Losing excess fat and reaching a healthy body weight may benefit men’s health in numerous ways. For example, a healthy body weight may reduce your risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and liver disease (
In fact, men with obesity have a greater risk of chronic disease than women with obesity because men tend to have more visceral fat, a type of belly fat linked to elevated disease risk (
Losing weight may also help improve sexual dysfunction, mobility, depressive symptoms, and men’s overall quality of life (
However, losing weight the right way is critical. Although restrictive fad diets may cause short-term weight loss, they’re never the right choice for long-term weight maintenance.
Rather, you should focus on finding a healthy, sustainable plan that nourishes your body, meets your specific needs, and can be followed long term — perhaps for life.
Research shows that the most effective weight loss strategies for men involve dietary modifications alongside increased physical activity and other behavioral changes — not diet alone (
Here are 10 healthy diets that may help men lose weight.
Increased protein intake has been shown to promote healthy weight loss. Protein is the most filling macronutrient, meaning that adding it to your meals and snacks may help you feel satisfied (
Furthermore, numerous studies reveal that high protein diets are more effective for weight loss than standard protein diets (
High protein diets have also been found to preserve muscle mass during weight loss, which helps maintain resting energy expenditure — or the number of calories you burn at rest (
What’s more, research suggests that men who follow high protein diets are more likely to maintain weight loss over time than men whose diets are lower in protein (
The amount of protein you need depends on many factors, including your body size, activity level, and age.
Most high protein diets provide at least 0.6 grams of protein per pound (1.3 grams per kg) of body weight, which is notably higher than the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight (
High protein diets can be customized based on your dietary preferences, as there are plenty of animal and plant-based foods that are high in protein, including chicken, fish, eggs, lentils, and tofu.
- easy to implement and follow
- doesn’t involve calorie counting or restriction of specific foods
- very high protein diets are unnecessary for most people
- must be individualized, as people have different protein needs
The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and fish, has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, weight loss, and weight maintenance (
A 12-year study in 32,119 people — 9,662 of whom were men — associated strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of excess weight and obesity, as well as smaller waist circumference and a lower risk of belly fat (
Other studies bolster these findings, tying the Mediterranean diet to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes (
What’s more, the Mediterranean diet may protect against prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer and second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States (
- easy to follow
- doesn’t involve calorie counting or restriction of specific foods
- linked to improved health outcomes
- promotes the eating habits of people living in specific areas of the world, which may not fit in with everyone’s food preferences or culture
Most people can benefit from following a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet, including men who want to lose excess body fat.
WFPB diets are not the same as vegan diets, which exclude all animal products.
Instead, WFPB diets include small amounts of animal products like fish, eggs, cheese, chicken, and yogurt, although they’re primarily based on whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits, and beans.
Because of the emphasis on whole plant foods and the exclusion of highly processed foods, WFPB diets are rich in fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Plus, WFPB diets have been shown to promote weight loss.
For example, in a review of 12 randomized controlled studies, people who followed plant-based diets — including several that included some animal protein — lost significantly more weight over an average of 18 weeks than those assigned to non-plant-based diets (
Choosing a WFPB diet may also help men reduce their risk of chronic illnesses, such as certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mental conditions (
- promotes the consumption of whole, nutrient-dense plant foods
- typically high in fiber
- doesn’t completely exclude animal products
- linked to improved health outcomes and weight loss
- can require careful planning to meet nutrient needs, especially if animal foods are very limited
Low carb diets are one of the most popular eating patterns — and for good reason.
Such diets vary in carb content, from the very low carb keto diet to more flexible, moderate low-carb diets. Low carb eating patterns have been shown to boost weight loss and improve other aspects of men’s health.
In a small, 8-week study in 34 older adults with obesity, those assigned to a low carb diet that provided less than or equal to 10% of calories from carbs lost 3 times more visceral fat than those assigned to a standard low fat diet (
The low carb diet group also lost nearly 8% more total body fat and retained more muscle mass (
Because men are likelier to have more visceral fat than women, any diet that targets this harmful type of body fat may greatly improve men’s health and reduce disease risk (
Many other studies have demonstrated that low carb diets of varying carb contents encourage weight loss, improve blood fat levels, and decrease blood sugar levels (
Research suggests that diets that are more moderate in carbs are easier to maintain long term than very low carb diets (
Because one of the most important factors in choosing a diet is the ability to follow it long term, a more moderate carb approach is likely the better choice for sustainable weight loss (
- can be modified to be higher or lower in carbs
- more moderate low carb diets are effective and easier to stick to in the long term
- very low carb diets have more side effects than more moderate low carb diets
- long-term safety of very low carb diets is still unknown
- low carb diets aren’t appropriate for everyone
Fiber not only helps you feel full but also benefits your health in many other ways, which is why fiber-rich diets are a good choice for weight loss.
Studies consistently associate high fiber diets, including Mediterranean and plant-based diets, with a healthy body weight.
In a 6-month study in 345 people — 46% of whom were men — those who followed a high fiber diet were most likely to lose weight. On average, every 10-gram increase in daily fiber was tied to a 5-pound (2.2-kg) decrease in body weight (
High fiber intake may also help reduce visceral fat and protect against several chronic illnesses in men, including heart disease (
To increase your fiber intake, try adding a combination of high fiber foods to every meal and snack. Examples of high fiber foods include berries, broccoli, asparagus, nuts, seeds, beans, oats, avocados, chia seeds, and artichokes.
- doesn’t restrict any foods
- emphasizes healthy, high fiber foods like fruits, beans, and vegetables
- associated with decreased heart disease risk
- some high fiber foods may cause gastrointestinal side effects in certain people
Energy density refers to a food’s calorie content per 100 grams, while nutrient density refers to a food’s micronutrient content in relation to its calorie load (
Foods that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor include french fries, sugary baked goods, sweetened beverages, and candy (
Foods that are low in calories but dense in nutrients include vegetables and fruits. Eating more low calorie, nutrient-dense foods is strongly associated with weight loss and healthy weight maintenance (
Yet, high calorie, nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, egg yolks, and unsweetened full fat yogurt are important for a healthy diet, too. Balancing these foods with low calorie, nutrient-dense foods like veggies and fruits is a smart way to maintain a healthy body weight.
Try eating low calorie, nutrient-dense foods during every meal and snack. For example, add a handful of spinach and chopped red pepper to your morning egg scramble, then sliced vegetables or fruit to your afternoon snack.
- doesn’t restrict any foods
- focuses on improving nutrient intake
- emphasizes nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables
- can be followed by anyone, no matter their dietary preferences
- requires some knowledge about food and nutrients
The restricts grains, legumes, refined sugars, and dairy products. Its main premise is to reduce your intake of highly processed products and focus instead on whole, nutrient-dense foods that are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (
Some evidence suggests that this diet is effective for fat loss, which is no surprise since it excludes or limits many foods tied to weight gain, including processed grain products, sugary baked goods, and soda.
A review of 11 randomized studies ranging from 2 weeks to 2 years found that, on average, people who adopted the paleo diet lost 8 pounds (3.5 kg) more than those following other eating patterns (
The paleo diet tends to be more filling than traditional low fat eating patterns and may promote healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels (
Because grains and legumes are off-limits on the paleo diet, you’ll want to be sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, chia seeds, and other paleo-friendly foods to reach your daily fiber needs.
- easy to understand and follow
- prioritizes nutrient-dense foods
- linked to weight loss and may benefit heart health
- restricts several food groups
- difficult for vegans and vegetarians to follow
The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet combines parts of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. The DASH diet is often used to reduce high blood pressure (
The MIND diet emphasizes foods that aid brain health, including berries, olive oil, nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, and fish. It also recommends limiting potentially harmful foods like sweets and fried foods.
The MIND diet has not only been shown to significantly reduce the risk of brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease but also may help men lose weight (
It’s rich in fiber, healthy fats, and low calorie, nutrient-dense foods like berries and leafy green veggies. It also encourages the use of olive oil, which is associated with healthy body weight maintenance (
The MIND diet may be especially helpful for older men who want to preserve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive conditions like dementia. In fact, a 2021 study found that adherence to the MIND diet was associated with better cognitive functioning and suggested that the dietary pattern may help contribute to cognitive resilience in older adults (
- emphasizes nutritious foods that aid brain health, including berries, olive oil, nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, and fish
- may help preserve and protect brain health
- more evidence is needed to confirm its weight loss benefits
Intermittent energy restriction (IER) is an umbrella term that encompasses both intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating.
Whereas intermittent fasting involves 16–48-hour periods of little to no food intake, time-restricted eating limits food intake to a specific time window, usually 6–10 hours of a given day (
Some evidence suggests that IER improves blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, inflammatory markers, triglyceride levels, and weight loss (
There are many types of IER, including 16-hour energy restriction, 2-day fasting, and alternate-day fasting.
A review of 27 studies ranging from 2–24 weeks found that people who followed IER patterns lost 0.8–13% of their baseline body weight. The review also found that IER improved blood sugar management (
However, the researchers acknowledged that most of the studies were small. Thus, further research is needed (
All the same, some research suggests that IER may aid fat loss, allow for increased strength during resistance training, and improve certain aspects of psychological health (
Men who are interested in IER may want to start with the 16/8 method, which is one of the most popular IER methods.
Even though IER may be effective for some men, it’s not appropriate for everyone. For example, IER may not be safe for those with diabetes, including those who are dependent on insulin. Fasting could cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, which can cause symptoms like dizziness and fainting.
If you have any medical conditions or are currently taking one or more medications, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before trying IER.
- easy to implement
- doesn’t restrict any foods
- requires going without food for long periods of time
- may not be appropriate for men taking certain medications and some men with diabetes
- can lead to irritability and hunger
Vegetarian diets are high in plant-based foods, including veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Some versions, such as ovo-vegetarian and lacto-vegetarian diets, include animal products like milk or eggs.
Research strongly associates vegetarian diets with a healthy body weight and weight loss.
A review of 3 studies that included 20,975 men tied plant-based diets rich in whole plant foods and low in animal foods to less weight gain over a 4-year period (
In a study in 10,064 adults, those who followed vegetarian diets consumed 419 fewer calories per day, on average, and ate more legumes and nuts than non-vegetarians. Both of these factors are associated with healthy weight management (
Healthy vegetarian diets should be low in refined foods, including highly processed plant-based foods like sugary desserts, sweetened beverages, and fried foods.
- can be modified to suit dietary preferences
- may promote weight loss without the need for counting calories
- well-planned vegetarian diets are high in nutrient-dense plant foods like vegetables, fruits, and legumes
- more restrictive vegetarian diets could lead to nutrient deficiencies
- must be planned carefully in order to meet needs for nutrients like protein, omega-3s, zinc, and B12
How much weight should men lose per week?
Factors such as body weight, age, and the type of diet you’re following will influence how quickly you lose weight.
For example, men following very low calorie diets will likely lose weight more rapidly than men following diets with more moderate calorie deficits.
It’s important to understand that your goal shouldn’t be to lose weight as quickly as possible. Rather, it’s best to focus on weight loss that’s consistent and sustainable.
Some people think that the more extreme the weight loss and calorie deficit, the better.
However, research suggests that taking a more moderate approach to weight loss may counteract some of the compensatory metabolic changes that occur when restricting calories, such as muscle loss and increased hunger (
By opting for a smaller daily calorie deficit, you may lose weight a bit more slowly, but it may improve your chances of following your weight loss plan and maintaining your weight loss over time.
In general, most healthcare professionals agree that safe weight loss can vary from 1–2 pounds (.5–1 kg) per week, though some men may lose more or less, depending on several factors (
If you’re concerned that you may be losing weight too quickly or are having trouble losing weight, contact a trusted healthcare professional for advice.
Which weight loss plans are gluten free?
Any weight loss plan can be made gluten-free, but some diets, like the paleo diet, restrict gluten as a rule.
Cutting out gluten isn’t necessary for everyone, but people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid gluten for health reasons. Studies show that other populations, including those with certain autoimmune diseases, may also benefit from a gluten-diet (
Which weight loss plans are vegan?
The vegan diet restricts all animal products, including meat, fish, and dairy. The vegan diet can help promote weight loss, but it’s not necessary to cut all animal products from your diet.
Vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets that include small amounts of animal products have all been shown to be effective for weight loss (
How fast can men burn fat?
How quickly a man loses weight depends on factors such as age, diet, health status, and activity levels.
How quickly you can lose body fat matters much less to overall health when compared with how likely you are to maintain a healthy body weight in the future. Again, it’s important to focus on long-term rather than short-term health goals.
If you want to increase your likelihood of weight loss success, pair a nutritious diet that provides the appropriate amount of calories to support fat loss with lifestyle modifications like increasing physical activity, improving sleep quality, and managing stress (
Men who want to lose excess body fat have many healthy, sustainable diets to choose from.
Though you may be tempted to follow a restrictive, low calorie diet that promises quick weight loss, it’s important to choose one that fuels your body, isn’t overly restrictive, and can be maintained long term.
To find the best diet for your needs, it may be helpful to work with an experienced healthcare provider like a registered dietitian.