The second you consider losing weight, a chain-reaction of thoughts go off inside your head:
“What diet do I go on? Low-fat? Low-carb? 1000-calories-per-day? Paleo? Vegan?”
No matter what “diet” you decide to go on, here’s the basic truth:
To lose body fat, your body must have a reason to burn it off.
When the amount of calories your body requires in one day is higher than what you ingest in a day, you will be in a “caloric deficit”.
This deficit is when your body says “okay, time to burn some fat!!!”
There’s not a single diet out there that can magically make you lose weight no matter how much you eat – despite their claims, “research”, and testimonials.
For example, on low-carb and paleo, you cannot simply eat unlimited amounts of meat and coconut oil and lose body fat. Same thing with vegan – eating unlimited amounts of grains & fruits won’t allow you to lose weight.
Without a deficit, you cannot lose bodyfat.
If a diet claims otherwise (that you can eat unlimited food while still losing weight), you can assume the following:
- That the diet involves eating food that is so low in calories but is so filling, that you will naturally not eat a lot of calories (thus, lose weight).
- That the diet is a flat-out lie, and that the “creators” may have used certain drugs to create the “awesome results”.
With that said, there are also diets that promise amazing results (think – lose 10 lbs in 10 days, etc.) that are entirely legitimate, but require extreme measures, such as severe calorie restriction.
If you eat almost nothing every day, you will lose weight FAST, but that isn’t the only consequence.
A few studies have shown that extreme forms of dieting (either long-term caloric deficits, or short-term fasting) decrease the body’s levels of triiodothyronine (or, T3) – the body’s active thyroid hormone. This hormone directly controls the rate of one’s metabolism. The only way to “replenish” the body’s T3 is to either take it through prescription, or bump your calories back up. (Study 1, Study 2, & Study 3)
So, let’s say you hop onto one of these crash diets and lose 30 lbs in a single month. When you come off the diet, unless you keep your calories very low, or take months to very slowly ramp your calories back up to normal – you will gain weight.
Because your metabolism has been slowed down, you will gain weight more easily than before.
Key take-away: as long as your diet is low enough in calories, you can lose weight. No special diet is required. However, don’t keep your calories too low, as that will make it easier to gain the weight again afterwards.