There are loads of diets out there, and it can be super confusing to select the right one for you. Losing weight isn’t something that works the same for everyone, and different approaches will work for different people.
There’s also more than one way to lose weight, which is refreshing because it gives you choice in the matter and allows you to play around with a few options.
This may sound a bit alien as headlines often tout ‘THE best weight loss diet’ as the one and absolute diet that works for everyone.
But we’re all different, have different lifestyles, preferences and genetics.
Let’s go over a few different variables that help you to decide which weight loss diet may be the one for you.
Diets To Lose Weight Fast
Certain weight loss diets can yield quicker results than others. But they may often not be sustainable longer term as some can be restrictive, or do not cater to someone's tastes or eliminate too much.
A low carb (very) can be a very effective way of achieving rapid weight loss, without the need for much calorie restriction.
Simply cutting the amount of carbohydrates in the diet helps to shift metabolic activity more effectively into a fat burning state that closely resembles a state of fasting.
It can be used as an initial way to lose a lot of weight and some carbs can gradually be added back in for maintenance to make it more sustainable longer term.
It’s for you if: you want rapid and effective weight loss.
It’s NOT for you if: you are veggie or vegan, or do not enjoy eating large quantities of animal products.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
A Low Carb diet is one that restricts all starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, cakes, refined sugar and natural sugars (including a lot of fruits besides a select few).
Typically someone would aim to eat less than 100g of total carbohydrates a day across all meals in order to qualify as low carb.
The more hardcore version of this is called a ketogenic diet which yields even more extreme results. This typically restricts carbs to < 50g per day and sometimes even 20g per day.
Knowing exactly how many carbs you are taking in each day can be tough, but Marvins Den makes it easy to choose meals that are low carb. We have several meals which cater to this diet.
It’s also important to ramp up the consumption of healthy fats on this diet, as well as sourcing quality protein like fish, eggs and meats.
A low carb diet is quite hard to do as a veggie and very hard as a vegan.
Calorie restriction will ultimately be part of most weight loss efforts, but the degree to which calories are restricted may influence how fast the weight falls off.
The more the daily restriction is (to safe levels) then the greater chance there is that weight loss will happen faster.
Generally people opt for around a 500 calorie a day deficit, but some people that do a very low calorie diet decide to go lower.
These aren’t so sustainable longer term, and are used to shift weight quickly. In very low calorie diets, sometimes extreme restriction is met with the weight being put back on.
If following calorie restriction it’s important to have a way to taper off into a maintenance diet afterwards.
It’s for you if: You don’t mind enduring some temporary restriction and hunger.
It’s NOT for you if: You don’t want to lose weight.
A maintenance diet is one that's balanced in terms of energy for how much you are using each day, and that's full of real foods - meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
This is the diet that can be adopted after a period of restriction such as on a low calorie diet.
It’s for you if: You are looking to get healthier or feel better.
It’s NOT for you if: You want to lose weight.
Gut Health Diets For Weight Loss
If you are someone that suffers from gut issues and food intolerances then chances are that you may also be struggling to lose weight too.
Poorly tolerated foods can cause a degree of inflammation in those who cannot tolerate them, and they may need to do a bit of work on their gut before they can tolerate these foods in the future.
The first step in sorting gut issues is to remove the poorly tolerated foods, and this will often help to bring down the inflammation.
Inflammation residing in the gut can make it hard for people to lose weight, as it disrupts certain aspects of metabolism and can actually propagate body fat.
For many people a Low FODMAP diet helps, others may do better on Paleo, Autoimmune Paleo, Specific Carbohydrate Diet or a completely tailored diet based on the elimination diet.
It’s for you if: You have multiple gastrointestinal symptoms that improve with removal of certain foods.
It’s NOT for you if: You don’t have gut issues in response to any food.
What is a Low FODMAP diet?
FODMAPs are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren't absorbed properly in the gut by some people.
FODMAPs can be found in all sorts of healthy, natural foods which can make it confusing for some people to navigate.
Limiting FODMAPs can help people improve their gut symptoms and help them lose weight.
The Meal Prep Market offers a great provider which offers Low FODMAP meals.
It’s for you if: You have IBS.
It’s NOT for you if: You don’t have IBS.
Whole Food/High Protein Diets For Weight Loss
For a lot of people, simply doing away with snacks, sodas, added sugar and cutting down on alcohol will help them lose weight without really even having to focus on cutting calories too much.
When eating real, whole foods it's hard to overeat them as they contain so many nutrients which help to regulate appetite. Once you are nutritionally replete, your appetite will naturally fall away.
However with junk foods, you will always be hungry no matter how much you eat, as there is simply no nutrition in most of them.
Real whole foods contain such a rich diversity of nutrients that they help every aspect of your body function better - most notably metabolism.
Naturally, if you eat a lot of whole foods you will start to feel and look healthier and weight loss becomes super easy.
The easiest way to start with weight loss is to just eat real food and cut out the crap.
Simply increasing the amount of protein in your diet can also help with weight loss quite significantly. Protein helps to reduce appetite and stimulate fullness, as well as being a metabolically expensive source of energy to process.
So basically your body works harder to process protein when it's ingested, which is helpful for metabolism.
Usually protein would make up around 30% of the energy you consume each day, but you can also measure it in grams. About 1.4g/kg of body weight is considered on the higher end of the protein spectrum so that should help get enough in each day to experience the benefits for most people.
A high protein diet is basically part of a whole foods diet above really, and fits well with the Mediterranean and Paleo diet.
It’s for you if: You enjoy eating protein rich foods and are okay to cut down on some carbs.
It’s NOT for you if: You easily feel full and/or do not exercise.
A Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular whole food diets, as it's rich in plant diversity, healthy fats and fibre. It’s especially rich in seafood, and olive oil as well as some meats which compliments the diverse and colourful plants which are also part of the diet.
It’s for you if: You love olive oil and enjoy cooking.
It’s NOT for you if: you think that adopting this diet will lead you to overeat / binge eat.
Similarly a Paleo diet also works really well as a general whole foods diet. Despite excluding beans, pulses, grains and dairy, it still includes a plethora of extremely nutrient dense foods including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood.
It’s for you if: You don’t like counting calories or removing carbs.
It’s NOT for you if: you like to be more technical / like to get into more detail about weight loss.
There’s no best weight loss diet. There are choices. If you are someone who wants to lose weight fast, then a low carb or calorie restricted diet are good options. These can be followed up by transitioning into a whole foods diet to maintain weight afterwards longer term.
If you have gut issues, the best way to start approaching weight loss is to focus on improving gut symptoms and working on improving food tolerance. Low FODMAP diet is often the most common.
Whole foods diets work for most people, and simply exclude junk foods and increase the consumption of real foods. This is the most attractive option for most people as it's the least restrictive and easiest to do.
Depending on what your situation is, you can choose to select any of the approaches above. Hopefully this has shed some light on where to start when it comes to diet and weight loss.