Not all diets are created equal when it comes to weight loss. In addition to fitting into your individual needs and lifestyle, the most effective diet plans should also be sustainable and easy to follow, according to Su-Nui Escobar, a Miami-based registered dietitian and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“A great diet plan balances all the essential nutrients like proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats,” says Escobar. She explains that the exact amounts of specific nutrients can vary for different eating patterns (such as low-carb or paleo diets), but emphasizes that all food groups should be included.
Certain diet plans have also been studied more extensively for weight loss. According to one review, plant-based diets may prevent overweight and obesity while also promoting weight loss. What’s more, another study linked a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet with a two-fold increased likelihood of maintaining weight loss long-term.
Regardless of which plan you choose, it’s also important to create a calorie deficit for weight loss, meaning you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming each day. For example, if your goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you should aim to reduce your food intake by 500 to 1,000 calories less than the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight. However, it’s also important to not reduce your calorie intake too much; it’s recommended to consume at least 1,500 calories per day for men and 1,200 calories per day for women.
Dr. Escobar also notes that an effective diet for weight loss should always come with an exit strategy for once you reach your goals to help you ease back into the swing of things. “It is easy to lose weight, but difficult to maintain,” she says.