Just when you think you know how to lose weight.

Whoever finds a single fool proof way to lose weight is guaranteed to become the richest person on earth. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, a one-size-fits-all super diet will probably never be discovered. If it is not enough that our bodies are so different, there are many, many other factors at play including cultural differences, lifestyle differences, socio-economic differences and taste preferences. The list of factors that can impact on weight loss success just goes on and on.

It’s really no wonder then that we are bombarded with conflicting and confusing scientific reports. It is very difficult to conduct an experiment that considers all of these variables. As a result, we are left with many reputable and conflicting scientific reports, each claiming that yet another dietary approach is the be-all and end-all for losing weight. Whether it is the Atkins or the Mediterranean Diet, the Low Fat or Low GI diet, or even Weight Watchers; the list is never-ending. It is just too easy to become a bit cynical after a while. How refreshing then, to come across a scientific study that found that most well balanced popular diets work well, irrespective of whether it is high in protein, low in fat, low in carbohydrates or any combination of these!

This study, called the “Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates” was published on February 26, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Its aim was to try and put an end to the age-old debate around the question “Which type of diet is most effective for weight loss”. The research team was of the opinion that many of the conflicting scientific reports on the weight loss topic published previously were based on populations too small to be representative, and that many studies did not track the progress of participants for a long enough period to provide sufficient information for assessment.

All 811 participants in this 2 year comparative study were randomly selected, and assigned to 4 different diets; constructed with varying levels of proteins, fat and carbohydrates to represent the main dietary approaches taken by popular diets. The four groups were low-fat, average protein (20% fat, 15% protein, 65% carbohydrate), low-fat, high protein (20% fat, 25% protein, 55% carbohydrate), high-fat, average protein( 40% fat, 15% protein, 45% carbohydrate), high-fat, high-protein (40% fat, 25% protein, 35% carbohydrate).

The conclusion of this study throws the playing field wide open for most of the popular diet programs, provided they are well balanced. The finding of the study is that you will lose weight, irrespective of the type of diet you selected, as long as you actively try to follow a healthy diet. In other words, all four diets were equally successful and delivered the same health benefits. To quote from the study:

…diets that are successful in causing weight loss can emphasize a range of fat, protein, and carbohydrate compositions that have beneficial effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Such diets can also be tailored to individual patients on the basis of their personal and cultural preferences and may therefore have the best chance for long-term success.

Before you rush off and dive headlong into the first diet though, it is important to understand the psychology behind successful diets. Ever noticed how fervently an Atkins follower defends the nutritional program, or a Weight Watcher, or a South Beach follower, or a Structure House participant? This almost unshakable belief in a certain way of eating is a critical element for success. Unless you are absolutely convinced you’ve got the real deal at the time you start your diet, you will simply not have the motivation to follow through with a consistent approach to managing your diet.

You know the feeling. You stumble onto a new diet, and you cannot believe nobody told you about this nutritional approach earlier. You want to convince everyone else their diets are wrong and yours is right. The arguments supporting the diet are so convincing that you cannot believe how people could get it so wrong in the past! We’ve all been there, and many times. Each time we just know our previous diet gurus had it all wrong, and we are convinced that this one is going to be the one.

While this may sound silly in light of the above, remember that you may be right after all and your new diet may just be the one for you. If the diet makes logical sense to you, and you can see it becoming a way of life, try it. We are all different, so you can be assured that we will all experience varying levels of success on the different diets available. The only way to find the best approach for you personally is through a process of trial and error.

When you are on a balanced diet that you feel comfortable with, it will almost certainly work if you follow it closely. One of the main reasons for this is that you will be conscious of what you are eating, thereby automatically eating less. If it is well-balanced, it will provide all the nutrients your body needs and hopefully knock those cravings out of play. When you have found the right diet for you, it will be sustainable and you will have the necessary energy and resilience to face up to the challenges of everyday life while you are losing weight.

As more information is shared every day, the global body of knowledge about this subject grows faster than ever in the past. The links and relationships between all of the variables involved become clearer. Weight loss products will become better and better with time. Weight loss solutions will become more tailored to each individual, and the tailoring processes themselves will become more accurate and cheaper. In the mean time, it is important for all of us to keep ourselves informed so we can make the best decisions for our health. Participate in weight loss forums and comment on articles on the internet, so we can all learn together.

To summarize. You can only lose weight and remain on your target weight through conscious effort on your part. It is important to choose a balanced way of eating (and living) that suits your personality, your body, you metabolism, your tastes, and even your genes! The golden rule is, keep on trying. If your current diet doesn’t work, and you’ve given it a fair go; move on to something else. But the bottom line is…choose to live your life to the full. You only live once, and you have to make the most of it!

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2 Responses to “Just when you think you know how to lose weight.”

  • Yeah, by the looks of things the only diet that is really bad for you is a really low fat (10%) diet. Your body simply do not get enough fat in that case to maintain lean muscle mass. Ask me, been there and I am paying the price now. Never go below 20% of fat for a healthy diet. My metabolism slowed down to the point where I just looked at food and I gained weight. And I though I was eating healthy! I liked this article on boosting your metabolism.

  • I just knew it! After all this, they tell us it does not matter which diet you are on for weight loss, as long as you follow a healthy diet! And this after all the studies about low carb being better for you. And the Atkins followers have been driving me nuts. At least now I have something to show them Thanks for this article. I will now follow my own instincts, and stop worrying about all these so-called experts. Bottom line is, nobody knows just yet.

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