It’s one of the most commonly-asked questions in the fitness industry: what is the most effective diet for weight loss?
It’s a topic that everyone seems to have an opinion on, and one which elicits a huge range of different responses. Some will argue for the paleo diet, free of pre-prepared foods. Others claim that a high fat, low carb keto diet is the answer. Everyone, it seems, knows someone who has lost plenty of weight, using a range of different methods.
But who is right? And what is truly the best way to lose weight?
The answer is it depends on.
Let me explain…
Most of the better-known diets can and do work. Each has long lists of success stories to prove it. Shunning bread isn’t necessarily any better or worse than doing things differently. In fact, I would argue that the key factor when deciding on a weight loss diet is choosing one that suits your unique personality.
We’re all different. Some of us love nothing more than a bowl of fresh fruit. For others, it’s a full-fat coffee that does it, or a bar of creamy chocolate, or bag of crunchy pretzels, or… you get the point.
Then there’s the lifestyle element to consider. If you eat out often, then you find some diets far more trying than others. Keto dieters can order the meat but leave the bread. Someone on a juice diet might get funny looks in the restaurant when requesting just a kale and celery smoothie.
Finally, it’s important to appreciate that some diets cost far more than others. Protein-heavy diets, that rely on large portions of meat to keep you satisfied, can quickly strain the bank account.
By selecting a diet that allows you to enjoy the foods you love, and to live the lifestyle you’ve developed without feeling too restricted, you’ll be far more likely to see it through to your goal weight. Choose the wrong diet, and no matter how much weight you lose there’s every chance you’ll drop our part way through.
With that said, let’s examine some of the more popular weight loss diets to see which might suit you as an individual…
The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is almost like a religion to some folks, who closely follow and subscribe to its philosophies of shunning premade foods as much as possible. The emphasis tends to be on eating foods which our caveman ancestors may have had access to, such as grass-fed meat and fish, vegetables and nuts.
- A wide range of flavorsome foods can make this a tasty diet for food-lovers.
- The ability to eat as and when hungry, and not worry too much about portion sizes, also helps to make this a strong diet for foodies.
- The paleo diet can be expensive due to the reliance on meat.
- Eating out can be difficult as so many meals include banned substances. Often it will be necessary to place a special order and wait for it to made just for you.
The paleo diet is a reasonably flexible diet with clear guidelines and lots of support online. A range of “paleo cookbooks” exist to help make the diet more interesting and varied.
Paleo diets may be tough for those with a sweet tooth, or those who enjoy processed foods, as the paleo diet tends to focus more on savory flavors and whole foods. Buying takeaway food at lunchtimes can be challenging as many common carb sources are off-limits.
For someone seeking a diet rich in delicious flavors, but not looking to eat out regularly, paleo might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.
The Keto Diet
The keto diet aims to virtually eliminate carbohydrates from the diet, instead focusing on sources of protein and fat to keep one satisfied. This removal of carbs once again rules our most sugary treats (including fruit in most instances) but does permit foods that would otherwise be banned on other diets. For example, if you’re willing to dispense with the bun itself, keto dieters can enjoy a guilt-free cheeseburger or plate of bacon. For some people, this will be a dream come true.
- Keto dieters can eat lots of foods that are typically banned on other diets, meaning a foodie paradise of meats, creams, and other fat-containing substances.
- Many dieters experience astonishing rates of fat loss in short periods of time, making it ideal for those with larger amounts of weight to lose.
Eating out can be easier than with some other diets as you can focus on specific food groups. For example, enjoy that hearty steak, but leave the fries for someone else. Good-sized portion sizes are possible, so there is rarely any need ever to feel hungry while on this diet.
- Meals frequently require considerable preparation at home as meat or eggs must be cooked as the base. This can also mean considerable cleaning up afterward.
- Keto can be one of the most expensive diets due to its reliance on protein-rich foods.
- Most sweet foods are off limits so those with a sweet tooth may find that they struggle.
- Some dieters suffer from “keto breath” as their body adjusts to the diet.
Keto diets are most suitable for those individuals who enjoy diets that are rich in meat and cheese but don’t mind giving up fruits and many vegetables. Due to the rate of fat loss frequently experienced the keto diet can also be handy for those individuals who would like to lose weight rapidly.
For some people, including the author, a diet that is heavy in fat can be an unpleasant experience. Despite dropping 7lbs in my first week, I only managed to stick this diet out for a short while longer before my desire for fresh fruit became too much.
IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros.” Dieters use simple equations to calculate the number of calories to consume, then break this down into protein, fat, and carbohydrate. From here you can then eat pretty much whatever you like so long as you end up hitting your targets each day.
What is particularly nice about the IIFYM diet is that nothing is necessarily off-limits if it can be accommodated in your sums. That means that this diet will allow pizza, candy, and any other treat food in moderation. It is, therefore, less limited than many other diets, though does require far more tracking to ensure you hit your macro levels.
- Good rates of long-term success are possible on this diet due to its flexibility.
- There is no need to entirely give up on your favorite “treat foods” which can still be enjoyed on occasion.
- This diet is cheaper than some others (e.g. keto) as a more varied range of foods can be enjoyed.
- The IIFYM diet can make eating out tricky, as you’ll need to record nutritional contents of anything consumed.
- You must be willing to either design a meal plan and stick to it or track every food and beverage consumed to ensure you don’t tip over your targets. Having said that, numerous apps have been designed to help with meal tracking.
If you would struggle to give up certain food groups, then the IIFYM diet might just be suitable for you. The variety and control you have can make this a very enjoyable diet, though you’ll likely need to keep a notebook or use a smartphone app to track your nutritional intake.
Some people will get fed up with tracking their daily nutritional intake which renders the diet essentially pointless.
Juicing diets focus on the creation and consumption of vegetable-rich “juices.” These are typically packed full of goodness in the form of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants but lacking in calories. These juices normally use a vegetable base, while fruits (with their high sugar levels) are only used in moderation. A typical juice may only clock in at a few hundred calories.
While some dieters go full-on, living on nothing but juices for weeks on end, most people replace their breakfast and lunch with juice, before enjoying a healthy dinner in the evening.
Weight loss can be surprisingly rapid, while the sudden increase in vegetable intake can lead to a range of other health benefits. That said, the meagre calories provided by juices can take the time to get used to, sometimes leading to tiredness or headaches.
- This is a very effective diet for rapid weight loss.
- There are many potentially beneficial side-effects of a vegetable-rich diet.
- You’ll need to be willing to purchase tons of vegetables each week and juice them daily, creating plenty of washing up.
- The limited calories in a juice mean that this diet can leave you feeling hungry much of the time. After some months on such a diet the author never truly got used to this element.
- It can be very difficult to eat out due to the limited nature of your food intake.
- Most of the more effective juices shun fruit and can be quite plain as a result.
If you’ve been feeling under the weather recently, then a juicing diet might be just what the doctor ordered.
Be aware, however, that unless you work close to a juice bar, you’ll probably need to prepare your juices before work and take them in with you. You’ll also probably have to get used to feeling rather hungry during the day and dealing with disapproving conversations from co-workers who don’t understand the concept.
For some people – such as the author – this is a small price to pay for the astonishingly rapid weight loss which can be accomplished by juicing.
The last type of diet that we’ll look at here are the range of intermittent fasting diets, whereby one goes without food entirely for a period – typically some 15-18 hours of the day. You then eat your entire daily food allowance in the few remaining hours.
Alternatively, you may fast for whole days at a time, eating reasonably normally for the rest of the week. This is the basis of the popular 5-2 diet.
While “IF diets” as they have become known can be highly effective, they do require a very specific type of person. After all, could you perform properly at work for most of the day having eating nothing and drunk nothing but green tea or water?
- Rapid weight loss is possible on such a diet.
- You feel like a king when you’re finally allowed to eat, as you need to squeeze in so many calories in such a short space of time.
- By carefully timing your “feast” periods it is possible to enjoy meals out without too much guilt.
- Erm, fasting. To put it another way, if you’re the kind of person who regularly feels hungry in everyday life and/or perhaps doesn’t have rock-solid self-discipline, then this may be a tough ask.
Fasting has become the latest diet “buzzword, ” but it is arguably one of the toughest diets of all to stick to, especially for longer periods of time. I would suggest this diet only if you’ve found one of the other options above simply wasn’t for you for some reason.
So – What is the Best Weight Loss Diet?
When choosing your diet, I believe it’s critical to consider your own unique personality; specifically, the foods that you love to eat, the flexibility each diet has, your own level of self-discipline, and how quickly you’d like to lose weight.
From here you make informed decisions about which diet is likely to fit within your lifestyle most easily.
Once you’ve carefully considered who you are as an individual you’ll be able to make an informed decision not about what the best diet is – but what the best diet is for you.
About The Author
Paige Hawin is a content writer in the health industry, whose most recent work focuses on the causes and solutions of bad breath during weight loss. You can read more here.