Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Which diet is best for long-term weight loss?

April 9, 2018

About the Author

photo of Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Monique Tello is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of the evidence-based lifestyle … See Full Bio
View all posts by Monique Tello, MD, MPH


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


May 16, 2018

All the recipes you’ll ever need to live and eat well on the ketogenic diet! i was overweight,
exhausted, moody, and suffering from a range of physical discomforts when i found the ketogenic diet.
But all that changed once i adopted its high fat, low carb principles. You too can reap the benefits of the
ketogenic diet with Bacon & Butter, my ultimate companion for keto cooking, today and every day. its free if you want to review it

May 7, 2018

The best way to long term weight loss is a good meal plan and workout every single day ! this message is just to wish you courage in your change and achievement of your goals, you deserve to feel better in your body

Laura Pagee
April 21, 2018

One year is not “long term.” Research has demonstrated that, five years post-fad diet, almost everyone regains almost all, or even more, than the weight they started at when they started their diet. Will this group be followed for at least 5 years?

Optimistically, the additional support and counseling that was provided which should improve the chances for long-term success, but a year is not enough to predict the future outcome.

Also demonstrated through research is the hugely detrimental effect of sugar which is added to almost all processed foods. Sugar, not just because of the calories, but because of the way it is processed, leads to more fat deposition and also wreaks havoc with the body’s insulin level.

Exercise, along with sugar avoidance, seem to be the most important components to staying healthy.

Dr Sangita Bhatia
April 20, 2018

Reduced 9 pounds weight and 3 inches in last two months by strictly leaving sugar , rice, potato and oil with one hour good workout six days in a week
Diet taken maximum vegetables ,soup, salad and fruits
Good luck

April 18, 2018

Over the last three months I’ve lost 22 pounds simply by upping my exercise and reducing bad calories. I’m 68 years old, always in good shape, but added sedentary pounds as I aged. (6 feet tall, 212 pounds before — 190 pounds now) I’ve generally restricted my diet to about 1200 calories a day — 200 – 300 for breakfast, 200 for lunch, and about 700 or less for the rest of the day. I try to vary the foods, do as much exercise as I can (biking, swimming, walking, weights). I drink as much non-caloric liquid as I can and I try to find food that fills me up — vegetables, fruits, mostly. I eat some cheese and a good hamburger occasionally, although I avoid most meat. I still work full time. I realize the discipline necessary, but it’s not that hard to do. I rely on a good scale and moderate my diet each day to keep a constant weight. My blood pressure has dropped from 130/80 to 117/72 and heart rate is resting 58. I’m lucky that my chronic diseases are not yet serious (osteoarthritis and borderline cholesterol, although I dont take statins because of reactions). I’m not a diet fadder, but using common sense goes a long way. Eat smart and work out. MM

April 17, 2018

A common sense approach. However, one thing missing is the AGE of the participants. This may well work for younger folks seeking to lose weight. However, not so much for those of us whose metabolisms have slowed with advancing years. Following these guidelines, which I do, does not result in weight loss.

Craig Robinson
April 16, 2018

Given that all participants in the study were overweight and “healthy”, what was not studied, and could have been very useful, was what was the impact of the two diets on participants’ blood sugars (HbA1c), insulin levels, and on some measure of inflammation. It is possible that there could have been little difference in weight loss between the two diets but big differences in the impact on risk factors related to diabetes.
The success of the study’s two diets in sustaining weight loss is no doubt due to the excellent self-care support team. For a primary care practice the challenge is to sustain the support team to enable patients to sustain the benefits of the diet. C. Robinson at Cabin Creek Health Centers, WV.

Janet Wade
April 16, 2018

Eating is for nutrition. This study analyzes weight loss, but not nutrition. I would be interested in which diet meant people had no vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Many people who eat low carbohydrate eat few vegetables and fruit because of their carbo content. I have a difficult time believing that is healthy. The extreme, of course, is the Ketogenic diet.
I think the best diet is SMALL amounts of everything, so we can gather different benefits from different foods.
SMALL amounts is hard for us in the USA. WE are used to huge portions.
I would like to know if science would back up my intuition.

I am currently on weight watchers, because it allows small amounts of anything.

April 16, 2018

@Jack I, too, am skeptical – I don’t believe there is evidence that quick diets will do good over the long-term. Instead focusing on losing weight we need to change our mindset and aim for a healthy lifestyle. As well, I would avoid using the (buzz)word diet. It has a negative connotation and it implies restrictions.

@Monique, I would also add the environment on that list. Make sure our physical and social environment inspire us to stay healthy. But that’s another post .

April 16, 2018

Keto diet is good for some who do moderate exercise, and I’ve used it to “jump start” some weight loss (something I didn’t have to worry about till putting on some after being injured and not exercising for 18 months).
However, if one is going to do heavy exercise, after a week or so one “bonks,” meaning they hit the wall and have no energy, even from the fat in the Keto diet.
Again, I have used it to jump start my diet, then a hybrid of it — still low carbs but slightly increased while at gym for a few weeks, but riding 150-200 miles a week outdoors one has to have more carbs. The good side is I am burning more. Several Saturdays ago on a 70 mile ride I burned 5000 calories. Weight is coming off.
I did see weight loss start to happen with Keto, and it’s healthy anyone to eat less carbs, and thus low Glycemic index.
Good luck everyone

Dr Mark Rowe
April 16, 2018

Hi Monique,
Greetings from Ireland !
Great article, once agin further evidence of the benefits of sustainable positive lifestyle changes
Best wishes

Mark Rowe

Mike Flajole
April 11, 2018

Very good article. Many of the people I work with have health issues related to type 2 diabetes so this article gives excellent direction for those struggling to manage their health condition with an appropriate diet that they can sustain. Counting calories is not necessarily the answer. Often times, people cannot understand why they just cannot lose weight or how they became diabetic or what to do about it. Thanks a lot.
Michael Flajole Author of Diabetic and Medical Condition Life Insurance

Carolyn C. Shank
April 10, 2018

Hi Monique!
This blog was really informative for the new-bees to start with I also want to share my experience also!
I have been on a low crab high protein diet for last six months or so and I lost up to 12 kilos, with that diet plane I was able to lose my body fat only and as for as I think so it was really helpful for me not to lose body muscles also. I want to shair that diet plane so that other can also get there desired body shape and be happy when they look them self in mirror!

April 10, 2018

Good article Monique! While I agree with on “The best diet is the one we can maintain for life” not everyone can start eating healthy right away. In my opinion quick diets and fast weight losing methods have their own place. I studied in Harvard over ten years ago and have a plenty of love for the school and community, but you should not say no to fast diets right away. I was overweight for a long time because I just couldn’t change my habits. It was when I tried the 2 week diet plan that I started seeing results for the first time. After losing few pounds I became motivated and now I have lost a lot more weight. Even if you are skeptical I would recommend you checking it out, if you are overweight.

April 9, 2018

have been on the low carb (Ketogenic diet) OVER A YEAR. 20-30 gr for the first 6 months, currently about 40-70 grams daily since then. maybe once a week 70-100gr; High fat (love my whole cream). moderate amount of protein. use coconut oil in decaf with the cream. Since increasing carbs the weight loss has stayed about the same +/- 5lbs but waist size increased by 1-2inches. Noticed hair loss but I don’t know if it’s stress related (husband died just before Christmas).

Lorraine Marshall
April 9, 2018

Rather than “”diet “ consider “change in eating habits “ identify vegetables that u are willing to eat as well as fruits. At meals eat a protein of choice and fill up on fruits and vegetables until u have eaten enough. You may also have one carbohydrate at each meal and drink any drink that is sugar free( seltzer, unsweetened herbal tea with lemon, coffee with cream) eat well and watch the pounds fall off! Gud luck

April 9, 2018

have been on the low carb (Ketogenic diet) OVER A YEAR. 20-30 gr for the first 6 months, currently about 40-70 grams daily since then. maybe once a week 70-100gr; High fat (love my whole cream). moderate amount of protein. use coconut oil in decaf with the cream. Since increasing carbs the weight loss has stayed about the same +/- 5lbs but waist size increased by 1-2inches. Noticed hair loss but I don’t know if it’s stress related (husband died just before Christmas).
can’t do statins: recent Labs Total cholesterol elevated 300 (Yikes) but ratio is good. HDL very high (MD said he’s not seen that high in any of his pts.) and LDL very low.

hated giving up fruit (both fresh and dried). Hate not indulging in veggies. what am I to do with the peaches and tomatoes I canned?

April 9, 2018

Hi Monique, do you have any research on the Ketogenic Diet?

Commenting has been closed for this post.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.