12 Sep Which Diet is Best for Fat Loss?
Diet, simply put, is a term for the food you consume. Over the years ‘diet’ has become synonymous with calorie restriction because of the constant roulette of nutritional strategies promising weight loss. Considering 71.6% of adults aged 20 years and older in the U.S. are classified as overweight/obese and 40% of cancers in 2014 were related obesity related, a lifestyle incorporating healthy eating and exercise is non-negotiable.
Nutrition is a tricky subject because we have different genetic make-ups, food intolerances, dietary restrictions (religious or ethical), activity level…the list can go on because our food choices must sustain our physical and social lifestyle. A 2-year study compared 3 common diets: low-fat, calorie restricted; Mediterranean, calorie restricted; and a low carb (< 20 grams per day, then gradually increased to 120g per day) non-restricted calorie on 322 moderately obese adults. Those who employed the Mediterranean and low-carb diets lost the most weight, 4.6kg and 5.5kg, respectively. Furthermore, 36 subjects with diabetes showed improved plasma glucose and insulin levels in the Mediterranean group and a 20% reduction in HDL cholesterol in the low-carb group. Thus, the quality and quantity of foods eaten supports nutritional and aesthetic goals.
Notice how two of these diet interventions were calorie-restricted. Even though the low-carbohydrate group was not calorie restricted, these subjects were still in a calorie deficit. How is this possible? These individuals were counseled by nutritionists to choose healthy sources of protein and fat, thus by choosing quality food high in micronutrients, felt satiated, thus maintaining a calorie deficit.
Choosing the best diet for YOU:
- Start with what you like to eat then make healthy swaps.
- Prioritize foods that offer high nutritional value. For example, leafy greens, fruits, protein, healthy fats, etc.
- Minimize refined / processed foods. These are typically calorie dense and don’t do much to keep you full and satiated.
- Don’t drink your calories. This is an easy way for calories to sneak in.
- Track your calories. If you are truly in a calorie deficit you will you lose weight.
Stay tuned to Part II which dives into macronutrient breakdown and how these numbers affect satiety.
*Note, that a structured exercise program was not used in the study, this was only a comparison of dietary interventions. (Shai et al., 2008. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet).