The Best Diet to Help You Lose Weight
And Keep it Off
Losing weight and keeping it off may have more to do with biology than willpower.
There is a disconnect between our 40,000 year old body design and our modern diet and lifestyle. Fat plays an important role in the survival of the human species as our primary long-term energy source, followed by glycogen (or stored carbohydrates). Nature drives fat storage that can be burned to meet the energy needs of the body.
Yo-yo dieting and dramatic weight loss triggers a hardwired survival “starvation mode.” The body’s metabolism is slowed to conserve energy and calories are prioritized to fat storage until such time as the fat reserve is replenished. When we diet, our primitive brain resists. It can’t understand why we would want to lose weight; instead it thinks “holy shit” I’m losing my emergency energy reserve, I’m going to die!
The survival fat storage program that helped our ancestors survive the lean times by storing fat as energy when food was available trumps the most steadfast willpower. This is why weight loss is so darn hard to maintain! So what is the answer? Oprah, Dr. Oz and Atkins followers, read on…
It is widely accepted that weight loss is possible on many different diet plans if more calories are expended by the body than consumed. However, the “holy grail” of weight loss, which has so far been elusive, is keeping the weight off after it has been lost. The breakthrough lies in the findings of the Diet, Obesity, and Genes study or “Diogenes”, the World’s largest diet study. Researchers identified the best diet to prevent weight regain. They’ve found the answer we’ve all been waiting for.
“World’s Best Diet”
The “Diogenes” study is a large European trial, involving eight countries, designed to discover which diet is best for preventing weight regain after weight loss. The researchers assigned participants to 4 types of diets with varying levels of protein and either high or low glycemic index carbohydrates. High-glycemic index carbs cause the blood sugar to spike quickly, while low-glycemic index (low GI) carbs are converted to glucose (blood sugar) slowly resulting in a more gentle rise in the blood sugar level. People began the study by losing 8% of their body weight and then were put on one of the four diets and followed for 26 weeks. The diet that was most effective at preventing weight re-gain was the low-glycemic with slightly higher protein content (mix of carbs and protein in a 2:1 ratio). Participants on this diet not only kept the weight off during the six months of the study, but they also continued to lose weight afterwards. This is great news for anyone who has struggled to maintain a weight loss!
The results of the Diogenes study are featured in the new book “World’s Best Diet” by leading Low GI researcher Jenny Brand-Miller, Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and lead researcher of the Diogenes study Professor Arne Astrup, DrMedSc and Head of Department at the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) in Copenhagen. In the book, Brand-Miller explains why the low GI/higher protein diet works. Following a low carb diet may help you take off unwanted pounds in the short term, but slow carb (low GI) and protein will keep it off for life because of the satiating effect of protein. Also, consuming low-glycemic foods and sufficient protein helps to keep blood sugar levels in a narrow range, preventing the spike, crash and crave cycle that drives overeating and fat storage. The combination of a low glycemic index diet with more protein doesn’t fight biology: it works with it.
Emphasize Low GI Foods
In general vegetables, most fruits, dairy, legumes and whole grains such as barley, bulgur and pasta are low GI foods to incorporate in your meals alongside a source of protein such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or nuts. While there are plenty of snack foods on the market, convenience options such as granola bars, potato chips and most energy bars are high GI. Like the findings from the Diogenes study, the ideal snack is convenient, portable and has a ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein. Better options are fresh fruit and nuts, yogurt and berries, raw veggies and hummus or a SoLo GI Bar which has protein and is low GI.
Move from Low Carb to Slow Carb
After 25 years in functional food research and development, I am convinced that blood sugar management is integral to addressing the interlinked epidemics of obesity, diabetes and the energy shortfall. Carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy, not fat or protein. The solution is not to eliminate carbs, but rather to manage them. The glycemic index is the only scientific measure of how a carb-containing food impacts the blood glucose levels.