With all of the fad diets, books, websites, etc dedicated to selling people on dieting "secrets" or even selling them the food under the guise of some sort of metabolic trick to "kickstart" your metabolism. Low carb, Paleo, high protein, low fat, the list goes on and on. I wonder if there is any scientific proof that any of these 'tricks' actually work or are they simply masquerading as simple calorie deficit diets. The more I dig, the more I find that diets are like a religion to some people. None can provide me with evidence that a diet works better for health or weight loss across the board for most people. So I ask, is there any diet that is metabolically superior? Or is simply eating less still the only way?

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    Without any real knowledge here, so no answer. People WANT a magic pill, a magic diet that will let them lose weight safely, quickly, with no effort expended. In fact, the perfect diet lets you eat as much as you wish, while still losing weight. If people are looking for that perfect solution, there will always be someone out there to supply it, often for a fee of course. This argues that claims will be inflated, studies biased, etc.
    – user3344
    Jun 12, 2011 at 13:35
  • Sorry, that isn't exactly what I was looking for. I'm not looking for a magic pill or a diet that lets you eat whatever you want in whatever quantities. If you ate 2,000 calories of this vs. that, is this or that metabolically superior? i.e. paleo vs. atkins vs. weight watchers vs. whatever. Do any of them offer an 'edge'?
    – billb
    Jun 12, 2011 at 13:57
  • Maybe you want to edit your question to define that by "metabolically superiour" you mean something like: "Same caloric intake but weight loss instead of gain" or something like that.
    – Lagerbaer
    Jun 12, 2011 at 16:10
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    This question seems too broad to me, making it difficult to answer in the negative. If you limit your question to an individual claim about a diet, it will be able to be more meaningfully answered.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 12, 2011 at 18:54
  • Nope, I don't want to limit it to an individual claim about any diet. I want empirical evidence that proves a diet superior to all others. "One does not exist" is an acceptable answer.
    – billb
    Jun 13, 2011 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


Eat properly, exercise more. That's it.

Keep caloric intake at a level commensurate with your goals (less for weight loss, more for weight gain, even for maintenance). of course, it's hard doing that, so people will look for shortcuts, or magic pills. The effort they want to put into it normally doesn't equal the effort required.

Some basic educational/government links on the subject:

Anyone with common sense and google can find these. There are no "secrets" or "kickstarts" for dieting. If anything, dieting as a temporary behaviour has been shown generally not to work. It needs to be an overall behavioural modification. As I said earlier, it's not something that is easy to do. The effort required is generally much more than the effort folks are willing to put into it.

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    There is a tiny grain of truth to diets emphasizing different foods/food groups, in that caloric intake is not the sole determinator in weight gain/loss. Clearly if one person get's all their calories from Cheesburgers and the other person all their calories from Whiskey, and yet another person all their calories from a balanced diet, they will not end up with the same weight.
    – Lagerbaer
    Jun 12, 2011 at 18:42
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    Can you please point to where, in that general purpose healthy-eating page, that it supports your claim that "Eat less, exercise more" is the scientifically-proven, "metabolically superior" diet? I believe you are (substantially) right, but I don't believe your reference supports you.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 12, 2011 at 18:58
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    a tag line of "eat properly, exercise more" would be better. A balanced food intake with everything you need is better than a plate of rabbit food that would not have the protein the human body can't make (or has difficulty making) by itself. Jun 13, 2011 at 1:20
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    "eat properly" is not a valid diet regimen, and a really bad answer for this question IMHO. Its like answering "what's the best way of driving a car? " with "Drive it correctly." Aug 13, 2013 at 17:37
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    @EduardoScoz Did you notice the quip was a link to the medically supported advice? That would be like saying "Drive it correctly" was linked to the operator's manual and all associated traffic laws and regulations. Aug 14, 2013 at 2:30

Apart from the correct answers that eating less and exercising more is the only real way to loose fat, some minor effects have been documented in different studies:

The first type of diets are diets containing a lot of proteins. One mechanism is the reduction in appetite. A second reason is that the metabolism indeed seems to be slightly higher.

But the effects are relatively small. Substances that increase the metabolism much more exist Levothyroxine is an example, and stimulants often either boost the metabolism or reduce the appetitet (eg adderall and methylphenidate; illegal drugs like Cocaine and speed probably have similar effects). Different studies prove that other substances may increase the metabolism a little bit. But think about it in this way: if they would have strong effects, they would have strong side effects, and would be only available on prescription. A different way to look at it is: if it was easy to loose weight (eg take one pill everyday), why are there so many obese people?

Anyway, common substances include caffeine and green tea. With caffeine the most effective one (but also with many side effects). Read more about them here: http://www.ergo-log.com/caffeinemosteffective.html and http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v63/n1/abs/1602901a.html

  • Caffeine for dieting purposes is commonly combined with ephedrine. The problem is that this combination does bring side-effects so availability of that type of diet products can vary from country to country.
    – Illotus
    Jan 8, 2012 at 15:14

Eating a diet with includes Vitamin C is superior to a diet that doesn't include it at all. Lack of vitamin C leads to scurvy.

On the same token you need to consume other substances to be healthy. You have to eat enough essential amino acids.

  • Not to be dismissive of your answer, but isnt that like saying "Eating a diet which includes Vitamin B is superior to a diet that doesnt include it at all." Most vitamins are considered essential to some degree and therefore should be present in a balanced diet. Likewise a diet of chocolate cake with a multi-vitamin isnt going to result in more weight loss than a calorie based diet lacking in a few vitamins would. Jun 13, 2011 at 0:49
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    "Is there any diet that is metabolically superior? Or is simply eating less still the only way?" This answer shows that YES, a diet with Vitamin C is metabolically superior to one without, and NO, eating less is not sufficient if you are dropping all Vitamin C sources." I think it addresses the core question, and in doing that exposes the question as being far too broad.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 13, 2011 at 2:09
  • to be fair, if you do get scurvy you'll probably end up losing considerable weight for non-metabolic reasons. teeth, nails, hair, sometimes even a finger or a limb - all weight bearing Aug 17, 2017 at 23:58

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