Weightloss

What To Know About ‘Eat What You Want, Add What You Need’

Real talk: When you’re trying to lose weight, dieting can be a challenge and a half. Things like tracking calories, controlling portions, reading nutrition labels, and even finding the best, healthiest options at the grocery store can sometimes feel like a part-time job. But what if we told you that there’s a viral weight-loss trend in town that people swear by? It’s called “eat what you want, add what you need,” and TikTokers claim it helped them achieve their weight-loss goals without having to give up their favorite meals.

But is this eating mentality safe and sustainable? We spoke with an expert who breaks down everything you need to know about the “eat what you want, add what you need” trend. Keep reading to learn more, and when you’re finished, be sure to check out the 10 Fitness ‘Rules’ You Should Abandon in 2024 For the Best Results.

What is the “eat what you want, add what you need” weight-loss trend all about?

mac and cheese with broccoli
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“‘Eat what you want, add what you need’ is a weight-loss approach that emphasizes flexibility and balance in your diet,” says Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board.

Eat what you want: Essentially, the trend encourages you to not deprive yourself and enjoy the foods you love most. “It doesn’t mean unlimited indulgence, but rather being mindful of your cravings and including them in your overall eating plan,” Young explains.

Add what you need: The “add what you need” portion comes into play by incorporating essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals into your diet—whatever you need to do to make a meal or snack more nutrient-dense and satiating. “Focus on adding nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains,” Young suggests. “This ensures that your body gets the necessary nutrients for overall health and well-being.”

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How is the trend beneficial for weight loss?

protein pancakes with blueberries and nut butter
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1. It’s sustainable.

According to Young, by enjoying the foods you love most and making them more nutrient-dense, you’re more likely to follow this trend long-term and turn it into a lifestyle. “This reduces the feeling of restriction, making it easier to maintain a healthy eating pattern over time,” she explains.

2. It provides your body with balanced nutrition.

Incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet ensures your body is getting everything it needs, which can boost your health and overall well-being. “This can lead to better energy levels, improved mood, and a reduced likelihood of nutrient deficiencies,” Young adds.

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3. It promotes portion control.

You can work a variety of foods into your diet by following this trend, however, it’s crucial to practice portion control. By incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your meals, you naturally nix less healthy options and more effectively manage the calories you’re consuming.

4. It’s flexible.

Flexibility is key when you’re following any kind of weight-loss diet. “This approach allows for flexibility in your diet, making it easier to adapt to different situations and social events,” says Young. “It’s not about strict rules but rather finding a balance that works for your lifestyle.”

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5. It doesn’t make you feel deprived.

Many diets cut out certain food groups, which can make you feel deprived of some of the items you enjoy most. “‘Eat what you want, add what you need’ acknowledges that occasional treats are okay, promoting a healthier relationship with food,” Young tells us.

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People swear by the “eat what you want, add what you need” weight-loss trend—and for good reason.

TikTok user Liza (@lizaslosingweight) created the “eat what you want, add what you need” trend and dropped an impressive 120 pounds by sticking to it. Liza explained in a video a little rundown on how it works. “Hi, I’m Liza. I lost 120 pounds eating what I want and adding what I need,” she said. “Mac and cheese from a box with the squeeze cheese—that is my go-to; I have loved it forever. My boyfriend and I, we would always make these and we would smash the entire box. One serving, one sitting, done. How do you go from eating an entire box of something, or such a large serving, to being able to have leftovers? So tonight we made baked BBQ chicken for me, Parmesan and garlic chicken for him. We added what we wanted, which was a serving of mac and cheese, and then we made it filling by adding some broccoli … that is a fully balanced, satisfying meal.”

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Another TikTok user, Hope (@hope_zuckerbrow), gave a shoutout to Liza, noting that “eat what you want, add what you need” changed her life. In her video, Hope walked viewers through her breakfast: pancakes with maple syrup—but with a healthier twist. She made protein pancakes so she would stay full until her next meal, and instead of dousing the stack in maple syrup, she mixed some of her favorite syrup into a small container of toasted marshmallow Greek yogurt. Hope then layered her protein pancakes with the Greek yogurt-maple syrup mixture, and paired it all with a protein iced coffee. Yum!

Alexa Mellardo

Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa

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