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When it comes to dieting, what matters is cutting calories

Published on October 21, 2016 at 14:43 / Updated on April 27, 2021 at 19:56

Diet trends come and go. Diets that recommend a strict amount of protein, fat or carbohydrates have been very popular in recent years, and it has never been proven that any approach is better than the others. A new study finally reveals that the type of diet doesn’t really matter, as long as the number of calories is reduced.

In order to lose weight, we need to create an energy deficit that forces the body to use up its reserves. We can do this by eating fewer calories or by doing more exercise. For this study, researchers assigned several hundred overweight or obese people to one of these four diets to compare their effectiveness: 1) average protein, low fat and higher carbohydrate intake; 2) high protein, low fat, and higher carbohydrate intake; 3) average protein, high fat and lower carbohydrate intake; and 4) high protein, high fat and lower carbohydrate intake. Each diet was designed to eliminate 750 calories a day from the participants’ energy intake.

The researchers checked the participants’ weight, lean mass and fat mass after six months and again two years after the study started. At six months, people had lost an average of four kilograms of fat and slightly more than two kilograms of lean mass. The average weight loss after two years was of at least 3.6 kilograms, but no single diet plan produced superior results over the others. In fact, the major predictor for maintained weight loss was adherence to the assigned diet.

Respecting dietary resolutions and achieving long-term objectives requires motivation and perseverance, so the most effective way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to chose the approach that best suits you and to stick to it. Using the recommendations in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to plan meals is a great way to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs. The Guide is a simple reference tool when planning healthy and varied meals for your day-to-day needs.

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