The 10 Best Diet Books That Helped These Women Lose 20+ Pounds

Updated: Sep. 18, 2018

Get inspired to shed pounds by flipping pages as you read about the weight-loss success these women experienced from diet books.

Jenna Stuhmiller
Courtesy Jenna Stuhmiller

The Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig

Jenna Stuhlmiller, 28, from Atlanta, Georgia, struggled in secret with her weight and issues with food her whole life. She jokes now that it was her worst kept secret because, unlike so many other issues, when you struggle with weight, there’s no hiding it. She tried to diet in the past but had little-to-no success until she found The Whole 30. “When you actually stick to a ‘diet’ and results start showing, people become interested in what you’re doing and want to cheer you on—and when you put yourself out there and talk openly about your struggles and challenges without shame and reservation, you realize that you’re not alone,” she says. This book by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig created an eating plan for her to follow as well as inspirational and encouraging words about prioritizing oneself and one’s needs. “It really struck a chord with me and came into my life at a time when I was ready to both receive the message, and commit to making real change,” she adds. Check out these 42 ways to lose weight fast.

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Kimberly Toney
Courtesy KetoKimberly

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners by Amy Ramos

Kimberly Toney, 37, from Leander, Texas, lost over 70 pounds by following the ever-popular ketogenic (aka keto) diet. Her starting weight was 298 pounds in December of 2017 and now she weighs 227 pounds—she is striving to hit her goal to be under 200 pounds by December 2018. “With the keto diet, I have lost weight consistently despite being diagnosed with PCOS, which makes it extremely hard to lose weight,” she says. “This diet has allowed me to lose when conventional dieting failed.” Through these diet books, she has learned how to create meal plans that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat, as recommended by the keto diet. Try these bizarre weight-loss tricks that work.

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Laurie Olson
Courtesy Laurie Olson

Bright Line Eating by Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson

Laurie Olson, 56, from Port Orchard, Washington, has struggled with weight since she was a pre-teen. “My mom had me on the Atkins Diet by the time I was in junior high and, since then, I’ve tried a few diets with some success,” she says. “Nothing really helped me lately until I found The Elimination Diet, which calls for the elimination of all of the foods in my diet that were making me sick.” Even this diet, however, missed an important part of her eating issue—an addiction to food that she only found out about once she read Bright Line Eating. With that knowledge, she’s come down from 204 to 152 pounds in less than a year. “The magical advice was to eliminate sugar and flour—it’s totally changed everything for me!” Nutritionists warn to never eat these 50 foods.

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Irene Spiros
Courtesy Iren Spiros

Wild Mediterranean by Stella Metsovas

This book helped Irene Spiros, 40, Chicago, Illinois, figure out both food and lifestyle changes for health. “I was surprised to find so much information in this book that went from detoxing—beginning with a pre-tox—and then followed by a land or sea-based detox,” she describes. “I never thought to myself that preparing your digestive tract for special foods that could aid in elimination was as important as the author suggests—and it’s definitely good advice because my feeling after this program was far different than any other I’ve tried, including the use of a topical mineral spray!” Irene has also enjoyed the recipes included in these diet books, which were mostly Mediterranean-style foods that called for even healthier ingredients.

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Sam Donley
Courtesy Sam Donley

The Dubrow Diet by Heather and Dr. Terry Dubrow

Every time Samantha Donley, 27, from Hollister, California, had tried to lose weight in the past, she would shed about ten to 15 pounds before the weight came right back on—five times faster. With the help of this book, she has gotten down to 50 pounds in six months and she says she’s so confident with these tools and guidelines that she will be able to lose ten more to reach her goal and most importantly maintain the weight loss. “Even if I were to regain some weight, I’m OK with that because this book makes it so easy to get it back off. Other programs are not this easy!” she explains. “The way the book lays out the guidelines and tells you when and what type of food to eat has made this so doable.” Read about hidden reasons your diet isn’t working.

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Kaen Koenig
Courtesy Keith Loring

Fat Is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

Back in the 80s, Karen Koenig, 71, from Sarasota, Florida, was a self-proclaimed chronic dieter and binge-eater. To help her shake what was becoming a vicious and dangerous cycle, she turned to this book by Susie Orbach. “Its premise worked and it turned out that science has now proven that chronic dieting is indeed a cause of overeating and weight gain,” says Koenig. “The book was so important to me that I carried it around everywhere and talked about it to friends—eventually I had to buy a second copy to lend so that I could keep mine with me!” Thanks to these diet books, Koenig lost 15 pounds slowly by learning to eat normally and make peace with food. She has kept the weight off by paying attention to appetite cues and changing some of her eating habits (like not finishing all the food off her plate). These diet trends will hopefully disappear in 2018.

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Johnathan Mariano
Courtesy Johnathan M.

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

Back in the early 2000s, Jonathan Mariano, 38, from Los Angeles, California, stumbled upon this book that has since changed his life. “I’ve never tried a diet before and I wasn’t intentionally trying to lose weight—I was just trying to eat healthier,” he says. “But, by taking the advice in the book, I lost 50 pounds, going from 200 to 170 pounds, and eventually down to 150.” To achieve this goal, he went from eating the SAD diet (Standard American Diet)—full of processed foods and meats—to a vegetarian, nearly vegan diet, full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Find out the worst diet advice nutritionists have ever heard.

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Sarah Hollenbeck
Courtesy Sarah Hollenbeck

Thin from Within by Robyn Youkilis

Sarah Hollenbeck, 23, from Austin, Texas, had tried to diet many times before, but it wasn’t until this book that she was able to make a true lifestyle change that stuck. “This book really changed my relationship with food and helped me view cravings in a new way,” she says. “Instead of seeing cravings as the enemy, I was able to see them as a signal from my body that I was missing something, and that I can meet that need in healthier ways than reaching for junk food.” She also attributes her new knowledge of a healthy digestive system to the book, adding that it helped heal and stabilize her gut bacteria. Learn about these daily habits of naturally thin people.

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Summer Yule
Courtesy Summer Yule

Volumetrics by Dr. Barbara Rolls

As a registered dietitian, Summer Yule, 39, from Avon, Connecticut, believes there is no “right” way to lose weight that works for every person. “I tend to be a volume eater, so the advice in Volumetrics worked well for me. However, others may need to take a different approach—for example, those who are overeating due to emotional issues may derive great benefit from support through counseling and groups such as Overeaters Anonymous,” she says. “The big-picture premise of this book is that, in order for volume eaters to be successful in weight loss, they need to take both the nutrient density and the energy density of foods into account.” The book provides healthy foods that are high in both nutrients and energy, but in small portion sizes. “By tracking calories and shifting the proportions of these foods in my meals, I was able to lose 70 pounds without feeling hungry,” she says. “This is backed by science; consuming a low-calorie diet is one of the evidence-based methods that have been shown to help people to lose weight.” These diet plans will help you lose weight fast.

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Heather Rains
Courtesy Heather Rains

TurboCharged by Dr. Dian Griesel and Tom Griesel

For Heather Rain, 42, from Mathews, Virginia, this book taught her about choices and knowing that each one we make will either benefit us in getting closer to our goal—or it will push us further away from it. “It’s about substitutions that make eating just as enjoyable. It isn’t a fad diet that is impossible to stick to long-term,” she says. “It is a complete guide that taught me how to eat, explained why it works, how it works, offers encouragement, plus tips-and-tricks and exercises.” Next, find out the best workouts for every age.

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