There’s a ton of info out there on how to lose weight, but not nearly as much on how to keep it off. But that’s about to change. Recently, one of the largest dietary studies in Europe was completed, and it sheds a lot of light on the question of what to do to keep the scale from inching back up.
The study- known as the Diogenes Study- offers clear evidence that choosing foods higher in protein and lower on the glycemic index is the most effective strategy for preventing weight regain.
The Diogenes study enrolled 772 European families, which included 938 overweight adults. In the first stage of the study, participants were put on a very low calorie diet for eight weeks, during which the average weight loss was 24 pounds.
But this wasn’t’ the interesting part of the study. (After all, it’s no big surprise that if you literally starve people they’ll drop weight.) The interesting part of the study was what happened in the next phase.
After eight weeks, the researchers randomly assigned the 772 adults who had completed the eight-week weight loss diet to one of five maintenance diets, which they stayed on for six months. The researchers were interested in finding out what type of food plan made it easier to keep the weight off. (Note: none of the diets involved calorie counting.)
Here are the five diet conditions:
- Group one: Low protein (13% of calories), high glycemic index
- Group two: Low protein, low glycemic index
- Group three: High protein (25% of calories) low glycemic index
- Group four: High protein, high glycemic index
- Group five: Standard, “current dietary recommendations”… (the European version of our food pyramid)
The average weight regain across the board, blending all groups, was about 1.1 pounds. But there was a big difference between the groups.
The poorest results were obtained by the low-protein, high-GI diet (group one). They were the only group to have significant weight regain (gaining back about 3.7 pounds on average).
The best results by far were obtained by the high-protein low-GI group. More participants from this group actually completed the study leading one to suspect it’s a much easier plan to stay with. And both high-protein and low-glycemic index independently improved the results. Those in the higher protein conditions had on average 2 pounds less regain than those in the lower-protein conditions; those in the low-GI conditions had on average 2 pounds less regain than those in the high-GI conditions.
Take home point: Modest increases in protein and modest reduction in glycemic index led to better compliance and better maintenance of weight loss.
The results won’t surprise any of us who have been preaching higher-protein lower-carb diets for a long time. Protein helps you feel full, boosts your metabolism and makes weight loss easier. High glycemic foods, in general, send your blood sugar skyrocketing and can lead to metabolic issues, cravings, weight gain and mood swings. Is it any wonder that a moderate calories, higher protein, lower glycemic index diet would work so well?
Incidentally, that’s exactly the kind of eating program used in the Diet Boot Camp program. Diet Boot Camp isn’t exactly a low-carb program, but it’s a low junk food program. You’ll eat plenty of carbs but most of them will be vegetables, fruits and some “mixed” foods like beans, all low-glycemic and high fiber. Couple that with adequate protein and a healthy dose of fat, moderate calories and a program to help you break through your self-sabotage, and you’re looking at a road map for success. All you have to do is get in the car and start driving!