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The One Thing All Successful Weight Loss Diets Have in Common

From Paleo to Keto to Intermittent Fasting, all slimming eating plans contain this one element.
dumbbells sitting next to a scale with measuring tape and a green apple

Remember when that science teacher John Cisna made headlines back in 2015 for losing more than 55 pounds in six months while eating only McDonald's foods?

How did he do it? By limiting his caloric intake to 2,000 calories per day and exercising regularly. While a diet largely consisting of French fries and burgers and other foods high in fats may not be ideal for your heart or arteries, Cisna's unique experiment proved that calorie regulation is the key to weight loss.

And in fact, a caloric deficit is the primary reason any specific type of diet can lead to weight loss. (Related: 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.)

One observational study of a group of Paleo Diet followers found that followers of the heart-healthy diet lost an average of five pounds over a three week period, but this weight loss came not only with a shift to eschewing beans, grains, sugar, dairy, and certain other proscribed foods, but also with an approximate drop of 500 calories consumed per day.

Ketogenic diets, wherein followers consume lots of fats, some protein, and very few carbohydrates, have proven to be as or even more effective than low-fat diets for efficiency of weight loss. But in one study cited by Healthline, both the keto and low-fat dieters "reduced calorie consumption," with lowered caloric intake driving the weight loss.

A Mayo Clinic analysis of the Atkins Diet concluded that: "Because carbohydrates usually provide over half of calories consumed, the main reason for weight loss on the Atkins Diet is lower overall calorie intake from eating less carbs."

And on it goes as you consider the Dukan Diet, the HCG Diet, a vegan diet, and so forth. To lose weight, you must ingest less and burn more calories.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more