DIETING
February 24, 2015

A No-Brainer Way to Lose Weight

Simply eating more of this helped people shed pounds nearly as well as AHA dietary guidelines.

Anyone whose eyes have glazed over while trying to understand the latest guidelines for losing weight will find a new UMass study offers welcome simplicity.

Some diets recommended by reputable organizations can be hard to follow. For example, the American Heart Association recommends eating 50 to 55 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 15 to 20 percent of calories from protein, and 30 to 35 percent of calories from fat. The AHA also says that saturated fat be limited to less than seven percent of total calories eaten per day, trans fat to less than one percent of total calories, and cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day.

If you ask people to increase their intake of something, they are more likely to do it than if you ask them to decrease their intake.

That is a lot to remember, and it can be frustrating for those who are otherwise motivated to eat healthier and lose weight.

Scientists at the UMass seem to have hit on an easier-to-follow solution that appears to work just as well. They found that simply eating more fiber every day resulted in weight loss comparable to the amount lost by following the AHA diet.

“Most diets ask people to restrict their intake of certain things,” Yunsheng Ma, lead author of the study, told TheDoctor. Instead, the investigators asked people to increase consumption of something — their intake of fiber.

“If you ask people to increase their intake of something, they are more likely to do it than if you ask them to decrease their intake,” said Ma. “That’s very powerful!”

The researchers randomly selected 240 people with metabolic syndrome, or prediabetes, to either follow the AHA dietary guidelines or eat 30 grams or more of fiber per day. After 12 months, those who followed the AHA guidelines lost an average of nearly 6 pounds. Those who increased their fiber intake lost over 4.5 pounds.

At the end of a year, participants in both groups also showed improvement in insulin resistance and blood pressure, and were eating a more nutritious diet. For those who cannot or do not want to follow more complex dietary guidelines, the authors believe increasing fiber intake may be a simpler yet still effective way to lose weight.

Ma said their next steps include spreading the word about this simpler, user-friendly intervention using platforms such as social media, namely Facebook and Twitter.

The study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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