What is the best diet for weight loss?

The best diet for weight loss is a whole food, plant-based diet.

In a randomized, controlled, community-based trial, participants were instructed to eat a whole food, plant-based diet without any calorie counting or portion control. They could eat as much as they wanted from the comforts of their own homes and in their own communities. It wasn’t an institutional study where people were kept on-site and fed. In fact, no meals were provided. The aim was to improve the quality of the food rather than restrict the quantity of food. What’s more, the researchers had people focus only on diet rather than increasing exercise to isolate out the effects of eating more healthfully.

The participants started out, on average, obese at nearly 210 pounds. Three months on an unrestricted whole food, plant-based diet, they were down about 18 pounds, and after six months, they had lost closer to 26 pounds. Amazing, but you know how these weight-loss trials go, though, especially “free-living” studies. There may be an initial drop, but then the weight often comes back—and often with a vengeance. How did these participants do? Without calorie counting or controlling portion sizes, they were able to maintain that weight loss all year. That’s the power of a whole food, plant-based diet.

Learn more about the best diet for weight loss in this video:

To learn even more about weight loss, visit our topic page, which covers a broad range of the latest evidence-based research.

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Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


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