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Losing Weight: Lifestyle Changes Trump Any Diet

What’s the best diet for maintaining a healthy weight and warding off chronic diseases? Is it a low-carb diet, a high-carb diet, an all-vegetable diet, a no-vegetable diet?

Researchers say you’d be better off just forgetting the word diet, according to an editorial published today (Aug. 20) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Two researchers Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago call for an end to the so-called diet wars, because they are all equally as good, or bad, in helping people fight obesity. [7 Diet Tricks That Really Work[1]]

In the end, patients only get confused thinking that one diet is superior to another, they said, when in fact changes in lifestyle, not diet types, are the true ways to prevent weight gain[2] and the associated ills of diabetes and circulatory disease.

“The amount of resources that have gone into studying ‘what’ to eat is incredible, and years of research indicate that it doesn’t really matter, as long as overall calories are reduced,” Appelhans told LiveScience. “What does matter is ‘how’ to eat, as well as other things in lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity[3] and supportive behaviors that help people stay on track [in the] long term.”

The researchers cite numerous studies that demonstrated only moderate success with various types of diet that focus on macronutrients: protein, fat or carbohydrates; but regardless of diet, without a lifestyle change, the weight comes back.

Conversely, several large and recent studies such as the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the China Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study found lower weight and lower incidence of diabetes among study participants many years after the study’s initial completion because the subjects were taught howto lose weight[4] through lifestyle interventions.

Lifestyle trumps diet

Pagoto described lifestyle interventions as three-prong: dietary counseling (how to control portions[5], reduce high-calorie foods and navigate restaurants), exercise counseling (how to set goals, target heart rate and exercise safely), and behavioral modification (how to self-monitor, problem solve, stay motivated and understand hunger).

“The ‘diet’ used within a lifestyle intervention can be low-fat, low-carb, etc. It doesn’t matter,” Pagoto said. “In fact, at least one study compared a low-fat lifestyle intervention with a low-carb lifestyle intervention, and it made no difference. The diet itself [is not] instrumental to the lifestyle interventions success; it is the behavioral piece that is key.”

Pagoto agreed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and heart disease. A massive study involving more than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, published in JAMA in June, found that dedicated vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians (who eat fish) live longer than meat eaters. But that doesn’t mean a vegetarian diet is all it takes to help you stay healthy. [10 Fun Ways to Eat a Healthy Diet[6]]

“Adherence is key, and the way to destroy adherence is forcing foods on someone they do not like, do not know how to prepare, or can’t afford,” Pagoto said.

Why diets go wrong

Indeed, the authors wrote that the only consistent fact in all the diet studies is that adherence is the element most strongly associated with weight loss and disease risk reduction.

Pagoto described five challenges to any diet that she sees with her patients: having no time to cook or exercise; being too stressed out, having family members bring junk food home; not having anyone to exercise with, or feeling awkward exercising; and feel hungry all the time. The ratio of fat to carb to protein doesn’t come into play.

Most her of obese patients understand which foods are healthful and unhealthful, she said. So she works with her patients to find ways to make healthy behaviors more routine, regardless of the patient’s type of diet.

Pagoto and Appelhans call for more research on diet adherence. The authors described the amount of adherence research as miniscule compared to that on studying the large fad diets.

Similarly, the general population knows more about nuances of these diets Atkins, South Beach, the Zone[7] and such than they do about the basics of adherence; and that, the authors said, is central to the obesity epidemic.

Christopher Wanjek is the author of a new novel, “Hey, Einstein![8]”, a comical nature-versus-nurture tale about raising clones of Albert Einstein in less-than-ideal settings. His column, Bad Medicine[9], appears regularly on LiveScience[10].

Copyright 2013 LiveScience[11], a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ 7 Diet Tricks That Really Work (www.livescience.com)
  2. ^ true ways to prevent weight gain (www.livescience.com)
  3. ^ physical activity (www.livescience.com)
  4. ^ howto lose weight (www.livescience.com)
  5. ^ how to control portions (www.livescience.com)
  6. ^ 10 Fun Ways to Eat a Healthy Diet (news.yahoo.com)
  7. ^ Atkins, South Beach, the Zone (www.livescience.com)
  8. ^ Hey, Einstein! (www.amazon.com)
  9. ^ Bad Medicine (www.livescience.com)
  10. ^ LiveScience (www.livescience.com)
  11. ^ LiveScience (www.livescience.com)

Original Story Here

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Be Well On Your Way: Journey to a More Authentic You (Paperback) tagged “healthy lifestyle” 88 times

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Comments

  1. Reply

    What Exactly Is A Healthy Lifestyle And Is It The Same For Everyone? Does a healthy lifestyle depends on a person’s age, religion, etc?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 23, 2013
      Reply

      While we aren’t one size fits all, the tenets of a healthy lifestyle are those that we can all follow. It’s hard to go wrong with eating adequate calories composed of healthy foods. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat/nonfat dairy is suggested. Monitoring portions sizes and preparing food in a healthy manner is advised. Watch sodium intake as well and limit high sugar/high fat foods. Follow any diets that are recommended by your RD/MD with regard to specific disease states that you may have, such as diabetes, and take any medications as prescribed. Maintain a healthy weight and exercise a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days per week, if able.

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    How Can I Keep Up My Healthy Lifestyle Over Easter? I have been trying to keep a healthy lifestyle, build fitness and lose a little fat. But I am surrounded by Easter treats, mum has been baking loads, have Easter eggs from family and my bf wants to get me an Easter egg too. Don’t get me wrong, I love how sweet everyone is being, but all of this will just make me I’ll. What should I do?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 23, 2013
      Reply

      If you’d like me to be honest, I think that the healthiest lifestyles include enjoying things. So every now and then, let go of the fact that “something will make me fat” and enjoy it. I think that often as people we give up a large part of living just to stay skinny. I used to be that way, and as much as I told myself it was worth it, it really wasn’t. Enjoy it, and don’t go on a guilt trip over it.

      That being said, there are several things you can do to avoid extra treats. Stay away from the kitchen as much as possible, as well as where things are being served. When you get things, get just a small bit. I’ve noticed that with a lot of sweetbreads and cakes and such, a very thin slice takes just as long to eat as a thick one and is usually just as satisfying. If not, you can even get a second (which, sliced thinly enough, is still smaller than the thick slices would be). Another trick I’ve learned is “sharing”–if it is a roll or whatever, just eat half of it and “share” the other half with someone else (maybe someone else who either just wants half, or someone who wants more than one).

      Enjoy Easter!

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  3. Reply

    How Will You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle In The Future? Imagine yourself after college. You’re married with a few kids. You’re gaining a few pounds every now and then. How will you get yourself back on track into a healthy lifestyle?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 23, 2013
      Reply

      Minus the after college part, but I have 2 kids and am expecting the third one in a few weeks. We maintain healthy lifestyles by eating nutritious foods, lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and milk. We also get a lot of exercise in. Although my kids are still toddlers and I’m big as a house, everyday as a family my husband and I walk with the kids up and down the road, then when we get home my husband stays outside with the kids and plays with them while I get supper fixed. We don’t turn the TV on until after baths, forcing us to get up off the couch. Hopefully that will encourage our kids to maintain healthy lifestyles after they’re all grown up.

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  4. Reply

    How Do You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle? Please comment on your suggestions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, add any concerns or issues you have concerning you’re healt, and i’ll be happy to educate you further.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 23, 2013
      Reply

      I eat healthy – vegetables, fruit, lots of water, minimal sugar consumption, etc.
      I don’t smoke.
      I don’t drink in excess.
      I don’t do drugs.
      I exercise at least twice a week.
      I try to get enough sleep every night (minimum of 7 hours).

      View Comment
  5. Reply

    How To Keep A Healthy Lifestyle Up At School? I’ve recently started exercising and eating healthily, in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle, as well as lose weight. I go back to school in September, and I’ve been doing absolutely brilliantly so far. However, I’m definitely a stress eater, and especially with lots of exams coming up this and next year, I’m gonna be more stressed than ever. I don’t want to lose my progress or put all the weight back on. As well as this, I’m worried I won’t have time to work out as I’ll be tired from school in the daytime, so it could get difficult. Does anyone have any tips that could help me maintain what I’m doing for when I go back to school?

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