More Protein, Fewer Refined Carbs May Keep Weight
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- If you've worked hard to
shed those extra pounds and want to keep the weight off, a new
Danish study suggests that you consider eating more protein and
fewer refined carbohydrates.
Based on the findings, the researchers advise consuming mostly
what's known as low-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as
whole-grain breads. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the
ability of carbohydrates to increase blood glucose levels; those
with a low GI cause blood levels to increase more slowly, explained
Dr. Thomas Meinert Larsen, a co-author of the study, published in
the Nov. 25 issue of the
New England Journal of Medicine.
What is it about the high-protein, low-glycemic index
carbohydrate diet that keeps weight under control? "Possibly a
stronger satiating effect and more balanced blood sugar
regulation," Larsen hypothesized.
With his colleagues, Larsen evaluated 938 adults with an average
body-mass index (BMI) of 34, which is considered obese. In all, 773
completed the initial weight-loss phase and then were assigned to
one of five different maintenance plans:
- Low-protein diet, (13% of energy) with a high GI
- Low protein, low GI diet
- High protein (25% of energy), low GI diet
- High protein, high GI diet
- Control group, which got no special instructions
During the weight-loss period of eight weeks, participants lost
an average of 24 pounds. All five maintenance diets had a moderate
fat content, about 25 percent to 30 percent of total calories.
After six months, Larsen's team found that the 548 who completed
the program had an average weight regain of 1.2 pounds.
Those in the low-protein/high-GI group showed the worst results,
the researchers found, with a weight gain averaging 3.6 pounds.
Those on the low-GI diet had an average weight regain of 2 pounds
less than those on the high-GI diet.
"Thus, we have ourselves been quite hesitant to advocate the use of glycemic index," Larsen said. "But our new data, based on the largest randomized study on this topic ever, shows that, indeed, GI is of importance."
So what is a typical high-protein, low-GI diet? According to
- Breakfast of natural, unflavored yogurt low in fat and fairly
high in protein, with muesli, whole-grain crisp bread with low-fat
cheese and an orange.
- Vegetable sticks and low-fat cheese sticks for a snack.
- Lunch of whole-grain rye bread with lean meat or chicken cold
cuts, mackerel in tomato sauce and vegetables
- Whole-grain rye bread with low-fat liver pate and cucumber for
- Dinner of stir-fried turkey with vegetable and whole-grain
pasta; avocado salad with feta cheese and sugar peas.
"These newer approaches may be more effective than conventional approaches in weight maintenance," said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children's Hospital in Boston, who wrote an editorial to accompany the study.
"There has been considerable controversy over the role of glycemic index in general, and obesity treatment in particular," he said. "This study provides very strong, supportive evidence for the importance of this low-glycemic concept."
It's not difficult, he said, to shift from high-glycemic foods
to low-glycemic foods. "It's shifting to somewhat less processed
carbohydrates and, importantly, not making the carbohydrate the
only thing you are having at the meal."
As for boosting protein, he said, "we're not talking about a
16-ounce slab of prime rib" or the very high levels of protein
popularized in some low-carb diets.
To learn more about the glycemic index, visit the
Linus Pauling Institute.
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