The A to Z Weight Loss Study and what It Means for Your Weight Loss Plans

Choosing which diet to try for weight loss is important not only for the results you get in pounds lost, but for other factors as well. Low-Carb diets have long been praised for their ability to help lose weight fast but critics fear that the high consumption of fat may be a threat to health. The ability to adhere to a diet is also important since it can’t work if you don’t follow the guidelines. One reason that many people like a low-carb diet like Adkins or the Zone is that they can eat enough food so that they never have to worry about feeling hungry.

It also helps reduce cravings in individuals with a sweet tooth.

To take a closer look at popular low carb diets, the A to Z Weight Loss Study is a randomized trial performed by Christopher Gardner, PhD, Alexandre Kiazand, MD, et al. Their goal was to compare the Atkins (very low carb), Zone (low carb), Ornish (low fat, very high in carb), and LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition-low fat, high carb) diets for weight loss and related risk factors in order to determine which was most effective for weight loss and health over a period of twelve months.

Women who were aged 25 to 53 and were premenopausal were randomly placed into one of four different groups and then assigned 1 of 4 diet books. Each group then attended 1-hour classes that were conducted by a registered dietician once weekly for a period of 8 weeks.

Each group received target goals according to the diet they were following. The Atkins group aimed for no more than 20 g/d of carbohydrate for the introductory “induction” period and then 50 g/d or less for the rest of the weight loss phase. The Zone group was to follow a 40%-30%-30% distribution of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, respectively. The LEARN group was instructed to eat a diet of 55% to 60% energy that came from saturated fat, caloric restriction, increased exercise, and behavior changes.

The Ornish group was to get no more than 10% of their energy from fat and also received recommendations to get physical activity, nutritional supplements, and to follow the behavior changes that were listed in each diet book. Participants were also given a booklet that aided them in portion size estimation.

The results of the study were averaged at the end of 12 months with the weight loss for Atkins participants being -4.7 kg, for Zone -1.6 kg, LEARN -2.2 kg, and Ornish -2.6. Those women who ate the fewest carbohydrates lost more weight and also had more favorable changes in their metabolic risk factors. There were no results that indicated that a low-carbohydrate diet will have any adverse effects on your health in relation to the consumption of fat.

Always follow the guidelines for taking nutritional supplements with each diet as the participants in the study were encouraged to do. Any time certain foods are limited from your diet, so are nutrients. Also, choose a diet that will allow you to eat the kinds of foods you like. Even in the study, the greatest limiting factor for participants was the ability to adhere to the plan they were given.

Even though a very low carbohydrate diet got the best weight loss results, it won’t be the best choice for everyone. Choosing a plan that produces slower weight loss is better than choosing one that you can’t adhere to long enough to get results!

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