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20 Best Diets for Getting Your Body Back After Baby

Weight Watchers

How it Works

Weight Watchers uses what you already eat—with a few healthy tweaks—to help you shed the post-baby pounds. No food is off limits on Weight Watchers, but every food you eat comes with a point value that you must keep track of during the day with their “PointsPlus” system. If you work hard to fill your diet with vegetables, fruits, lean sources of protein, and other healthy foods (which have low point values compared to high calorie, snack-type choices), it’s hard to go hungry on this plan.

Is This Diet for You?

To track progress and receive support, members attend weekly meetings led by those who have successfully lost weight on the program. Weight Watchers also offers extensive online support tools (great for new moms who find it hard to get out of the house!), as well as a weight loss program designed specifically for breastfeeding mothers.

Celebrity Fans

Actress/author Jenny McCarthy and actress/singer Jennifer Hudson lost all their baby weight (and then some in Jennifer’s case!) on WW.

3-Hour Diet

3-hour diet book cover

How it Works

Some diet plans may claim that you won’t feel any hunger while on them, but The 3-Hour Diet might be one of the only diets to actually make good on this promise. Developed by fitness and nutrition expert Jorge Cruise, the central premise of this diet is simple: if you eat a small amount of food every three hours, you will lose weight without feeling hungry. Other benefits include increased energy levels, alertness, and enhanced muscle mass. What you eat could be a small meal (cup of soup with a half a sandwich, for example) or a small snack (i.e. a cup of yogurt). But all these smaller portions of food are meant to add up to a healthy, balanced menu over the course of the day.

Is This Diet for You?

If you need a little extra help getting your post-baby belly in shape, eating every three hours may reduce the body’s production of cortisol, one of the hormones responsible for belly fat accumulation.

Celebrity Fans

Moms Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Klum, and Angelina Jolie

Eat Clean Diet

eat clean diet book cover

How it Works

Lose the baby weight just by cutting out the preservatives and processed foods? That’s the premise behind Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet, a lifestyle diet that doesn’t make you count calories or fat or carb grams, but does require you to commit to a daily menu of nothing but “whole foods,” meaning fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins prepared as close to their natural state as possible. According to Reno, when you “detox” from processed foods—and the preservatives, food chemicals, trans fats, and excess sodium they contain—your body naturally regulates its own weight and quickly sheds excess pounds.

Is This Diet for You?

Preparing whole foods can sometimes be a chore, but for those who like to cook, “eating clean” gives you lots of flavor—for dinner, think roasted chicken with fresh herbs, mashed cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and a crisp, colorful salad—and plenty of new mom nourishment.

Zone Diet

enter the zone book cover

How it Works

According to Dr. Barry Sears, the biochemist behind this popular diet, eating a 30:30:40 ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates enables your body to enter “the Zone,” a state of hormonal balance in which insulin levels are neither too high nor too low and maximum fat burning is able to take place.

To achieve balance, the Zone Diet stresses lean sources of meats, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. Especially important are foods that naturally contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats for the body that help reduce inflammation and boost cardiovascular health.

Is This Diet for You?

Omega-3s naturally provide the body with DHA, a biochemical that aids brain development. If you’re a nursing mom, eating a rich in omega-3s/DHA is a way to ensure your baby is getting a hefty dose of brain-boosting nutrients.

Celebrity Fans

Model and mom Cindy Crawford has been a long-time fan, and after her first baby, actress Denise Richards lost weight on the Zone.

Jillian Michaels

jillian michaels master metabolism book cover

How it Works

We all know Jillian Michaels as The Biggest Loser‘s former tough trainer with a heart of gold. But what you may not know is that Jillian firmly believes hidden hormones in factory-farmed meats and harmful chemicals in the environment (known as “endocrine disruptors”—chemicals that mimic hormones in the body), create imbalances in certain hunger-regulating hormones. These imbalances can pack on pounds, according to Jillian’s Master Your Metabolism, and make weight loss almost impossible.

Her solution? Bring hormones back in balance by “cutting the chemicals” and switching to a diet of mostly organic, whole food (and avoiding prepackaged, processed foods). Because animal fats can harbor hormones, Michaels advocates using lean cuts of meat or opting instead for vegetarian sources of protein.

Is This Diet for You?

If you just can’t get enough Jillian, pair her diet advice with one of her popular workout videos and you just might feel like you have your very own, tough-as-nails personal trainer.

Bob Greene’s Best Life

bob greene best life book cover

How it Works

The Best Life diet is based on a whole-body approach to weight loss that focuses on three key areas: eating a healthy diet that promotes weight loss, exercise, and your emotional health and self-image. Sick of crash diets? The first two weeks of Best Life are intended to help you take stock of your current eating habits—while gradually introducing healthier habits.

Once you’re ready, you begin following the actual weight loss diet, a balanced plan that includes lots of vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. Exercise can range from housework to hitting the gym, but physical activity must accompany the diet in order to keep the focus on fat burning—and not muscle loss. Followers of the Best Life are also encouraged to keep track of their emotional triggers around food.

Is This Diet for You?

If bland diet food is just not your taste, you will appreciate the menus and recipes in Best Life. Many were developed for Oprah herself and come packed with flavor and zest.

Celebrity Fan:

Oprah has given this diet her golden star of approval, and that goes a long way with moms all around the world!

Nutrisystem

rainbow pasta salad

How it Works

Delicious, dietetic meals delivered right to your door, what could be easier?

Nutrisystem offers over 100 different choices for meals and snacks, featuring such ingredients as healthy fats and low Glycemic Index carbohydrates.

Following the Nutrisystem weight loss plan entails eating six times a day to keep your body fueled. Like other pre-portioned food diets, you add your own fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy to create balanced meals and snacks. Online support is available for members.

Is This Diet for You?

Vegetarian-only and diabetic-friendly versions of the diet make Nutrisystem flexible enough to fit different nutritional needs.

Celebrity Fan

Marie Osmond. Yes, her children are older, but this mom still gets kudos for losing 50 pounds on this diet.

The Fresh Diet

salad

How it Works

Wish you had your own personal chef on staff to whip up delicious weight loss meals? If you live near one of several major metropolitan areas in the US, you could have the next best thing: direct delivery of a day’s worth of fresh, chef-prepared diet meals and snacks. Created by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs, Fresh Direct foods are made with “low-glycemic” whole grains, legumes and vegetables, lean meat and fish proteins, and healthy fats. Foods can be catered around personal tastes and food allergies. Daily menus provide around 1,500 calories.

Is This Diet for You?

If you are comparing different types of delivered, pre-packaged meal systems, Fresh Diet might win out in the convenience category because everything you will eat—from fresh veggies to meats—is already included; no extra food prep is required.

Celebrity Fan

Mama to two young boys, Ricki Lake

Jenny Craig

cannelloni

How it Works

Is convenience what you crave? Jenny Craig offers pre-packaged , single-serving meals and snacks designed to meet your weight loss and nutritional needs, without the lengthy prep time other diet plans sometimes entail. While main dishes are made for you on Jenny Craig, you do need to add your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

When following this diet, you’ll meet with your counselor on a regular basis to track weight loss, discuss stumbling blocks and learn strategies for healthy eating, including cooking techniques and recipes. Weekly food pick up takes place at the center. For busy moms, phone support and food delivery options are available.

Is This Diet for You?

If problems with portion control are what’s keeping you from losing weight, Jenny Craig’s pre-measured servings may help you overcome overindulgence at meals and snacks. And not having to think about what to make for your meals might be a nice thing to take off your plate during those initial sleep-deprived months!

Celebrity Fan

Actress Nicole Sullivan lost 35 pounds on Jenny Craig after the birth of her second child.

South Beach

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How it Works

According to Arthur Agaston, the cardiologist who created this wildly popular weight loss diet, the twin road blocks to weight loss—hunger and the urge to overeat—are caused by sugary foods and other refined carbohydrates in our diets that create blood sugar spikes—and subsequent crashes in energy levels that compel us to eat too much. By eating mainly vegetables, protein, and whole grains (and ditching the sugar and refined grains), we can stabilize blood sugar and eliminate the urge to overeat, while at the same time triggering our bodies’ fat burning mechanisms.

Is This Diet for You?

Looking for a weight loss diet that’s also heart-healthy? When it comes to proteins and fats, South Beach recommends eating proteins that are rich in omega-3 fats (good for your heart fats), such as salmon, and avoiding saturated fats and foods that contain trans fats (both bad for cardiovascular health).

Atkins

atkins diet book cover

How it Works

The grandaddy of all “low carb” diets, the first phase of Atkins restricts most carbohydrates (except non-starchy vegetables) and boosts protein intake as a way to switch the body’s metabolism from burning glucose as fuel to burning stored body fat (a process called ketosis). One of the more controversial elements of the diet, followers of Atkins are given the green light to eat bacon, hamburger, and other fatty meats as a way to satisfy hunger. After two weeks, more carbohydrates are added back to the diet, but the daily menu while on Atkins remains high in protein.

Is This Diet for You?

Many people have successfully lost weight on Atkins, but since ketones (acids) produced during ketosis may enter breast milk, the verdict is still out on whether any kind of severely restricted low carb diet is a good choice for nursing moms.

Eat Right for Your Blood Type

eat right for your blood type book cover

How it Works

Could your blood type be the key to your weight loss success? According to Peter D’Adamo, a naturopathic physician and creator of the Eat Right for your Blood Type diet, each blood type—A, B, O, and AB—comes with a unique genetic ancestry that thrives on certain foods for optimal health and weight loss. For example, have blood type O? If so, you have the oldest blood type, called “the Hunter,” says D’Adamo, and will do well eating mainly meats and vegetables, just as your paleolithic ancestors did. Or are you type A? Then your genetic roots are likely found among the first humans to farm; losing weight for you may be easiest when you follow a vegetarian weight loss diet that reflects this agrarian past.

Is This Diet for You?

Critics of the blood type cite lack of scientific evidence for D’Adamao’s claims. But in more practical terms, especially for busy moms, what if everyone in your family has a different blood type? That’s a lot of cooking to do!

You: On a Diet

you on  a diet book cover

How it Works

Because the circumference of your waist may be a far better indicator of your health than a fluctuating number on a scale, it’s important to focus not on weight loss when you are on a diet, but on “waist loss,” according to the Oprah-endorsed, You: On a Diet.

Written by popular TV docs, Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, the diet breaks down the science behind why ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and other heavily processed foods may have added inches to your waist line and what foods you should eat (the likely suspects of fresh veggies, fruits, and lean protein) to reduce the size of your midsection—and regain good health.

Is This Diet for You?

Knowledge is power. And because Drs. Oz and Roizen take such care to explain exactly why processed foods are so bad for you, it might make it easier to pass up the sweets after a long day, or night, with Baby.

Okinawa Diet

okinawa diet book cover

How it Works

The people of the Ryûkyû islands of Japan, of which Okinawa is the largest, have some of the longest life expectancies in the world. So what do these ultra-healthy people eat? According to the creators of the Okinawa Diet, the secret of the Ryûkyû people is a traditional diet that is low in calories, contains only small amounts of animal protein (mainly fish and pork), avoids all dairy and eggs, and is loaded with vegetables, including sweet potato. Following the eating patterns of the Ryûkyû people will not only help you shed pounds, proponents argue, but may also add years to your life.

Is This Diet for You?

Research has turned up that the longest-lived people of Okinawa eat foods with a caloric density of approximately 1 calorie per gram of food (a calorie density found mainly in vegetables). While on Okinawa Diet, you will need to track the caloric densities of every food you eat. Moms who like math may enjoy the mental workout (the book also offers extensive food lists to help). Can’t stand calorie counting? You may be better off skipping this one.

The O2 Diet

O2 diet book cover

How it Works

Eating foods rich in antioxidants may reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer—and can also help you lose weight, according to Keri Glassman, creator of The O2 Diet (Glassman is also a registered dietitian and TV health commentator). Followers of the diet need to become familiar with the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale, developed by the USDA as a way to measure antioxidant action in foods. Foods high on the ORAC scale should be liberally included in your daily menu, including such weight loss favorites as colorful fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Low on the ORAC scale is processed “junk” foods. These are to be avoided.

Is This Diet for You?

While O2 may look like the garden variety, “eat healthy food and lose weight” type of diet, the added benefit of high antioxidant consumption may be a draw for moms who want to combine the lifelong goals of heart health and reduced cancer risk with the short-term goal of losing the baby weight.

A Course in Weight Loss

course in weight loss book cover

How it Works

Listed as one of Oprah’s “Ultimate Favorite Things 2010,” A Course in Weight Loss by bestselling author Marianne Williamson is an exploration of how our spirituality and emotions affect our relationship with food.

Twenty-one practical lessons help you address the true causal root of your weight-loss issues—from unresolved childhood issues to emotional stressors in your current relationships. More of an anti-diet book than a guide that lays out menus and calorie counts, Williams believes that when you begin to trust and cherish yourself, your body will be free to finally let go of excess weight.

Is This Right for You?

If you are a food addict, a compulsive eater, or someone who for any reason sees food as the enemy, this book, with its focus on spiritual self-healing, may finally help you lose the emotional baggage, along with the baby weight.

The Abs Diet

abs diet book cover

How it Works

Lose weight and shrink that “mummy tummy” with this diet and exercise program for women designed specifically to target the abdominal area. Created by an editor from Men’s Health magazine (the original diet was written for men), The Abs Diet instructs women to eat six mini-meals a day, consisting mainly of protein and vegetables as a way to kick start weight loss. The book claims up to 12 pounds can be lost in the first two weeks. Exercise consists of cardio, in the form of a brisk walk or some other heart pumping exercise, abdominal toning, and overall strength training.

Is This Diet for You?

Quick weight loss has a way of coming back—and then some, so proceed with caution when any diet encourages you to shed pounds quickly. Still, for moms who need some extra guidance on how to combine exercise with diet, especially those that target flabby abs, this program may a good pick.

Core Balance Diet

core balance book cover

How it Works

Struggled with your weight long before you even became pregnant? An underlying biochemical imbalance in the body could be what’s making it difficult to shed stubborn pounds, according to the Core Balance Diet, created by Marcelle Pick, co-founder (along with Dr. Christiane Northrup) of the famous Women to Women Clinic in Maine. After a two-week detox from sugary junk foods, caffeine, and most other processed foods, followers of Core Balance are asked to take an extensive health inventory to find out which of the six common biochemical imbalances—digestive, hormonal, adrenal, neurotransmitter, inflammation, and detoxification—is affecting you most. You then follow a diet plan designed to heal the imbalance as you lose weight.

Is This Diet for You?

Because Core Balance takes a holistic, whole-body approach to weight loss, Pick provides ample information on how to untangle the emotional baggage surrounding our eating habits, a good choice for moms who binge or emotionally overeat.

Paleolithic Diet (Paleo Diet)

paleo diet book cover

How it Works

Is this how your “cave mama” ancestors lost their baby weight? The Paleo Diet is based on the premise that since human genetics haven’t really changed since the dawn of time, our bodies are programmed to be healthier when eating mainly meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts—the foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Proponents of the Paleolithic “Cave Man” diet also point out that traditional cultures around the world who still follow this type of diet are some of the healthiest people on earth. Exercise and increased physical activity, another normal part of a hunter-gatherer’s day, are also key to the diet’s success.

Is This Diet for You?

Because the diet eliminates dairy and grains—foods that didn’t enter the human diet until a scant 10,000 years ago—moms with food allergies may find this diet easy to follow.

Volumetrics Eating Plan

volumetrics eating diet book cover

How it Works

Eat fewer calories and still feel full? That’s the central theme of the bestselling Volumetrics Eating Plan by Dr. Barbara Rolls. Followers of Volumetrics don’t sacrifice their favorite foods, but do look for ways to swap out high-calorie ingredients for filling, low-calorie alternatives. For example, that small, calorie-packed bowl of mac ‘n cheese you eat for lunch every day? It can become a big bowl of weight loss-friendly Veggie-Stuffed Macaroni and Cheese simply by switching to whole-wheat pasta, skim milk, low-fat cheese, less butter, and adding a serving of chopped broccoli.

Is This Diet for You?

Because what you are doing on the Volumetrics plan is essentially modifying your eating habits to add healthier ingredients to the foods you already know and love, this gentle approach to weight loss may be more sustainable compared to fad diets that require frequent shopping trips for new or hard to find foods.

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