The constant smack down between low-carb and low-fat diets is enough to make anyone wonder: Is there really one diet to rule them all? It turns out that as long as you stick to whichever healthy-eating plan strikes your fancy, you’re inclined to lose weight, according to new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
In order to determine whether one specific type of diet yielded better results, scientists analyzed 48 different trials. They focused on the studies in which participants tried two of the most popular diets that have been touted like crazy: low-carb and low-fat. Collectively, they examined the outcomes of 7,200 overweight and obese adults who followed branded diets like Atkins. Finally, they compared the study subjects’ weights at six- and 12-month intervals.
Researchers explain that these diets comprise a mammoth industry (in the multibillions, to be exact), but there hasn’t been rigorous enough testing to definitively state which reigns supreme. When it comes down to it, the real pound-dropper is willpower.
cientists concluded that at six months, those who avoided carbs lost 19 pounds more than those who didn’t follow a diet—while the people who reduced their fat intake melted off 17 pounds. After 12 months, that small difference in weight loss had disappeared. In other words, both groups lost statistically significant amounts of weight when they stuck to whichever plan they committed to. Exercise and in-person or online support were both associated with more pounds dropped. Getting emotional support increased results by seven pounds at the six-month mark, while exercise boosted results by about four and a half pounds when participants were a year in.
“Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small,” write the study authors. “This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.”
So really, consistency is key. Try not to focus too much on immediate results. Just remember—the process will be so worth it in the end.
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