What Diet is Best for Weight Loss?

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What Diet is Best for Weight Loss?

Apr 28, 2015 //

How many diets have you tried over the years? There seem to be as many diets as there are people to try them and each one promises better health and a slimmer waistline. With so many choices, how do you decide on the right diet for you?

The Paleo Diet Satisfies with Less Calories

A Paleo diet eliminates processed, modern foods and focuses on foods that your ancestors would have eaten. On the Paleo diet, it is ok to eat fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafoods, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. In addition to avoiding processed and manufactured foods, the Paleo diet also discourages dairy, grains, sugars, legumes, starches, and alcohol. Paleo, primal, caveman diet the goal is to eat the way early man would have before modern methods of food production rapidly changed our hunter-gatherer ways.

Researchers compared the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet in 29 male patients with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes. The subjects were randomly assigned either a Paleo plan, with lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and nuts, or a Mediterranean diet with whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, fish, and oils. At the end of 12 weeks, the results were in: the Paleo dieters were equally satiated and satisfied, but consumed less calories per day.

In another study on diabetic patients, a Paleo diet was found to be more satiating per calorie than a diabetes diet, and was shown to be instrumental in weight loss.

A Vegan Diet – Weight Loss with Carbs

If the idea of a Paleo diet sounds too “meaty” for your taste, consider a vegan diet for weight loss. Researchers have found that people who eat an entirely plant-based diet shed more weight, even if they are eating more carbohydrates. Compared to omnivores, semi-vegetarians, vegetarians, and pesco-vegetarians, participants on a vegan diet lost more weight by an average of 16.5 pounds.

On a vegan diet, all animals and animal products are avoided. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds make up the bulk of a vegan diet.

Low Carb vs Low Fat – Which is Better?

For decades, dietary fat was considered the reason behind weight gain and health issues like heart disease. Today, more and more studies are showing that low carb diets are more effective for weight loss than low fat diets.

Researchers looked at three long term studies of over 120,000 men and women, and found scientific evidence that diets with less carbohydrates and more protein-rich foods are more efficient for weight loss. (Carbs refers to low-quality carbohydrates such as potatoes, white breads, and sweets.) Increased amounts of full-fat cheese, whole-milk, or low-fat milk did not lead to either weight loss or weight gain, but researchers did find that when people ate more low-fat dairy products they actually increased the amount of carbs that they ate, leading to weight gain.

It Doesn’t Matter What Diet You Choose

One of the most interesting studies about which diet is best for weight loss found that the method you choose isn’t really as important as you may think. In an analysis of data from 50 trials with over 7,000 individual participants, significant weight loss was reported with any low-carb or low-fat diet. For example, weight loss from the Atkins diet was only three pounds greater than the Zone diet, which researchers called “insignificant.” The findings support the practice of picking any diet that you can actually stick with to lose the weight.

In order to lose weight, you need to expend more calories than you consume. If you want to lose a pound a week, you will have to create a deficit of 3,500 calories that week. You can do this through diet, through exercise, or with a combination of both. You can eat less calories on a Paleo diet, a vegan diet, a low carb diet, or a low fat diet. The key is to pick one that you can stick with, and that doesn’t deprive you of energy or major nutrients.

How to Keep Weight Off Long-term

Once you have achieved your weight loss goal, the last thing you want to do is abandon the hard work, focus, and healthy new eating habits that have gotten you there. A 10-year observational study of 3,000 participants who had lost at least 30 pounds (and kept it off for at least one year) found that better success at long-term weight loss was related to continued physical activity, self-weighing, and avoiding overeating. 

You can successfully lose weight, no matter what diet you choose. Cutting out processed foods, eating more nutrient-dense and lower calorie foods, getting more exercise, paying attention to what you eat, and creating healthy habits will all get you on the road to weight loss all you have to do is stick with it. 

Melissa Zimmerman

Melissa Zimmerman is a freelance writer specializing in health and nutrition writing. A California native living in Central Oregon, Melissa enjoys the outdoor adventures and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. When she is not kayaking on the river, you can find her in a yoga studio or practicing asanas outdoors. Melissa is a big believer in the power of yoga and healthy food to radically improve anyone's quality of life.

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