Which diet works weightloss?
Updated: Jan 27
January is traditionally a time for diets. A time to shake off the excesses of Christmas and the festive season and to try and lose some of the extra weight that may have come along with the mince pies and mulled wine. So what do we do? We look for a diet that promises to help us lose the extra weight most easily and quickly possible - it's human nature. From Keto to vegan, from paleo to low-fat, how about intermittent fasting? It can feel like pretty confusing!
Most diets restrict some form of main food group or macronutrient i.e. protein carbohydrates or fats, and whilst they differ as to what they restrict or eliminate one thing is generally true if a diet is going to cause weight loss. That is a calorie deficit.
I personally totally agree that different diets can be helpful in different ways. I'm going to talk very briefly about this, as I think it's important to acknowledge the exciting work that is starting to be done by some very clever scientists out there. The main diets at the moment, and potential health benefits (please keep in mind research seems to be in the early stages and sometimes conflicting):
Keto - Some studies show that a ketogenic diet may help cancer patients with chemotherapy side-effects.
Veganism - rich in plant foods, is going to give our bodies a lot of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, amongst other things that are important for optimal bodily functions and potentially disease prevention.
Paleo - with its focus on minimally processed, natural foods and eating nose to tail of the animal is a great way to get essential nutrients for example collagen, that can be missing in a modern diet, which may increase health benefits.
Intermittent fasting - early studies have shown that the process of autophagy (clearing out damaged or unnecessary cells) stimulated by fasting could potentially have longevity and anti-ageing effects, but as with all these research is so far inconclusive.
These are emerging scientific thinking, and studies can be conflicting, but one thing that the scientific community seem to be pretty conclusive on is the role obesity plays in most metabolic diseases plaguing our modern world. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer to name a few. Maintaining a healthy body weight (which gets harder as we get older -see my blog on resistance training as we get older) seems to be so much more important than just looking hot on the beach.
Conclusion: All these diets mentioned are restricting either a macronutrient, a main food group or a period of eating, meaning that by default we will usually end up eating less. The same weight loss results can be achieved through calorie and macro counting on an app like my fitness pal, or by food portion control. The important thing is to find a method that you don't find too painful and that is sustainable for years to come. Long term elimination of anyone macro group for the general population is probably not very sustainable or healthy. A balanced approach, that leaves room for a bit of fun, will usually yield the best results long term.
For help with diet and nutrition, including macro counting and finding a sustainable plan to take you into the future please see my nutrition coaching packages.