Which Diet Works for Weight Loss? A Complete Guide
With hundreds of types of diets to choose from, it may be difficult finding one that really works for weight loss. In the past, you might have sifted through tons of online articles and filled your search history with dead-end inquiries.
This guide brings the best diets to lose weight together in one place. It explains key aspects as well as pros and cons, so you can pick a weight loss diet that works with your needs and lifestyle. Read on to learn more.
The Best Types of Diets Have Several Things in Common
Some diets involve counting calories while others focus on limiting certain types of foods. But there are a few things that all of the best weight-loss diets incorporate into their plan.
Water is a key component of every diet. Staying hydrated throughout the day helps prevent your body from sending false hunger signals to your brain. It also flushes toxins out of your system.
Drinking water before eating can help curb hunger and reduce the number of calories consumed. Some diets even call for avoiding dehydrating beverages such as caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol not only dehydrates the body, but it has empty calories and can result in impaired judgment around food choices.
Eliminate Added Sugars
Added sugars are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid. Next time you’re at the store take a look at the nutrition labels. Most of them will include some type of sugar in the first three ingredients—even ketchup!
You can avoid added sugars by selecting fresh foods vs. pre-packaged or frozen meals. Or consider purchasing organic products. Some of them will still have added sugars but they often use natural sources vs. processed sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup.
Vegetables are an integral part of every weight loss diet for countless reasons. These complex carbohydrates take longer to break down. This is beneficial for blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling energized for longer.
Their high fiber content encourages satiation and promotes gut health. They are also rich in key nutrients that promote health and prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Exercise is encouraged regardless of which diet you are on. Not only does it promote weight loss but it has great benefits for your health. This includes increased lung capacity, lower cholesterol, and increased muscle mass.
It is important to note that people who partake in higher intensity exercises should be wary when selecting a diet plan. Over exercise can lead to deficiencies and send your body into starvation mode, which actually slows weight loss.
How many times have you eaten in front of the television? Or been so wrapped up in conversation that before you know it your plate is empty? Do you even remember eating your meal?
Mindless eating or distracted eating is one of the worst things you can do when trying to lose weight. It leads to overeating and decreased levels of satisfaction.
Taking the time to taste eat bite will not only leave you feeling more satisfied but will also slow the rate at which you are eating. It can take up to 20 minutes for the stomach to send an “I’m full” signal to the brain. Slower eating reduces the risk of overeating by allowing time for your body to realize it is full.
This type of diet doesn’t involve any type of calorie counting. Instead, it focuses on mimicking the traditional fare found in Greece, Italy, Spain, and parts of France. It promotes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, and olive oil.
Although there is some restriction involved, it focuses more on consuming natural unprocessed foods in place of highly processed and refined options. This type of diet fills your body with tons of natural antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It has been proven to have beneficial effects on obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and gut health.
The Volumetrics diet is great for people who avoid diets because they feel they can’t get enough food. It focuses on filling the stomach with large portions of nutrient-rich foods and increasing water intake. This helps cut daily calories and keeps you feeling full for longer.
Foods are divided into four categories based on their calorie density:
- Very Low Density (<0.6)
- Low Density (0.6-1.5)
- Medium Density (1.6-3.9)
- High Density (4.0-9.0)
The density is determined by dividing the number of calories by the weight of the food in grams. In general foods with a higher water content have a lower density. Increasing the amount of low-density food consumed allows a person to eat more without significantly increasing their caloric intake.
The Volumetrics diet encourages foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals to help protect against nutrient deficiencies. Another key health aspect is that it encourages 30-60 minutes of exercise per day.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
Vegetarianism is a type of diet that eliminates meat and sometimes dairy. Consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains creates a diet that is rich in fiber. It also eliminates most sources of high-calorie fat.
One study showed that people on a vegetarian diet lost significantly more weight than test subjects on an animal-based diet.
Veganism is even more restrictive than vegetarianism. It avoids all animal products including byproducts such as gelatin, honey, whey, casein, and albumin.
This can prove to be an extremely challenging type of diet to follow. It is often more successful if the reason behind it is more than simply a desire to lose weight.
With both the vegetarian and vegan diets it is important to find alternate sources of protein to avoid the risk of becoming deficient.
Plant-Based Flexitarian Diet
For people who find the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle too restrictive, there is the plant-based flexitarian option. This type of diet focuses on replacing normal fare with lean plant-based meals several times a week. It allows you to set a schedule that works with your personal preferences.
To be successful, it is recommended that 50% of weekly meals are plant-based. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot indulge. There are plenty of plant-based snacks out there such as Oreos and vegan chocolate that can take care of your sweet-tooth cravings.
The plant-based flexitarian diet provides multiple health benefits, including body weight, metabolic health, and blood pressure.
Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that involves restricting calorie intake to specific times or certain days.
One example is 8 hours of intake and 16 hours of fasting per day. Another option would be decreasing intake to between 500 and 600 calories twice a week while eating normally on the other five days. One study showed that obese participants lost 8% of their body weight over the course of 8 weeks with intermittent fasting.
A potential issue with this type of diet is binge eating. During non-fasting days or hours, you can eat whatever you want. If you fast for 16 hours, then spend 8 hours eating ice cream, hamburgers, and other high caloric food, you’re not going to lose weight.
In order to be successful with intermittent fasting, you should continue to eat healthy foods that are high in key nutrients during eating hours. You should also be wary of your activity level. Those with rigorous exercise routines could find themselves becoming nutrient deficient as a result of over-fasting.
Low Carb Diets
These types of diets are among the most popular choices, however, they can be very restrictive. Low carb diets, such as the Atkins or Keto diet, involve decreasing carb intake while increasing proteins and fats.
The degree to which carbs are decreased is variable depending on the person and weight loss goals. Someone who normally consumes carbs for every meal seven days a week might see drastic results by restricting carb consumption to only two days.
Consuming higher levels of protein has been shown to boost metabolism, conserve muscle and decrease harmful belly fat.
The Paleo diet follows the belief that modern illnesses are caused by consuming processed foods. It restricts the type of food you eat to anything that might have been available to hunters and gathers. This effectively removes sugars, dairy, grains, and other processed foods.
There is a spectrum within the paleo diet. Dire hard dieters include things such as sweet potatoes as a forbidden food, due to the high levels of natural sugars. Whereas less restrictive paleo diets include certain organic dairy products, as well as natural sweeteners such as Stevia.
Due to the high protein content of this diet, it is beneficial for those who are aiming to lose weight and build muscle. It has been proven to increase satiation and muscle retention, leading to higher metabolism and fat-burn.
Low-fat diets have been popular for decades. They are based on the idea that you are what you eat, and reducing fat consumed will lead to fat loss. Yet they have also been scientifically proven to help in weight loss.
Ultra low-fat diets decrease fat consumption to less than 10% of daily intake. When followed long-term this type of diet can result in a number of different health problems.
However, they are especially effective in cases of obesity. Choosing a low-fat diet might be a good way to jump-start your weight loss journey, but it should not be used as a long-term solution.
WW (Wellness Wins)
Wellness Wins, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is one of the most popular diets around the world. It has also been shown to be one of the most successful diets in continuing to keep weight off once the goal weight is reached.
Unlike types of diets that eliminate specific food groups, WW focuses on moderation. It encourages gradual and healthy weight loss to avoid shocks to the body by sudden caloric restrictions and deficiencies.
WW assigns a point value to foods based on several factors including grams of fat, protein, fiber, and calories. Each person has a certain number of points to consume each day depending on their current weight and weight loss goals. Some foods, such as vegetables, have a point value of zero.
This gives people the option to fill up on healthy food, even after they have reached their daily point maximum. WW is the kind of diet that lets you have your cake and eat it too. Just maybe not the whole cake.
The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. It was selected by the U.S. News and World Report as the best all-around diet for the sixth year in a row.
People following the DASH diet consume a specific number of servings for each food group depending on their desired daily calorie intake. The DASH diet focuses on meals that are low in salt, red meat, added sugars, and fat. It is also backed by scientific research that shows subjects on the diet experienced higher weight loss than those in the control group.
Why Some Diets Don’t Work
Diets can fail for any number of reasons. While dedication is often viewed as the predominant concern. There are also issues that can arise due to nutrient deficiencies.
When our bodies are lacking in specific vitamins or minerals, we tend to crave foods that will satisfy those deficiencies. Since most diets involve eliminating certain foods, there is a higher chance that our bodies will be missing out on key nutrients.
Deficiencies can have a drastic effect on mental health, energy levels, and overall health.
Rather than abandon the diet altogether, you can research foods that fall within the framework of your diet that replace missing nutrients. You can also use dietary supplements to make up for the deficiencies.
The Best Diets to Lose Weight
With all the different types of diets out there it’s no wonder that different diets work better for different people. Where some will find that portion size restriction works best, while others will embrace the freedom of healthier choices without limitations.
Regardless of which weight loss diet you choose it is important to make sure that you are obtaining all the nutrients you need to live a full and happy life.
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