What should I eat for weight loss?

Eat less. Different diets or supplements may make eating less easier for you to do, and you can choose from these as you please; whichever one fits your lifestyle best. Ultimately, you need to reduce caloric intake.

In general, the macronutrient composition of a diet (how many of your calories come from dietary fats, carbohydrates, protein, and Alcohol) serves less of a role in weight loss attempts than does caloric intake overall; increased caloric intake as an independent variable is more than sufficient to explain the current obesity epidemic.[1] There is insufficient evidence to support the role of high fructose corn syrup in inducing obesity[2]

Independent of the macro composition of your diet, a net negative energy balance (consuming less calories than your body needs) is alone responsible for weight loss.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

The results of this study showed that it was energy intake, not nutrient composition, that determined weight loss in response to low-energy diets over a short time period. [3]

Even with extreme changes in the fat-carbohydrate ratio (fat energy varied from 0% to 70% of total intake), there was no detectable evidence of significant variation in energy need as a function of percentage fat intake. [4]
Neither diet offered a significant advantage when comparing weight loss or other, metabolic parameters over a 12 w period. [5]
Both the high-carbohydrate and high-protein groups lost weight (-2.2+/-0.9 kg, -2.5+/-1.6 kg, respectively, P Diet composition did not affect the magnitude of weight loss [7]
Overall, weight loss of 5.2 +/- 1.8 kg was achieved independently of diet composition. [8]
Weight loss was 7.3 +/- 0.3 kg with both diets [9]
Overall weight loss was 6.2 (SD 7.3) kg (P [10]
The magnitude of weight loss and the improvements in insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk factors did not differ significantly between the 2 diets [11]
Weight loss (7.9 +/- 0.5 kg) and total fat loss (6.9 +/- 0.4 kg) did not differ between diet groups. [12]
... both dietary patterns achieved net weight loss and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors. [13]
In summary at identical energy intake and similar substrate composition, the dissociated (or 'food combining') diet did not bring any additional loss in weight and body fat. [14]
All interventions reduced weight (DO 8.9 +/- 1.6%, DA 10.6 +/- 1.7%, and DC 8.7 +/- 1.7%; P [15]
This study showed that independently of the method for weight loss, the negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction. [16]
In obese, insulin-resistant persons, a calorie-restricted diet, moderately lower in carbohydrate and higher in unsaturated fat, is as efficacious as the traditional low-fat diet in producing weight loss [17]
Both trials showed better weight loss on the low-carbohydrate diet after 6 months, but no difference after 12 months. [18]
weight loss that was completely accounted for by reduced caloric intake[19]
Among persons living in a controlled setting, calories alone account for the increase in fat[20]

But what about the magic of fad diets?

Many diets, both fad and more long-term diets, do work. This is mainly because they reduce calories.

When people switch to a paleo-lithic (hunter-gatherer diet), the foods they switch to are naturally more filling (higher protein, fiber, water content) or have less calories for the size of the food eaten (due to water content; a pound of broccoli has less calories than a pound of grains).

When people switch to a ketosis diet (very low carb), the higher fat and protein levels naturally provide satiety and fill people up. Also, there is some evidence that obese people have a maladapted response to serotonin (of which carbohydrates aid in the synthesis of) and thus omitting carbohydrates omits cravings. People lose weight on a ketosis diet because they eat less on a day to day basis, and avoid large binges caused from carbohydrate cravings.

Diets that manipulate fasting (Intermittent Fasting, Alternate Day Fasting) may have some benefits on the 'calories out' side of things as prolonged fasting might increase heat expenditure, but the most significant means for weight loss here is that you control eating. It is much harder to overeat in 8 hours than it is in 16.

It should also be noted that what time you eat food and how many times you eat is irrelevant in weight loss.

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Scientific Support & Reference Citations


  1. Swinburn B, Sacks G, Ravussin E Increased food energy supply is more than sufficient to explain the US epidemic of obesity . Am J Clin Nutr. (2009)
  2. Lack of evidence for high fructose corn syrup as the cause of the obesity epidemic
  3. Golay A, et al Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets . Am J Clin Nutr. (1996)
  4. Leibel RL, et al Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
  5. Golay A, et al Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet . Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1996)
  6. Sargrad KR, et al Effect of high protein vs high carbohydrate intake on insulin sensitivity, body weight, hemoglobin A1c, and blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus . J Am Diet Assoc. (2005)
  7. Heilbronn LK, Noakes M, Clifton PM Effect of energy restriction, weight loss, and diet composition on plasma lipids and glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes . Diabetes Care. (1999)
  8. Parker B, et al Effect of a high-protein, high-monounsaturated fat weight loss diet on glycemic control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes . Diabetes Care. (2002)
  9. Noakes M, et al Effect of an energy-restricted, high-protein, low-fat diet relative to a conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on weight loss, body composition, nutritional status, and markers of cardiovascular health in obese women . Am J Clin Nutr. (2005)
  10. Keogh JB, et al Long-term weight maintenance and cardiovascular risk factors are not different following weight loss on carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsaturated fat or protein in obese hyperinsulinaemic men and women . Br J Nutr. (2007)
  11. Luscombe-Marsh ND, et al Carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsaturated fat or protein are equally effective at promoting fat loss and improving blood lipids . Am J Clin Nutr. (2005)
  12. Farnsworth E, et al Effect of a high-protein, energy-restricted diet on body composition, glycemic control, and lipid concentrations in overweight and obese hyperinsulinemic men and women . Am J Clin Nutr. (2003)
  13. Brinkworth GD, et al Long-term effects of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on weight control and cardiovascular risk markers in obese hyperinsulinemic subjects . Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (2004)
  14. Golay A, et al Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets . Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (2000)
  15. Thomson RL, et al The effect of a hypocaloric diet with and without exercise training on body composition, cardiometabolic risk profile, and reproductive function in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome . J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2008)
  16. Strasser B, Spreitzer A, Haber P Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss . Ann Nutr Metab. (2007)
  17. McLaughlin T, et al Effects of moderate variations in macronutrient composition on weight loss and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in obese, insulin-resistant adults . Am J Clin Nutr. (2006)
  18. Astrup A, Meinert Larsen T, Harper A Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss . Lancet. (2004)
  19. Boden G, et al Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes . Ann Intern Med. (2005)
  20. Bray GA, et al Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial . JAMA. (2012)

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