Weight loss programs are used by millions of people to shed pounds of unwanted fat and get to a healthy weight. Although some diets have side effects, in general, they are considered safe. In addition to weight loss, weight loss programs have a wide range of other health benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to supporting healthy brain function.
Weight loss programs may also be able to treat or prevent some mood disorders, including depression (1).
Many low carb diets have also been shown to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue. They may also help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels in patients with diabetes (2).
Additionally, some weight loss programs may also increase longevity and improve the quality of life in old age. The most studied long life diet, the Mediterranean diet, has been associated with longer life and reduced risk for a number of major health conditions, such as heart disease and dementia.
1 Weight loss programs may help individuals with diabetes. The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, consists of foods that were available to humans before the development of agriculture.
There is evidence that a paleo diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular episodes in people with diabetes.
There is also evidence that the paleo diet can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have problems with insulin regulation, which affects blood sugar levels. By switching to a keto diet, people with diabetes were able to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels (3).
The exact mechanism for how the Paleo diet benefits people with diabetes is still unknown. Researchers have suggested that the paleo diet is more satiating, so people tend to eat fewer calories. This lower calorie diet may be better for those with diabetes.
2 Weight loss programs can reduce body fat. Intermittent fasting is a type of diet where you don’t change what you eat. Instead, you change when you eat, restricting food consumption to a short period (usually 4-8 hours) per day.
A 2017 study showed that intermittent fasting could help reduce fat in normal, overweight, and obese people (4).
This can reduce the risk for a number of health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and strokes (5).
3 Weight loss programs can reduce appetite. Food cravings are one of the most difficult parts of any diet. Low carb diets may help with food cravings by reducing appetite. This leads to less overeating and lower risk of weight gain (6).
Healthy fats are filling and can help you feel satisfied for longer after meals. By switching to a low carb diet, you can cut food cravings and prevent snacking. This leads to more weight loss and an improvement in general health (7).
There are a number of different low carb diets that may reduce appetite, including the Atkins diet and the Dr. Bernstein diet. Although these diets all have unique approaches, their main focus is on reducing carb intake.
4 Weight loss programs can lower triglycerides in the body. Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in the blood, and they may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. There are a number of different causes for high triglycerides, high carb intake being one of the most common.
Diets that are low in carbs can significantly reduce triglyceride levels in the blood and lower the risk for heart disease (8).
It also significantly lowers the risk for atherosclerosis, a disease where fatty conditions are deposited in the arteries, increasing the change of a stroke (9).
5Intermittent fasting has been the subject of an increasing number of studies. A 2013 study showed that intermittent fasting may improve cognitive function and brain structure in mice (10).
Intermittent fasting may also protect the brain from dementia by regulating the nerve cell cycle. When food is consumed, the body produces more proteins in nerve cells. However, when the body enters a fasting state, the body focuses on repairing existing nerve cells. This balance may decrease the risk for a variety of neurological conditions, including Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease (11).
6 Weight loss programs may help you live longer. The Mediterranean diet has long been studied for its role in increased longevity. The diet focuses on whole grains and legumes, as well as fish, olive oil, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Research has shown that this diet may increase lifespan, reducing the risk for a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, dementia, and diabetes (12).
Researchers still do not know exactly how the Mediterranean diet could increase lifespan. Some argue that the Mediterranean diet protects cells from oxidative stress, reduces inflammation, and prevents cancer (13).
7 Weight loss programs can keep energy levels steady. Most people’s bodies will use carbs as the primary source of energy. When the body runs through all available carbs, energy levels can drop, leading to fatigue and a sugar crash. With a keto diet, the body transitions to using fats as the main energy source.
Since the body is not dependent on carb intake, energy levels are more consistent throughout the day (14).
This leads to fewer crashes and increased energy in the period between meals, as the body has a higher resting metabolic rate (15).
8 Weight loss programs can decrease the likelihood of depression. In addition to the many benefits that the Mediterranean diet may have for longevity, it may also reduce the risk for depression and boost mood and energy levels.
Studies have shown that the increased fish and olive oil intake seen with the Mediterranean diet leads to significantly lower levels of depression (16).
It boosts mood, as well as increasing energy levels (17).
More research is needed to see if the diet itself is causing the lower levels of depression seen in studies. However, this early research shows that the Mediterranean diet is a promising preventative treatment for depression.
9Weight loss programs may help individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of related conditions where the body cannot properly break down nutrients and convert them into energy. This can lead to obesity, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of other health conditions.
Research indicates that the paleo diet may be effective in improving energy conversion in those with metabolic disorders. This led to reduced fat deposits as well as improved energy levels (18).
Other low carb diets, such as the keto diet, may be able to produce a similar effect, as they also change how the body breaks down energy (19).
Some studies have shown that the keto diet has the potential to reverse metabolic syndrome and return insulin levels within the healthy range (20).
10Weight loss programs can improve epilepsy symptoms in patients. The keto diet has long been used as a treatment for children with epilepsy. The mechanism for how the diet treats epilepsy is still unclear, but it remains a common treatment option.
Recent research studies have shown that the diet is effective for treatment-resistant cases of epilepsy, leading to a lower frequency of seizures (21). These studies have been conducted in children with epilepsy, and it’s still unknown if the treatment is effective in adults.
Researchers have also suggested that the keto diet could be effective in treating or preventing other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease (22).
These studies are still preliminary, so more research is needed to see how effective the keto diet is at protecting brain health.
11Weight loss programs can lower bad cholesterol levels. Nearly 1 out of every 3 people in America have elevated cholesterol levels (23).
They can lead to increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks.
Research has shown that the keto diet and other low carb diets may be able to lower levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol molecule that can cause heart problems. A low carb diet alters how the body processes LDL, reducing the total number of LDL molecules found in the blood (24).
12Weight loss programs can help burn belly fat directly. The two main types are subcutaneous fat, which is under your skin, and visceral fat, which accumulates in your abdominal cavity and is typical for most overweight men.
Visceral fat tends to lodge around your organs. Excess visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance — and may drive the metabolic dysfunction so common in the West today (25).
Low-carb diets are very effective at reducing this harmful abdominal fat. In fact, a greater proportion of the fat people lose on low-carb diets seems to come from the abdominal cavity (26).
14Weight loss programs can help reduce liver fat. The fat content of your liver is a big risk factor for metabolic disease. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine showed that the paleo diet was effective for losing liver fat.
In this study, 10 healthy women with a BMI of over 27 consumed a modified paleolithic diet for 5 weeks. There was no control group. At the end of the study, the women had an average reduction in liver fat of 49%. The women also lost an average of 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs) and had an 8 cm (3.1 inches) reduction in waist circumference (29).
15Weight loss programs can reduce the risk of stroke. A 2013 study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine examined 7447 individuals at high cardiovascular risk. They were randomized to a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with added nuts, or a low-fat control group. The study went on for 4.8 years.
In this paper, researchers primarily looked at the pooled risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes. The risk of combined heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease was reduced by 30% in the Med + Olive Oil group, and 28% in the Med + Nuts group.
There was no statistically significant effect in women and no reduction in mortality (30).
16 Weight loss programs can help prevent secondary heart attacks. A big fear of many heart attack survivors is the possibility of a second one occurring. A 1999 study showed that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with Omega-3s might be effective at preventing heart attacks in people who have already had heart attacks (31).
This study enrolled 605 middle-aged men and women who had suffered a heart attack.
They were split into two groups, a Mediterranean-type diet, and a standard Western-type diet, which was followed for 4 years. The researchers concluded that after 4 years, the group eating the Mediterranean diet was 72% less likely to have gotten a heart attack, or died from heart disease.
1Weight loss diets may cause fatigue. Diets often cause noticeable changes in energy levels, especially as your body adjusts to new food types and eating schedules. In many people, diets can cause fatigue and tiredness. This is common in low carb diets that put the body into a state of ketoses, where it burns fat reserves as the main energy source (32).
Diets such as the keto diet may also cause what is known as the “keto flu.” This is a short period where your body adjusts to having low levels of carbohydrates. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, and lethargy (33).
2Weight loss diets may cause sleeping issues. Some diets can also cause issues with sleep. These problems tend to appear in the early stages of the diet when the body is adjusting and possibly craving certain foods.
3Weight loss diets may cause headaches. Some diets may also cause headaches. This is a common side effect in diets where carbohydrates are eliminated, such as the keto diet, leading to sudden decreases in blood sugar levels (34).
Headaches will go away in most cases as the body adapts to the new diet. However, if headaches remain after multiple weeks of dieting, consult a doctor.
4Weight loss diets may cause muscle weakness. The body relies on carbohydrates to provide energy during exercise. When you switch to a diet low in carbs, it takes your body time to adjust to using fat as its main energy source. During this period, you may experience muscle weakness and tiredness during exercise.
5Weight loss diets may cause constipation. Sudden changes in diet may also lead to digestive problems, such as constipation. This could be due to the new diet having lower levels of fiber, which aids in digestion (35).
Try to find foods that are allowed in your diet that have fiber if you are suffering from constipation.
The length of a diet will vary depending on the specifics of the plan, as well as your weight loss goals. That means that there is no timeline that will apply to all diets.
Diets such as the Atkins diet are designed for fairly quick weight loss. It is recommended that you stay on Atkins for no longer than 6 months.
Other diets, such as Paleo or keto, are designed so that you can stay on them indefinitely. If you are using Paleo or keto for weight loss and have reached your weight loss target, you can stay on the diet but add more calories.
Although many diets are safe, there is little research on the effects of long term dieting. If you plan on changing your diet for a prolonged period of time, you should consult with your doctor or with a dietitian.
Which diet is most effective for weight loss? There are many different diets to choose from. However, research still has not shown which diet is the most effective for weight loss. Which diet is most effective may depend on pre-existing medical conditions, as well as sex, age, and genetic factors.
Are weight loss plans safe? Weight loss plans are safe in most cases, provided they are done with proper precautions. If you are taking any medication, you should speak to your doctor about your diet plan.
More extreme diets, such as multi-day fasts, should only be done in consultation with a doctor. They can cause severe health complications.
What’s the difference between the weight loss programs keto and paleo? These two diets have become increasingly popular in recent years. Although they do have some similarities, they are very different diets.
The keto diet emphasizes healthy fats as the main source, as well as a large amount of protein. Carb intake is kept to a minimum, with some keto followers avoiding them altogether.
Like the keto diet, the Paleo diet emphasizes fat and protein. However, the Paleo diet allows any food that would have been eaten before agriculture. This includes fruits, nuts, and seeds, which have carbohydrates. That means that most Paleo followers end up eating more carbs than what would be allowed on a keto diet.
Can pregnant women follow a weight loss program? If you are pregnant and considering going on a diet, you should speak to your doctor. There are a number of healthy diet plans that are appropriate for pregnant women, and that may improve the health of both the mother and the baby.
However, weight loss diets are not recommended for pregnant women, especially those that significantly reduce calorie intake.
Do you have to stay on a weight loss program to keep the weight off? Many people who have lost weight on a diet wonder if they will gain all of the weight back if they go off the diet. The answer depends on the person and the type of diet.
If you switched to a keto diet and lost a significant amount of weight, there is a chance that some of this weight will come back if you increase the number of carbs in your diet.
However, in most cases, you can switch from a weight loss diet to a regular, healthy diet and keep the weight off, provided you also get enough exercise.
Are branded weight loss programs more effective? There are many branded diet plans offering quick weight loss. Although some of these plans are effective, there is little research showing that they are more effective than generic diets.
Will eating the wrong food once ruin a weight loss program? When dieting, you’ll probably have days where you eat foods that are not allowed. There’s nothing wrong with eating the wrong foods every now and again, as long as you spend most days following the diet.
Can weight loss programs make you live longer? There is some evidence that certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, may increase longevity. However, more research is needed to determine if these diets actually cause increased lifespan.
What is the snake weight loss program? The Snake Diet is basically eating a low carb diet while doing extended periods of fasting that allow you to burn the fat off your body. The periods can last anywhere from 24 hours to weeks or even months of no food consumption.
Is the snake weight loss program dangerous? Since you are not consuming any food for extended periods of time, the diet can be dangerous as it can lead to loss of nutrients and can adversely affect your metabolism.
What is the snake weight loss program drink? The snake diet drink is simply water mixed with a variety of electrolytes including, sodium chloride and potassium chloride.
Weight loss programs are an effective way of shedding weight and reducing body fat composition. They are generally well tolerated and safe if guidelines are followed. However, the benefits of diets extend far beyond weight loss.
Weight loss programs have broad-spectrum effects on human health, affecting conditions as diverse as heart disease and epilepsy.
Low carb diets, such as the Atkins, South Beach, and Dr. Bernstein diets, may be able to help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. These diets have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.
Some weight loss programs, such as the Mediterranean diet, may also be able to increase longevity.
Although weight loss programs are generally safe, there can be some side effects, especially in the days or weeks after beginning the weight loss program. These symptoms can include fatigue, problems sleeping, headaches, and weakness. In most cases, these symptoms pass as the body begins to adjust to the weight loss program.