A new study published this year in the Journal of American Medical Association finds that simply limiting the blood sugar surge after eating can be more effective and safer than a low-fat diet if you’re trying to achieve long-lasting weight loss. Two diets can achieve this effect: a low glycemic index or a low carbohydrate diet. The study also found that the low GI diet had the same metabolic effects as the low-carb diet, without the harmful effects like inflammation and body stress.
Typically, regaining weight is often blamed on a decline in your motivation or a failure to adhere to a diet and exercise. Biology actually plays a huge role in weight re-gain as well. After you lose weight, the rate at which you burn calories lowers with a slower metabolism. This also causes lower energy levels, which make it difficult to maintain your lower weight
Other studies have found that a low GI diet offers many advantages for preventing and managing diabetes as well as weight loss, although this is the first time the effects of a low GI diet during the maintenance period was analyzed. This study offers valuable insight, as only 1 in every 6 overweight individuals will maintain even a modest 10% of their weight loss in the long run.
The study found that the low glycemic load diet is a better choice because it’s more effective at burning calories at a higher rate, even after initial weight loss. This data finds that, contrary to popular belief, all calories are not equal. On a low-fat diet, calories burned dropped by 300 calories compared to the low-carb diet.
The participants of the study began by losing 10 – 15% of their total body weight and then, after the weight stabilized, were required to complete all of the following diets in a random order for a full month at a time. This random design in the study allowed researchers to observe how each diet affected dieters overall, regardless of the order. The 3 diets included: (http://www.glycemicindex.com/)
- Low-fat diet, with a reduction in dietary fat and a large emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 60% of daily calories came from carbs, 20% from fat and 20% from protein.
- Low GI diet, with an emphasis on healthy fat, vegetables, minimally processed grains, fruits and legumes. 40% of daily calories came from carbs, 40% from fat and 20% from protein.
- Low-carb diet, similar to the Atkins diet. 10% of daily calories came from carbs, 60% from fat and 30% from protein.
All three diets were within the healthy range for protein, which is 10-35% of your daily calories. The extremely low-carb diet showed the greatest increase in metabolism, although it came with a big price: dieters’ cortisol levels drastically reduced, which can cause insulin resistance as well as heart disease. The low-carb diet was also linked to an increased risk for heart disease.
The low-fat diet, which is officially endorsed by the United States government and the Heart Association, created the largest drop in energy consumption, as well as insulin resistance and an unhealthy pattern of lipids.
Researchers found that the low GI diet was most effective and eliminates these potentially dangerous side effects. They also believe it’s easier to adhere to daily, as most people have trouble sticking to a low-carb or low-fat diet due to the restrictions. A low GI diet does not eliminate food categories and is more sustainable in the long run.