Get the Skinny on 5 Popular Diet Plans

Learn about these diet giants and see which may be right for you.

Get the Skinny on 5 Popular Diet Plans

Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds, take control of your cholesterol or just want to feel better about your body, doctor-approved diets are a great way to get on track to a healthier you. But with hundreds of diet programs and books claiming to be the best in the business, it can be hard to know which ones are actually worth your time – and which to avoid. That’s why we’ve done most the research for you.

Click through to get a roundup of 5 popular diet plans and learn which may fit your lifestyle the best.

The DASH Diet

The skinny: DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The diet aims to help people with hypertension -- a.k.a. high blood pressure -- get their numbers under control, while also promoting weight loss.

Why it works: The DASH diet encourages dieters to switch their diet to one based primarily on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, while encouraging them to eat less sodium and fat than they were before. Foods not encouraged: sugar-blasted drinks, sweets and red meat.

Who it’s right for: This healthy eating model works for everyone -- even children. Plus, it has the backing of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who recommends DASH as a model for the American diet.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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