They all come down to a similar concept — a negative energy balance and healthier food choices. By creating a caloric deficit, we can spur fat loss, and conversely, a caloric surplus (combined with regular weightlifting) will induce muscle gain. How you come to that equation and what is emphasized are where they differ.
I should stress here that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a practice that takes a lot of trial and error and experimentation to find out what works for YOU. What works for your best friend or coworker may spell disaster for you. We all have different metabolic rates, carb sensitivities, needs, goals, lifestyles, and preferences.
Are you a mom with a full-time job and obligations outside of the home? You’re probably not going to do well eating 6 meals a day following complicated recipes. A college kid at the mercy of the student cafeteria? Eating clean may be damn near impossible. An endurance athlete with a goal of qualifying for Boston? Low-carb may drive your body into the ground.
The best diet is the one you'll actually follow.
There is only the best diet for YOU. And this will most likely change as time goes on and your lifestyle, body, and goals change. So it’s best not to tie yourself down to any one diet or dogma. Flexibility is needed to be successful long-term.
Consistency is the name of the game, no matter what your eating situation. Stick with one method or set of guidelines and consistently work at it for at least a few weeks to see if it’s working for you. The worst thing you can do is be inconsistent or hop from program to program. There are no magic fat-burning foods or the perfect diet that you just haven’t found yet. All diets can work. It’s just a matter of finding something that you can stick to long-term that doesn’t drive you crazy.
The ultimate goal here is to be able to eat as much food as possible while still seeing results. Starvation calories will only lead to rebound weight gain later and crazy levels of hunger and cravings due to the hormonal changes brought on by drastically low energy intake. Your energy level will suffer and it’s not sustainable beyond a few days or weeks, where it typically ends in rebound weight gain. And it’s just not healthy, and I am all about helping you find the healthiest, simplest, most enjoyable fat loss formula for you. It may not always be the fastest method, but it will lead to lasting changes.