- Restrictive fad diets may help you lose weight in the short term, but are hard to maintain.
- The best weight loss plan for men is one that you can stick with for the long term.
- A weight loss plan should help you learn about the emotions and psychology behind why you eat.
Many weight loss plans for men make big promises, but end up being just another restrictive fad diet. No wonder men often regain weight they lose on these plans.
The truth is the best weight loss diet plan for men is one that you can stick with for the long haul. This means a healthy eating plan that doesn’t leave you feeling hungry and deprived—while also helping you understand the psychology behind why you eat.
To find out what that looks like, we talked to Noom Weight coach Casey Seamon, RD, LDN. Read on to learn why most diets for men don’t work—and about better strategies to follow.
Note: Consult with your health care provider before making dietary changes.
Ready to make a lasting change?
A healthier you, wherever you are.
Why most diets for men don’t work
According to a meta-analysis of 29 weight loss studies, many diets just don’t work out. The study revealed that as much as 80% of weight loss is regained within five years.
There are five reasons why most diets for men don’t work.
- They adopt a one-size-fits-all approach
A lot of weight loss plans and diets go wrong by trying to create a one-size-fits-all program.
But men’s bodies are all different, so there’s no universal blueprint for losing weight.
According to Seamon, different biological factors, like age, height, and body weight, all play a role in your daily nutrient needs and food intake. Depending on factors like your physical activity level or chronic health conditions, you may also have different needs.
- They’re too restrictive
Many popular diets like keto and paleo ask you to follow strict rules, like limiting carbs, cutting out all sugar, or avoiding dairy.
This might be achievable in the short run, but over time, it gets harder and harder to avoid your favorite foods.
Restrictive rules can also feel overwhelming when you’re already juggling your existing work and life responsibilities.
- They leave you feeling hungry
Many popular diets don’t account for hunger. They simply tell you to cut a certain amount of calories or types of food from what you eat.
The challenge is that if you don’t understand what food choices will make you feel satisfied, it’s easy to feel a bit lost (and hungry).
And that leads to many men to give up on trying to lose weight.
- They don’t address emotional eating
Many weight loss programs don’t discuss feelings or psychology. They treat you as if you are just a mouth and a stomach, and discount your brain.
However, eating has just as much to do with your emotions as with your body.
For example, have you ever wondered why you reach for late-night sugary snacks or why you sometimes skip breakfast, only to overeat later? Or why you eat certain calorie-dense foods when specific friends or family are around?
In a recent study, many of the male participants reported struggling with eating past the point of feeling full. Many weight loss programs simply don’t address why this happens, and how the cause may be stress, social triggers, or other appetite cues.
- They don’t always consider the weight loss needs of men
Most weight loss programs can feel like they’re aimed at women, which can hurt men’s motivation.
In fact, one small study of men in the UK reported low engagement with weight loss services. Men in this study felt the services available were female-dominated. They also felt self-conscious and ashamed of using weight loss services.
It’s true that research suggests that men and women likely don’t need different weight loss strategies.
However, it’s important that men feel acceptance and belonging when they are working through a weight loss program. Otherwise, it’s difficult for to stick with health goals.
The best weight loss plan for men
Now that you know why most diets for men fail, it’s time to understand what’s the best plan for long-term weight loss.
The fact is that the best plan for men is one that’s sustainable. This means it should have several principles, including:
- The plan takes into account your unique needs.
- You can eat your favorite foods—in moderation.
- There’s a strategy for addressing hunger.
- The weight loss plan teaches you about emotional eating and triggers.
- You learn about the psychological side of weight loss.
- You aren’t shamed for being a man who wants to lose weight.
In addition, there should be tools such as food and activity logging, as well as daily weigh-ins that can help you track your progress and understand your eating.
All of this combined can be a powerful way to help you understand your eating habits, and make the changes necessary to lose weight.
7 weight loss tips for men
1. Calculate your ideal caloric deficit
No matter what eating plan you follow, you need to eat within a calorie deficit to lose weight. A calorie deficit means using up more calories than you eat, and research suggests it’s the most critical factor in helping you lose weight.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends a calorie deficit of roughly 500 calories per day. This means you’ll eat 500 fewer calories than what you need to maintain your weight, which translates to a weight loss of about half a pound per week.
If you want to know your specific calorie range for fat loss, use our calculator to find your ideal calorie intake.
A program like Noom Weight can also help you track your calories for each meal and adjust your calorie range as you progress toward your goals.
2. Eat with calorie density in mind
Calorie density refers to calories that exist in a given weight of food.
Some foods have a lower caloric density than others, which means you can eat more but still take in fewer calories.
- Low-calorie-density foods include fruit, whole grains like quinoa, and leafy greens.
- Medium-calorie-density foods include legumes, avocados, and high-protein lean meats.
- High-calorie-density foods include things like pizza, cookies, fries, and soda.
To feel fuller longer, choose nutrient packed, low-calorie density foods that energize you.
To be clear, no foods are “off-limits,” and cravings aren’t the enemy. The calorie density principle simply helps you make balanced choices that keep you feeling satisfied.
Don’t forget to treat yourself here and there—life’s too short to give up the foods you love.
3. Harness psychology to help you lose weight
Recent research indicates that for some participants, psychology and long-term weight management may be connected. Those who maintained weight loss long-term showed more mindful eating, self-acceptance, and self-compassion.
The participants who kept their weight off used a few key strategies to set themselves up for success:
- Keeping healthy snacks nearby.
- Staying positive during slip-ups.
- Reminding themselves how far they’ve come when facing weight loss challenges.
Research suggests that sustained healthy eating behaviors eventually require less effort, meaning these habits become second nature over time.
4. Add activity throughout your day (and stick to exercise you enjoy)
First things first: Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” workout plan. The main goal is to find something you actually enjoy doing, whether that looks like hiking, lifting weights, or walking.
Can’t hit the gym? No sweat. Add joyful movement to your routine in small ways. Park farther away from the office, take a walk during breaks, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try setting an alarm that reminds you to get a few steps in each hour.
These small efforts add up quickly and help you increase your overall activity, helping you burn a few more calories throughout the day.
5. Stay hydrated
Don’t worry; we won’t ask you to lug around a gallon of water to drink all day. But finding ways to boost your daily water intake can help keep you full and feeling satisfied.
If you don’t drink much water, start small. Set up cues that remind you to drink, like setting an alarm on your phone or downloading an app that pings you every few hours. Also, try finding a water bottle you like. Keep it within reach throughout the day as a reminder to drink the good stuff.
6. Involve the people you care about
Weight loss and behavior change are hard—there’s no getting around it. If you do it alone, it can feel even more challenging.
Finding ways to get friends and family involved will help you create lasting lifestyle changes. Family and friends can help support you and hold you accountable and celebrate victories and milestones along the way.
7. Find your balance
Any weight loss plan should be balanced and sustainable, not restrictive.
Why? This balance is key to developing lasting change and lifelong results. It’s easy to get caught up in diet fads that promise instant weight loss with extreme approaches to diet and exercise. While these might work in the short term, they rarely lead to changes that stick.
Balance and sustainability look different for everyone. Your approach to eating should align with your goals but also make room for the occasional indulgence.
Ready to make a lasting change?
A healthier you, wherever you are.
What to eat: A 7-day weight loss meal plan for men
To help get you started, we’ve prepared a sample seven-day healthy meal plan with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner to keep you satisfied all day.
Seamon says that most men should aim to eat no less than a 1,540-calorie diet. And consistent effort pays off—a systematic review of 49 weight loss studies suggests that even a moderate calorie deficit can help contribute to weight loss in men and women.
Our meals include a roundup of the best foods to help you feel great while you burn fat—including plenty of lean proteins, healthy fats, and high-fiber foods.
|Breakfast Tacos (240 calories)||Veggie Pinwheels (200 calories)||Mediterranean Club Sandwich w/ sweet potato fries (800 calories)||Green Smoothie –|
(choose any from this blog post)
|Denver Omelet refrigerate leftovers for a quick breakfast later in the week (194 calories)||Mixed Bean Salad with hummus and pita chips (389 calories)||Steak Bites and Sweet Potatoes (875 calories)||Mixed berries – 2 cups (140 calories)||1,598|
|Leftover Denver Omelet (194 calories)||Subway (600 to 700 calories) or another restaurant||Instant Pot Mongolian Beef (400 calories)||Bell peppers and hummus (250 calories)||1,544|
Recipe makes six, so you can freeze (250 calories)
|Hummus and Turkey Pinwheels (426 calories)||Chipotle Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers with baked potato and steamed broccoli(510 calories)||Coffee Smoothie and an apple (340 calories)||1,526|
|Peach Cobbler Oatmeal|
and a banana (375 calories)
|Greek Bento Box (308 calories)||Leftovers (510 calories)||Raw broccoli and baby carrots with ranch dip (374 calories)||1,567|
|Breakfast Sandwich (250 calories)||Chicken Quesadillas (437 calories)||Salad and Go (800 calories) or another restaurant||Grapes (1.5 cups) (100 calories)||1,587|
|Oatmeal (~250 calories)||Chicken Salad Sandwich (store bought) on whole grain bread and side of cucumbers (600 calories)||Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl (452 calories)||Celery sticks and peanut butter (200 calories)||1,502|
When you need a boost, experiment with healthy habits
Successful weight loss is based on small, sustainable shifts that fit into your lifestyle.
Maybe logging your food helps you eat more mindfully. Or maybe feel-good exercise, like playing basketball with friends, energizes you.
When you need to shake up your routine, try experimenting with new healthy habits to see what works best for you.
If you need help tackling your weight loss challenges, Noom Weight can help.