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Calories Are the Secret Ingredient in Weight Loss

< Jun. 29, 2011 > -- Which is better at helping you lose weight - a diet that's low-fat/high-protein or low-fat/high-carb? Either, it turns out.

Photo of man in towel on bathroom scale

No matter which nutrient you focus on, the protein or the carbohydrates, as long as you are reducing your overall calorie intake and follow a low-fat diet, you'll lose weight, a new study concludes.

And if you want to switch from one diet to the other to ease boredom, that works, too.

Two-year study

Researchers at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, followed about 300 overweight men and women ages 35 to 75 for two years. All had type 2 diabetes and a body mass index of greater than 27. For people with type 2 diabetes, losing weight is one of the cornerstones of diabetes management.

Half of the participants followed a low-fat/high-protein diet and the other half followed a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet. Participants were randomly assigned to one diet or the other.

The researchers took weight and waist circumference measurements at six months, one year, and two years. They also monitored kidney function and lipid (blood fat) levels.

Similar results

After two years, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight and about the same number of inches around their middle.

The researchers concluded that both diets offered similar benefits, with the main factor in determining weight loss the number of calories consumed.

"The bottom-line is that the issue for weight loss is calories, not where those calories come from," says Lona Sandon, R.D., at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "You need to create an energy deficit to lead to weight loss, and that happens by decreasing those calories. That's just been shown again and again."

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Cooking Light

Here are tips on how to slim down your meal preparation:

  • If a recipe calls for a quarter-cup of oil, cut that amount in half; your taste buds won't know the difference, but your waistline will.

  • Sauté foods in chicken stock, low-sodium soy sauce, wine, or water instead of fat.

  • Broil, bake, roast, boil or stir-fry instead of frying, deep-frying or breading and frying.

  • Use nonstick pans and nonstick oil spray to eliminate the oil or butter for sautéing.

  • When sautéing with oil, try a flavorful one such as olive oil or sesame oil. You'll need less.

  • Add a pinch of grated Parmesan or blue cheese to recipes. You'll add flavor, but not many calories.

  • Add spices to your meals instead of fat. Fresh herbs perk up any dish without adding calories.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Diabetes Association – Healthy Weight Loss

American Dietetic Association – Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss

Weight-control Information Network – About Food Portions