Woman measuring the size of her waist with a yellow tape measure

Which weight-loss diets work?

Diets can work, as long as you stick to them. Long-term success depends on changing your lifestyle and getting into healthier habits with what you eat and how active you are

Studies comparing different diets indicate that total energy content is the key variable, rather than choosing low-fat, low-carbohydrate or high-protein options. Typical long-term weight loss is a few kilos, and most people have trouble keeping up their chosen diet. Diets that advertise more drastic weight loss than this usually involve losing water, which is soon replaced. It is easier to avoid gaining weight than to lose it again. Increased body fat often alters metabolism, and appetite, in ways that tend to maintain the new weight. Overweight people may even have a keener sense of smell for food.

Lead image:

Tanvir Alam/Flickr CC BY


Further reading

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Food and Diet’ in June 2011 and reviewed and updated in August 2016.

Ecology and environment, Physiology
Food and Diet
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development