The Best Diet for Weight Loss, Revealed

It's true. We've finally found what the best diet for weight loss is. Find out what it is and what else you need to do to shed the excess weight.

The Best Diet for Weight Loss, Revealed

Wait. Have we really found the best diet for weight loss?

Yes, we have - in fact, we’ve (as researchers, health experts, and dietitians) known it for quite some time. “Um,” you ask, “so why are we still embroiled in heated, nasty ‘debates’ about the supposed superiority of various diets that almost always dissolve into, ‘Well, [censored] you, I’m right, you’re wrong’?”

It comes down to 1 thing: individuality.

Different things work for different people, which is why:

The best diet for weight loss is …

A healthy one that you can stick to. Yep, that’s it.

In a 2024 randomized controlled trial published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers randomly assigned participants to 2 groups:

  1. Healthy low-carbohydrate (HLC) diet
  2. Healthy low-fat (HLF) diet

Each group was sub-divided into 4 for analysis after 12 months (i.e., the end of the study) based on their dietary quality and adherence:

  1. HQ + HA (high quality, high adherence)
  2. HQ + LA (high quality, low adherence)
  3. LQ + HA (low quality, high adherence)
  4. LQ + LA (low quality, low adherence)

The study offered 2 noteworthy findings. Within both HLC and HLF diet arms:

  1. The HQ + HA subgroups reported significantly greater decreases in their BMI than the LQ + LA subgroups.
  2. Neither HQ nor HA alone significantly differed from the LQ/LA subgroups.
FYI, as mentioned earlier, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this result.

Other studies pitting various diets — the keto diet, plant-based diets, and intermittent fasting — against each other have consistently found dietary quality and consistency to win out.


Choose a diet that makes the most sense for you

Prioritize finding a diet that suits your dietary preferences and/or restrictions.

E.g., don’t choose the Mediterranean diet if the taste of olive oil makes you want to throw up.

You should also know that you don’t have to choose a specific type of diet if you don’t want to. You could just stick to the trusted principles of ‘Calories in, calories out’ or ‘CICO’. Calculate your TDEE, implement a slight calorie deficit (~10%) to start, and fine-tune from there.

Because that’s the goal of every diet, anyway: to help you achieve a calorie deficit.

That said, please remember that diet quality plays a very, very important role. You can’t just go with a “free-for-all” mindset.

Consistently stuffing your face with junk food all day, every day, can still lead to weight loss if you eat fewer calories than your body burns. But chances are, you’ll be in much poorer metabolic health (blood pressure, glycemic control, cholesterol levels, etc.) than if you’d achieved it through a healthier, more balanced approach.

You’d also likely struggle with your energy levels (all those crucial micronutrients — missing!), which would undoubtedly have a wide-ranging impact on all aspects of your life.

What’s considered “healthy”?

Right. So, what qualifies as a healthy, high-quality diet?

If you eat meat, is it grilled chicken breasts with a wonderful side of boiled broccolis on repeat? And if you’re on a plant-based diet, is it boiled seitan dipped in oil-free hummus from Mondays to Sundays?

Of course not.

The truth is that you can (and should!) enjoy a variety of foods in your diet.

Instead of fixating on the specific foods you’re eating, focus on meeting the following general guidelines:

Eat more:

Fruits, vegetables, greens and beans, whole grains, dairy, total protein foods, seafood, plant proteins, and unsaturated fat versus saturated fat (note: eat as many of these as you can, depending on your dietary restrictions)
Eat less:

Refined gains, sodium, alcohol, and added sugar; here’s the recommended daily intake limit for:

1. Sodium: 2,300 mg
2. Added sugar: 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men

Now, at this point, it’s worth mentioning that certain diets have flunked the “healthy” litmus test. Examples include the:

  • Carnivore diet (where’s the fiber?!)
  • HCG diet (at 500 calories daily, you’re just not eating enough to fuel your body)
  • Cabbage soup diet (so unsustainable; what even is the point …???)

To help you out, if you’re not doing the DIY, ‘CICO’ route, here’s a non-exhaustive list of high-quality diets you could try on for size without making a registered dietitian go 🤦‍♀️.

Keto diet (but please, please, please eat your vegetables)
Vegan diet (eat a variety of plant-based protein sources to get all the essential amino acids your body needs)
Intermittent fasting (remember that this ultimately works by creating a calorie deficit)
Mediterranean diet (keep an eye on your calcium, iron, and vitamin D intake)

Pair the best diet for weight loss with exercise

The best diet for weight loss — friendly reminder: a high-quality diet you can stick to for the long term — can only do so much for you.

And illustrating that point perfectly is a 2023 meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition. After analyzing 12 different fat loss strategies, here’s how the researchers ranked them in order of most effective to least effective (only the top 6 are included for brevity’s sake):

  1. Energy restriction (ER) + high protein + exercise [MOST EFFECTIVE]
  2. ER + resistance training
  3. ER + mixed exercise
  4. ER + aerobic training
  5. ER + high protein
  6. ER
Just achieving ER alone is not going to cut it.

To move up the ‘effectiveness ladder’, the easiest thing you could do is eat enough protein.

Here’s what’s enough:

How Much Protein Should You Eat to Lose Weight?
FYI ... “as much as possible” isn’t the right answer. If that surprises you, here’s your chance to learn how much protein to eat to lose weight.

Then, the next thing you should do is add exercise to the mix. While cardio’s effectiveness in driving weight loss is … spotty, you should still go for it if you enjoy it — research shows ER + aerobic exercise would give you better results than ER alone, after all.

Of course, the best-case scenario is implementing the best weight-loss diet with a high-protein diet, cardio, and resistance training. Preserving and/or building muscle mass will seriously boost your chances of losing weight and keeping it off long-term.

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Avenue, 677 Huntington, et al. “Added Sugar.” The Nutrition Source, 5 Aug. 2013,

Eglseer, Doris, et al. “Nutrition and Exercise Interventions to Improve Body Composition for Persons with Overweight or Obesity Near Retirement Age: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Advances in Nutrition, vol. 14, no. 3, May 2023, pp. 516–38. ScienceDirect,

Hauser, Michelle E., et al. “Association of Dietary Adherence and Dietary Quality with Weight Loss Success among Those Following Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Secondary Analysis of the DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 119, no. 1, Jan. 2024, pp. 174–84. PubMed,

“How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?” Www.Heart.Org, Accessed 25 Mar. 2024.