It's been my experience in the past that simply eating less makes the fat come off. But there is a cost. Your metabolism slows down.
Now days I've been eating 1000 extra calories per day than usual, but not gaining weight. I wondered why. (Previously my calorie intake was rather low, and I'd have to cut calories down even further to lose weight.)
And this also goes right along with what a few others asked me. They wanted to know why they were eating so little and still not losing weight.
I think I've figured out the answer to both questions.
When you cut your calories severely for an extended period of time, the metabolism slows down. Also, the more times you diet, the more resistant your body can become to fat loss. This can be troublesome and cause frustration.
In order to lose weight you have to consume less calories than you burn. This still applies, even with a slow metabolism. And knowing that, one would realize that a possible solution at that point would simply be to eat even less. Surely that would work, but wouldn't be a comfortable process. Clearly there are other options. If you can find a way to keep your metabolism from dropping while dieting, you've solved the problem.
So one thing I would argue is that in many cases people are just kidding themselves about how much they're eating vs how much they need. I've seen it with my own eyes. The person tries some sort of strategy, thinking they are doing it right, meanwhile their calories are still WAY too high and they wonder why it isn't working. It's because they aren't being realistic and they really just need to eat less.
On the other hand, you've got dedicated dieters who have seen the results, but have eventually stalled, even though their calories are rather low. In such cases, their metabolisms are too low. The solution? Well, they could just eat even less, and it would work, but I think I have a better idea. Do what you have to do to increase or maintain the metabolism. While dieting, one could simply include 1-2 high calorie days, and that would help maintain a good metabolism. High intensity exercise also helps keep the metabolism high.
As you can see, this idea is a lot more realistic than the fairy tales that people always tell themselves that don't work. How many times have you heard the idea to keep eating more and and more frequently in order to keep your metabolism high? I suppose it works if your only goal is to keep the metabolism high, but it isn't necessarily going to result in shedding the fat. Why? High metabolism or not, you still have to be in a calorie deficit to cause fat loss; there's no way around it.
So, to sum things up:
You still have to cut calories in one way or the other to lose weight. (Hopefully you've found a comfortable way to accomplish this.) You have to. There is no way around this. Unfortunately this causes the metabolism to slow down, so you have to have a way to combat this. Eating more all the time can't be the solution because it would cancel out the fact that you need to create a calorie deficit. Instead, include a few high calorie days and the problem is solved. Also, include intense exercise as well.
I hope that clears up a few questions for anyone and possibly throws out some ideas. I know I've definitely learned something both last year and this year already. Eating less works. But eating more once in a while helps too, because it makes it so you don't have to take "eating less" to the extreme.
Please don't take this out of context however. Eating more to restore the metabolism is only applicable to those who have already been eating less. Everyone else needs to eat less first.