What is the best method of dieting for a beginner who began going to a gym and wants to lose weight in a quick but safe fashion that it will stay off?

– Joseph

An “ideal” diet plan for a beginner would depend on his or her lifestyle and commitment level. Some people do well with an extreme change – starting with a clean slate and following strict rules – while others get more results from incremental smaller modifications they can live with long-term. A person can start changing their eating habits for the better by beginning anywhere.   

According to the National Weight Control Registry, people that have successfully lost weight and kept it off mostly report following a low fat, reduced calorie diet with high activity levels. About half did it on their own while half enrolled in some type of weight loss program. Actions that losers often had in common were that they: 1) participate in regular exercise, 2) track weight routinely, 3) eat breakfast daily; and 4) watch less than 10 hours of video/TV per week.  

I’d trim out any extras that you can already identify such as late-night eating, second helpings, alcoholic beverages or desserts. As wholesome fresh food is always best, decide if you can dedicate additional time in the kitchen or need to purchase starter meals that you assemble. Whether or not to follow a specific diet plan, macronutrient ratio or preset menus depends on your interest level and food preferences.   

We’ve lots more beginner weight loss advice in the Living Healthy Blog – check how to create your own meal plan and how to achieve quick weight loss. 

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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