Dietary modification is central to obesity treatment. Weight loss diets are available that include various permutations of energy restriction, macronutrients, foods, and dietary intake patterns. Caloric restriction is the common pathway for weight reduction, but different diets may induce weight loss by varied additional mechanisms, including by facilitating dietary adherence. This narrative Review of meta-analyses and select clinical trials found that lower-calorie diets, compared with higher-calorie regimens, reliably induced larger short-term (<6 months) weight losses, with deterioration of this benefit over the long term (>12 months). Few significant long-term differences in weight loss were observed for diets of varying macronutrient composition, although some regimens were found to have short-term advantages (e.g., low carbohydrate versus low fat). Progress in improving dietary adherence, which is critical to both short- and long-term weight loss, could result from greater efforts to identify behavioral and metabolic phenotypes among dieters.
Ariana M. Chao, Kerry M. Quigley, Thomas A. Wadden