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Which diet is right for you? 13 plans explained

Bacon and eggs

Photo: Piotr Rzeszutek/Shutterstock

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Atkins Nutritional Plan

When the Atkins Nutritional Plan, commonly known as the Atkins Diet, first took the dieting set by storm, healthy oatmeal-eating breakfasters were suddenly sharing meals with friends living on bacon and eggs ... and who were dropping weight like crazy. Steak-lovers could finally give up on futile efforts to lose weight through the tedious consumption of low-calorie foods thanks to Robert Atkins' book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, which climbed the bestseller list and settled in for an extended stay at the top.

Simply put, the plan is based on the idea that carbohydrates are diet enemy number one, and that by drastically reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat, we burn stored body fat more efficiently and lose weight thanks to the biological process known as ketosis. The Atkins Diet promises not only hunger-free weight loss, but also better heart health and memory function, as well as other wellness benefits. Some otherwise healthy foods are restricted or limited, while meat and fat are acceptable.

And while it has proven to be an effective way to shed pounds, some studies have found that low-carb diets can increase heart attack risk. (Is it any wonder?)