The Best Diet for Weight Loss is literally the billion dollar question. Because whoever figures this out will in fact, become a billionaire overnight.
If you want to lose weight, there is no shortage of advice out there. Eat less, move more! Cut carbs! Keto is the way to go! Paleo for sure!
And on and on…the thing is, no one can really say the truth about which diet is best because…there is no one best diet for weight loss. Research has shown that diets cause weight loss because they cause a caloric deficit (1).
That means the diets result in a balance of calories into the negative: the person eats fewer calories than they need and and as a result, they lose weight.
Research has shown that diets cause weight loss because they cause a caloric deficit (1).
In a review that compared many commercial diets, the authors concluded that diets that successfully cause weight loss are various range of carbohydrate, fat and protein. Within these, they recommend to emphasize one that has beneficial effects on risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
So it’s not magic. It’s not a fluke. It’s how the body works. And not only that, it seems that the actual balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein is not the important piece of this puzzle.
Now at this point, I think it’s important to point out, the “best diet for health” and the “best diet for weight loss” are different conversations. Because again, the caloric deficit is what’s required for weight loss, regardless of the carbohydrate, fat or protein amount.
Is achieving a caloric deficit always a straight line?
Sadly, no. Some people have a harder time losing weight than others.
This is why the diet you try works better (or not as good) as it did for your friend.
Our environment, habits, cravings, stress, sleep (or lack of it) and individual preferences all have an enormous effect on our weight.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make small yet significant changes to your habits that add up to BIG results in the long run.
Also, I think important to point out that we are very early in the understanding of how are hormones, gut bacteria and genetics all interact with our environment to strongly influence our weight.
It’s incredible to think that we’re just in the early stages of truly understanding the biological influences that drive our appetite, regulate our metabolism and make it easy for us to gain – or lose – weight.
Why do diets work then? "Conformity to cultural norms, scientific novelty, and media attention are nonbiologic reasons for the success of specific diets"
In terms of prediabetes reversal, I believe there are certain ways to emphasize the beneficial effects of a small amount of weight loss (5-10%) while helping to prevent the problem of continued hunger after weight loss happens.
This is where, I believe, the customization of diets come in.
The researchers of the diet comparison article go to say that these diet “can also be tailored to individual patients on the basis of their personal and cultural preferences and may therefore have the best chance for long-term success”.
And isn’t that what you want? Long-term success?
- Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. The New England journal of medicine. 2009;360(9):859-873. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0804748.
- Austin J, Marks D. Hormonal Regulators of Appetite. International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology. 2009;2009:141753. doi:10.1155/2009/141753.
- Silvia R Coutinho, Jens F. Rehfeld, Jens J. Holst, Bård Kulseng, Catia Martins. Impact of weight loss achieved through a multidisciplinary intervention on appetite in patients with severe obesity. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2018; DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00322.2017