Is eating healthy the best way to lose weight?

Let’s just ignore exercise for now…

Some books say that dieting doesn’t work and instead they say to just eat healthy (and have good portion sizes [and exercise])

Is that the consensus of the experts?

I wonder if there are studies where overweight people are fed very healthy foods and others are fed low-calorie diet foods with the same calories and if there is a difference in their weight loss…

BTW some diets (e.g. The Gabriel Method) say that you don’t have to always avoid unhealthy foods but just add in healthy foods.

BTW when I say that diets might not work I mean in the long term.

Also about “healthy” foods. Many people would say that low-calorie “diet” foods/drinks aren’t really “healthy” (nutritious). What about organic foods and grass-fed meats, etc. They would be healthier but do they make a significant difference to people who are trying to be thin?

The best way to get h̶e̶a̶l̶t̶h̶y̶ wealthy from diets is to write a book/make a video about it.

BTW on the weight loss TV shows I’ve seen they get them to eat healthy diets (no diet coke, etc)

yeah, pretty much. It isn’t complicated.

We all know that fruit and vegetable are healthy. So is fish, so is lean meat. Some dairy and carbs and fibre will be fine. Little and often alcohol will do you no harm. Don’t bugger about too much it with it all and don’t have huge portions.

Oh, and cook from scratch where possible. If you do all the above you have no need to deny yourself the odd treat.

People like faddy diets because they think by doing something drastic they’ll get drastic results. They might, for a while. But if the diet you choose is not easy to live with you’ll end up back at square one.

What about organic foods and grass-fed beef? Some dieting books I’ve read say to try and only have organic foods… if the amount of calories is the same, does having organic foods make any significant difference? I mean they are more expensive…

BTW 100g of macadamia nuts has 720 calories and 76g of fat… I wonder if raw organic macadamia nuts is better for weight loss than having less calories and fat of a less nutritious food like french fries.

If money is no object, how about a one-on-one personal trainer? A friend used to do this (she was a personal trainer). She has rock hard abs, is gorgeous, and has respectable times in minimarathons. She took on one client at a time and got results, but charged a small fortune.

You’re looking to avoid exercise. She would literally force it upon you and make you think it was your idea.

If the calories are the same, then it will make no difference.

100 calories from refined white sugar is the same as 100 calories from carrots.

If you burn up more calories than you take in, you will lose weight, regardless of source. There are no exceptions, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something.


The best way to lose weight is to post about it a thousand times, listen to nothing anyone tells you, hear what you want to hear, and overthink everything to death, at which point you’ll become a dried-out dessicated corpse weighing next to nothing.


Emotionally healthy, too. A lot of people who can’t lose weight use eating as a social activity. You eat with other people, you are influenced by what they eat, how they eat, when they eat. You can lose weight if you restrict your eating so that it is fully under your own control, and remove it from your socialization and peer pressure…

You can’t be serious. I see nothing in the rule book preventing one from eating half one’s weight per day in junk food while evaluating* the absolute best* healthy diet. This is not a decision to be rushed into. Everybody knows incremental change and exercise is for amateurs.

My position is that “bad” food isn’t as bad as people think and “good” food isn’t as good as people think. It’s mostly a tradeoff and exercising portion control.

Organic = no artificial pesticides. (You’d be surprised at how much stuff is considered “natural” and is allowed, though.) You certainly don’t need pesticides and the smaller scale farming has advantages. But none of that is going to help you lose any weight if you eat the same amount. (But it helps if you’re poor because you can’t afford the same amount.)

Low fat = people eat more of it = people stay fat.

Low carb = people eat more of it = people stay fat.

Wholewheat bread/pasta = more fiber will probably reduce your risk of colon cancer and keep you (more) regular, your blood sugar won’t spike quite as high, but the calories are the same, won’t help you lose weight if you eat the same amount.

And so on.

If you want to lose weight, eat food that helps you lose weight. This will overlap to some degree with what’s considered healthy. For instance, fruit and vegetables will make you feel full and make it easier to eat less of the more calorie dense foods. But if something says it’s “healthy” that’s code for either “overpriced” or “never mind all the calories”.

People only have a limited amount of self control. If you spend that on forcing yourself to eat something that’s healthy but you don’t like, it’s more likely you’ll give in to other temptations. So my advice: focus on the weight first and when you’ve reached your goal weight, do a second overhaul of your diet to make it healthier.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, 100 calories is 100 calories, sure, and if math was all there was to losing weight, we’d all be stick-thin.

But 100 calories’ worth of carrots weighs almost nine ounces. 100 calories’ worth of refined white sugar is about a tenth of that, or about nine-tenths of an ounce. You get much fuller on nine ounces of carrots than on less than an ounce of pure sugar. You also get fiber, which keeps you feeling full, and vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. Your body needs volume to feel full so you stop eating, and it needs nutrients to keep you alive and healthy. (Numbers are from the USDA’s Nutrient Database, and the math is approximate but very close.)

And this is why weight loss isn’t purely mathematical, or even biological. We’re influenced by a lot of outside factors. Cultural, social, media, and even political influences come into play whenever we make decisions about what and how much to eat, even if we aren’t consciously aware of these influences. Weight loss is about fighting years of lousy eating habits. Yes, it’s our fault that we eat too much of the wrong kinds of foods, but considering that that’s how we were brought up, it’s not hard to understand why.

The whole concept of dieting to lose weight is bankrupt.

Your weight and your percentage of body fat is the result of your genetics and your lifestyle and it’s pointless to try to make it less complicated. It’s impossible to change your genetics and while it is possible to change your lifestyle, it’s extremely difficult, which is why people try to compartmentalize it with ideas like dieting. Dieting is trying to apply a temporary fix to a permanent problem.

My suggestions would be that the point isn’t to “eat healthy to lose weight” the point is to eat healthy as part of a healthy lifestyle that automatically results in a healthy body weight and body fat percentage.

Of course the devil is in the details of how you achieve that. For some people, it’s no big deal. For others, it takes monumental effort and it’s also fair to speculate that the more overweight you are, the more effort it’s going to take to get yourself into a lifestyle that results in the body you want.

Personally, I eat like a diabetic, even though I’m not one. I’ve pretty much trashed the “three meals a day” bit and eat small amounts every three hours. Granted, this is a lifestyle change beyond what most people would need or be prepared to do, but it was what I had to do to get my weight and eating habits in control. It’s not “a diet,” it’s a lifestyle.

Just my two cents…

Given that this a controversial subject with little consensus even among experts, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

This extremely simplistic view is not true, or at least has not been definitively established by scientific research. This treats calories as if the only factor involved was physics, and that the result of burning substances in a bomb calorimeter was exactly the same as digestion and absorption. Physiological factors will in part determine how particular foods are digested, absorbed, metabolized, and stored as fat. Particular foods may have different effects on the production of insulin and whether absorbed nutrients are burned or laid down as fats. In fact, there has been surprisingly little research on the exact impact of different diets that are equivalent in calories but differ in the makeup of different food types.

Trouble is, we don’t necessarily know. Take saturated fats, for example. The scientific consensus on them seems to have weakened considerably in recent years. We all used to “know” that saturated fats are bad for you. Now, it’s not so clear.
I suppose the problem is that it’s difficult to conduct experiments where human health is concerned, so theories are hard to test.


I don’t know that there **is **one single “best way” to lose weight, because people gain weight for different reasons. It’s good advice to limit your portion sizes in general. It may help to indulge munchies with something that’s low in calories per unit mass–you could eat celery or carrot sticks or ice cubes, one after the other. But you wouldn’t want to do the same with potato chips.

As I posted recently I have lost 80 pounds so far this year by changing my diet and exercising more. Of the two, changing the diet will often come first because if you are very overweight exercise is harder. I cut the amount I ate drastically but made sure I was eating fruits and vegetables and getting the nutrition I needed and the pounds went off. I had been exercising for years now but as I lost weight it got easier and i could do it more and more which creates a positive feedback cycle. If you want it, start somewhere. Cutting calories is a good place to begin.

Speaking from experience, no.

Cut down on empty calories, eat smaller portions of a generally balanced diet, but eat regularly, and you can lose weight. I lost 60 pounds and never read a diet book; I just did what my doctor told me to do, the entirety of which is the first sentence of this paragraph.