Best weight loss diet plans for losing weight

Two women eating healthy weight loss meals

Diet and meal planning is important for your weight loss journey. Here you will learn about the best diet plans for weight loss.

The popular effective weight loss diet plans we will discuss in this article include:

  • Low-carb diets
  • The Mediterranean diet
  • Plant-based diets
  • The Paleo diet
  • Intermittent fasting

According to scientists, some diet plans already have enough evidence to suggest that they work in the long-term against obesity and weight gain. Surely, diet is one of the things to consider even before you start your weight loss journey.

Millions of people try to lose weight every year. In fact, data shows that nearly half of the adults in America attempt weight loss every year.

After nearly one year of staying at home, stressing over the COVID-19 pandemic, snacking on junks while watching Netflix, you will expect that many people would gain additional weight.

With the start of the new year, many can't wait to get active and keep fit by taking off the extra pounds gained during the lockdown period. Almost nobody wants to gain additional weight.

The good news is that things to do to prevent obesity are not far-fetched from us. One of the ways to prevent obesity or weight gain is through the type of diet you eat.

However, when you start researching weight loss diet plans, you tend to get confused as there are hundreds of them! The amazing part is that each of these diet plans has its users singing its praises. How do you now know which one to opt for?

It can be difficult to select a weight loss diet plan out of the numerous ones out there. However, to help you out, you should ask yourself some questions and answer them before you opt for any meal plan.

Some of the important questions you should ask yourself before adopting a diet plan for weight loss include:

  • How does the diet plan work to achieve weight loss?
  • Does the diet plan have any adverse effect? How bad is the adverse effect?
  • Is there scientific proof that the diet plan helps with weight loss?
  • Is the diet plan sustainable? Can you carry on with it for long, even when you are with your family?

With that said, let's talk about 5 common weight-loss diets that you can adopt for your weight loss journey. We will discuss these dietary plans, their benefits and what scientific studies have to say about their role in weight loss.

1. Low-carb diets

One of the most popular weight loss diet plans for reducing obesity and weight gain is low-carb diets. Examples of low-carb diets include the ketogenic (keto) diet, the Atkins diet and the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.

One feature that all these diet plans share in common is that they all involve reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed daily.

Low carb diet is a weight loss diet plan that helps in preventing obesity by restricting intake of carbs which contain high calories.

However, carbohydrate restriction varies among the different low-carb diet types. For instance, while the keto diet restricts carbohydrate macronutrient to less than 10% of total calories, other low-carb diets would restrict carbohydrate intake to 30% or less of the total calorie intake.

How low-carb diets work

The idea behind low carb diets is that you consume less carbohydrate while increasing your protein and fat intake. High protein intake is necessary with these dietary types as proteins are needed to conserve muscle mass, increase metabolism, and curb appetite.

Low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet cause your body to use fatty acids from the fats you eat and stored fats instead of carbs for energy. Since there are no sufficient carbs to burn, your body will be forced to use the next better alternative- body fats and fatty acids.

Your body burns fats for energy by converting them into ketones via a process known as ketosis. During ketosis, there is a high concentration of ketones in the blood.

Studies have shown that low carb diets can help with weight loss even more than conventional low-fat diets. It also appears that low-carb diets are quite effective for burning the 'stubborn' belly fats.

However, it is notable to add that there are rare cases where low-carb diets might induce 'ketoacidosis', a dangerous metabolic state which can be fatal if untreated.

2. The Mediterranean diet

This diet plan is based on foods people living in the Mediterranean regions like Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Spain eat.

The Mediterranean diet was basically designed to help reduce the risk of heart diseases. However, studies have shown indications that the Mediterranean diet might be effective against weight loss as well.

How the Mediterranean diet works

People who are into the Mediterranean diet preach eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, legumes, fish, seafood, whole grains and olive oil.

The diet also supports eating eggs, poultry and dairy in moderation while limiting red meats' intake.

People opting for this diet plan also restrict the intake of highly processed and unhealthy meals like trans fats, refined grains, refined oils, processed meats, sugar additives etc. Foods like these can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Even though the Mediterranean meal plan doesn't specifically target weight loss, studies have shown that it has the potentials to aid weight loss. Thus, the meal plan can serve two purposes- keeping the heart healthy and keeping fit.

However, since this meal plan was not specifically designed for weight loss, it might take longer to see weight loss results, and you would need to consume lesser calories for it to work.

Other benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet include combating oxidative stress and inflammation and reduced risks of premature death from heart diseases.

3. Plant-based diets

The most popular plant-based diets are veganism and vegetarianism. These plant-based diets advocate for the exclusive consumption of plant meals while restricting animal-based meals for ethical, health and environmental reasons.

Plant-based weight loss diet plans has to do with consuming foods of plant origin while restricting animal-based foods.

How plant-based diets work

Vegetarianism does not support the consumption of animal meat like poultry, fish, shellfish or by-products of animal slaughter, rather the diet supports eating enough vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and animal products like egg, dairy, honey etc.

However, a vegan diet is seen as a strict form of a vegetarian diet. This is because the vegan diet does not only exclude from its meal plan animal flesh; it also excludes animal products like dairy and egg as well as ingredients derived from animals such as honey, gelatin, albumin, casein, whey etc.

A more flexible plant-based diet is the flexitarian diet which permits eating animal products but only in moderation; thus, making it an even more popular alternative.

How these plant-based diets work is that by restricting those animal-based meals and animal products which are high in calories, weight loss might be attained.

In fact, research has shown that plant-based diets are effective diet plans for weight loss. Because plant-based diets are rich in fibre, they can help you stay full for a longer period. Also, they do not contain high-calorie fat, which is all good for someone seeking to lose weight.

While plant-based diets have been linked to health benefits like reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, it is notable to add that there could be downsides to these diet types.

Going on some plant-based diets like veganism which is more strict, means restricting the intake of some important nutrients of animal sources like iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc needed for the normal functioning of the body system.

4. The paleo diet

Paleo diet advocates eating those foods allegedly eaten by our ancestors (the palaeolithic era which spans between 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago). The move for the paleo diet is based on the notion that most of the diseases people suffer from today are linked to Western dishes.

Proponents of the paleo diet believe that our bodies have not fully evolved to the point of processing the foods we eat today, like grains, legumes and dairy.

How the paleo diet works

Paleo diet supports eating natural plant foods and animal meals like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish (those foods that could be obtained from hunting and gathering) while restricting the consumption of processed foods like dairy, sugar and grains.

Some studies have indicated that this diet plan might remedy obesity and help reduce belly fat. Also, because the paleo diet contains high-protein, it will likely keep you fuller than other diets like the low-fat and Mediterranean diet.

Asides from its weight loss benefit, studies have suggested that a paleo diet might help reduce the risk of heart diseases by reducing high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.

5. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is another weight loss diet strategy that is starting to gain more popularity in recent times. It cycles between periods of eating and fasting.

Intermittent fasting is one of the common weight loss diet plans that can help combat obesity and excessive weight gain

There are different forms of intermittent fasting. For instance, the 5:2 method involves restricting daily calorie intake to about 500 calories two times a week.

Another popular form of intermittent fasting is the 16/8, which limits calorie intake to 8 hours daily. In all, the aim is to restrict the time you are allowed to eat.

How intermittent fasting works

Intermittent fasting uses a simple way to reduce the amount of calorie you consume- restricting the time you are permitted to eat.

If you don't consume too much food during the timeframe you are allowed to eat, you will likely lose weight.

A research review showed that intermittent fasting caused a weight reduction of up to 8% within 3 to 24 weeks. This weight change is significant when compared to other weight loss diet plans for obesity.

The same study review showed that intermittent fasting caused a significant reduction in waist circumference, which reduced belly fat.

Other benefits of intermittent fasting include improving metabolism by burning fat while preserving muscle mass, increasing insulin sensitivity, and reducing inflammation.

Intermittent fasting can be effective for combating obesity; however, not everyone should go for it. For instance, people with certain medical conditions like diabetes and eating disorders or pregnant and nursing mothers should consult a health professional before going on intermittent fasting.

Also, there are some foods that are best to eat after fasting. If you consume foods like cruciferous vegetables and high-carb refined foods, right after your fast, they may not be good for your digestive system.