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The best diet for weight loss

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Five minutes online and you'll find every conceivable diet.

I've just searched Google for 'best diet for weight loss' and there's 'about' 1,610,000,000.


Jesus, I'm not even sure what that number is.

We've got;

Intermittent fasting


Plant-based diets

Low-carb diets

The Paleo diet

Low-fat diets

The Mediterranean diet


The DASH diet

And then it goes a little more obscure;

Metabolism booster

Weight loss drinks

Weight loss supplements

Skinny Jabs



The Cinderalla solution

It goes on and on and on...

If you need help losing weight and want to know where to start...

The question is: Where the hell do you start?

With so many dieting options out there, it's no wonder that the success rate for dieters is abysmal.

Amazingly, one study shows that over 80% of diets regain lost weight within five years and other has that figure at 97% within three years.

I remember years ago experimenting with several diets and fads.

Starting each with enthusiasm and motivation before crashing to a halt when the restrictions on my lifestyle became too much.

Over time I learnt the truth about weight loss and fat loss so that now when I need to lose a few pounds, I can do it without altering my lifestyle and still enjoying the things I love.

To do so it's worth going back to start and reminding ourselves just how each these diets help us to lose weight.


Calories are everything.

Forget carbs, forget fat, forget protein, forget every single thing you've ever heard about diet and nutrition.

Weight control is all about calories.

This is not a gimmick or a diet fad either.

This is the proven science of the human body.

A calorie (or kilocalories, the official title) is simply a unit of measurement given to the amount of energy your body generates from what you eat and drink.

Everything you eat and drink contains calories.

From biscuits, sweets, chips and fizzy drinks, to whole wheat bread, grilled chicken, broccoli, orange juice AND alcohol... they all contain calories.

Because these are the calories you are taking in, they are calories in.

Now, in the human body, all of your daily functions are powered by this energy

From intense exercise like running and weight training to everyday tasks like standing and tying your shoes... they all burn calories.

Did you know that your body uses a ton of calories every single day even when you aren't doing anything?

Keeping your body alive and functioning properly burns lots of calories.

Because these are the calories your body is burning and using up, they are calories out.

How do these diets help me to lose weight?

Weight control is all about calories in and calories out.

If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight - a calorie surplus.

If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight - this is a calorie deficit.

And, if you both burn and consume the same number of calories, your weight stays the same - maintenance level.

This means that every diet you've ever heard of and tried only works if you create a calorie deficit.

There are no magic properties to any of the diets, no matter what you read.

All of the clever marketing in the world can't disguise the scientific fact that the diets only work if you reduce your energy balance to a level where you create a calorie deficit.

What foods should I never eat?

He literally ate 2,000 calories a day of ice cream, topped up with a protein supplement and occasional alcohol.

There's plenty more of these kinds of diets out there...

A professor lost 26 pounds in 10-weeks eating nothing but 'twinkies'!?

Healthy? Not in the slightest.

Would I recommend it? Of course, I wouldn't.

But it proves that there are no such things as 'good' food or 'bad' food when it comes to weight loss.

It's all about calories.

There isn't a single food on this earth that you must completely avoid to lose weight.

But there are foods you should emphasise

Ok, we know that you don't need to remove any foods from your diet for weight loss to occur. It's all about the calories.

But, there are foods that you should increase your consumption of and not necessarily because they have special fat-burning properties.

Increase your protein intake. Protein benefits muscle growth and fat loss. It helps fill you up and burns more calories.

As long as you stay in your calorie deficit, the split between carbs and fats is not really that important for better body composition.

Make sure to eat at least a palm-sized portion of protein at every meal to ensure you reach your daily target.

Eat plenty of fruit and veg. Low in calories, provide lots of nutrients and vitamins and leave you feeling full. What’s not to love about fruit and veg?

Drink plenty of water. Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Water is a healthy choice for quenching your thirst and contains no calories.

Swap your regular soft drinks for water and you remove excess calories from your diet too.

What about meal timing?

We all know the rules...

No carbs after 6 pm, right?

And, we should eat 6 small meals a day, yes?


Eat whenever works for you.

I'd suggest that if you're starting out then;

Don't leave the house hungry: aim to eat breakfast every day and make it a satiating combo of protein, fibre and fat instead of restricting calories to save for later.

Make sure you eat regularly: instead of trying not to eat for as long as you can hold out, get ahead of the hungry feeling by planning and eating every 3-4 hours

But, for weight loss, there is no truth in eating at certain times helping you to lose weight - all that matters is how much you eat.

Regardless of how many meals you eat a day, it's personal preference - as long as you are in a calorie deficit that you can sustain, you will lose weight.

So if you eat 6 small meals after 6pm (good luck) and you are in a consistent calorie deficit, you will lose weight.

Don't believe me?

I've heard about diets that shift specific areas of fat

Where you lose fat first differs depending on your gender and the individual.

Women tend to carry fat more around the hips and thighs, whilst men carry more around the midsection.

Where your body favours fat is individual to you. This is likely to be the area that you put on fat first but also lose it from first.

But, you cannot specifically target an area of your body to lose weight from.

You can target specific areas to build muscle but you can't 'spot reduce' fat.

Doing all the sit-ups in the world won't burn the fat around your abs.

Adhering to a calorie deficit for a consistent period will eventually reduce body fat in all areas of your body.

It takes time and patience, but it will happen.

Fixing my metabolism

"I'm not losing weight because I'm not eating enough, shall I increase my calories?"

And you want to know if this is true and if so, what can you do about it?

What you are referring to is starvation mode.

Starvation mode is the supposed state a person is in when their excessive approach to losing weight has slowed their metabolic rate so much that it completely stops any further weight loss from occurring or even more amazingly, cause weight gain ... even though the said person is still in a calorie deficit.

But it's not real.

In fact, I'll go as far as to say that the concept of starvation mode is completely ridiculous when it comes to most peoples weight loss.

It's not how the body works.

Clearly, eating too little is not something that anyone should advise but you only need to look at people who have suffered in awful environments throughout history to see that being underfed does not lead to weight loss stalling.

Certain medical conditions can affect your metabolism. See your GP to rule out any potential issues before you begin dieting.

I love 'xyz' diet and I can do it forever but I'm not losing weight

Simply put and in the nicest possible way ...

I promise you that you're NOT in a calorie deficit.

To lose weight, you must be in an energy deficit (calorie deficit - consume fewer calories than you burn over a period of time).

What happens is that you're either under-reporting the number of calories you are eating or you are restricting too much and then over-indulge every few days.

Which means that over time, your calories consumed average out and cancel any deficit.

A bit like your bank balance.

You save £50 every day of the week and by Friday you have £250 sat there.

However, Saturday comes and by the time you've withdrawn enough to cover some new clothes, a nice meal, a few drinks and a taxi home ... you're back at £0.

Same with calories.

You save 500 calories a day Monday to Thursday, Friday is cake day in the office and then Saturday's a few drinks and a big takeaway, and guess what you're back to square one, deficit gone.

No matter which diet you love, you must create a calorie deficit to lose weight.

So what is the best diet for weight loss?

Research has proven that the best diet for weight loss is the one that you can stick with for a long period of time (depending on your goal) while maintaining high compliance

High compliance means that you are following your plan 80-90% of the time.

It's very common to see people trying to lose weight whilst sticking to an unbreakable set of dieting rules.

Successful dieting does not go hand in hand with being a perfect dieter.

We know that if you set up a diet that you can't maintain, it doesn't matter how you do in the short-term, you won't keep the weight off and will likely regain it when you abandon the rigid diet.

Studies have shown that 'Longer-term weight maintenance solutions and programs that offer a degree of structuring of the personal food environment, while retaining flexibility in choices, therefore, may be particularly beneficial in weight management.'

Flexible dieting (or flexible eating) means allowing yourself to eat whatever you like in moderation without any accompanying negative feelings.

It provides freedom in your choices, which over time can help create a healthy relationship with food and weight management.

Ultimately, it allows you to see consistent long-term results without restricting your favourite foods or isolating yourself from social events.

Think of it as a lifestyle diet.

A flexible diet plan that fits into your individual circumstances and not one that forces you to fit in with it.

It enables you to take back control, meaning no set meal plans or guilt feelings when you 'sin'.

Imagine a diet, where no food is off-limits and is easy to stick to whether you're at home or away - a flexible foods plan.

How to flexible diet

To begin flexible dieting you must be aware of what you're eating when you're trying to lose weight and what changes you can make to ensure the process is as efficient and fast as possible.

Tracking your calories opens your eyes and forces your buried head from the sand.

The number of people that tell me they undereat but can't lose weight or fat is truly remarkable, and then after two weeks of calorie counting suddenly see why that is.

We all under report what we eat, seeing it in black and white gives you the evidence you need to make changes.

To sum up

Rigid dieting for most people is no fun whatsoever.

In fact, dieting in such a way that it goes against your personal preferences is likely to hinder rather than help you achieve your long-term goals.

Being fixated on what you eat 24/7 with no flexibility can lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt, shame and obsessive behaviour.

Find a way to lose weight that you enjoy.

One that makes your life happier and healthier.

For long term weight management to be successful, your diet must fit around your lifestyle and not the other way around.

The best diet is the one that you can adhere to and enables you to make consistent progress without controlling your life.

Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.

To book your free personal training consultation click here


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