Which Diet Works?
Anyone who has battled their waistline has asked the same question: Which diet works best? Low-carb? Low-fat? High-protein? A new government-sponsored study out today finally tries to offer a definitive answer.
The study, published in today's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is the biggest to date to compare different strategies head-to-head and to follow dieters long-term to see not only which approach helps shed pounds but which helps keep them off.
It turns out -- surprise, surprise -- that they're all about the same. It's not what you eat, but how many calories you take in, that makes the difference. So, the bad news is: There's no magic in any approach. But the good news is: If you stick with any calorie-reduction diet, it can help you lose a moderate amount of weight and keep it off.
The study was funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. Researchers assigned an ethnically diverse group of 881 overweight and obese men and women ages 30 to 70 to one of four diets:
- Low-fat, average protein, which consisted of 20 percent fat, 15 percent protein and 65 percent carbohydrates.
- Low-fat, high protein, which consisted of 20 percent fat, 25 percent protein and 55 percent carbohydrates.
- High-fat, average protein, which consisted of 40 percent fat, 15 percent protein and 45 percent carbohydrate.
- High-fat, high-protein, which consisted of 40 percent fat, 25 percent protein and 35 percent carbohydrate.
After six months, the subjects on all four diets lost about the same amount of weight --13 pounds on average. After two years, the subjects kept off an average of nine pounds, reducing their waistlines by one to three inches.
The volunteers report about the same sense of craving, fullness, hunger and satisfaction for all four diets.
All the study subjects were asked to keep a diary of what they ate, and they attended diet group counseling sessions twice a month as well as individual counseling every two months. They were also asked to engage in moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking for at least 90 minutes each week.
All four diets reduced the risk for heart attacks by lowering triglycerides, bad cholesterol and blood pressure and boosted levels of good cholesterol.
If you're interested in watching some videos about the new study from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute click here.
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