Updated June 2021
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Buying guide for shopping guide for best diets

Food is the fuel that keeps us going. But how do we know we’re choosing the right foods to power our body?

If you’re looking to improve your overall health, trying a new diet is a great place to start. And there are certainly plenty of popular ones to choose from, including the keto diet, whole foods diet, and Mediterranean diet. Whether your goal is weight loss or you simply want to feel healthier from better food choices, investing in a new diet cookbook could provide you with the motivation you need for success.

Diet cookbooks present recipes and help educate on the impact certain foods have on our bodies. They also offer helpful tips and life hacks for the novice and little gems of information for more seasoned cooks.

To learn more about what diet cookbooks can offer, read on. When you’re ready to get started, consider choosing one of our top picks.

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When you pursue weight-loss goals, there are plenty of achievements besides a lower number on the scale. Increased energy, looser clothing, and a healthier complexion are all signs that your body is on the right path.

Key considerations

Health concerns

Before any major lifestyle change, especially one to your diet, consult with your doctor first. Certain diets may not be suited for your health or medical conditions.

  • Food allergies: If you  have any food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, it might affect whether certain diets will have enough options that work around them. You could also explore whether substitutions are amenable to the diet.

  • Other health issues: If you have major health issues or chronic conditions or are on any medications, find out from your doctor if there will be any negative effects or interactions with your chosen diet. For instance, if you are taking blood thinners, it can be dangerous to suddenly up your intake of vitamin K, which is found in green, leafy vegetables (such as kale and spinach) and other green veggies.


  • Bigger grocery bill: Some diets have a strong focus on quality foods and ingredients. Organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free foods could cost more, as they’re often considered specialty items in supermarkets. Frozen vegetables are a cost-effective option, however, certain diets require only fresh picks.

  • Small kitchen appliances: Diet cookbooks include a variety of soups, stews, and other dishes, so it matters to have the right small kitchen appliances to cook with. Because so many recipes revolve around convenience or low-maintenance preparation, instant cookers, slow cookers, and blenders are essentially required if you start a new diet. Some diet cookbooks even recommend investing in dehydrators or air fryers.

  • Time: Even with recipes that take only minutes to prepare, there’s a lot that goes into getting that dish on your table. Consider the amount of time you’ll spend on tracking food, reading labels, researching ingredients, changing your shopping habits, and sometimes making different meals than the rest of your family. If it’s a priority, though, scheduling and making lists will help you manage your new diet.


Since starting a new diet is a major change for your body, be as informed as possible when you make your choice. Look into the background of the diet you are interested in to determine whether there has been substantial research done on its safety and efficacy. Cross-reference case studies, testimonials, and peer-reviewed research to decide whether the diet is hype or if it’s scientifically supported from credible sources.

Community support

Sticking to your new diet isn’t always going to be easy. Luckily, online communities exist for nearly every diet, and it’s important to connect with others when you think you might need support. Some diet cookbooks come with access to their online platforms and offer subscriptions for more recipes, tips, or online classes. There are also general groups on social media platforms or online forums with outside moderators. These are typically free informal online groups where fellow dieters share their dieting experiences.

Diet and lifestyle changes

Often when diets are invented, they seek innovative ways to achieve optimal health results. Sometimes that’s weight loss, and other times that manifests as other health benefits. Regardless, diets focus on initiating changes, both internally and externally, in some of these areas:

  • Reducing intake of certain types of foods

    • Low carb: Low-carb diets require you to cut back on sugary foods, like pasta, pizza, cake, and bread. They tend to substitute these calorie- and carb-dense foods with an increase in protein, vegetables, and fats. Some diets suggest cutting back on carbohydrates, while other diets are entirely predicated on their full elimination or close to it.

    • Low sugar: Diets that are considered low in sugar approach this in a couple of different ways. Some recommend reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your everyday diet and suggest sugar substitutes like Stevia, Splenda, or Equal. Other diets recommend limiting naturally occurring sugar and controlling your intake of certain foods, particularly fruit.

    • Low-processed food: Many diets highlight the benefits of cutting out processed food, particularly fast food. Others are a bit more stringent and cut out foods in the frozen aisle, canned foods, and other packaged foods. Even stricter diets advise against prepared foods and recommend that you prepare all aspects of your meal before consuming.

  • Upping your veggies

    • Most diets stipulate that increased vegetable intake is required since they’re nutrient-dense foods. They also tend to be lower in calories when compared to other foods they could replace on your plate. Some diets, however, are picky when it comes to which vegetables are preferred. Starchy vegetables are preferred by some diets as the ultimate pre- and post-workout fuel, whereas they’re seen as counterproductive to weight loss in others. Because diets focus on balancing macros, it’s important to check which vegetables are preferred in your cookbook to receive the maximum benefit.

  • Commitment level

    • Short-term: Short-term diets are popular if you need to drop a few pounds in a limited time frame. They also help to reset your body or prepare you for a new phase of fitness or a different diet. Some short-term diets are extremely restrictive, though, and could result in gaining some weight back (or even more).

    • Moderation: Diets that preach moderation are considered to have positive long-term effects. They’re more sustainable because they’re less restrictive and are reasonable with substitutions. Sometimes it takes longer to lose weight with moderation diets, though some studies say weight tends to stay off more than with other types of diets.

    • Permanent lifestyle changes: Some diets require permanent lifestyle changes. It could be a personal choice or in response to a recently diagnosed health issue, such as diabetes. These major lifestyle changes tout long-term benefits, but physical and emotional hardships could arise from such strict adherence.

Diet prices

Inexpensive: For close to $10, you’ll mostly find short paperback books with fewer recipes.

Mid-range: Between $15 and $20, cookbooks tend to feature more detailed recipes and are usually hardcover. You’ll find plenty in this range authored by well-known chefs, fitness gurus, and other foodie celebrities.

Expensive: For $25 to $30, you’ll find hardcover cookbooks with more expensive binding or limited access to an app or online platform.

One thing to note about diet cookbooks is that many of them are much cheaper in their Kindle versions, sometimes as much as $10 to $15 less than their print counterparts.


  • Consider food allergies. Some diets are heavy on certain foods, such as fish or legumes. If you have a food allergy or intolerance, keep that in mind as you select a diet. You may need to choose a different one if substitutions aren’t an option in recipes.

  • Choose a convenient calorie tracker. For most diets, you’ll need to count your calories to some extent. Find an easy way to track foods so you’re consistent. Some people like apps, whereas others stick to a pen and journal.

  • Invest in a cookbook stand. If you’re short on counter space, use a cookbook stand while you’re cooking. You’ll be able to view the recipe more easily, plus you’ll have extra space with the book standing upright.

  • Get to know your grocery store. Save time by optimizing your shopping trip. Figure out where your staple items are, and write your list in the order you shop the store.

  • Start doing meal prep. Meal prep takes the guesswork out of each meal and encourages you to stick to meal plans. Stackable meal prep containers also save space in the refrigerator.
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If you’d like to buy organic, visit discounted food retailers to compare the prices of their organic products. Sometimes they’re much cheaper or cost the same as regular products at a big-name supermarket.


Q. I don’t know why this diet cookbook helps my friend lose weight, but not me. What am I doing wrong?

A.  There are several variables as to why you may not be experiencing the same type of weight loss. Be positive and refocus on what you can change. Measure and track your food more accurately, or try different recipes in the book. Perhaps introduce exercise into your daily routine to create a larger calorie deficit. It takes about a week to 10 days to notice changes, so consistency is important.

Q. Why don’t my recipes ever look like the pictures in the book?

A.  Simply put, professional food photography highlights the best attributes of a dish. Sometimes colors are enhanced or food is placed on fancy plates to create a visual effect. As long as you enjoy the taste of your food, that is all that matters. If you are still concerned about the look of your dishes, though, you can contact the publisher or the book’s online community for help.

Q. I’m not a good cook, so should I bother even getting a cookbook?

A.  Absolutely! Everybody needs to start somewhere, and a step-by-step cookbook with images and tips is a great starting point. Many cookbooks are divided into easy, intermediate, and advanced sections, so you can progress at your own pace.

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