You Know Insomnia Can Make Your Blood Pressure Skyrocket?) You don’t need to cut cheese from your diet entirely (dairy does have health benefits), but Barnard’s book provides tips—and recipes—you may need to keep from overindulging.
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9. Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss 

By Joel Fuhrman, Little, Brown and Company (2011)

 

Diet philosophy: Eating unhealthy foods can lead to bad eating habits
Best suited for: People who constantly give in to their cravings
Why it’s worth a read: A regular Amazon best-seller, this healthy eating book outlines Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s six-week weight loss plan and the principles behind it. It investigates the idea of “toxic hunger” and how your cravings can condition your body to overeat, then walks you through ways to leave those food addictions behind by eating more nutrient-dense foods that fill you up on fewer calories. (Check out these 5 Signs You’re Addicted to Food.)
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10. The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You: Lose Weight and Get Healthy for Life! 

By Cheryl Forberg ,‎ Melissa Roberson, Lisa Wheeler, and‎ The Biggest Loser Experts and Cast, Rodale Books (2010)

 

Diet philosophy: Get 45 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from lean proteins, and 25 percent from healthy fats
Best suited for: Dieters who aren’t afraid of serious commitment
Why it’s worth a read: Believe it or not, the diet based off the TV show tied for the top spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings for Best Diets for Weight Loss. The report found that the specific combo of restrictive eating and exercise will definitely help you lose weight in six weeks (but did note that to keep the weight off, you have to stick with the plan). You’ll get recipes, medical, and nutrition advice, plus six weeks of workouts in this book—not to mention plenty of motivation to keep going after that month and a half is up.
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11. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle 

By Amy Ramos, Rockridge Press (2016)

 

Diet philosophy: If you change your body’s energy source, you’ll lose more weight
Best suited for: People who are fine with sacrificing a little protein
Why it’s worth a read: The trendy ketogenic diet, founded by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, is a high-fat, low-carb diet à la Atkins, but it limits your protein intake. Consuming a diet made up of 80 to 90 percent fats, and the remainder consisting of carbs and protein, forces your body to burn fats instead of carbs—that, in turn, can result in more weight loss, according to a study published in the journal Behavioral Pharmacology. Ready to give it a go? This diet book is a one-stop guide to going “keto,” with easy-to-understand explanations of the ketogenic principles and a 14-day meal plan that gets you started.
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12. The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight

By Haylie Pomroy, Harmony Books (2016)

 

Diet philosophy: Being strategic about what you eat and when you eat it can make your body more efficient at shedding extra weight
Best suited for: People who hate calorie counting and don’t want to cut out any food groups
Why it’s worth a read: You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that a faster metabolism equals more weight loss. But revving your calorie-burning engine is often easier said than done. This four-week diet book helps you get there, as the plan calls for three meals and at least two snacks a day (yay!), includes recipes, and allows you to eat from all the different food groups throughout the week. Author Haylie Pomroy claims that the method will jumpstart your metabolism and help you see improvements in your energy, sleep, and stress levels. Who wants to say no to that? (Here are 11 More Ways to Spikes Your Metabolism.)
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