Yesterday in my class called “Hot Topics in Nutrition”, we examined a study which looked at 4 different popular diets.  The point of the study was to identify which diet worked best after 6 months in ~1,000 women. The 4 diet contenders were: Weight-Watchers on-line: (popular program for decades focusing on portion control, points assigned to foods for fat and fiber content) Dr. Atkins’ New Revolution: (carbohydrate controlled diet) Eat More, Weigh Less: (low-fat diet program) The Way to Eat: (Mediterranean-style eating plan) AND THE WINNER IS? Results showed that Weight Watchers On-Line won the contest with the highest mean weight loss of ~11 pounds in 6 months. However,  this article brought up some other important issues… Dieting is hard! No matter what diet the people in this study followed, most people could not stick to the diet for 6 months. For example, within 3 months, 71% of the participants had dropped out. Every diet worked for someone. At least one person in each diet plan lost 30 or more pounds. Therefore, success was attributed to the fact that they could stick to the diet, not necessarily a reflection of the “type” of diet they followed. It had to become “automatic.” Participants who succeeded in weight loss had committed to the realization that their changed eating behaviors were changes for life. The National Weight Control Registry is a registry which tracks successful dieters. They define weight-loss “success” as one who loses at least 30 pounds or more and is able to keep it off for greater than 1 year. Common characteristics of these dieters: 1) Used both diet and exercise to lose weight 2) Ate breakfast everyday 3) Consumed a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet 4) Weighed themselves frequently 5) Engaged in 60-90 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Lesson of the day? There is no quick fix to health, but taking gradual steps to healthier eating and being more active will result in lost weight and more importantly…stays off.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.