Think You Know all There is to Know About Losing Weight? Think Again
Low-carb, low-fat, genetic-based. The debate on the most effective methods of weight loss are never ending. A recent study and subsequent article seemed to put the issue to rest when it concluded that anyone can lose weight regardless of which diet they adhered to.
As comforting as these results were to struggling, serial dieters, there were many weight loss questions that remained to be answered. To explore the results of this study, scientists at Stanford University conducted a study with over 600 participants, between the ages of 18 and 50, with a body mass index of 28-40. Participants were required to be healthy, not taking statins or prescriptions for hypertension or type 2 diabetes. This was especially important due to the fact that these medications can commonly affect weight and energy consumption. Participants were randomly assigned to a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet.
Participants were coached and educated on their particular diet plan over the course of a year. Subjects of the study attended 22 sessions, in groups of 17. Initially the sessions were held on a weekly basis and gradually dropped down to once a month. During these sessions participants were encouraged to reduce consumption of carbohydrates or unhealthy fats and limit their intake to only 20 grams per day for eight weeks. After this period, they could reintroduce fat or carbohydrates into their diets. Limiting sugar, trans fats and refined flours while maximizing vegetables and cooking at home as often as possible was also emphasized.
As the previous study looked at the role of insulin and genotypes in regards to gaining and maintaining weight, this study tested their subjects glucose tolerance as it pertained to insulin sensitivity. About 40 percent of the subjects had a low-fat genotype and 30 percent had a low-carbohydrate genotype. Throughout the year, the researchers checked in with the subjects to see how they were progressing with their diets and guidelines.
Both groups were successful in sticking with their diets and adopting healthier, more informed eating habits! However both groups lost a similar amount of weight. Individuals on the low-fat group lost about 11.5 pounds, while the low-carb group lost a little over 13 pounds on average.
Did insulin resistance play a factor in how much weight individuals lost? No. Did genetics make a difference? The answer is no. Subjects who followed their diets, regardless of which group they were in progressed equally in this study.
When looking at this study, it’s easy to assume that a diet free of processed foods and added sugar will lead to weight loss. Counting calories and cooking at home may also be deemed as vital to losing weight. While it’s true that participants cut their calories by an average of 500-600 calories a day, they weren’t explicitly instructed to reduce their caloric intake. Avoiding added sugars was suggested to both groups, further supporting the belief that added sugar packs on pounds.
It’s important to note that this study was performed on a group of obese individuals, meaning that those who are looking to lose a few pounds could possibly benefit from one diet more than another, but it’s impossible to say for sure. Participants of this study also received a great deal of support. An individual with less guidance and help may not see the same results.
When embarking on a weight loss plan, you should always choose a diet that you can stick to. Finding a sustainable diet with slow, steady results is the most practical plan for sustainable weight loss. No one can perform a test or a study to determine which diet is best for you. Only tried and true methods (exercise, eating healthy and in moderation, cutting out processed foods, etc) can provide tangible results.
You know your body better than anyone else. The best diet for you is the diet that you can stick with!