How to Eat so the Weight Never Comes Back
The Most Effective Diet for Keeping Weight Off, Researchers Say
There’s nothing worse than fitting into, and then soon being rejected by, your skinny jeans. So, in a new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers compared how effective low-fat, low-glycemic index, and low-carbohydrate diets were at keeping off weight lost during dieting and ensuring nutritional health. They found that following a low-glycemic index diet helps burn calories at a higher rate after weight loss and helps lead to better overall health, as compared to the two other traditional diets. (Bonus: it’s also a hell of a lot easier to pull off than eating sausage twelve times a day.)
The study’s participants were ages 18 to 40 and had already lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. After weight stabilization, they followed three different types of diets for four weeks each. On the low-fat diet, they decreased fat intake and increased whole grain, fruits and vegetables (with 60 percent of daily calories from carbs, 20 percent from fat and 20 percent from protein). On the low-glycemic index diet, they ate minimally processed grains, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes and fruits (with a daily calorie breakdown of 40 percent carbs, 40 percent fat, and 20 percent protein). Carbs with a low glycemic index value digest slowly, keeping blood sugar and hormones more stable after a meal. The low-carb diet was similar to the Atkins diet, with 10 percent of daily calories from carbs, 60 percent from fat and 30 percent from protein. (There’s something about the thought of eating 60 percent fat that is so equally enticing and disturbing at the same time…kind of like imagining a tryst with Colin Farrell.)
The low-carb diet proved the most successful in improving the participants’ metabolism (on it, they burned about 300 calories more per day than on the low-fat diet), but it increased cortisol levels, which can lead to insulin resistance and increased risk of heart disease. The low-fat diet, a favorite of the U.S. government and Heart Association, ironically fared the worst, as it caused the greatest decrease in metabolism, an unhealthy lipid pattern and insulin resistance. The U.S. government isn’t on the cutting edge when it comes to healthy food matters? You don’t say.
The low-glycemic diet had similar metabolic benefits to the very low-carb diet, but without the negative effects of stress and inflammation caused by the very low-carb diet. Frankly, that’s good news, since lead researcher Cara Ebbeling explains,"Unlike low-fat and very low carbohydrate diets, a low-glycemic-index diet doesn't eliminate entire classes of food, likely making it easier to follow and more sustainable."
Frankly, all calories are not created equal, and its great to have more direction on how to maintain weight loss—often the hardest part of any diet. (Did you know that only one in six overweight people will maintain even 10 percent of their weight loss in the long run?) Now, if only we could come up with a low-glycemic milkshake, we’d be on our way to perma-slim.
Source: Children’s Hospital Boston (2012). Dieting? Study Challenges Notion That a Calorie Is Just a Calorie. Science Daily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626163801.htm
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