Weight loss is a very important topic to not only America, but the West as well. And why shouldn’t it be—people are fucking fat! You know that, I know that, everybody knows that people in the developed world (and increasingly the developing world as well) are getting way too big for their britches.

Directly proportional to the increase in girth of the average Joe has been the proliferation of diet plans, workout plans, and various gimmickry that are all marketed as sure-fire methods to lose weight easily—“easily” meaning without strenuous exercise, deliberately planned dieting, or really any effort on the part of the fatbody using the plan, who is likely slothful in addition to gluttonous.

But how effective are these diets? To answer that, and to answer the question of “what diet is the most effective to lose weight”, we must briefly educate ourselves on nutrition, and then take a closer look at a few of the popular diets that are out there nowadays and judge whether or not they are effective.

Low Carb Diets

Low carb diets incorporate things like the paleo diet, ketogenic diet, and the Atkins diet. These are diets that attempt to force the body to utilize its stored body fat by minimizing the amount of carbohydrates eaten—after all the fastest way to put on fat is to eat an excess of calories, and carbohydrates are a quicker caloric fix than anything else. And there is some truth to these diets—studies have shown that these diets will get the fastest results in weight loss in the immediate sense.

However, various types of low carb diets can cause problems depending on the individual. Those who choose the Atkins diet (which states that all carbohydrates should be minimized, including complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, while proteins and fats should be maximized) report adverse effects such as headache, dizziness, and constipation. Indeed, the original diet plan has been modified to include more vegetables, provided they are low in carbohydrates.

From my own personal experience, the paleo diet works wonders for weight loss—and regularity of bowel movements—but it has one major disadvantage: it’s expensive as hell!

And indeed, studies have shown that in the first year, low carb diets are the most effective, but…

Vegan Diets

Let us put aside our nigh-universal distaste for the stereotypical smug, preachy vegan, and look at their diet from an objective standpoint. Vegans, of course, eat absolutely no products that are sourced from animals in any way, including honey.

Truth be told, when carefully planned and supplemented, veganism can be just as healthful as a regular diet, although it doesn’t give you the superior health many of its adherents claim.

However, when not planned properly, vegans are more prone to being deficient in certain types of nutrients, and that’s not getting into the fact that a diet consisting entirely of junk food can be technically vegan (in the sense of being made with no animal involvement), and thus lead to the somewhat paradoxical phenomenon of fat vegans.

Despite the fact that the vegan diet is in many ways wrong, and indeed some anthropologists feel that eating animal products enabled man to become the apex predator he is, I do feel people could stand to eat more vegetables, especially in the West.

The Raw Food Diet

This encompasses many diets: there are raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores, all sharing in common the belief that the overwhelming majority of a diet should be uncooked, unprocessed foods.

And there is a grain of truth to this: cooking will often lead to fat and water soluble vitamins being lost from the food, which explains the omnipresence of soups, stews, and broths throughout the cultures of the world as a method to retain said vitamins and minerals.

But then you’ll get into the fruitier concepts of this diet, namely that food has “enzymes” that are destroyed when food is cooked. While nobody sane doubts that enzymes exist, the belief of raw foodists that the “food enzymes” are more beneficial than our own digestive enzymes has not been scientifically proven.

The problem with this is that many, many raw foods are harmful to people, including milk, eggs, various types of greens, and potatoes and other root vegetables, to name just a few. Cooking evolved for a very good reason, after all.

So which diet is best?

From my experience, the best diet to lose weight is whatever diet involves you consuming less calories than you burn, which can be any of the above diets, or just eating a standard balanced omnivorous diet. Just in the past few months, reducing my calories and exercising more (facilitated by me becoming a personal trainer and leaving my desk job) has enabled me to drop 30 pounds, without any great amount of planning or change of macronutrient quality.

Me at a pudgy 215

And me at a leaner 185

Granted, it would be better to eat a high protein/fat diet than the inverse, since that diet will ensure proper muscle, nervous system, and (likely) bone strength than the soy-based flotsam most people eat today, but if weight loss is your goal, that diet won’t help you if you eat a surplus of calories.

So, I’m sorry to disappoint anybody who wants an easy solution, but if you want to lose weight and get muscularly defined, you’re going to have to reduce your total caloric intake, and increase your exercising, particularly heavy resistance training.

Read More: The Downfall Of Every Diet