There are a lot of weight loss diet plans out there, and many of them can be effective. In this section of our site, we will be going over what to look for when picking out the perfect diet plan and comparing the effectiveness of different diet plans. At the end of the article, we will be giving you plenty of weight loss diet plans so you can use your new-found knowledge to pick the right weight loss diet plan for you.
Factors Effecting Weight Loss Diet Plans
As a general rule of thumb there are three major factors which may change the efficacy of a diet plan:
Calories in, Calories Out: No matter what type of weight loss diet plan you follow, you will eventually need to burn more calories than you take in.
Ability to Comply: Some diet plans may look great on paper, but if they leave you feeling too hungry or depleted, it will be hard for you to stick with the diet for any length of time. The best diet is typically the one that you can stick to.
Individual Factors: While the first two factors are the most important, there are occasionally some individual factors which might make you want to lean towards one diet type versus the other.
Let’s take a look at each of these factors a bit closer.
Weight Loss Diet Plans: Calories In, Calories Out
No matter what you may have heard about different weight loss diet plans (such as low carb or low fat diets), the truth is that the most important thing you have to consider is how many calories you are eating versus how many calories you are expending. No matter how you set up your carbohydrates, protein, and fat intake, if you are eating too much food, you are not going to lose weight.
What most people do not realize when following this basic guideline is that the effect is cumulative. You should look at your caloric intake over a weekly period rather than a daily period. If you stick to your diet throughout the week and then overeat on the weekend, you may find that you are consuming more calories over the course of a whole week then you burn during the week, which will not allow you to lose weight.
Too often people binge and end up eating several thousand calories above their needs in just a day or two. Note that it is much easier to consume extra calories than it is to not consume enough calories. For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day, if you only eat 1,500 calories, you will be very hungry and yet only be 500 calories below maintenance level. Over 5 days (Monday-Friday) that adds up to 2,500 calories, or about 2/3 a pound of fat. You can stick to your diet very successfully during the week and not even lose a pound!
Now, if you went out to dinner on Saturday and then out for drinks, it is within the realm of reason to pack in 2000-4000 calories over the course of the night. When you add that to whatever you ate earlier in the day, you can easily wipe out a week’s worth of progress in a single night out.
On the other hand, if you diligently diet and exercise throughout the week, you can easily push up your caloric deficit to 5,000 calories for Monday-Friday (500 calories from diet, 500 calories from exercise for 5 days). You can then easily have a night out on Saturday and still lose weight. This highlights the importance of exercise in long-term weight loss.
Learn how to calculate how many calories you should be eating each day in our article: How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Weight Loss Diet Plans – Ability to Comply
Given that even very strict dieting and exercise plans will only lead to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week, you have to be willing to follow a weight loss diet plan for a very long period of time if you want to actually lose a significant amount of weight. Additionally, as highlighted above, a single day or two of slacking on a diet can result in losing an entire week’s worth of progress.
For this reason, perhaps the most important thing in the weight loss diet plan that you choose is whether or not it is maintainable for you in the long run. It is much better to follow a diet plan you can maintain forever where you lose .5-1 pound per week than it is to get on a 2-3 pound per week crash diet that you finish with in a month. A slow but steady diet can result in 25-50 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year, whereas a series of failed crash diets usually does not amount to much.
If you find low-carb diets easier to follow than more moderate approaches, go with a low-carb diet. If you low-carb diets leave you tired and irritable, go with something else. Rather than getting caught up in the rapid fat burning potential of a certain diet, just try to find something that fits with your life.
Individual Factors That May Influence Your Weight Loss Diet Plan
There are a lot of different things that may effect your choice in weight loss diet plan. While your primary focus should be on calories in, calories out and the ability to stick to a diet, sometimes individual factors may make one weight loss diet plan more appealing than the other. Some factors include:
Medical Conditions. For example, it is not usually medically advisable for a type-I diabetic to follow a low-carb diet or for someone with kidney disease to consume a high protein diet.
Blood Work. While not necessarily a disease, the results of a blood test may impact your choice in diet plan. For example, a high-carb, low-fat diet might be inappropriate for someone with high triglycerides and very low HDL levels, whereas a low-carb, higher-fat diet might be inappropriate for someone with high LDL. Pre-diabetic levels of blood sugar may make a low-carb diet advisable.
There are many different ways diet can impact blood work, but you should know that most medical schools do not have much curriculum on nutrition. If you have some unusual blood readings you may want to consult a clinical nutritionist in addition to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to check for internal factors like liver, kidney, or insulin sensitivity problems whereas a clinical nutritionist (not just any nutritionist) can help point you towards a diet plan to improve your blood-work.
Current Body Fat Levels. Whenever possible, the more weight you have to lose, the less carbohydrates you should eat. Lower carbohydrate diets work well for people who are overweight and obese, whereas carbohydrates tend to be useful in people who have less weight to lose.
Activity Levels. The more high-intensity exercise you perform, the more carbohydrates you need. If you do not perform much exercise at all, you need very little carbohydrates. Note that while walking is great for weight loss, it does not really stimulate the need for you to eat more carbohydrates. As a result, obese individuals who do nothing or only walk for exercise would be best off following low-carb diets, whereas individuals who weight train, run, or do interval work and are only looking to lose a small amount of weight will need more carbohydrates.
Types of Weight Loss Diet Plans
Now that we have covered the basic mechanics underlying which weight loss diet plan is right for you, I will be giving an overview of each diet type, as well as linking off to articles which contain full diet plans which you can follow along with weight loss tips which will help you troubleshoot any issues you may run into.
Low Carbohydrate Diets
Low-carb diets are some of the most popular diet types of our times, and for good reason: they are very effective. I think low-carb diets are best for those who are doing little to no intense exercise (i.e. nothing, walking, or other light cardio) as well as those who need to lose more then 20 pounds. Men who have a waistline over 36″ and women that have a waistline of over 34″ can benefit from a low-carb diet plan.
Check back shortly as we will add a section detailing how to set up these sorts of diets.
A balanced diet which includes some protein, fat, and carbohydrates is often makes for a good long-term diet plan. The biggest problem with a moderate diet in my experience is not effectiveness but rather compliance. It is hard to feel satiated (i.e. not hungry) if you are in any significant caloric deficit.
However, you can really ramp this up by changing around how you eat depending on the day of the week and turn the average diet into a great weight loss diet plan. Check back soon for more specifics. What I recommend is a light form of carb cycling, and this works well for those that still need to lose weight but are also exercising regularly.
Check back soon as I will be adding information on this type of diet.
Carbohydrate cycling is the most advanced type of weight loss diet plan, and as such it is best used for those that are advanced! It involves changing the amount of carbohydrates you are eating on a daily basis based on your workout schedule, with your hardest training days having a very high carbohydrate intake and low fat intake, while your days off from the gym you end up going for a very low-carb approach.
In order to make this type of dieting effective, you already need to at a decent weight and work out pretty seriously. I will be adding details on this soon enough.
Alternative Diet Plans
Some people may not be able to follow the plans above due to dietary restrictions such as allergies or beliefs. No matter what your dietary exclusions are, you can still lose weight. We will be adding weight loss diet plans below for people who have certain dietary restrictions or other needs:
- Quick Weight Loss Diet Plan – For those who need to lose weight fast.
- Vegetarian Weight Loss Diet Plan – For those that do not eat meat.
- Healthy Weight Loss Diet Plan – For those who are fine with slow but steady, healthy weight loss.
Weight Loss Diet Plan – Summary
Just remember that there are a lot of weight loss diet plans out there which can work well and some individualization may come into play, but in order to be effective, weight loss plans need to induce a caloric deficit and need to be something you can comply with.