Low-carbohydrate, high-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-fat, low-fiber, high-fibe—and the list goes on and on. Who can keep track of all these diet plans? It seems as though new diet plans, weight-loss promises, or "miracle drugs" are introduced each day. It's hard to determine what can work best for you, but these tips will help you get on the right path.

The Lowdown on Low-Carb Diets

One trend is low-carb, high-fat strategies. Low-carb diets include the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, the Zone diet and Protein Power. A Stanford University study found that, in general, women assigned to the Atkins diet lost slightly more weight after three months than women on other diets. The American Heart Association (AHA) explains that low-carb diets can lead to quick weight loss because cutting carbs also causes a loss of body fluids.

The AHA further warns that a diet high in protein and fat increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even some cancers. However, not all fats are created equal. Research shows diets rich in vegetable fats decrease heart disease and diabetes. Generally, vegetable fats are better than animal fats, and even Dr. Robert Atkins admitted as much, according to The Journal of American Medical Association.

But the question remains: How effective is a low-carb diet in the long run?

Studies have shown that at the six-month mark, low-carb dieters lose, on average, about nine to 13 more pounds than those on a low-fat plan. But after a year, weight-loss evens out, according to The Journal of American Medical Association.

The Skinny on Low-Fat Diets

Weight loss may come more slowly with low-fat diets, but most experts believe that it is better for you overall.

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that people who followed low-fat diets were less likely to experience hardening of the arteries than people on low-carb diets. In addition, low-fat dieters outdid their counterparts with regard to blood sugar control for people with diabetes, according to The Journal of American Medical Association.

And the Winner Is...

Unfortunately, there is no one single best choice. Diets should be personalized to the individual.

However, it is important to get a good balance of all food types. Adults should get 45 percent to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent to 35 percent from fat and 10 percent to 35 percent from protein, according recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences. 

It is important to remember that dieting is not a sprint; it takes time and eventually must become a way of life in order to maintain a healthy weight. Often routine counseling will help dieters stick to their goals. Taking short cuts might work at first, but not in the long run.