When you’ve tried to lose weight, you’ve probably noticed that keeping the weight off is the hardest part.
You’re not alone if you’re tired of your weight loss stalling after a few months or creeping back up once you quit the diet.
Several popular weight-loss plans promise quick weight loss results to entice you but ultimately lead to failure.
Most popular fad diets begin with a rapid weight loss that is motivating at first. The weight loss stops after the first few months.
You may wonder why you’re having trouble. When you feel like you’re gaining back the weight you’ve lost, it can be frustrating.
The good news is that there is still hope. Around 20% of the population is successful at maintaining weight loss over the long run. At least 10% of their body weight must be lost, and maintained, for at least one year.
The importance of diet and exercise for sustainable weight loss cannot be overstated. However, your diet patterns are even more important to your success.
How do you pick the best diet for you when there are so many diet programs claiming to provide the magic bullet?
It has been shown that certain eating patterns are more sustainable than others.
In order to achieve long-term weight loss, it is best to practice certain eating patterns rather than a strict diet.
I have also reviewed a lot of weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.
Here are the top 10 diet patterns for sustainable weight loss.
1. Intermittent fasting
A dietary strategy in which eating and fasting alternate is intermittent fasting.
In addition to the 16/8 method, which limits your calorie intake to eight hours per day, there is also the 5:2 method, which restricts your daily calorie intake to 500–600 calories twice per week.
When you fast intermittently, you limit the amount of time you eat, which reduces your calorie intake. Weight loss may result – unless you compensate by eating too much during permitted eating times.
An analysis of studies showed that intermittent fasting can cause 3–8% weight loss over three to twenty-four weeks, which is a significantly greater percentage than other weight loss methods.
Based on the same review, this eating pattern may reduce waist circumference by 4–7%, which is a marker of harmful belly fat.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can boost fat burning while preserving muscle mass, improving metabolism.
In addition to antiaging effects, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve brain health, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity.
For most healthy adults, intermittent fasting is safe.
However, those with diabetes, low weight, or an eating disorder, as well as those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should consult a healthcare professional before beginning an intermittent fast.
2. Plant-based diets
Diets based on plant sources are considered plant-based diets. Fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts and meat substitutes such as soy products can all be included.
“Plant-based” eating is often interpreted differently by different people. A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet may include small amounts of animal products such as meat and fish as well as focusing primarily on vegetarian foods.
Pescatarian diets are vegetarian diets that include fish but exclude meat. The term vegetarian refers to those who don’t consume meat or fish, but consume dairy and eggs, while the term vegan refers to those who don’t consume any animal products, including dairy, eggs, honey, and gelatin.
The five-a-day target is likely to be easier to meet if people follow plant-based diets and consume a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and pulses.
Because of this, they are likely to consume good amounts of fibre and vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium, which are all essential for good health.
The use of plant-based foods does not automatically mean that they are healthy, especially when they are processed and packaged.
Even though refined sugar, white flour, and certain vegetable fats are technically ‘plant-based’ because they are vegetarian, this does not mean they should constitute a majority of a healthy diet.
Weight loss can be achieved with plant-based diets.
The review of 12 studies including 1,151 participants found that people following a plant-based diet lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) more than those eating animal products.
Also, vegans lost an average of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) more than non-vegans.
In addition to being high in fibre, plant-based diets tend to be low in high-calorie fat, thus promoting weight loss.
In addition, plant-based diets have been linked to many other benefits, including a lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Vegetarian diets are also environmentally sustainable.
Although plant-based diets are healthy, they can limit important nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids that are normally found in animal products.
These nutrients can be included in a flexitarian diet or through proper supplementation.
3. Low-carb diets
Weight loss diets that are low in carbs are among the most popular. Diets such as the Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, and low-carb, high-fat diet are examples.
Variety affects carbohydrate reduction differently. For instance, very-low-carb diets like the keto diet limit carbs to less than 10% of total calories, compared to 30% or less for other diets.
Low-carb diets limit your carbohydrate intake in favor of protein and fat.
Low-fat diets typically have more protein than high-protein diets, which is important because protein suppresses appetite, increases metabolism, and helps maintain muscle mass.
On very-low-carb diets such as keto, your body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Ketosis is the result.
Low-carb diets have been shown to help with weight loss and may be more effective than low-fat diets in the long run.
Low-carb diets, on the other hand, resulted in significantly more weight loss than low-fat diets, according to a review of 53 studies with 68,128 participants.
In addition, low-carb diets seem to burn harmful belly fat quite effectively.
Besides reducing risk factors for heart disease, low-carb diets may also lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. People with type 2 diabetes may also benefit from them in terms of improving their blood sugar levels and insulin levels.
Low-carb diets can raise LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in some cases. Diets with very few carbs can be hard to follow and cause digestive upset for some people.
Following a very low-carb diet may cause ketoacidosis, which is a potentially fatal metabolic condition if left untreated.
4. The paleo diet
A paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to those that were eaten during the Paleolithic era, which is estimated to have lasted between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago.
Typically, paleo diets consist of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, foods that were available by hunting and gathering in the past. Paleo diets limit foods that were common when agriculture emerged 10,000 years ago. These foods include grains, legumes, and dairy products.
Palaeolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, and caveman diet are other names for the paleo diet.
Paleo diets aim to get back to an eating style that’s similar to what early humans ate. The discordance hypothesis states that the human body is genetically mismatched with the modern diet that evolved from farming practices.
In addition to dairy, grains, and legumes becoming staple foods, farming changed what people ate. According to the hypothesis, the body was unable to adjust to this relatively late and rapid change in diet. This mismatch is believed to contribute to the current prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Paleo diets can aid weight loss and reduce belly fat, according to numerous studies.
The average weight loss for 14 healthy adults following a paleo diet was 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg), and the waist circumference – a measure of belly fat – was 0.6 inches (1.5 cm).
There is also evidence that the paleo diet may be more filling than popular diets like the Mediterranean diet and low-fat diets. High protein content may contribute to this.
Many heart disease risk factors can be reduced by following the paleo diet, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels.
Even though the paleo diet is healthful, it restricts several nutritious food groups, including legumes, whole grains, and dairy.
5. The DASH diet
Dietary approaches to stop hypertension, or DASH diet, is a diet designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat, and reduce salt, red meat, added sugars, and fat.
Despite its lack of weight loss properties, many people claim to have lost weight on the DASH diet.
There are specific servings of foods from different food groups in the DASH diet. Your daily calorie intake determines how many servings you can consume.
In other words, an average person following the DASH diet would consume about 5 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, 7 servings of healthy carbs like whole grains, 2 servings of low-fat dairy products, and 2 servings or fewer of lean meats per day.
Furthermore, you can eat nuts and seeds two to three times per week.
Weight loss is possible with the DASH diet, according to studies.
An analysis of 13 studies found that people on the DASH diet lost significantly more weight than people on a control diet over a period of 8-24 weeks.
DASH diet benefits include lowering blood pressure and several heart disease risk factors. The drug may also reduce your risk of both breast cancer and colorectal cancer, as well as recurrent depressive symptoms.
There is mixed evidence regarding the DASH diet’s effects on blood pressure and salt intake. People who have heart failure are at greater risk of death if they eat too little salt, as too little salt increases insulin resistance.
In some ways, Noom is similar to Weight Watchers as an online weight-loss program. Numoom promotes the consumption of low-calorie, high-volume foods.
In other words, it promotes foods that have high water content and low calories per volume, such as fruits and vegetables. It is easier to maintain a low-calorie diet by eating foods that are naturally low in calories and filling.
With Noom, you can track your calories according to a customized plan.
This diet program also encourages you to track your habits and learn why you eat the way you do.
By addressing any barriers or life stresses that prevent you from losing weight, this mindful eating component helps. In this way, you can pinpoint the cause of the problem and find a healthier solution.
Noom provides you with a support group and coach as well. Noom coaches are trained in nutrition and can help you develop a plan that works for you.
7. Low-fat diets
For decades, low-fat diets have been popular, just like low-carb diets.
A low-fat diet generally involves restricting your fat intake to 30 percent of your daily calories.
The goal of very- and ultra-low-fat diets is to limit fat consumption to less than 10% of calorie intake.
Compared with protein and carbs, fat provides about twice as many calories per gram as the other two macronutrients.
Most of the calories in ultra-low-fat diets come from carbohydrates and only 10% from protein, with about 80% of the calories coming from fat.
The ultra-low-fat diet is mainly plant-based and limits meat.
Weight loss can be achieved with low-fat diets since they restrict calorie intake.
Over 73,500 participants in 33 studies involving low-fat diets had small but meaningful changes in waist circumference and weight.
In controlled situations, low-fat diets may be just as effective as low-carb diets for weight loss, but low-carb diets appear to be more effective on a daily basis.
Diets that are ultra-low in fat have been shown to be successful, especially among obese people. The average weight loss after eating a diet consisting of 7–14% fat was 14.8, according to an 8-week study in 56 participants.
A low-fat diet may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Low-fat diets may also reduce inflammation and improve markers of diabetes.
In the long term, too much restriction of fat can result in health problems, as fat is critical for hormone production, nutrient absorption, and cell health. The metabolic syndrome is also associated with very low-fat diets.
8. The Mediterranean diet
Dietitians like Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Stamford, Connecticut, recommend this mostly plant-based eating approach as the No. 1 overall diet in 2022, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Gorin praises the Mediterranean diet – which is rich in whole vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, legumes, and some red wine and dairy – for being a balanced way to eat. You may be more likely to stick with a Mediterranean diet since it emphasizes whole, plant-based foods rather than highly processed junk foods and fast food.
In general, if you eat healthier foods that are higher in fibre and protein, and consume less saturated fat and sugar, you’ll probably consume fewer calories and lose weight, says Amy Goodson, RD, who is based in Dallas-Fort Worth.
It is also possible to lose weight by eating like Italians, Greeks, and other Mediterranean-dwellers (the diet’s namesake). This approach also benefits the heart and brain, Gorin says.
In a previous review published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, it was found that a Mediterranean diet, in combination with exercise, was associated with reduced weight gain if followed for over six months.
A total of 16 randomized controlled trials were included in the review, which involved 1,848 Mediterranean diet followers and 1,588 controls.
9. WW (Weight Watchers)
A popular weight loss program worldwide, WW was formerly known as Weight Watchers.
In order to reach their ideal weight, people on a WW plan must eat within their daily points set.
Depending on their calorie, fat, and fibre content, WW assigns different foods and beverages a value.
Keep within your daily point allowance to reach your desired weight.
The WW program has been shown to help you lose weight in many studies.
A review of 45 studies found that people following a WW diet lost 2.6% more weight than those receiving standard counselling.
In addition, people who follow WW programs are more likely to maintain their weight loss over time compared with those who follow other diets.
Another benefit is that WW is flexible and easy to follow. Those with food allergies or dietary restrictions can adhere to the plan in this way.
Depending on the subscription plan, WW can be expensive even though it offers flexibility. If dieters choose unhealthy foods, their flexibility can be a disadvantage.
10. The Mayo Clinic Diet
As the core of the diet, the Mayo Clinic emphasizes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Health experts at the Mayo Clinic, one of the top medical systems in the country, have developed the program.
By replacing unhealthy behaviours with ones that support weight loss over the long term rather than banning specific foods, the Mayo Clinic diet promotes long-term weight loss.
Its diet and physical activity recommendations are outlined in the Mayo Clinic diet program’s food guide pyramid.
The pyramid starts with fruits, vegetables, and physical activity, followed by whole grains. The amount of protein, dairy, fat, and sweets should be reduced.
There are two phases to the diet:
- “Lose it!”: This phase lasts two weeks and is designed to jump-start your weight loss. On average, six to ten pounds are lost during this phase.
- “Live it!”: The second phase should be followed for life.
Despite the fact that no independent studies have specifically studied the Mayo Clinic diet, some of its components promote weight loss.
Mayo Clinic’s program emphasizes a high-fibre, minimally-processed diet, along with physical activity, which has been shown to result in long-term weight loss.
11. Flexitarian Diet
In a flexitarian diet, plant-based foods are the main focus. This diet allows meat from time to time, so it is more flexible than a traditional vegetarian diet.
Dawn Jackson-Blatner, a registered dietitian, developed this way of eating so that plant-based lifestyle followers would have more flexibility.
Flexitarians encourage the consumption of a variety of healthy, satisfying foods. Since nothing is entirely restricted, it appeals to many people.
Women specifically benefitted from a flexitarian diet, according to a 2016 review of research. Those who follow a flexitarian diet lose weight and are less likely to develop diabetes.
They also saw improvements in their blood pressure and their metabolic health.
12. A Diet You Can Stick With
Weight loss plans that you can stick to for life are the most effective ones.
It’s also extremely helpful to have ongoing accountability, whether through a support group, a health professional, or a friend.
Weight loss cannot be sustained with a strict diet, so finding a more balanced diet is the key to long-term success.
It is not realistic to follow a weight loss diet that restricts certain foods or food groups completely.
As humans, we crave what we can’t have, so following these types of diets eventually becomes difficult for most people.
When you deprive your body of too much, your weight will eventually creep back up.
The diet you choose should be based on your lifestyle and food preferences since all of the above diets have proven effective for weight loss. By doing so, you are more likely to stick with it for the long haul.
Some of the best-researched diets and eating plans include intermittent fasting, plant-based diets, low-carb diets, low-fat diets, the paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, WW (Weight Watchers), and the DASH diet.
It’s important to remember, however, that if you lose weight rapidly, you will likely regain it at the same rate.
No matter where you are or how your day unfolds, a diet you can stick with is one you can follow every day.
You should consider whether your current eating habits are sustainable long-term. If the answer is no, there are healthier eating plans available.
You may want to seek the advice of a registered dietitian if you are still unsure of the best weight loss plan for you.
It is a registered dietitian’s job to determine the best healthy eating plan that you can happily maintain.