When it comes to dieting, we all want to know what is most effective. A new study performed in Israel found that a low-carb Atkins like diet and the Mediterranean diet outperformed the low-fat diet. The study lasted two years, considerably longer than previous studies, and the weight loss period was limited to 6 months with a maintenance period of 18 months – I think the maintenance period is truly where a diet's success can be measured.
To see what the different dieters ate, just
Here's a breakdown of what randomly assigned 322 moderately obese participants ate:
- Low-Fat: Based on the American Heart Association guidelines, women ate 1,500 calories a day and men ate 1,800. Only 30 percent of daily calories came from fat, and dietary cholesterol was restricted to 300 mg – an egg has about 210 mg. Meals were built around low-fat grains, veggies, beans and fruit.
- Low-Carb: Based on the Atkins plan, calories were not restricted but the daily intake of carbs was limited to 20 grams of carbs a day, for the first two months, but increased to 120 grams for the remainder of the study – a half cup of cooked white rice contains about 30 grams of carbs. Participants were to obtain fat and protein mostly from vegetarian sources and avoid trans fat.
- Mediterranean: Based on Harvard Medical School's Walter Millet's dietary suggestions, women ate 1,500 calories a day and men ate 1,800 calories. Only 35 percent of the calories were to come from fat, mostly in the form of olive oil and nuts. The meals were high in veggies, but low in red meat. Beef and lamb were replaced with fish and chicken.
The results were pretty interesting. On average, those following the low-carb diet lost 10.3 pounds and the average weight loss for the Mediterranean diet was 10 pounds even. The low-fat diet average weight loss was 6.5 pounds. Interestingly enough, the women following the Mediterranean diet lost 13 pounds compared to the women on the low-fat diet who only lost one pound. All the diets show other health benefits as well, with an increase in healthy cholesterol in the low-carb diet and a decrease in blood sugar levels in the Mediterranean diet.
The bottom line is that all the diets offer benefits and there is not a one size fits all approach to dieting. If counting calories doesn't work for you a low-carb option might be best for you, but if limiting carbs is beyond measure for you then go Mediterranean. The trick is to pick a diet, or should I say lifestyle, that you can follow for the long term.
Have you followed any of these diets? Tell us how it worked for you in the comment section below.