Many individuals enter our transformation challenges with the end goal being to lose weight, build muscle, and reshape their bodies.
We’ve seen individuals have great results following all kinds of diets -- high carb, low carb, intermittent fasting, IIFYM, etc. The list goes on.
And, it’s true, just about any “diet” can work for weight loss. Sure, some are better than others, but so long as the diet adheres to a few select “rules”, it will help individuals lose weight.
That brings us to the topic of today’s article -- 8 common traits of the best weight loss diets.
See if the diet you’re following (or considering) contains these features, and if it qualifies as a solid contender for a weight loss diet.
8 Things the Best Weight-Loss Diets Have in Common
#1 Calorie Control
Simply put, if you want to lose weight, you must be in a consistent energy deficit whereby you burn more calories than you consume.
Some diets have you track calories, other have you log macros, and still others use various “portion” control measures.
But, at the end of the day, all of these various approaches accomplish one thing -- they control your calorie intake.
Without controlling for calories, you will not lose weight consistently.
#2 Focus on Quality Foods
Going on a diet isn’t simply about cutting calories. It’s about instilling new habits, ones that lead to better health and wellness.
One of the biggest features of the best weight loss diets is that they focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense food sources, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Each of these food groups has benefits to offer. There’s no need to eliminate or overly restrict any particular macronutrient.
Plus, less-processed, nutritious foods also tend to be more satiating due to their higher contents of fiber, water, and protein.
Replacing hyper-processed, micronutrient poor foods (i.e. most packaged goods and fast food) with whole foods is a smart swap that facilitates weight loss and supports better health.
A diet will only be as successful as your ability to stick to it.
The best weight loss diets understand this and that’s why they have flexibility built into them.
For example, let’s say you don’t like broccoli. A quality weight loss diet won’t tell you that you “have” to have broccoli. It will give you a list of foods that are similar to broccoli (i.e. other vegetables).
A diet that is overly restrictive is a recipe for disaster.
Sure, you might be able to stick to it for a week or two, but what about a month or two from now. What about six months or a year from now?
You must be able to stick to your new way of eating if you want to lose weight and maintain your results (which is often the hardest part for people embarking on a body transformation).
Weight loss, as we’ve mentioned above, is a matter of calories in versus calories out. The more energy that you expend during the day (via physical activity), the higher your “calories out” for the day will be.
Ultimately, this means you will be able to diet on a higher number of calories and still get results.
Exercise also has a number of other important benefits --
- It helps build and retain lean muscle mass
- It supports cardiovascular function
- It enhances mood and cognition
- It promotes better sleep at night
- It boosts metabolism
Remember, weight loss isn’t just about dieting, it’s about ingraining healthy habits, and exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind!
#5 Gradual Changes (“Baby Steps”)
Extreme diets promise extreme results (lose 15 pounds in 3 days with this one simple trick). They also have the most extreme drop out rates.
The best weight loss diets lead individuals towards a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. This is accomplished by making incremental changes to your existing lifestyle.
Trying to completely overhaul anything and everything you’ve been doing up until now may work for a short time, but it will likely be unsustainable over the long term, which inevitably means you’ll experience weight regain and be right back where you started.
The key to long term diet and weight loss success is by slowing adding new healthy habits and phasing out unhealthy habits.
For instance, if you’re not used to exercising, don’t jump right into a workout plan that has you in the gym 6 days per week for 90-120 minutes each session.
Start by simply going for a walk a few times per week, and as you start to make exercise part of your daily/weekly routine, then you can start upping the intensity. This also helps you avoid injury, too!
#6 Mistakes Are Part of the Process
Look, we’re human.
No one is perfect, which means we’re all bound to mess up at some point or another. Not only in regards to diet, but to other facets of life as well.
The best weight loss diets account for this and provide advice on how to get back on track after your slip-up.
Generally speaking, when you make a mistake, acknowledge it, own it, and try not to do it again.
The next time you want to veer off your diet, think to yourself, is this temporary indulgence really that important? Is it so good that it’s worth delaying your progress?
If so, then enjoy the food without judgement or regret.
The important thing is that after you make a mistake, don’t spend the rest of the day wallowing, thinking you’ve ruined everything. Get back on track immediately with your next meal.
#7 Weight Loss is a Journey
It’s important to understand that when you embark on a fat loss journey, it really is a journey.
Losing weight isn’t always a straight, direct course. There will be days when you don’t lose any weight, and then all of a sudden you’ll drop an entire pound.
Part of the journey, too, is enjoying the process -- developing good habits, experimenting with new recipes or cooking techniques, setting new PRs in the gym.
It’s tempting to constantly chase the number on the scale, but realize that it is only one metric of a successful weight loss diet. You can also track inches lost, performance in the gym, and how your clothes are fitting.
#8 Engineering a New Lifestyle
Dieting is a skill, so too is maintaining your results.
To accomplish both of these, requires a certain set of skills, discipline, and commitment.
The best weight loss diets teach you how to develop healthy habits that you can continually apply day in and day out so that once you achieve your goals, you can maintain them and/or transition to even bigger goals!
Before you select a diet to try, ask yourself, “is this something I can see myself doing 6 months or a year from now?”
If the answer is “no”, then it’s best to keep searching for a diet and exercise program that you can stick to and motivates you to want to follow through.