Is It Possible To Lose Weight Just By Changing Your Diet?

Is it possible to lose weight just by changing your

When you want to lose weight, several factors can affect your progress.

While diet and exercise are often combined to promote weight loss, some wonder if they can lose weight just by changing their diet.

This article explains whether weight loss is only possible with healthy changes in your diet, and includes recommendations to help you get started.

Key factors for weight loss

When it comes to weight loss, several key factors determine your success rate.

Calories received compared to calories burned

The factor that plays the biggest role in weight loss is maintaining a constant calorie deficit.

This is defined as consuming fewer calories than you consume per day.

Eventually, this will lead to weight loss because your body will burn up its stores of fats and carbohydrates to have energy. (1) (2)

While you are deficient in calories, your body turns to fat cells and glycogen, a stored form of carbohydrate in the body to compensate for the lack of energy from food intake.

Nutritional factors

You can use a number of dietary strategies to lose weight.

The goal is to consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight, which promotes gradual weight loss.

The number of calories you need to consume to lose weight varies widely and depends on many factors, including your gender, height, weight, and other genetic factors.

Some common weight loss diets include: (3) (4)

  • Low carb diets. Limiting your carbohydrate intake to 50-150 grams per day can help reduce your intake of foods that are often high in carbohydrates. Low carb diets often give preference to vegetables, foods rich in protein and fiber, which help control hunger and promote appetite control.
  • Ketogenic diets. Very low carbohydrate intake, less than 50 grams per day, can promote ketosis. This low carbohydrate intake in the keto diet triggers a process in which fat is used as the main source of energy, it can help regulate hunger levels.
  • High protein diets. A high-protein diet promotes protein intake of 1.2-1.6 grams per kilogram per day, which helps build and maintain lean weight, which supports your metabolism and can reduce overeating as it helps you feel better for longer.
  • Occasional fasting. Limiting your diet to a certain period of time can reduce your total calorie intake and improve your diet. There are several types of fasting diets.

Although these strategies can promote weight loss, most experts recommend a gradual reduction in calorie intake and the inclusion of wholesome foods rich in nutrients high in fiber and protein.

This method maintains your overall health and reduces some of the negative side effects of dieting, while promoting noticeable weight loss.


Exercise is another important tool that is often used to promote weight loss.

Physical activity increases calorie burning, further promotes calorie deficiency and fat loss.

When you want to lose weight, cardio exercises such as running, swimming and cycling are often preferred over strength training, but some studies show that strength training is more likely to promote weight loss.

However, for a well-balanced exercise program, cardio training and endurance training provide the best results.

This is partly due to how regular strength training can increase your muscle mass, which can help increase fat loss because muscle burns more calories than fat. (5) (6)

The benefits of focusing only on diet

Although diet and exercise are most often combined to help with weight loss, some people choose to focus only on their diet.

This has several potential benefits.

It allows you to pay attention to what you eat

Often, the task of losing weight can seem daunting, especially for people with a large amount of weight to lose.

Although physical activity is important for reasons other than weight loss, excluding it from the weight loss equation allows you to focus all your attention on your diet.

With one variable less that you need to focus on, you may be better able to stick to your diet, which could improve your long-term success in losing weight. (7)

Although most people do not have problems losing weight with diet alone, they can struggle to maintain weight loss in the long run without adding physical activity. (8)

More time for those with a busy schedule

For those with a busy daily schedule, getting involved in meal planning and daily exercise can be a daunting task.

A 2013 study found that people perceive time constraints as one of the main barriers to improving their diet. (9)

If you focus only on diet, you can free up valuable time in your schedule, allowing for a more sustainable approach to weight loss.

Once you establish a solid diet, you can gradually add exercise to increase your weight loss progress.

Disadvantages of focusing only on diet

Although you may notice progress in losing weight if you focus only on your diet, there are some drawbacks to consider.

Risk of regaining previous weight

One of the main potential disadvantages of focusing only on your diet is regaining weight over time.

In fact, a recent study in overweight adults looked at the effects of various exercises on weight loss. (10)

Participants were divided into four groups: a group with limited calories, a group for strength training, a group for endurance exercises and a group for strength and endurance.

Each group adheres to a diet that provides 25-30% calorie deficit for 6 months, with only exercise groups performing physical activity 3 times a week.

The study found that all groups initially lost a similar amount of weight, although most gained a significant amount of weight back after 3 years.

The exception was the strength and endurance group. Those in this group maintained their weight after 3 years, indicating that exercise plays an important role in maintaining weight loss.

If you give up exercise, you can increase your chances of experiencing recovery over time.

You miss the positive metabolic effects of exercise

Regular exercise can help burn calories, increase weight loss and offer other important metabolic benefits.

Metabolic benefits are related to how your body converts the food you eat into energy. More muscle mass and less body fat help your body burn more calories at rest, which is helpful if you want to lose weight. (11)

The main metabolic effects of exercise include: (12) (13)

  • improving muscle and bone mass
  • improving insulin sensitivity, a key marker of carbohydrate metabolism
  • increased resting metabolic rate or how many calories you burn at rest
  • prevention of metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arterial disease

However, the specific metabolic effects depend on the type of exercise performed.

For example, a review of 66 studies from 2015 examined different methods of treating overweight adults, including different types of exercise (14).

They found that strength training is especially important to promote fat loss and maintain lean muscle mass.

In addition, regular strength training has been shown to promote healthy bones and muscles. (15) (16) (17)

This is especially important with age, as muscle mass and bone density begin to slowly decline after the age of 30. (18)

It is also important to include some endurance exercises such as walking, running, cycling or swimming, as this has been shown to improve heart health and reduce the risk of many diseases. (19)

After all, the best approach to weight loss is one that you can stick to. Try to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and stick to consistently, just like with your diet.


Although combining diet and exercise is most effective for weight loss, you can definitely achieve healthy weight loss by focusing only on your diet.

How many pounds do you want to lose?

An important deciding factor is how much weight you want to lose.

For those who are losing a lot of weight, it is probably best to include diet and exercise for best results.

Meanwhile, those who want to lose only 4.5-6.8 kg will probably only achieve this through diet.

Set your calories to conserve energy to begin with, then subtract about 500 calories to get your initial daily calorie intake. This should help you lose 0.5-1 kg per week. (20)

The general scientifically supported dietary approach focuses on a diet rich in nutrients, high in fiber and protein to help progress in weight loss. (21)

However, you may want to use one of the aforementioned eating strategies that you like best, as it is crucial to find a diet that you can stick to consistently.

Maintaining a fairly high protein intake should help you maintain muscle mass and be full. Striving to consume about 1.2-2.5 grams per kg can help you achieve this.

Some people like to increase their protein intake to 2.3-3.1 grams per kilogram of body weight. (22) (23)

The remaining calories will come from carbohydrates and fats, depending on your preferences.

Although counting calories is not necessary for weight loss, some believe it is beneficial for progress, and studies have linked it to weight loss. (24) (25)

Multiple smartphone apps can make it much easier to count calories.

For more detailed nutrition instructions, it is best to consult an authorized nutritionist.

Set realistic goals

The more calories you cut from your diet, the faster you will lose weight.

However, too low a calorie intake leads to negative side effects such as loss of muscle mass, increased appetite, lack of nutrients, low energy and reduced daily calorie consumption. (26) (27) (28)

Therefore, it is best to set realistic weight loss goals of no more than about 0.5 pounds per week to prevent these side effects.

Finally, when it comes to nutrition, consistency is key. This way, you will want to follow an approach that you will be able to stick to in the long run.


Although there are benefits to losing weight through a combination of diet and exercise, some choose to focus only on diet to promote weight loss.

When you want to lose weight, the most important factor is maintaining a small but permanent calorie deficit, which you can do with diet, exercise, or both.

Healthy weight loss can only be achieved through dietary changes, although your progress may be slower than if you included exercise. You may also miss some of the metabolic and health benefits of physical activity.

It is best to consult a doctor before embarking on a weight loss diet, especially if you are taking medication or have any major health problems.