The Best Diet to Maintain Weight Loss

Almost any diet can help you lose weight but the trick is to keep those ?pounds off over the long term?

Credit: Flickr/jodigreen

A high-protein, low-GI diet will help you maintain weight loss

The new year is a great time to resolve to eat healthfully and even shed a few extra pounds. But while dieting can produce quick results, the trick is in maintaining the weight loss

There’s no shortage of articles in the media offering “diet secrets from the pros” or “the best diet ever.”

This past year, the common theme in successful weight loss has been the benefits of a high-protein diet. In reality, most folks will lose weight on virtually any regimented diet, largely because they’re changing their normal eating habits. The harder part is maintaining that weight loss over the long term.

The Key to Maintaining Weight Loss

Enter the latest research on this subject. In the largest study of its kind, published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine, Danish scientists say they have uncovered the secret to keeping the weight off over time.

The study followed 773 adults from eight countries. All participants were initially placed on an aggressive, extremely low 800-calorie diet to lose an average of 11 kilograms (25 pounds) per person. Once this was achieved, the researchers then sought to determine which dietary eating plan could help maintain the weight loss.

The participants were assigned to one of five different diets and allowed to eat as much of those foods as desired over a period of six months. Attention was paid to the foods’ protein content and glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of a food’s ability to produce a rise in blood sugar after it’s digested (high-GI foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar; low-GI foods result in a slower rise).

The five diets included:

  • low-protein, high-GI;

  • low-protein, low-GI;

  • high-protein (25 per cent of total calories) and low-GI;

  • high-protein, high-GI;

  • and a control group that followed healthful dietary recommendations without attention to GI.

The Best Eating Plan for Diet Maintenance

The verdict? Those following the high-protein, low-GI-carbohydrate diet regained the least amount of weight. Also, fewer participants in this group dropped out of the study, suggesting this eating program was easier to stick with than the others. At the end of the study, most people in this category were consuming about 22 per cent of their calories from protein.

The study offers a few take-home messages. First, increasing the amount of protein in your diet can help with weight control, as can eating low-GI foods, which also tend to be more nutritious and healthful. 

You can do this by incorporating a protein into each meal or snack, such as eggs, dairy products, nuts, lean meat, chicken or fish. Low-glycemic foods include most vegetables and fruits with lots of fibre, like apples and pears. Limit the refined “white” carbohydrates, such as bread, rice and pasta, and eat moderate portions of whole grains.

At the end of the day, the best diet to help you keep the weight off is really the one that you can stick to over the long term.

Your Health with Dr. Rhonda Low airs weekdays during CTV News at Five and CTV News at Six.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.