You may have heard all of the hullaballoo about this recent study comparing various diets that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If not, here is one of many articles written in response.

Here are my thoughts.

The weight losses reported were rather modest, which is good. Too many people have ridiculous expectations when it comes to weight loss. If you are losing any more than about a half-kg per week, you are likely setting yourself up for failure.

In this particular study, people following the Atkins diet plan lost the most weight. You might as well say that people who followed the Atkins diet lost the most hair. It might be true, but it is irrelevant.

Not once in any of the articles that I have read (maybe I should read the study...later) have I seen any discussion about changes in body composition. The Atkins diet does promote weight loss...here is how in a very small nutshell.

Atkins requires that dieters eat very little carbohydrate so as to kick start the body into burning fat for fuel. As a result, the dieter`s stored carbohydrate (in the form of glycogen) is consumed. The thing about glycogen is that it is stored along with a whole bunch of water. When the glycogen is consumed, the water is excreted and the dieter loses weight. This is not lost fat, it is lost water that will be replaced very quickly when the dieter falls off the wagon.

What this study highlights for me is that diets ALWAYS fail.

These women were provided with a tremendous amount of support in the form of reminder phone calls, emails and even cash to get them to stick to the diet. And they still flunked out. The reason that diets always fail is that people always fall off the wagon.

Sure the ads show you the exceptional people who have lost weight and kept it off, but the ads always say `Results not typical`. Would you buy a car based on an advertisement showing a family surviving a car crash because of all the safety equipment if the ad also stated `results not typical`?

There is only one way to lose fat. You must burn more calories than you consume.

There are three keys to burning more calories than you consume.
1. Eat a well-balanced diet focussing on fresh fruit and veggies and whole grains.
2. Get 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise everyday.
3. Preserve your muscle mass through regular strength training.

I will expand on these three keys later.


Linea said...

I have lots to say on this subject...but for now: did you listen to the 2/17/2007 Quirks and Quarks??

Vertigo said...

No I haven't listened...but I will. I have the "Ideas" and "Outfront" podcasts on my iPod, but not Quirks and Quarks. Although I remember Q&Q from my childhood.

sans auto said...

Do you have "the hollywood diet" in Canada? probably not, I take Canadians as being smarter than us from the US. Anyway, it's a juice that you drink to lose weight. On the back label are the instructions: "For best results don't eat."