‘How can I lose weight on a vegan diet?” ‘What’s the best way to drop body fat?” “What do you think about Intermittent Fasting?” “Are you a fan of ketogenic diets?” “What macro percentages should I eat to lose the most weight?” “How can I carb cycle?”
And on and on and on. Everyday, I’m asked nearly every iteration of every question about weight loss, Fortunately, and perhaps unfortunately, the answer is simple: The best weigh to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit. In other words, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. It’s really that simple.
I was so excited when I saw this research article that supported this idea that energy balance (i.e., eating less than you spend) is the most important factor in losing weight. Additionally, other dietary approaches often help people reduce weight because they put people in a caloric deficit, likely not because of any other special properties of these approaches. To quote the abstract of the article: “Diets primarily focused on fat loss are driven by a sustained caloric deficit.”
By far the most comprehensive review of how popular diets affect body composition. Low carb, low fat, paleo, IF, and everything in-between are critically analyzed. I was privileged to be a contributing author, but the primary recognition here goes to @thealanaragon who spearheaded the project, carried out the search, organized the findings, and synthesized input from all the collaborators to draw evidence-based conclusions. It's a monumental paper that cuts through hype and rhetoric often seen on the topic (usually by those who have an agenda or financial interest), and provides practical, scientifically grounded advice that is accessible to the general public. A must read that will set the standard for years to come. Here are the main takeaways: 1. Energy balance rules the day from a fat loss standpoint 2. Higher protein intakes (~2 g/kg/day) help to preserve lean mass and quell hunger 3. The ratio of carbs/fat is of minimal importance; your personal preference should dictate consumption of these macronutrients
At Conscious Muscle, we adhere to this simple approach. We provide people with a balanced, plant-based approach without gimmicks or fads. If people want to lose weight, we put them in a sustained caloric deficit. It’s really that simple. The study also validated our approach of using a higher protein approach when losing weight to help maintain muscle and reduce feelings of hunger. That’s really our only ‘trick,’ if you would call it that.
So why do these other approaches get so much attention? We’re not really sure. It could be that the real answer is, well, boring, and not likely to generate much hype. I mean, everyone knows you need to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. Who’s going to click on an article that says ‘Lose weight by eating fewer calories than you burn?’ versus ‘More people are dropping weight fast using [insert latest diet fad].’ But, hey, our approach may not be glitzy, our results are, and we’ll gladly have those over the new fad approach! Check out our coaching packages on our website to learn more.
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