Dietary recommendations have evolved through time. With the rise of trendy diets, our understanding of eating foods for optimal health and achieving weight loss goals has inevitably grown.
While many people suggest that calories are crucial, focusing on food quality is equally essential for weight loss. Without further ado, read on to discover what it truly means to choose a healthy diet.
Quality Over Calorie
Perhaps when we talk about a healthy diet, we should converse not just about calories but also quality. While avoiding excess is essential for good health, a recent study suggests that we should examine the quality of the foods we eat and avoid to achieve and maintain a healthy weight rather than simply calculating calories.
One study looked into whether particular foods promote weight gain. Over 20 years, researchers discovered that eating potato chips, starchy potatoes, refined grain, sugar-sweetened beverages, and processed and unprocessed red meat significantly increased weight gain. On the other hand, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt have all been related to weight loss.
Weight loss and weight management can be achieved by eating more healthy foods and fewer processed foods. When making dietary decisions, prioritize high-quality, healthy foods above low-quality meals, including unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein sources.
Highly processed snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, processed foods high in saturated and trans fats, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes are the worst foods.
What You Need to Know About Macronutrients
With the rise of macronutrient-based diets in recent decades, it has been common to address the three primary macronutrients: carbs, proteins, and fats. Researchers compare different “macronutrient management” diets to discover the most successful, but their conclusions are contradictory.
In a 2007 JAMA study, four different weight-loss regimens focused on low to high carbohydrate intake. Over 300 premenopausal women who were overweight or obese were randomly assigned to one of four diets for a year: Atkins, Zone, LEARN, or Ornish, based on their carbohydrate intake.
The Atkins diet group lost more weight after a year than the other diet groups and had better metabolic outcomes than the other diet groups (cholesterol, body fat percentage, glucose levels, and blood pressure).
The other three diets (Zone, LEARN, and Ornish) resulted in a weight loss equivalent to one other. Although the long-term effects and mechanisms of the study are unknown, the researchers concluded that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet might be recommended for weight loss.
More Studies on Healthy Diets
Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 looked at four different diets and discovered that they all resulted in similar average weight loss. The study tracked 800 people for two years, randomly assigning them to one of four diets: low-fat, average-protein, high-fat, or high-protein.
All of the diets resulted in significant weight loss, regardless of their macronutrient composition. Individuals who attended more group counseling sessions lost and regained weight at a faster rate. This is consistent with the notion that behavioral, psychological, and social factors play a role in weight loss.
The following year, another study on weight loss maintenance was published in the New England Journal and discussed protein and glycemic index. The researchers started with a low-calorie diet and then looked at protein and the glycemic index to see whether they could keep the weight off.
The study involved over 800 obese Europeans who had dropped at least 8% of their baseline body weight on a low-calorie diet. Over 26 weeks, participants were randomized to one of five diets to avoid weight regain: low-protein, low-glycemic-index, high-protein, low-glycemic-index, or a control diet.
The low-protein, high-glycemic-index diet was linked to significant weight regain, but the high-protein, low-glycemic-index diets were linked to less weight regain. According to the findings, a small increase in protein consumption and a slight decrease in glycemic index helped maintain weight loss.
These three studies demonstrate that, while a macronutrient-based diet may have certain advantages, it may not be suitable for everyone due to genetic and lifestyle variances.
Because we are all unique in our ways, it’s safe to say that there is no “optimal” diet for everyone due to genetic and lifestyle differences. This ultimately means that even the most popular diets could simply be trendy fads that may or may not work for you.
So when it comes to clean eating and a healthy diet, it would be best to seek the advice of a professional nutritionist and dietician. This way, you can be guided to achieving and maintaining your ideal weight!
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When you work with us, you can achieve your weight goals with dignity while also taking care of your mind, body, and spirit!