It's surprising how many people miss this step because they get caught up in the details. Let's set things straight.
First Things First: Food Choices
What's the first thing you should consider when it comes to losing fat? It's food choices. Notice I didn't say macronutrients, because infinitely more important than the low carb versus low fat debate is the refined food versus real food debate.
If people just cut out refined stuff, ate real foods (animal proteins, vegetables, whole-food fats, natural starches), and paid attention to absolutely nothing else, they would improve their health profile and lose body fat. Would it be enough to get them ripped? No. But it would take them a good part of the way.
2 Reasons Food Quality Comes First
1 – Physique enhancement and health aren't mutually exclusive.
There are two extremes. On one end, many bodybuilders will follow extreme training, diet, and drug protocols to achieve a freakish physique, compromising their long-term metabolic, hormonal, mental, and overall health.
On the other end, many "life-extensionists" obsess over improving every decimal point in their biomarkers of health, but leave any thought of physique enhancement behind. I don't care if I make it to 120 years old if I have to live and look like a goblin to get there.
But it's not an either/or situation. You can improve your health and improve your physique at the same time. The food choices we make can merge those two goals. You might not end up looking like Ronnie Coleman or living as long as Yoda, but you'll do okay on both fronts.
2 – Sustainability matters.
Any diet can work for the short-term when motivation is high. But it's virtually impossible to stay in the relative calorie deficit necessary for fat loss, at least for any meaningful length of time, if you're making poor food choices.
It's harder to cut calories while eating junk and expect to stay the course. This is where point systems or other calorie counting diets fail. You're not going to be able to stay on a diet plan for long eating low-calorie lasagna, fudge cake, or "snack packs."
Fake foods like this are just empty calories with no functional nutrients. They have no positive effects on satiety or hormones that regulate appetite and energy intake. You'll feel constantly hungry, deprived, and miserable dieting on these foods. That's why people yo-yo with these plans. They're not sustainable.
But it's almost impossible to overeat if you're consuming only real foods. Nature's foods are nutrient dense, high satiety foods, and you'll have a much easier time maintaining a calorie deficit if you emphasize them. You'll also get more nutrients out of 2000 calories of real food than 4000 calories of manufactured food. This is extremely important when operating in a calorie deficit.