“Healthy living” and “dieting” have become essentially synonymous in most nutrition circles, and this is not completely surprising. From ketogenics and paleolithic dieting to veganism, most popular diets are such because, in every group, there are people who have experienced success.

Great as this success may be, it can also be confusing, and at times even frustrating, when there are so many dietary options linked to their own various degrees of accomplishment. We are all defined by a unique set of dietary needs, but mutually we want the same thing: to see our goals to fruition. That said, what happens when the path splits into 10 equally promising routes?

The key to balance, in this regard, is not as complicated as it seems.

Developing consistency

When molding your diet, a good starting point is to pinpoint key similarities between different proven methods. Any successful fat loss program is comprised of two broad components: a constant energy deficit and a sustainable plan for long term results; if these two aspects are missing, you cannot hope to lose fat.

Specifically, many people are unable to find success due to a lack of consistency — regardless of what they are eating day in and day out — and therefore the process boils down to an effective blend of self-awareness (in finding what will work for you, both physically and mentally) and dedication (in seeing that plan through until your goals are achieved).

Redefining perspective

One way to look at popular diets is to imagine them as different packaging for the same aforementioned energy deficit. Each strategy represents a different way to emphasize macro-based needs stemming from your unique energy output — if you want to maintain muscle mass, for example, you will need to consume enough protein to sustain your physique.

Another approach is to visualize the diet as a vehicle and the energy deficit as the road beneath it; it does not necessarily matter what vehicle you are operating — if the road is not taking you consistently forward, there is an external problem that must be addressed before new vehicles should be considered. You must let the deficit work over time, gradually weaning yourself off food mapping and instead focusing on necessary behavioral alteration.

Remember that every popular diet has recorded instances of both success and failure, and the only blanket solution is to focus on what is sustainable and logical for you.