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Weekly Diet News Digest

 
by John McGran, Columnist

 
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So it turns out that the secret to weight loss isn't much of a secret and the world's best diet isn't much of a diet.

A major new study reveals it really doesn't matter if you follow a low-fat, low-carb, high-protein or vegetarian meal plan. Nope, what really matters is how many calories you swallow.

And the magic weight loss formula remains a basic math formula: calories ingested minus calories burned. To lose weight you need a negative answer. To maintain, you need to be as close to zero as you can.

I'm no math genius but I'd bet many of us are coming up with a significant positive number when we do the calories in minus calories burned formula.

But I digress.

Back to the study which grabbed headlines just the other day...

The study that appeared in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine compared several diet plans that emphasized varying degrees of fat, protein and carbohydrates intake and found weight loss happens on any eating plan that has you consuming fewer calories than you burn.

Study author Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health, says, "It doesn't really matter much the specific type of diet. See what suits you best. The focus should be on reducing calories. That's what really counts."

Sacks and his colleagues recruited 811 overweight people and randomly assigned them to follow one of four diets:

Low-fat, average-protein diet made up of 20 percent fat, 15 percent protein and 65 percent carbohydrates.

Low-fat, high-protein diet of 20 percent fat, 25 percent protein and 55 percent carbohydrates.

High-fat, average-protein plan containing 40 percent fat, 15 percent protein and 45 percent carbohydrates.

High-fat, high-protein diet of 40 percent fat, 25 percent protein and 35 percent carbohydrates.


All groups were told to keep saturated fat to no more than 8 percent of their daily intake of calories and to try to consume at least 20 grams of dietary fiber daily. The physical activity goal was set at 90 minutes a week.

Everyone received both group and individual counseling for the two-year study. They entered diet and exercise information into a computer program that provided feedback on how well they were meeting their dietary goals. About 80 percent of the participants completed the study.

After six months, all participants had lost an average of about 13 pounds. After two years, the average weight loss was down to 6 or 7 pounds. Study participants reported similar satisfaction with their diets.

Health measures, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, were also similar between the groups.

"No one diet was better than another," Sacks says. "The bottom line... if you want to lose weight eat a heart-healthy diet and be very careful about how much you eat."

What does this mean for you?

Just think... no more food combining, no counting carbs... no tallying points... no giving up your favorite foods... no special "diet" foods or food restrictions.

Hallelujah! It's safe to eat whatever you want within your calorie range and still lose weight.

Now that leaves a great taste in my mouth!





@ 3:47pm ET on January 4, 2010
I would have to agree with the calories in and out concept. The problem is being able to note every single little calorie!


@ 12:55pm ET on February 1, 2010
Is it really safe to "eat whatever you want within your calorie range?" What if I only ate 1,500 calories worth of chocolate and potatoes and alcohol?

Don't nutrients count? I sure know when I'm eating more veggies and fruit, I feel much better!

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