Eat like a Mediterranean if you want to keep the weight off. A new study suggests a low-glycemic diet – focusing on healthy carbs, veggies, healthy fats (yes, that means olive oil), legumes and fruits – may be better for achieving lasting weight loss than low-carb and low-fat diets. The low-glycemic-index diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which also includes fish. Cara Ebbeling, associate director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a news release that “low-glycemic-index diets are easier to stick to on a day-to-day basis” – versus low-carb and low-fat diets, “which many people find limiting.”
She added: “Unlike low-fat and very-low-carbohydrate diets, a low-glycemic-index diet doesn’t eliminate entire classes of food, likely making it easier to follow and more sustainable.”
The study, out this week, appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Ebbeling and David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, led the research.
The glycemic index measures the impact of carbs on a person’s blood-sugar levels. The study suggests a low-glycemic diet is more potent than “conventional approaches” at burning calories after weight loss. “We’ve found that, contrary to nutritional dogma, all calories are not created equal,” Ludwig said.
According to the study, diets that reduce the surge in blood sugar after a meal – either low-glycemic-index or very low carb – may be preferable to a low-fat diet for people aiming to keep the pounds off.
Moreover, researchers found that the low-glycemic-index diet had similar metabolic benefits to the very low-carb diet. But, unlike the low-carb regimen, the low-glycemic diet didn’t produce the unhealthy side effects of stress or an increase in a measure of inflammation known as CRP, which can boost the threat of heart disease.
Each of the study’s 21 adult participants (ages 18-40) initially had to shed 10% to 15% of their body weight. Once their weight stabilized, the participants all followed a low-carb diet modeled after the Atkins diet, a low-fat diet, and a low-glycemic-index diet – each for four weeks at a time.
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