Updated October 15, 2009

the-best-life-diet-guideThe Best Life Diet is a slow and steady approach to weight loss. This diet by Oprah's weight-loss guru outlines small incremental changes to help you live your best life, which involves an active lifestyle, "emotional freedom," portion control, and wholesome eating.

Basic principles:
Make small lifestyle changes for big results. Begin by assessing why you overeat and addressing emotional issues. Then make minor diet changes such as cutting off eating two hours before bedtime and having breakfast every day. You eventually adopt a more active lifestyle and follow a diet rich in healthy, whole foods.

How it works:
Reach your Best Life in three phases. First, eat a Best Life-approved breakfast every day, eliminate alcohol, drink six glasses of water per day, and stop eating 2 hours before bedtime. During phase 2, eliminate six unhealthy foods (refined grains, fatty and sugary foods) and monitor your hunger and activity level. Finally, focus on "adding nutrition" by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Calorie counts vary depending on your current weight and activity level.

What you eat:
Each day you'll eat three meals and a snack or two. Breakfast is key to controlling hunger throughout the day—the Best Life-approved options contain a mix of protein, fruit, and whole grains. Phase 2 eliminates common weight-gain culprits like soda, fried foods, and refined grains, but you ultimately transition to a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, and calcium. Keep sweets and other less nutritious food in moderation.

How much can you lose?
Don't expect a dramatic drop at first—you'll probably average 1 to 2 pounds per week. The upside is, this plan is designed to be sustainable over the long term, which means there's no limit to your weight-loss success.

Is it healthy?
Yes. This is a well-balanced plan that helps control calories, maximize nutrition, and improve your fitness so you lose weight steadily and keep it off.

Expert opinion:
The Best Life Diet gets a thumbs up. It does really make an effort to encourage long-term lifestyle changes in both food and physical activity, says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor at UT Southwestern and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Try this diet if you:
• Are an emotional eater
• Love food
• Want to get active

1-day sample menus:
Phase 1:
Breakfast: Raspberry-Banana Yogurt Smoothie with 2 slices whole-grain toast

Lunch: Portobello Skins with mixed greens and 1 slice whole-wheat bread

Dinner: Beef tenderloin or filet mignon with baked potato, broccoli and cheese

Snack: Raspberries with glass of chocolate soy milk

Phase 2:
Breakfast: Flaxseed Morning Glory Muffins with 1 cup grapes, 2 tablespoon mixed nuts, and 1 cup fat-free milk

Lunch: Lentil Confetti Salad with chicken and Wasa Crispbread

Dinner: 2 Turkey and Veggie “Burrito” Wraps

Snack: OJ and yogurt shake