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Study: Low Fat Diets Not the Key to Long-Term Weight Loss

Sarah | July 16th, 2012

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Contrary to popular belief, a low-fat diet may not hold the key to long-term weight loss. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association study shows that only one in six overweight adults maintain 10 percent of their weight loss for a year. That means most people who lose weight-whether on an extreme physical regime or a trend like the HCG diet- gain a portion of it back.

Director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital Boston David Ludwig told Bloomberg.com that this is because not all diets are equal. According to the study, low glycemic diets, which prevent blood sugar from swinging in between meals, are the best long-term weight loss plans.

The study looked at 21 overweight individuals who lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. They were then put on a low carbohydrate, low-fat or low glycemic diet for four weeks. Results showed those on the low-glycemic diet burned 40 more calories a day than those on a low-fat diet and those on the low-carb diet burned approximately 70 more calories a day than those on the low-fat diet.

HCG weight loss difficult to maintain

The results of the study suggest that anyone who loses a significant amount of weight needs to examine his or her plan for weight loss maintenance. Fad diets and popular weight loss trends appeal to dieters who wish to lose weight fast, but these schemes leave dieters with little hope of keeping the weight off.  Maintenance goals will prompt many to employ a low-fat diet as a means to sustain their results.  And as the new study tells us, they will likely not succeed.

For example, the HCG diet is a popular diet that requires users to take HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) supplements or injections in conjunction with a diet of just 500 to 800 calories a day. HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. HCG proponents claim it suppresses uncomfortable aspects of dieting such as hunger pains.  As a result of the extreme calorie restriction over time, dieters may lose a significant amount of weight. However, once the dieter stops the HCG diet, weight gain is almost certain to occur.

Rather than starting a low-fat diet at the conclusion of taking HCG for weight loss, researchers would suggest a low-glycemic diet instead.  Such a diet plan is rich in fruits, vegetables and minimally processed grains, which allows blood sugars to rise slowly. As a result, the body burns about 150 calories more a day. Low-fat diets, on the other hand, have a negative effect on insulin and good cholesterol and can cause blood sugar crashes and surges, inhibiting long-term weight loss.

Discover alternatives to lose weight and keep it off

Dieting is a challenge for anyone.  How to implement a low-glycemic diet can be overwhelming to someone who knows little about it.  Similarly, someone who has never been to the gym will have a hard time beginning a fitness routine.  As a result, many turn to trends like taking HCG for weight loss, or eating only one kind of food.  But there is help out there for people who really want to make a change that will last.

For example, physician-led weight loss plans can help dieters find the right diet and exercise combination for long-term weight loss. Most physicians advise against the immediate gratification model of HCG diets and similar plans that set dieters up to fail in the long-run. Rather, your doctor can help devise a plan that will promote maintenance from the start.

One such group, The Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL), is a national network of physicians and weight loss specialists who design individual weight loss programs. According to a CMWL study, 95.3 percent of those who lost weight on a physician-led weight loss plan maintained weight loss one year later.  Dr. Kaplan, founder of the Center, reminds patients, “Don’t look to an HCG weight loss program to lose weight. Not only are they expensive and unproven – they’re dangerous.”

Dr. Kaplan recommends that patients who are serious about finding an effective way to lose weight and keep it off turn to physician-directed programs that customize weight loss plans to a patient’s specific needs. These programs combine individualized counseling with reasonable diets and exercise programs to produce the best possible long-term weight loss results.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Kaplan and the Center for Medical Weight Loss: centerformedicalweightloss.com/