More Protein And Less Refined Carbohydrate Is Best Way To Keep The Weight Off

The best way to keep the weight off following a diet is to eat more protein like lean meat, low-fat dairy products and pulse foods such as beans and lentils and less high glycemic index (GI) foods such carbohydrate from white bread, white rice and other refined starchy foods, said researchers conducting the world’s largest dieting study; they also said with this regime you can also eat until you are full without having to watch the calories and without putting weight on.

The researchers found that among adults who lost at least eight per cent of their body weight following a calorie-restricted diet, the ones who were most successful at keeping the weight off and least likely to drop out during the six months of follow up, were those who maintained a diet high in protein and low in refined carbohydrate (foods with a high glycemic index or GI).

Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) are those whose carbohydrate content is digested more quickly and therefore their end-product, glucose, enters the bloodstream more quickly. Foods with a low GI have carbohydrates that break down more slowly during digestion, so the glucose enters the bloodstream over a longer period of time.

For the study, they enrolled 772 European families, among whom were 938 adults who were overweight, with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 34 kg/sq m. These were invited to complete an an eight week weight reduction program, where they limited calorie intake to 800 kcals a day and lost an average of 11 kg (just over 24 lbs).

The researchers then randomly assigned the 773 adults who completed the eight-week weight loss diet to one of five low-fat maintenance diets for six months. The point was to determine which of the five types of diet was most effective at preventing weight gain.

The five diet types were:

1. Low protein (13% of calorie intake), high GI

2. Low protein, low GI.

3. High protein (25% of calorie intake), low GI.

4. High protein, high GI.

5. Following the current dietary recommendations with no special instructions about GI (the control group)

Throughout the study, the participants received advice from dieticians and gave blood and urine samples.

After the six month maintenance diet phase, the results showed that:

548 (71%) adults completed this second, maintenance diet phase of the study.

More participants in the high-protein low-GI group completed this phase than in the low-protein high-GI group (26.4% and 25.6% respectively, compared to 37.4% in the controls; P=0.02 and P=0.01 for the respective comparisons).

The average weight regain across all the groups was 0.5 kg.

The poorest result was the low-protein high-GI diet: the only one to be linked to significant weight regain (average gain 1.67 kg, 95% confidence interval CI, ranged from 0.48 to 2.87).

The weight regain was on average 0.93 kg (95% CI, 0.31 to 1.55) less for those on the high-protein diets than those on the low-protein diets (P=0.003), and 0.95 kg (95% CI, 0.33 to 1.57) less on those on low-GI compared to high-GI diets (P=0.003).

The researchers concluded that:

“In this large European study, a modest increase in protein content and a modest reduction in the glycemic index led to an improvement in study completion and maintenance of weight loss. “