Choosing the Best Diet for Weight Loss: Benefits, Nuances & Threats to Consider
Choosing the Best Diet for Weight Loss: Benefits, Nuances & Threats to Consider
It doesn’t really matter what you call it — a diet, a lifestyle, a philosophy, an eating plan, or just a run-up to summer — but the truth is that only a few things cause such heated arguments as selecting good diets for losing weight. As the number of options grows, it becomes even more challenging for Americans to choose.
‘What is a good diet to lose weight?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions, both online and offline. The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer since we all have different lifestyles, food preferences, personalities, and health conditions.
We’ve decided to review the five most popular healthy diets for weight loss and back them up with scientific facts.
№1 The Paleo Diet
What is a Paleo diet? — The Paleolithic or Caveman diet relies on the theory that our bodies haven’t evolved yet to adapt dairy, legumes, potatoes, and grains. In simple words, if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.
- How it works: Proponents encourage eating only whole foods, vegetables, fruits, grass-fed meat, seeds, and nuts — these are the paleo diet basics. Meanwhile, sugar, salt, grains, dairy, and processed foods are strictly forbidden. Of course, these days, you can find less restrictive variations, along with vegan paleo diet options.
- Weight loss effectiveness: The Paleo diet has proven to be effective in terms of weight loss, as well as safe for people with type 2 diabetes. Paleo diet groups lost from 5 to 11 pounds for the period from three to twelve weeks.
- Benefits: Except for weight loss and reduction in waist circumference, people also notice a decrease in systolic blood pressure, mitigation of some cardiovascular risk factors, reductions in fasting blood sugar, and bad cholesterol levels. Summing up, it can be called an effective type 2 diabetes weight loss diet.
- Risks: Despite all the Paleo diet benefits mentioned above, it presupposes the exclusion of dairy, starchy carbs, cereal foods, and all that may provoke a shortage of calcium, fiber, and iodine.
№2 The Mediterranean Diet
Initially, the Mediterranean diet was designed to reduce the risk of heart diseases, but it also proved to be an effective weight loss solution. As the name suggests, it promotes healthy living practices of such countries as Italy, Greece, and Spain.
- How it works: Let’s start with defining what to eat on the Mediterranean diet (MD). The menu is rich in seafood, vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, tubers, and extra virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, the proponents should eat fewer dairy products, poultry, eggs, and nearly cut out red meats. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet list shouldn’t include added sugar, trans fats, processed meat, refined grains, and purified oils.
- Weight loss effectiveness: Being rather sustainable and loyal, MD is often named among the best diets for diabetics to lose weight. Experiments show that Mediterranean diet advocates can lose, on average, 8.4 pounds in twelve weeks. Combined with calorie limits and regular workouts, those results can be improved.
- Benefits: In addition to good compatibility of the Mediterranean diet and diabetes, it can help to reduce risks of cardiac diseases and early death, as well as prevent the development or worsening of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Since the low-carb Mediterranean diet comprises many antioxidant-rich products, it can also help to address inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Risks: Like with any other eating plan, there are pros and cons to the Mediterranean diet that should be taken into account. The Mediterranean diet does not particularly lay out the framework in regards to “how much”, so it’s up to the individual to limit the number of calories they consume; otherwise, this particular diet will at best bring minimal weight loss results.
№3 Low Carb Diets
A low carb diet is a broad term that serves as an umbrella for plans like Atkins, Keto, LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat), and others. This type of dieting has been quite popular for decades, and it’s often referred to as the best diet plan to lose weight fast.
- How it works: Proponents are required to limit their carbohydrate intake to 20-150 grams a day depending on the selected plan but consume more proteins and fats. Consequently, your body is pushed to utilize fats as the primary source of energy. Higher protein intake helps you curb appetite and keep muscle mass. This makes it a popular choice for people looking for a diet plan to lose weight and gain muscle mass.
- What to eat on a low carb diet? — Your menu should include fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, oils (like olive, coconut, rapeseed), unsugared dairy products, and some fruits (like blueberries, strawberries, and apples). The list of foods to avoid on a low carb diet includes rice, potatoes, sweets, pasta, white bread, and more.
- Weight loss effectiveness: Low carb diets have proven to be more efficient than low-fat diets, as well as safe for people with diabetes. The low carb group lost around 12 pounds in three months on average; meanwhile, the low-fat individuals lost about 5.7 pounds.
- Benefits: One of the main benefits of a low carb diet is that it helps you stay full longer, thus reducing your calorie intake. All this leads to a reduction in cholesterol and blood pressure, all while reducing risk factors for cardiac diseases. Moreover, this effective weight loss diet can improve insulin and blood sugar levels.
- Risks: Even though low carb diets are rather effective and sustainable, they don’t suit all. Some proponents may notice a cholesterol increase, while others face a ketoacidosis condition that can be fatal. These risks are especially common among lactating women, therefore low carb plans should not be considered as a diet plan for breastfeeding mothers to lose weight.
№4 Plant-Based Diets
The adoption of a plant-based diet for weight loss is rather common, especially among individuals who prefer to cut down the consumption of animal products due to health and environmental concerns. It is commonly turned to as a solution for environmental or ethical reasons. So far, veganism and vegetarianism are the most well-known variations.
- How it works: There are multiple versions of vegetarianism, and most presuppose the exclusion of poultry, meat, and fish. Proponents may also eliminate dairy and eggs. Veganism is the most extreme form since it not only cuts out meat, eggs, and dairy but also all animal-derived goods, like albumin, casein, honey, whey, gelatin, and vitamin D3.
- What is a whole food plant-based diet? — It’s a form of a vegan diet that is based on the consumption of unrefined, whole foods, like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fruits. It promotes the same principles as veganism but also obviates processed oils, refined grains, white flours, and sugars.
- Weight loss effectiveness: The cause-effect relationship between veganism or a whole food plant-based diet and weight loss has already been proven by numerous studies. One recent experiment showed that keeping to a vegan diet, individuals can lose around 9.3 pounds in three months. Meanwhile, individuals were allowed to eat to their heart content, often not even calculating calories given the low-fat and high-protein nature of a plant-based diet.
- Despite some common plant-based diet pros and cons that we’re going to review below, it shows good results when it comes to bodyweight reduction.
- Benefits: Besides weight loss, there are many other health benefits of a plant-based diet that should be mentioned. Plant-based foods are rich with fiber and as a result, individuals feel full for longer and lessen their calorie intake. Additionally, this form of lifestyle can reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart diseases, as well as early death.
- Risks: Vegetarians and vegans refuse meat along with animal-derived products for many reasons. By doing so, they lose some vitally important nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins D and B12. This is the main issue individuals come to find with a plant-based diet lifestyle.
№5 Intermittent Fasting (IF)
An intermittent fasting guide may look more like an eating pattern, rather than a diet. intermittent fasting initiates the body into cycles, alternating between the periods of eating and fasting.
The intermittent fasting rules vary, depending on the selected strategy. The most popular tend to be:
The 16:8 method presupposes omitting breakfast and limiting your daily eating period to eight hours, then fasting for the next sixteen hours.
The 5:2 method involves restricting the number of consumed calories to 500-600 on two non- consecutive days and eating normally on the remaining five days.
The eat-stop-eat approach means fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week on non-consecutive days.
How it works: Intermittent fasting is widely used for weight loss since it lessens your calorie intake by restricting the time you’re allowed to eat. Consequently, your body works under mild pressure and learns to cope with it more effectively, all while growing stronger.
Weight loss effectiveness: This eating regimen delivers sufficient weight-loss results unless you exceed your calorie limitations during the non-restricted periods. It helps the proponents to reduce their weight by 3-8 percent in 3-24 weeks, as well as increase an individual’s metabolic rates.
Benefits: Following intermittent fasting tips and principles, individuals can lower their cholesterol levels and inflammation markers. Along with weight loss, it’s also linked to enhanced insulin sensitivity, cellular repair, and human growth hormone (HGH) levels.
Risks: The answer to the question “Is intermittent fasting right for me”, is not straightforward. There are a number of factors that should be considered. For example: someone who travels frequently and might be continually changing time zones, or even just have a dynamic schedule might find it very challenging to follow the regimen. Moreover, this eating plan is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, teenagers, and people with diabetes, and eating disorders. In any case, it’s always best to consult with a health professional before opting for intermittent fasting.
The list of diets labeled for weight loss seems endless, therefore we’ve tried to include what we see as the most popular ones. Moreover, we’ve tried not to include extreme weight loss diets since they imply more risks and implications, and should be followed under close medical supervision.
How to Have a Healthy Diet: Simple Recommendations from the Better Human Team.
At Better Human, we promote the idea of simple healthy eating since you’ll hardly find a good diet to lose weight fast that will suit everybody.
Start with self-analysis and evaluation:
- What can you live with and without in the long run? — If you’re looking for the best diet to lose weight quickly and keep it off, then you should be able to stick to it permanently and literally turn it into your lifestyle.
- Are the shortlisted diets safe for you? — As you can see, some eating plans, like intermittent fasting, are not recommended for people with diabetes or lactating women. While others are less severe, they can not bring the desired results if you don’t change your eating habits. The new eating plan should not only be safe in terms of your chronic problems or individual health needs, but it should also fit your lifestyle and goals. For instance, low-carb Keto and LCHF programs are often called bodybuilding weight loss diets praised by weight lifters since they up the consumption of protein, and so support your muscle growth.
If you have doubts regarding dieting, start small and try to include more vegetables to your ration, drink more water, give preference to whole foods, and follow a consistent eating schedule. These are the basics that underlie most diets, and you can utilize them to design your own comfortable eating philosophy over time.