Search google for the best diet for fat loss and a 100 options will come up. When you want to lose weight and want to know the best diet for you it can be hard to decipher what is rubbish and what is not and most importantly what will work for you long term.
In this blog I am going to explain why all diets work, why they may not work and also put three of the most popular diets under the microscope and assess the pros and cons of each.
Whether its weight watchers, the Cambridge diet or 5.2 all diets can work. Any diet that puts you into a calorie deficit (expend more calories than you consume) will help you lose weight. However the main crux of any diet is whether it can be maintained long term for long lasting results.
If a diet cannot do this or doesn’t educate you about food and calories in a way that will allow you to successfully maintain the results you have achieved then it will set you up to fail in the end.
When starting a new diet you need to ask yourself one question…’can I see myself on this diet in 12 months’? If you can’t then best to keep looking for another way to set up your diet.
Below our three of the more popular diets that are used by many people to try and help them lose weight. Maybe you have tried one of them? or potentially more than one if not all.
The Paleo Diet
The Palaeolithic diet (paleo diet) refers to a way of eating that is supposed to mirror what may have been available 1000’s of years ago. The main concept of the diet is that only single ingredient foods can be consumed such as meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, etc. Foods such as grains, diary, legumes, potatoes and anything processed are restricted within the paleo diet. This can therefore make this diet quite hard to maintain as there are a large list of foods that cannot be consumed and those that can be are much fewer and far between.
This diet has pros and cons. The pros are that it can force people into consuming a lot more nutrient dense single ingredient foods which are very important for overall health. This coupled with the complete removal of processed foods can remove a lot of calories from the diet which can lead to initial bouts of weight loss. Tell someone to stop eating pizza, ice cream, don’t’ drink alcohol but instead eat more chicken and veg and there is a good chance that they will lose weight by achieving a calorie deficit. However there are also many cons to this diet. As previously mentioned it does restrict a lot of foods and this could potentially lead to a negative relationship with food and doesn’t cater for many social events. Also the paleo diet allows foods like avocados, nuts, eggs and fish to be eaten in abundance and these foods do contain quite a few calories so if eaten in large quantities can really rack up.
Overall paleo can help to promote more nutritious foods within the diet but due to its complete removal of certain food groups and no management of calories it isn’t perhaps the best diet for everyone.
Intermittent Fasting (16.8)
Intermittent fasting (IF) 16.8 is a diet where you restrict your eating window to only 8 hours every day and fast over the remaining 16 hours. The most traditional ways to do this would be to skip breakfast and eat your first meal at 11am and then last at 7pm or the first at 12am and last 8pm. By skipping breakfast you will reduce meal frequency which can be useful to try and help reduce calorie intake and hopefully put you in that required calorie deficit. Skipping breakfast can also be great for those who just either feel better without it, don’t have time or just make bad choices and are much better off waiting till lunch where they can have a decent meal which is both nutritious and satisfying. However, you must still be vigilant when using IF that you make good choices at the meals you do eat as missing breakfast but eating a burger and chips for lunch and pizza for dinner will make it much harder to achieve that illusive calorie deficit. IF can be very effective for many people but only when smart choices are made at the meals you do eat. There isn’t anything magic in the fasting period it just helps limit the chance for eating more calories.
Overall I feel that IF is a good option for many as it doesn’t demonise certain food groups and can work well with a busy social life but as mentioned above you must still be vigilant of food choices and the calories within these meals.
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate diet. This diet aims to put you into a state of ketosis (using fat as your main fuel source for energy) and people therefore see this as an easier way to burn body fat. Now this is the first big stumbling block of the keto diet. Just cause you are burning fat doesn’t mean you are burning body fat. You will be burning a lot more fat as you are consuming a lot more of it but that doesn’t equate to weight loss. A calorie deficit must still be achieved.
A keto diet will restrict calories from carbohydrates and even protein but unless the calories that are replaced from fats are less than these calories that have been removed, the diet won’t help you achieve fat loss. There are quite a few negatives about the keto diet. As mentioned above it can be hard to get into a calorie deficit as fat has a high yield of calories per gram (9 calories, compared to 4 calories per gram for carbs and protein). It also is very restrictive and for many it will not be an enjoyable way of eating because of this. I won’t list the foods you can’t eat as it would take me forever. But trying to have a social life while doing keto is not easy. There are arguments that the keto diet is better for overal health and better for blood lipids etc. but for many people losing weight can help these health markers a great deal and if you can’t lose weight when on the keto diet those points are fairly arbitrary.
Overall if you do enjoy eating higher fat food the keto diet may work for you but overall it wouldn’t be something I would advise unless there was a clinical condition that warranted it.
You can start to understand now after seeing these three diets go under the microscope that there is no special diet for weight loss and no miracle answer. Only a diet that allows you to be consistent, works around your lifestyle and of course achieves that calorie deficit. For more insight on the best dieting strategies for fat loss make sure you listen to our most recent muscle box radio podcast where myself and Steve reviewed the above diets and more and gave some of our best tips for successful dieting.
At Team Box we are personally big advocates of flexible dieting and if this is something you want to learn more about make sure you check out one of my recent blogs on this very diet.