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Nov 19, 2014

Head-to-Head Comparison of Big-Name diets

No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, finds study.

No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, according to a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on popular commercial diets like Weight Watchers, Atkins, and Zone. The question remains: Which diet is most effective in helping shed weight and perhaps most importantly, keep the weight off years later?

In search of answers, researchers identified past clinical trials analyzing four top diets—the Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and Zone diets. The Atkins, South Beach and Zone diets focus on restricting carbohydrate intake, while Weight Watchers emphasizes the importance of moderation, limiting calorie and fat intake.

A total of 12 studies were included in the analysis, each of which compared one or more of the diets to standard care typically offered for weight loss. Together, the clinical trials encompassed more than 2,500 adults and included information about long-term weight loss after 1-2 years.

After analysis, researchers found that among all four diets, Weight Watchers was consistently more effective than standard weight loss care. However, Atkins, Weight Watchers and Zone were equally as effective in long-term weight loss and reducing cardiovascular risk factors like high cholesterol. Data also suggests that weight lost with Atkins and Weight Watchers is partially regained over time.

Based on these findings, authors conclude that no single diet is more beneficial than the others for long-term weight loss. However, findings reinforce that these diets do help individuals achieve modest weight lost and on average, those adhering to the top diets lost anywhere from 3-10 pounds, even a year or more after their diet. As research suggests, what’s most important when it comes to weight loss is matching individuals with a diet that works for them and can be sustained over a long period of time.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How do I know if I'm overweight or obese?

  • There are a few easy ways to evaluate weight. First, you can use your height and weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is healthy, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is obese. And because BMI is not always a perfect assessment of weight, it is important to measure your waist circumference. A waist circumference greater than 35 inches for a woman and 40 inches for a man is overweight.
  • What is the best way to lose weight?

  • Weight loss boils down to a simple formula: burn more energy each day than you take in from food. A deficit of 3500 calories will net one pound of fat loss. Therefore, if you cut down your food intake by just 100 calories a day, you can expect to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

    Although it’s tempting to look for a quick fix with a speedy weight loss scheme, many popular diets are unhealthy or produce only temporary results. You’ll have better luck with an eating plan that includes a variety of healthful foods and gives you enough calories and nutrients to meet your body’s needs. Taking it slow by making ongoing eating and exercise changes is the best way to reach and maintain your optimal weight.

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