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How to lose weight with no diet restrictions

Weight loss is always a result of energy balance, this is just science.

Energy in Energy out = weight loss.


Energy in Energy out = weight gain.

Energy in = Energy out = no change in weight.

This is thermodynamics and it applies to everyone. Every diet on the planet works in exactly the same way – they change the energy balance equation to cause weight loss, they do this by creating a caloric deficit, as this is the ONLY way to lose body fat. 

Take the “low carb” diet for example, it aims to reduce overall calorie intake by restricting the intake of carbs because removing carbs from your diet will slash your calories.

 We also have the “Paleo” diet that demonises “processed” food – a significant portion of a typical western diet is “processed” therefore eliminating this food group will result in a large calorie reduction. 

“Weight Watchers” employs portion control in an effort to create the desired calorie deficit. It seems there’s a trend here.

  • 1/10

    Flexitarian Diet

    The combination of flexible and vegetarian. This diet is all about adding things to your diet, not taking them away. By adding more tofu, beans, fruits, veggies, eggs, whole grains and seeds to your diet you should feel full on fewer calories.

    Flickr / Brian

  • 2/10

    DASH Diet

    Ranked at number one, the DASH diet was developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure by reducing salt intake.

    Flickr / Dubravko Sorić

  • 3/10

    TLC Diet

    Created to cut high cholesterol and endorsed by the American Heart Association.

  • 4/10

    Mayo Clinic diet

    Focuses on everything you were told to eat as a child: whole grains, fruit and vegetables.

    Flickr / Rochelle

  • 5/10

    Mediterranean Diet

    Eat as the Mediterranean people do: A diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fats but high in produce and nuts. And lots of olives.

    Flickr / Meal Makeover Moms

  • 6/10

    Weight Watchers

    Works with a points system where healthy foods have fewer points. Group meetings offer emotional support and encouragement, meaning it has been a successful program since 1963.

    Flickr / Mike Mozart

  • 7/10

    Volumetrics Diet

    Works on the idea that people eat roughly the same amount every day, regardless of the calories. So this diet is all about the approach to eating rather than a structured diet. It divides food into four groups depending on their energy density. For example, more veggies on top of pasta instead of cheese.

    Flickr / Jennifer

  • 8/10

    Jenny Craig

    For encouragement, on this diet you get a meal plan and a counselling session every week with a consultant. You get three meals a day, including French toast, but unfortunately you can’t really go out for meals.

    Flickr / Dennis Wilkinson

  • 9/10

    Biggest Loser Diet

    Eat regular meals with whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean protein, get more exercise and keep a food journal. Fairly simple.

    Flickr / Pete Thomas

  • 10/10

    Ornish Diet

    Developed by Dean Ornish in his 2007 book “The Spectrum”. He categorizes food in to five groups from most (1) to least (5) healthy. He pinpoints emotional support as a powerful tool for weight loss.

    Flickr / kris krüg

The take-home message is don’t make dieting any harder for yourself than it already is.

When you look past the marketing and the hype, ALL diets work in exactly the same way. Some diets just place unnecessary restrictions in the hope that it will create that all-important calorie deficit.

But, there’s an easier way; a way that doesn’t involve restriction.

–    2-4 meals a day

–    Use your palm as a portion measure.

–    1 portion of protein (meat/eggs/greek yoghurt/fish etc) each meal.

–    1 portion of carbs (bread/rice/pasta/breakfast cereal/beans/oats etc) each meal.

–    1 portion of veg (any veg at all) each meal.

–    0.5 x portions of fats (cheese/nut butters/oils/nuts) each meal.

–    2 snacks per day – fruit and/or protein bars make great snacks.

I recommend most clients do this in conjunction with tracking their food and drink intake using a calorie tracking app such as “My Fitness Pal” or my own app “Harry Smith Fitness”. 

This way, over time you’ll see the relationship between your caloric intake and your bodyweight/body fat levels and can make minor adjustments dependent on your goals. 

If you fancy some naughty food just have it! Track it in the app and work around it.

Flexibility is key to sustainability and sustainability is key to success. There’s no need to overcomplicate it.

Harry Smith is a personal trainer. Follow him on Facebook.

  • More about:
  • diet
  • Healthy Eating
  • Nutrition
  • health and fitness
  • Weight Loss

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