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Nutrition. 2020 Jan;69:110549. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2019.07.001. Epub 2019 Jul 4.

Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets.

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Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center and Center for Celiac Research and Treatment, Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Electronic address:


New dietary strategies have been created to treat overweight and obesity and have become popular and widely adopted. Nonetheless, they are mainly based on personal impressions and reports published in books and magazines, rather than on scientific evidence. Animal models and human clinical trials have been employed to study changes in body composition and metabolic outcomes to determine the most effective diet. However, the studies present many limitations and should be carefully analyzed. The aim of this review was to discuss the scientific evidence of three categories of diets for weight loss. There is no one most effective diet to promote weight loss. In the short term, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets and intermittent fasting are suggested to promote greater weight loss and could be adopted as a jumpstart. However, owing to adverse effects, caution is required. In the long term, current evidence indicates that different diets promoted similar weight loss and adherence to diets will predict their success. Finally, it is fundamental to adopt a diet that creates a negative energy balance and focuses on good food quality to promote health.


Fasting; Macronutrient; Obesity; Popular diets; Weight-loss


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