Think a juice cleanse is the golden ticket to bathing suit season? That's pretty unlikely. Besides making yourself grumpy and exhausted, your quick-fix diet plan likely won't help you in the long term. According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, only two diet plans are actually proven to work, and they're pretty much the old standards.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University evaluated 4,200 studies about weight loss to see what plans worked best. They found that of all the major weight-loss programs, only 11 were actually tested in a rigorous, scientific way, using randomized and controlled trials. (They didn't include meal plans like the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet, which are proven to have health benefits, because those don't have an explicit goal of weight loss.) And of those 11, only two have proven they help you lose weight and keep it off for a year: Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
Participants who went on these two diets lost more weight after one year than people who were either dieting on their own, received printed health information, or went to nutrition counseling sessions. People on Weight Watchers lost 2.6% more weight than a control group, and Jenny Craig participants lost 4.9% more weight than a control group. Nutrisystem and Atkins-style diets also showed promise, but needed more research to back them up for the long term.
And here's a real bummer: The diets that worked didn't work miracles. The ones proven to help you keep the weight off only had modest results. But it's better than losing a ton of weight, buying smaller outfits, and then quickly bouncing back to your original size.
The study's authors say it's important for you to look at the science before you try a new diet. And in the end, your doctor can help figure out what's best (and healthiest) for you. "I'm hoping that this study actually inspires more patients to talk to their doctors about losing weight," Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, an author of the study, told Today.com. "There is not a one-size fits all strategy."