Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


What's Your Best Diet?


Finding the right diet may be as simple as looking at how you eat now 



By John Hoeber, MS, RD, CSSD, CPT


If you're like most people looking to lose weight, you've tried many different diets, with varying degrees of success (or failure). You may be wondering if you’ve missed the one best diet for you — for your body type, how you like to eat, and that will have long-term results. The truth is all diets work, for as long as you’re on them. Stop the diet — any diet  —  and the pounds reappear.

Popular diets — like Paleo, going low-carb or low-fat, even becoming vegan — all produce results. But while there are some short-term differences among them, the long-term success rate (defined as more than a year) is the same: less than 20%. That’s a pretty dismal number. While bookstores are full of diet books promoting the latest way to lose weight, their theories are usually based more on the science of marketing than on nutritional science.

So, what can you do to increase your odds of long-term weight loss? Rather than going on a short-term diet where you change everything in your routine, only to go back to old habits after a month, try changing a couple of small things permanently. To start, write down the one most important thing you want to change about your diet and work on that until it’s no longer a challenge. Be prepared to dedicate a couple of months to making that one small fix a permanent way of life. Then identify the next most important thing, and so on.

Your best diet:

  • Starts with your own diet, tweaking it a little at a time. Cutting portion sizes is a good first step.
  • Uses your skills and creativity to solve your diet challenges, rather than relying on a prepackaged diet plan.
  • Increases exercise, including both planned workouts and incidental activity, such as taking the stairs.
  • Includes self-monitoring, such as keeping a food log. Track what you eat and how much you exercise with our free My Diet Diary app (for iOS and Android).
  • Includes weekly weigh-ins and finding support; if your friends and family aren’t your best option, look to online weight loss resources.
  • Allows indulgences and vacations without falling off the wagon, but limits overindulgence to a truly special occasion.
  • Enhances stress reduction skills to avoid emotional eating.
  • Uses rewards (both food and non-food) for reaching habit change goals.
  • Changes the way you think and feel about food and your body.

The keys to weight loss success

According to the National Weight Control Registry at Brown Medical School in Providence, RI, a database of those who have successfully maintained a significant weight loss:

  • 98% of participants changed how they ate in some way to lose weight
  • 94% increased how much they exercised, with the most frequently reported activity being walking

To maintain their weight loss:

  • Most report continuing to eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet
  • 90% exercise 1 hour a day, on average
  • 78% eat breakfast every day
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV a week


Published on December 17, 2014. 


John Hoeber helps people improve their health through diet using practical and lasting solutions. He is a registered dietitian, certified specialist sports dietitian, personal trainer and wellness coach. Contact him at [email protected].

Reviewed by Joseph Sclafani, MD on April 13, 2015.
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