Last night on the news I heard about another study of diet plans showing the same results as many others before. But it seems that most people seem unaware of these facts from the way they buy into every new diet fad that comes along.
What is the Weight Loss News?
The primary author of this latest report is Renee Atallah of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Lady Davis Institute at Jewish General Hospital of McGill University in Montreal in a study on behalf of the Canadian government. The study conclusions were released on November 11, 2014.
The results of using all types of diets were similar, whether low fat, low carb, or otherwise. All help lose about the same amount of weight over time; all typically result in some gain back after people stop using them.
Some particular plans seem to help people lose weight a little faster at the beginning, but people average the same at the end of a year, about 16 pounds in previous studies but only around 5 pounds on average in this one.
Honestly, to me the average results are not too impressive for any of them. It appears to me that people have adapted to dieting as an inconvenient interruption in eating patterns rather than permanent change in eating habits so that the benefits of trying any of the popular weight loss plans is becoming increasingly less permanent.
Only Weight Watchers shows any real advantage and even then not in losing weight. The difference is that apparently because some people stayed in contact with their support group they fared a bit better in maintaining their weight loss over time—the study continued over two years.
What Good Are Weight Loss Plans?
Weight loss plans do help people lose weight. The mistake is in assuming that one type or the other has any advantage over others. Weight loss comes from eating fewer calories than your body size and activity levels require; see my article Calories Count.
To lose weight you do have to have a weight loss plan of some kind whether you follow one of the marketed ones or one of your own design. Any of them that are effective do incorporate a number of beneficial components and these are the things that count.
- They count calories (some disguise this but it is always key)
- They eliminate most junk food
- They promote eating more vegetables, especially those with more bulk or fiber—limiting those high in starch.
- Most encourage exercise
- Some include social support
When you look at the average results and the associated costs it is easy to conclude that none of these programs are worth using. The truth is they are useful tools but can only be beneficial when understood and used appropriately.
It is also worthwhile to remember this. Average results are only that, averages; some people do much better as do others much worse.
How to Choose a Weight Loss Plan?
If you want to lose weight you must chose a plan. But you do not have to buy a plan or follow someone else’s plan. You can always prepare your own, as I have.
Many people will prefer to follow a proven plan prepared by others and that is fine, providing it is done properly. There are some guidelines that can help:
- Make sure you choose a diet plan that will enable you to limit calories to the level you need to lose weight (pretty obvious).
- Choose a plan that includes the kind of food you can enjoy and will be able to live with for a significant period of time.
- Look at the plan as a short term solution, an aid to getting to the weight level you want to sustain, and not a permanent answer to your overweight condition.
- From the beginning look toward establishing healthy eating habits that will be permanent, limiting the number of calories to those that are needed to maintain your ultimate normal weight.
- Incorporate adequate exercise into your weight loss plan.
- Get social support if it will help you do better.
Millions of people in America are concerned about losing weight. Many are trying, but most are failing to make significant progress which means that their plans are inadequate. The most basic step toward success is the choice of a valid diet plan.
If a person wants to lose weight it is not a question of whether to choose one but which one to choose. The key is to choose weight loss plan that will best support your personality and social needs.
Remember, as long as the calorie control is there, the particular diet type (or brand) is of little concern for weight loss (although it may have significant nutritional implications).
My Choice of a Weight Loss Plan
My plan is working well for me to date. More about the details of that plan later, but it is one of my own design. I can take time here, however, to note that I am focused very carefully on the end plan for ongoing maintenance of my weight goal once I reach it. To me this is an important distinction for long term results.