Browsing through the Internet, you’ll see so many weight-loss diets. But, are they safe, or even practical? Here’s the complete guide to 2020s most effective diet for weight loss. Before we get started, it’s essential to take note that this isn’t merely a how-to-do manual. Instead, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of different diets. Furthermore, I will explore various topics relating to the most sought-after diets of 2020.
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As you’ll see throughout this guide, we shall use evidence-based data to broaden your perspective about weight-loss diets and healthy living in general. If you’re searching for a weight-loss diet, or you intend to embark on one that you’ve found on the Internet, this guide is perfect for you. Also, if you enjoy reading, I’ve included reviews from top dietitians and nutritionists for further reference.
1. A Look at the Concept of “Weight-Loss Diet”
You probably think that a weight-loss diet only entails the type of food you eat, and the amounts you consume, right?
Well, you’ve been wrong all along!
Recent advancements in the weight-loss sphere prove that weight-loss isn’t all about shedding off extra pounds. In the past few years, countless diets have been created. Similarly, there are dozens of theories behind every diet that you’ll come across. Generally, all foods offer permanent and fast weight loss. Nonetheless, only a few can stand the test of time.
It’s always advisable to eat a healthy diet since your food choices go a long way in determining your health and quality of life in general. In the past, low-fat diets were considered to be responsive. With time, scientists discovered that low-fat diets are not as effective as previously touted.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that every diet that reduces your calorie intake will show considerable positive results. The most effective weight-loss diets work in the following ways:
- Cut out all lousy food calories, and in their place, consume healthy calories
- Rejection of old myths, and inducing evidence-based research
To adhere to a weight-loss diet, you should first prepare your outline.
Here’s how you should start:
Calculate Your BMI
There isn’t a foolproof way of calculating your BMI. However, this should be the first step to take when you embark on a weight-loss diet. Once you determine your BMI, you’ll know whether your weight is healthy or not in correspondence to your height. Numerous online BMI tools can save you time and lessen the mathematical chaos of calculating your BMI.
Your BMI should be compared with the following standard ranges:
- Below 18.5 = underweight
- 5 to 24.9 = healthy weight
- 25 to 29.9 = overweight
- Above 30 = obese
The correct assessment of obesity is a perfect tool for deciding the best weight-loss diet for you. Before you make this decision, it’s essential to review the basic concepts of weight-loss diets.
So, let’s dive in.
Eliminating calories from your diet isn’t a linear process:
Once you start following a specific weight-loss diet, you’ll shed weight dramatically during the first weeks of embarking on the program. However, at some point, the weight drop will stagnate. Consuming the same number of calories, or the same diet won’t help you shed any more weight.
When you shed an optimum amount of calories from your diet, you won’t lose any extra weight. When you shed a lot of weight, you lose muscle and water alongside the fats, thus slowing down metabolism. Most diets entail variations in calorie cut-down over time. This is a sustainable way of shedding weight.
Good calorie food options include lean meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, low-carb fruits, and high-fat dairy products. Your daily calorie intake shouldn’t exceed your calorie intake. Therefore, contrary to what you might think, the entire weight-loss debate isn’t rocket science.
In every weight-loss diet that you embark on, your calorie intake should be less than the number of calories that you burn. Generally, there are different ways or burning calories.
Many people consider exercise to be a crucial component of calorie expenditure. However, research shows that exercise only accounts for 20% of your calorie expenditure. Your max calorie expenditure is determined by your resting metabolic rate. This is the rate at which the body burns and converts calories into energy. Nevertheless, this process isn’t under voluntary control. Therefore, functional weight loss only focuses on strategies that increase your resting metabolic rate.
Anyone who’s looking for a diet that offers weight-loss shortcuts is undoubtedly in trouble!
Successful and foolproof diets are devoid of shortcuts. Besides the fact that weight-loss is a long-term commitment to diet rules and goals, losing weight rapidly has adverse side effects, and could put you in trouble.
So, how is rapid weight-loss detrimental?
Most of the diet marketers that you’ll come across offer the so-called rapid weight loss diets. However, some of these diets lead to starvation or the intake if an absurdly low number of calories. Besides, some of the weight-loss supplements that you’ll come across are not approved by the FDA.
Rapid weight loss can be dangerous, and here are some of its possible risks:
- Loss of excessive body water mass in up to 25% of cases, thus leading to gallstones
- Dehydration, which leads to electrolyte imbalance
As you can see, rapid weight loss isn’t always a good idea.
Often, those who seek rapid weight-loss have short-term goals in mind. However, if you want to lose weight sustainably, and with long-term goals in mind, it would be best to search for proven options rather than short-term solutions.
Indeed, you can’t fake weight-loss. Therefore, we should examine some of the most touted weight-loss diets in 2020 to determine whether they are beneficial.
2. The Mediterranean Diet
Just like the name suggests, this diet is primarily based on eating patterns associated with countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is renowned for being healthy since it focuses on your health and wellness in general, rather than just weight loss.
Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet has numerous benefits, including weight loss and the prevention of heart ailments, premature death probability, and diabetes mellitus. It’s hard to provide a solid definition of this diet, but it comprises lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans.
In this chapter, we’re going to describe the Mediterranean diet in detail.
So, what does the Mediterranean diet consist of?
The fundamental components of the Mediterranean diet are vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, virgin oil, fish, spices, and bread. When you embark on this diet, you should also consume adequate amounts of yogurt, eggs, poultry, and cheese. Try to avoid consuming red meat, and strictly avoid sweetened beverages, sugar, processed chicken and meat, refined and polished grains, processed low-fat foods, and trans-fats.
Here’s a breakdown of some suitable food options that you may want to consider:
- Vegetables; Spinach, carrots, Brussels, tomatoes, sprouts, and broccoli
- Nuts and seeds; Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts
- Fruits; Strawberries, apples, bananas, figs, dates, melons, and oranges
- Legumes; Peas, beans, peanuts, chickpeas, and lentils
- Whole grains; barley, corn, whole wheat, and brown rice
- Herbs and spices; Basil, rosemary, cinnamon, pepper, and mint
- Fats; Avocadoes, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil
Which Drinks Are Permitted?
After getting started on the Mediterranean diet, water should be your go-to drink throughout the day. Besides, coffee and tea are acceptable. Nonetheless, you should avoid additives, sweeteners, and sugars.
What Makes the Mediterranean Diet Popular?
Initially, this diet wasn’t meant for weight loss because most people who live in the Mediterranean region adhered to it without any weight loss objectives in mind. Although there isn’t an official way to support it, the Mediterranean diet has gained immense popularity over other weight-loss diets, which are somewhat more restrictive.
The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan Sample
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt, honey, and berries
- Lunch: Tuna with lots of green vegetables
- Dinner: A piece of chicken breast with tomatoes
- Snacks: Almonds with a bowl of salad
- Breakfast: A piece of fruit, boiled egg, and whole-grain toast
- Dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and dried tomatoes
- Dinner: Salmon with quinoa
- Snacks: Hummus with dipping vegetables
- Breakfast: Fruit and walnuts
- Lunch: Tabouli salad and long grain pita
- Dinner: large salad, gnocchi, and roasted chicken
- Snacks: Caprese skewers
- Breakfast: Fruits and slices of brie
- Lunch: Veggie soup with whole grain rolls
- Dinner: White fish cooked in garlic and olive oil, sweet potato, and zucchini
- Snacks: Slices of cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olives
- Breakfast: Omelette, fresh herbs and olives, and tomatoes
- Lunch: Salad with veggies, a piece of chicken, and olives
- Dinner: Grilled chicken, roasted Brussels sprouts
- Snacks: Peach, almonds, and yogurt
- Breakfast: A scrambled egg with vegetables, and a slice of whole-grain bread
- Lunch: Quinoa bowl, feta, veggies, and sliced chicken
- Dinner: Roasted fennel with broccoli, arugula salad, and grilled seafood
- Snacks: Greek yogurt, grilled vegetables, and hummus
- Breakfast: Vegetable frittata
- Lunch: Lemon, raw veggies, whole grain crackers, and smoked salmon
- Dinner: Mussels and red sauce pasta
- Snacks: Cucumber dipping alongside mashed avocadoes, lemons, and salt
The Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet stands out due to the numerous benefits that it offers. In the long-run, this diet offers dozens of health benefits, including better brain development, better coordination and cognition, and low risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s among older individuals. Moreover, the diet lowers the risk of common chronic illnesses such as diabetes, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and certain forms of cancer.
A research report published in the Frontiers of Psychology journal un April 2018 pointed out that veggies and raw fruits boost your mental health and prevent arthritis.
Concerning the short-term benefits of the Mediterranean diet, you’re most likely to experience considerable weight loss within the first few months of embarking on the diet, provided that you follow it strictly.
Foods to Avoid in the Mediterranean Diet
To experience both the short-term and long-term benefits of the Mediterranean diet, you should avoid these food items:
- Soya bean oil and canola oil
- Refined grains, including flour, pizza dough, white pasta, rice, and wheat
- Pastries, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodas, and candies
- Processed meats, red meat, and hot dogs
- Preserved and frozen foods
Read on to find out more…
Possible Pros and Cons of the Mediterranean Diet
- Nutritional Benefits
The Mediterranean diet doesn’t skip significant food groups. Therefore, it encourages nutrient intake. Besides, the menu has a low risk of protein and mineral deficiency.
- Weight Loss Management
The diet can help you manage weight since it encourages the consumption of lean meats and nuts alongside dietary fiber and fruits. This helps you to stay fuller for a longer time than most foods. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet eliminates refined sugar and processed foods from your menu, which is crucial to any weight-loss regimen.
- Better Mental Health
The nexus between the Mediterranean diet and better mental health is attested to by Kelly Toups, the Director of Nutrition at Oldways.
“A 2018 study in Molecular Psychiatry found that those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were 33% less likely to develop incident depression than those not following a Mediterranean diet,” she says.
- Low Levels of Saturated Fat
The Mediterranean diet restricts the intake of translate-fatty acids. This reduces the risk of fat deposition in your vessels and body tissues. By reducing the consumption of saturated fat, your body’s cholesterol levels will balance out, thus preventing multiple systemic illnesses.
- Easy to Follow
Arguably, this is the most significant benefit of the Mediterranean diet. There’s a wide selection of foods, depending on your nutrition needs. Therefore, you can always set a menu that suits you despite your lifestyle, health condition, and age.
- Time Consuming
Preparing foods in this diet can be time-consuming, especially when compared to heating ready-to-cook or frozen food items. Besides, shopping for some diet-specific foods can be challenging.
- No Authentic Guidelines
The Mediterranean diet is deprived of evidence-based research compared to other famous diets. It doesn’t provide a clear count of the number of calories that you’ll lose. Besides, it doesn’t give a clear list of foods to eat and avoid. Even so, the USDA provides a healthy Mediterranean-style eating guide, which you can use as a reference.
- Supports Alcohol Consumption
The Mediterranean diet allows you to consume alcohol, especially red wine. However, this can be dangerous for women, especially those who have a family history of breast cancer. The consumption of red wine increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
So, should you embark on the Mediterranean diet?
This diet is a perfect way of losing weight while benefiting from its nutritional balance. Indeed, the pros outweigh the cons, which is why the Mediterranean diet is trending in 2020.
3. The Old School Volumetric Diet
This diet focuses on keeping you full at all times by only eating healthy foods. By staying fuller for longer, you’re likely to eat less. The layout of the Mediterranean diet is to split the energy density of individual food items into significant meals. Generally, the food falls into four categories:
- Group 1 (very low-density): These foods include non-starchy fruits and veggies, broth-based soups, and fat-free milk.
- Group 2 (low-density): This group consists of starchy fruits, cereals, grains, vegetables, legumes, and dishes like spaghetti.
- Group 3 (medium-density): Includes French fries, meat, ice cream, cheese, cake, and bread.
- Group 4 (high-density): This group of food items includes chips, chocolates, crackers, cookies, candies, oil, and butter.
When you embark on this diet, you’re allowed to split your all-day meals into snacks, dinner, lunch, and breakfast. Ultimately, the outcomes will depend on how you adhere to the diet.
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Getting Started on the Volumetric Diet
According to dietitians, the most effective way of getting started on the Volumetric diet is by increasing your water intake. Water increases the bulk and volume of the food that you consume without increasing your calorie intake.
Here’s a list of food items that are water-rich:
- Pasta (65%)
- Fruits and veggies (up to 95%)
- Yogurt (75%)
- Soup (95%)
With time, you can substitute these foods with those you prefer, such as hummus and juicy carrots. You simply need to look for food items that contain loads of water.
The Scientific Logic Behind the Volumetric Diet
A study report published in the Journal of Eating Behavior highlighted that food items with a low energy density can induce weight loss. The volumetric diet doesn’t explicitly state what you should eat and what you should avoid. Instead, it encourages you to follow a healthy diet plan, which helps you to shed an optimal amount of health and stay healthy.
The volumetric diet’s critical factor is the consumption of water-rich foods since they have low energy intensity. Besides, focus on foods that are nutrient and fiber-rich, since they will leave you feeling fuller after meals. A typical volumetric diet consists:
- Fresh or frozen veggies
- Fresh fruits
- Lean white meat
- Skinless chicken
- Low-fat fish
- Little sugar
- Water as a substitute for other drinks
- Fresh fruits
One incredible benefit of the volumetric diet is that it’s consumer-friendly, especially to individuals who aren’t big fans of veggies. Read on to find out what nutritionists say about volumetric diet-aided weight loss:
- A 2014 study by Drexel University researchers comprised 132 participants. They shed weight by adhering to a low-energy volumetric diet, even after terminating the diet.
- A report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 showed that obese women who followed a low-density volumetric diet lost 2 pounds extra compared to those who followed a low-fat volumetric diet.
What Are the Benefits of the Volumetric Diet?
- Convenience: Provided that you adhere to the guidelines, you can consume different foods. The broad food choice allows you to eat the food items that you prefer.
- No strict rules: When following the volumetric diet, you don’t have to deprive yourself of foods such as pastries and chocolates. The diet allows you to incorporate them into your feeding program in a healthy and balanced way.
- Bid goodbye to hunger pangs: The volumetric menu is specially designed to enhance satiety by deviating the brain from hunger signals. Therefore, it reduces hunger pangs.
- Cooking isn’t spared: Adhering to the diet can be difficult, more so to individuals who can’t cook meals from home. If you like eating out, this diet may not be for you.
- Offers short-lived satiety: The volumetric diet vouches for the consumption of low-calorie foods. Although this leaves you feeling fuller, satiety is often short-term. It’s best to incorporate proteins in your meals to keep hunger pangs away for a longer time.
- Lack of proper rules: Just as it’s the case with the Mediterranean diet, this diet doesn’t have rigid rules and restrictions regarding the consumption of certain foods.
Although the volumetric diet alone works wonders as far as shedding weight is concerned, it would be best to combine it with an exercise regime to maintain the gains.
Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of the Volumetric Menu
Plainly speaking, the volumetric menu isn’t a quick fix. It might make you cut your calorie consumption, but still, feel deprived. Even so, the long-term benefits of the volumetric diet are more promising. For instance, it offers numerous health benefits to older individuals.
Considering the short-term outcomes of the volumetric diet, it isn’t meant for those who are looking for a quick fix. Its long-term results are more prominent, and longer-lasting too. Therefore, the diet is designed for those who want to lose weight sustainably over a long period.
4. The Plant-Based Flexitarian Diet
Whenever this diet gets mentioned, vagueness often comes into play. However, as the name suggests, the diet is all about vegetarianism. Many people are turning to vegetable-based diets. Typically, plant-derived diets are rich in proteins and entail avoiding beef rather than eliminating it altogether.
The flexitarian diet allows you to consume plant-based foods as well as animal-based proteins primarily. Nonetheless, the latter should only be consumed in moderate quantities. The flexitarian diet is a friendlier version of the typically strict vegan diet. If you’re looking to embark on a plant-based diet, yet you still want to be consuming meat in moderate quantities, the flexitarian diet should be your go-to option.
So, why is this diet so hyped?
Well, the flexitarian diet is the brainchild of one Dawn Jackson Blatner. He wanted to show the benefits of plant-based meals among people who also enjoy eating meat products. The primary difference between individuals who embark on the flexitarian diet and vegans is that vegans try to cut out meat and animal-based products completely. If you follow a flexitarian diet, you’re neither a vegan nor a vegetarian since it allows you to consume small amounts of animal-based proteins.
Principles of the Flexitarian Diet
- Try to include plant-based proteins rather than animal-based proteins in your diet
- Eat lots of veggies, grains, legumes, and fruits
- Replace processed food with organic food
- Avoid added starches and sugars
The flexitarian diet is renowned for its numerous health benefits as well as its nutritional considerations. This diet encourages the consumption of plant-based food items and the avoidance of processed foods. You’re probably wondering about the type of food that you should incorporate in a flexitarian menu.
Here’ a list of foods that complement the flexitarian diet:
- Starch-free veggies, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, and bell peppers
- Proteins; Soybeans, legumes, tofu, and lentils
- Whole grains; Ferro, backfat
- Fruits; berries, oranges, apples, cherries, grapes
- Plant-based milk; Almond, coconut, soybean, hemp
- Beverages; Tea, coffee, water
Animal-Based Food Options
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Wild-caught fish
- Grass-fed animal dairy products
- Organic poultry
Foods to Avoid
The flexitarian diet not only discourages the consumption of animal-based proteins but also processed foods, including;
- Processed meat (bacon, sausage, bologna, etc.)
- Fast food (fries, burgers, pizza, chocolate)
- Added and refined sugars (rice, barley, wheat, cakes, donuts, cookies, etc.)
How the Flexitarian Diet Supports Weight-Loss
According to research, the probability of shedding weight is higher if you eat plant-based foods. On average, non-vegetarians weigh 15% more than vegetarians. Research shows that the rate of obesity amongst vegetarians is between 0% to 6%. Altogether, the rate of obesity among vegetarians is 20% less compared to non-vegetarians. Furthermore, obesity rates are lower among semi-vegetarians than non-vegetarians.
Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
One outstanding characteristic of the flexitarian diet is that it’s easy to follow. To fully benefit from the menu, it’s best to stay persistent when making your food choices. When you embark on the flexitarian diet, you’ll consume lots of healthy fats and fibers. These go a long way in preventing cardiovascular diseases. The flexitarian diet also promotes heart health and physical activity. Fibers and healthy fats offered by the diet help to control blood pressure.
When it comes to weight-loss, the flexitarian diet offers you a healthy way of slimming down within a short time. The idea is to avoid taking high-calorie foods, and well as processed foods. Over the years, research has indicated that individuals who mainly consume plant-based meals are slimmer than those who rely on animal-based and processed meals.
The Flexitarian Diet and Cancer Prevention
Legumes, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fruits, and other foods recommended by the flexitarian diet are rich in antioxidants that keep cancer at bay. Studies have shown that incidents of colorectal cancer are remarkably low among individuals who mainly rely on plant-based diets. Therefore, the widespread adoption of the flexitarian diet can be an essential cancer-prevention factor.
Possible Drawbacks of the Flexitarian Diet
The flexitarian diet encourages you to replace processed foods and animal-based foods with nutrient-rich organic foods. Even as you get started on the diet, you should keep in mind that a poorly executed flexitarian diet can lead to adverse side effects. A poorly planned vegetarian diet leads to deficiencies in:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Women and children face a higher risk of experiencing these deficiencies. Your genetic makeup and gut bacteria are the primary determinants of how your body extracts nutrients from plant-based foods.
Although the flexitarian diet can help you to shed weight, you should keep in mind that the outcomes will depend on your food choices, body genetics, and adherence to the diet.
5. The Raw Diet
This diet is based on eating fresh, unfrozen, and non-processed foods while avoiding food items such as table salt, pasta, coffee, refined oil chips, and refined sugar. The idea behind this diet is that seasonings, sugars, salts, and oils increase your calorie intake. Besides, heating fruits and vegetables reduce their nutritional value. Proponents of the diet argue that it not only helps in weight loss but also improves your health.
So, who created this diet?
Maximillian Bircher-Benner is credited for inventing the diet during the late 1880s. He discovered that eating raw apples cured his jaundice. After a series of experiments, he concluded that eating raw foods has lots of health benefits.
Raw doesn’t necessarily mean uncooked. Instead, it more or less implies eating non-microwaved, and unprocessed foods that aren’t grown under herbicides or pesticides. Although more than a century has passed since Maximillian Bircher-Benner made his discovery, the raw diet has only gained popularity and widespread acceptance over the past few years.
The raw menu mainly entails eating plant-based items, although some individuals also eat raw fish and eggs. The diet also allows alternate methods of eating raw foods, including blending, juicing, and mashing.
The food items that you can eat as per the raw food diet include:
- Raw veggies and fruits
- Dried fruits
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juices
- Raw nuts
- Raw seeds
- Raw nut butter
- Coconut milk
- Almond milk
- Olive oil
- Purified water
- Dried meats
- Unpasteurized dairy products
Foods to Avoid
- Table salt
- Refined sugars
- Frozen food
- Refined oil
At this point, you’re probably wondering whether there are any potential risks.
Well, consuming uncooked food, for instance, may not be safe. Foods such as raw meat, fish, and chicken may contain harmful bacteria, thus the need to cook them first. Other high-risk natural foods that you should be wary of include raw eggs, shellfish, kidney eggs, and milk. Generally, the body struggles to digest uncooked foods compared to cooked foods. Cooking may decrease the amount of water in the food, but it increased the content of nutrients such as antioxidants.
Right-risk raw foods include:
- Raw Eggs
According to the CDC, you should only consume pasteurized eggs because the dangerous Salmonella bacteria are often present in some types of eggs.
Eating uncooked/raw shellfish can lead to severe Vibrio 3vulnificus infection, which is manifest by nausea and vomiting.
- Kidney Beans
It’s not advisable to eat raw kidney beans since they contain a toxic chemical compound known as phytohaemagglutinin(PHA). This compound causes nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Just 3 or 4 raw beans can cause these symptoms to appear.
- Raw Milk
Raw milk contains listeria bacteria, which can cause severe health issues and pregnancy communications.
So, should you embark on the raw food diet?
Proponents of the raw food diet argue that those who eat have a better metabolism, clearer skin, and healthy weight since it restricts cholesterol intake. However, the diet can also lead to severe health issues. Generally, uncooked food isn’t as safe as cooked food. Therefore, the raw diet isn’t recommended to some age groups.
A study conducted in 2005 established that individuals who primarily rely on plant-based foods have a lower bone-mineral density according to their age. Even so, Dietitians point out that to fully benefit from the raw food diet, you should balance the essential nutrients derived from raw foods with essential nutrients from cooked foods.
If you love reading, I’ve included expert reviews about the diets above by some top nutritionists in America. Here are some of the reviews:
- The Mediterranean Diet has a 4.2-star rating due to its emphasis on veggies, fruits, and healthy meals. It is ranked as the #1 weight-loss diet.
- The Flexitarian Diet has a 4.1-star rating. It is regarded to be a health and smart choice, and this sees it rank at #2 in the best weight-loss diets list.
- The Volumetric Diet has been given a 3.8-star rating. It scores highly for its emphasis on health, and the improvement of diabetes and heart health. The diet is ranked at #5 in the best weight-loss diets list.
- The Raw Food Diet has a score of 2.3 out of 5. Concerns have been raised about its nutritional completeness and the lack of safety measures.
One nutritionist has pointed out that to benefit from the raw food diet, you need considerable effort and commitment as well as knowledge and sacrifice.
Therefore, it’s not surprising to see the raw food diet rank at #31 in the best weight-loss diets list.
So, those are the most popular weight-loss diets in 2020. Once you decide to shed weight, choose what works for you. Before doing so, it’s best to consult different nutritionists and dietitians. Always go for the option that helps you attain your weight-loss goals safely and effectively. Keep it here for our next informative blog post!