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One diet is as good or as bad as any other.

All things being equal people should see similar if not identical results from any diet.

By "all things" we mean total cals, protein, fibre, and not deficient in any nutrients. If those are matched the results are similar.
  • Over the short term people often lose weight on approaches based on exclusion of food types rather than a focus on total calories or macro targets, but
  • It's usually more a drop in water retention than fat loss, and
  • Repeated attempts at diets which restrict to or result in insufficient calorie intake eventually become ineffectual even in the short term, and
  • Most people who do this stuff remain on a long term trajectory of greater weight gain, poorer relationship with & confidence around eating, with the likelihood of poorer long term health outcomes as well.

Vocal advocates of various dietary tribes on social media often boast of miraculous (and therefore dubious) initial results on various approaches, but... where are all the people from five years ago who should be telling us "see, I've stuck with paleo all this time and it has not steered me wrong". There seems to be very very few of them. Even the ones making their fortune from selling the idea seem to have migrated a few times to increasingly more restrictive diets over the years.

But I digress.

All things being equal, one choice of diet should be as effective as any other IF you can stick to it.

People have good initial results because they adhere well to the diet, because they have decided to believe there is a very good reason why this is the superior choice of diet. Often also they have decided that it makes them smarter and more virtuous than all the unclean masses still eating the foods they've sworn off too.

I wouldn't be so unkind as to suggest they're also people with a poor sense of individuality who's self esteem comes from fitting in well with a tribe rather than with appreciating their own identity and positive attributes.

Long term, they still end up fucked.
Arguably, more fucked than if they'd never dieted to begin with.

So. Is there an answer?
  • Adequate but not excessive total calories.
    Not so high that you replenish or add to whatever energy you have in fat stores, but not so little that your body slows down, conserves energy and prioritises fat stores.
  • From more of the foods that you enjoy and would have eaten anyway, plus some of the foods you make the effort to include for the sake of a balanced, inclusive, nutrient sound diet.
The reasons to believe this is the right approach are self explanatory. Anyone sustaining long term success in adhere to any set of eating habits that maintains an improved body condition is doing this, regardless of what it happens to look like or what label they slap on it.

They have an adequate but not excessive energy intake from the approach they believe is the best, or at least the best they can do.

YOUR reasons could also include the rejection of harmful diet culture, rejection of social conditioning and peer pressure to "be on a diet", and to live and feel the way you'd hope anyone you cared about would live and feel.

That's what I think anyway.

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