Best Weight Loss Strategy – Eat “Quality” Foods

There are many factors that increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and excess body weight is a universal one. Losing weight, therefore, is frequently a key goal for holding off type 2 diabetes (when one has prediabetes), and in enhancing diabetes management. Typically, between 50% and 60% of Americans claim to be “trying” to lose weight, and billions of dollars annually are spent on weight loss programs, material (books, etc.) and supplements (which do not work). A new study shows, however, that the key to effective weight loss may be simple – eat “quality” foods.

The Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine and published recently showed that:

  • Healthy low fat diets and healthy low carbohydrate diets were statistically equivalent in effectiveness among the 600+ overweight participants over a 12 month period
  • Participants’ success was not influenced by their DNA (the idea that some people are more “tolerant” of fat or carbohydrates, and their diet should be personalized by “genotype”) or by their insulin response to carbohydrates

Eat real food. Don't count calories

The most significant aspect of the study was the approach participants were instructed to take to food choices. Most notably, there was never a focus on calories. Instead, participants were instructed to eat “real foods,” as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry. That meant, by the study design, eating nutrient dense, minimally processed whole foods cooked at home whenever possible. After 12 months focusing on quality foods, and never counting calories, the groups lost on average 13 (low carb) and 11.7 (low fat) pounds. Not surprisingly, most participants also showed improvement in other health markers, like blood pressure, blood glucose and body fat.

The results of this study are not especially surprising to nutrition professionals. While the general public is constantly bombarded with “trendy” and exotic diets (new tricks every year), the idea that a healthy a, well-balanced diet which includes a variety of foods is a key to successful weight loss and general health remains solid. These principles are reflected in generic diet plans like the Mediterranean and DASH diets which ultimately have one crucial characteristic in common – they are easy to sustain. Sometimes simple, easy, and inexpensive is better – give it a try.

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