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Vitamin C and a high protein diet can help you lose weight

It is no secret that one of the biggest problems all of us are faced with today is the sheer abundance of information on all topics, including weight loss. It is just too easy for very valuable articles (even those published in prestigious scientific journals) to disappear amongst all the other articles, blogs and advertisements all claiming that they have found the cure to all your weight loss problems. It is a rare pleasure then to stumble upon a research article published in a well known scientific journal that explains how and why a few changes to your lifestyle can help you lose weight and maintain your optimal body weight.

The article I am referring to, Strategies for Healthy Weight Loss: From Vitamin C to the Glycemic Response, was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2005 by Carol Johnston from the Department of Nutrition at the Arizona. This article may have been published over three years ago; but all the strategies suggested are still valid. They are also easy to follow and understand. What follows is a discussion of this research paper.

The two most obvious factors contributing to the obesity problem faced by the American public are reduced physical activity and increased energy intake. Of course, while most people recognize these two factors as the real causes for the obesity epidemic, it is also becoming increasingly clear that there is more to this very serious health problem than meets the eye. The fight against obesity is further complicated by a number of other influences, including psychological issues, cultural differences, lifestyle choices, environmental factors and then of course individual differences. The good news is that there are a number of strategies available to improve your chances of losing weight permanently.
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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.
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Review of the South Beach Diet

The South Beach diet was developed by a practicing cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston. Dr Agatston did not initially set out to develop a weight-loss plan. He simply got frustrated when his patients, when following the standard, low-fat American Heart Association diet, failed to lose weight or improve their blood chemistry. He then developed a new diet specifically for his patients, which later became the basis for The South Beach Diet, an international best seller. The South Beach Diet was first published in April 2003 and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than 96 consecutive weeks, with more than 8.5 million copies in print. It was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for 38 weeks.

The diet is formulated on the premise that many of us are addicted to carbohydrate foods. Many experts commented that the South Beach diet is really just a revised version of the Atkins Diet. Both of these diets kick off with a first stage designed to get rid of addiction to high levels of carbohydrate consumption. The South Beach diet varies from Atkins in that it consists of three instead of four phases. While the first and last phases of both diets are very similar, the middle two phases of the Atkins Diet has been replaced by a single stage in the South Beach Diet. As result of this difference the typical rate at which South Beach followers lose weight is lower than that of Atkins followers, but fans claim that the South Beach diet is easier to stick to since it offers greater variety at an earlier stage in the diet.

The South Beach Diet is introduced as a balanced weight-loss and maintenance plan that encourages people to eat a variety of foods, such as lean sources of protein, reduced fat cheeses and dairy products, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and good fats like olive and canola oil.  Snacking is encouraged along with approved sweet treats and desserts on a daily basis. The glycemic index (is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood sugar) plays a critical role in the diet, as it forms the basis for Agatston’s advice on how to choose the best carbohydrates to accompany a meal. The concept of the glycemic index (considered with the actual glycemic load) is generally accepted as a crucial component of healthy diets nowadays.
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An overview of the Zone Diet

Dr Barry Sears, a biochemist, first popularized the Zone diet in his 1995 book, “The Zone”. While this diet has not been developed specifically for weight loss, it is probably more well-known for its weight loss benefits than for any of the other advantages it promises, all thanks to solid media exposure. The popularity of this diet reached its peak in the late 1990s, slipped a bit, and then made a comeback recently following the endorsements of Hollywood A-listers and models such as Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sandra Bullock and Cindy Crawford.

The Zone diet is often classified as a low-carb diet, but Dr Sears describes it as a moderate carb, moderate fat, and moderate protein diet, and regards it as superior to low-carb diets due to the improved hormonal responses. He goes on to say that the Zone diet can not be regarded as a protein rich diet since you never consume more low-fat protein during any meal than you can fit on the palm of your hand.

Many scientific studies are finding that weight management is a lot more complex than simply balancing calorie intake and calorie usage. The Zone approach suggests that inflammation precedes obesity. If that is true, any obesity problem can only be addressed by resolving the underlying inflammation.
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