Diet important in weight-loss maintenance

Losing weight is easy. The challenge lies in keeping the weight from coming back. Weight maintenance is difficult due to either psychological (motivation begins to decline over time) or physiological (an increase in hunger that often accompanies weight loss) reasons (1). But as virtually everyone knows, regain of lost weight is usually certain. Against this background of gloom comes new hope, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrates the superiority of a low-glycemic, moderate-protein diet as an effective strategy for maintenance of initial weight loss (2).

The study took place in eight European countries. The first phase of the trial involved participants who were placed on a low-calorie diet consisting of 800-1,000 calories for eight weeks through which they lost on average 22 pounds of body weight (and who knows how much muscle mass). After the weight-loss phase, the individuals were randomly assigned to one of five different diets and instructed to maintain their weight loss, although further weight reduction was allowed as well. Of the five groups, the one assigned to the low-protein and high glycemic-index diet regained their lost weight. This is the typical type of dietary advice that is usually recommended to everyone.

On the other hand, the higher-protein, low glycemic-index group lost an additional 5 percent of their body weight. In addition, they were less likely to drop out and had a higher rate of weight-loss maintenance. The other diets were between these extremes.

The authors’ conclusion was that the use of a higher-protein and lower glycemic-index diet was the most beneficial dietary strategy for both weight-loss maintenance and adherence. Furthermore, this type of diet may serve as an effective strategy for those whose barrier to weight-loss maintenance in the past has been physiological rather than psychological (2).

Maybe they just should have recommended the subjects read “The Zone,” which made the same dietary recommendations 15 years ago (3).

1. Ludwig DS and Ebbeling CB. “Weight-loss maintenance–mind over matter?” N Engl J Med. 363: 2159-2161 (2010)
2. Larsen TM, Dalskov SM, van Baak M, Jebb SA, Papadaki A, Pfeiffer AF, Martinez JA, Handjieva-Darlenska T, Kunešová M, Pihlsgård M, Stender S, Holst C, Saris WH, and Astrup A. “Diet, Obesity, and Genes (Diogenes) Project. Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance.” N Engl J Med 363: 2102-2113 (2010)
3. Sears B. “The Zone.” Regan Books. New York, NY (1995)

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

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This entry was posted in Zone Diet and tagged , , by Dr. Barry Sears. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 30 years to the study of lipids. He has published more than 30 scientific articles and holds 13 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 13 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller "The Zone". These books have sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.

9 thoughts on “Diet important in weight-loss maintenance

  1. Thanks for posting this info. Yes, doing the Zone would have been an excellent recommendation indeed. It’s certainly worked well for me. I’ve been maintaining a 100 pound weight loss with the Zone for about 15 years.

  2. Well…15 years and now a Harvard professor (DL) can claim it works.
    I recall hearing that success has 1000 fathers…..

  3. Thinking of my family with out me was how and why I given up smoking 7 years ago. I can not consider it is 7 years!! Now I am back on weight loss. I lost 22 lbs. last year on Medifast. I gained 12 back. Now I am going back on and hoping to eliminate all my excess fat. Not even for a way I’ll look – however I do not want diabetes etc….I need to be right here for my kids who’re 13 and 3. In a world where so many issues are past my management, this is one thing I have total control over. The decision is our to do it. Thanks for your incredible page!

  4. Aw, this was a very nice post. In concept I wish to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and precise effort to make a very good article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and not at all seem to get something done.


  6. NO, Dave,
    Buying Sears products is for those who find it impossible to cook and bake for themselves.
    You don’t have to buy any of Sears food products. I make Sears products from store bought items and also buy the other items and then follow Sears recipes. It doesn’t cost me any more and I am retired on a fixed income.
    It doesn’t take a rich man to have imagination and ambition.

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