Successful weight loss has been a hot topic for years. My first presentation on the subject was in 2004. In fact, it was my first lecture in front of a large audience, ever. At the time, even though it was before the surge in use of social media, the posting of the video of that presentation was viewed all over the country, a testament to the interest in the subject. Subsequent videos of my performances as a lecturer have improved but the universal battle over the bulge has not. Years have passed and people are still searching for a method that will help them lose weight and keep it off. Fifty-eight percent of adults in a survey done by U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention answered yes to trying to lose weight in the past year. More than half the U.S. adult population is trying to lose weight, but few are succeeding. The answer to how to achieve long-term weight loss is not straightforward or simple. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, integrative and functional nutrition practitioner, and certified personal trainer, I have helped people achieve lasting weight loss in private practice, counseling individuals and developing and implementing group weight loss programs. This book is an extension of my knowledge gained over the years. How to lose weight is the topic of numerous conversations, articles, and television programs. It is distressing to know so many people are putting time and effort into a method that will disappoint them or put their health at risk. Weight loss is inextricably tied to health and yet, in this day and age, dieting is a business and the advice is not necessarily coming from health professionals. Frankly, there are few resources available to help evaluate all the information encountered. I saw a way to help people sift through the minefield of recommendations and misinformation to choose the best diet for success and wrote this incredibly useful manual for anyone considering going on a diet. Because of the escalation of health issues caused by poor food choices, people are looking at their food intake (that is, food and drink regularly provided or consumed), not only from a weight loss perspective, but also how a diet may help resolve concerns such as uncontrolled blood sugar, high cholesterol, reflux, thyroid disease, and fatigue. Today, there is a great interest in wellness, not just weight loss... with a focus on how we feel, how to choose foods to increase energy, and how to reduce risk of disease, making it even more essential to choose healthy methods to reach your weight and wellness goals. To date, some diet trends have supportive research to back up their methodology and claims. There are some popular diets and also other diets that few hear about that are effective and present a healthy way to achieve sustainable weight loss. There are many to choose from with new diets being introduced in the media all the time. Media, including books, blogs, and news reports drives interest in specific diets…after all, weight loss is big business. The diet industry is making billions, $70 billion a year by most recent reports, often with misleading claims and unhealthy practices. Fad diets, fashionable weight loss plans that promise big results but rarely deliver, are all over the media. The loudest voices in the weight debate are often celebrities, influencers, and spokespeople with little or no professional training in weight loss or health, and no scientific research to support their platform. There are many individual factors that influence how successful you will be with any one method, which is partly the reason people rarely enjoy the results their diet claims to inspire. When choosing a fad diet or weight-loss trend, it is important to select the one that is right for you, keeping your individual health and genomic profile in mind (see Nutrigenomics pg. 123). For the best outcomes, you need to choose a diet that includes your food preferences and meets the needs of your lifestyle, schedule, and food availability. You also need to know how a weight loss plan will impact your health. It is important to put health first, at any weight. By focusing on overall health at any size, success can be measured by more than just a number on the scale. Improvements in energy, digestion, blood pressure, and mood can be celebrated. The connection between physical health and weight is a big one. A healthier body loses weight more easily. Optimal nutrition rarely exists with a diet that deprives the body of a food group or sufficient calories. Restrictive diets can rob you of energy, weaken bones, and harm vital body functions. But some diets can help you lower blood sugar, lipid levels, or blood pressure. Still others can help you identify food sensitivities. Choosing a diet should include knowledge of the potential health benefits and risks. The Great Weight Debate summarizes many of the popular weight loss plans, explains the principles for each diet, provides the research available, and highlights factors that will make it a healthy choice. Discover and understand which diet has too many food restrictions, which diets are easy to use when travelling, how much structure a particular diet provides, and in general the rules you will need to follow. You then have all the information to make an informed decision. Whether you choose Paleo, low carbohydrate, intermittent fasting, Whole30, or Mediterranean, do it with knowledge and realistic expectations. Learn strategies to use to determine which diet is right for you, which diet may be harmful considering your health risks, what to do when weight loss plateaus, and strategies for weight maintenance. Read up on the new trends, the latest buzz, and the results of the most up-to-date research the experts—those with academic degrees and professional organizations sharing their knowledge and opinion— have to offer. Using a diet may not be the best way to lose weight, but if you are going to make the attempt, know that you choose wisely to get the most out of your efforts. One reason that trying to lose weight is so confusing and frustrating is that everywhere we turn we see headlines, television shows, and new studies touting weight and weight loss plans…and incredible results. Let’s face it, all we want is the solution. In today’s world, with so many options to lose weight, every one of them claiming miraculous results, it’s impossible to know which ones work and which ones can hurt. This book will spell that out for you. What I intend to do in the following pages is to use published research wherever possible to support or refute a diet’s claims. This way you can be guided by facts and experts—not celebrities and product manufacturers—for healthy dieting information.