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Go Low-Carb to Maintain Weight Loss

Donna Sundblad's picture

The best way to avoid the yo-yo diet effect according to a new study is to go low carb to maintain weight loss.

A new study published in the June issue of the British Journal of Nutrition shows low-carb diets are the better way to go to maintain long-term weight loss rather than a low-fat approach. Results also show low-carb diets are beneficial and safe for those who have a higher intolerance to carbs and those who are insulin resistant.

Low-carb diets are misunderstood by many people. Some think a low-carb diet must be really low in carbohydrates and some think carbs need to be totally eliminated for the diet to work. In truth, low-carb diets don't advocate this. Even the Induction Phase of the Atkins diet, which is very-low in carbs, is not a "no-carb" diet, and the Induction Phase only lasts for a couple of weeks.

The new research shows low-carb eating is an effective and safe approach to sustain long-term weight loss making it a viable solution for fighting obesity. Thirteen randomized controlled trials demonstrated further benefits including improved good HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and diastolic blood pressure.

Findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 of one of the largest diet studies in Europe, supports these findings. It showed that high-protein, low-glycemic foods like poultry, eggs, fish and nuts, were best at helping people maintain weight loss for 26 weeks. Participants in this study followed five different healthful maintenance diets, and results show the low-carb was the easiest to follow. This is a key factor in weight loss maintenance.

Many people lose weight but then gain it back. When dieting, there is a goal and end in sight. The problem is that when people reach that goal they often adjust their diet and start gaining. Maintaining weight loss is the hard part, because it really is a lifestyle. It's not something you start and end. It's life.

The 5 diets compared in this study all included moderate fat content (25 to 30 percent of calories from fat) and were low-sugar, high in fiber, and did not restrict calories. The difference is some participants were told to watch portion sizes and to follow strict criteria which varied from group to group. This criterion included how much protein was consumed and required the use of the glycemic index which ranks carbohydrate foods.

At the end of the 26-week study, the participants who followed the high-protein, low-glycemic-index diet lost an average of 0.8 pounds. Those in the other groups gained an average of 0.7 to 3.7 pounds. When looking at these results, it's important to remember these were healthful diets low in sugar and high in fiber and yet they gained weight. The volunteers who ate a low-protein diet gained an average of 2 pounds more than those who ate the high-protein diet. Participants who ate high-glycemic-index foods also gained 2 pounds more (on average) than those who ate low-glycemic foods.

To avoid the yo-yo dieting syndrome, this study proposes the low-carb diet is the way to go. People feel more satiated when they eat a high-protein, low-glycemic-index diet, and it doesn't require following strict criteria which makes it easier to follow so people will stick with it longer.

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